There really are only three rules. The rest are guidelines. We have some trusted people who run the meetings. If they see a problem, they handle it. The others join in support. We try to keep it cool.
We welcome anyone writing comedy at any level and for nearly any purpose. Naturally, some people come in a little confused about the meeting and what we are really doing. So before we tell you the rules, it is a little easier to start out by saying what we are not:
- We are not an Open Mic night. There are plenty of those all around DC.
- We are not offering a class. There are plenty of places in the district for classes. You need to pay for that.
- We are not mental health specialists, therapists, or social workers. You can joke about your pain with us, please don’t expect us to cure it. We have many people in our group with various psychological problems. We welcome them. Laughter can be healing, but please have reasonable expectations. Do not use us in lieu of professional help or medication.
So what we are…
- We are a group that meets to talk about writing comedy.
- We are a forum for trying out material.
- We provide an environment to suck.
The Three Hard-ass Rules
- Nobody should verbally or physically threaten other members of the group.
- Nobody should make unwelcome sexual advances to other members of the group. (Especially if that makes the person feel uncomfortable to the point of bringing it up to a leader.)
- Nobody should monopolize the meeting with unstable or aggressive behavior (examples: loud threatening drunkenness, excessive aggressive comments, constant interruptions.)
If someone reports someone else for these things, our scene quickly changes from a welcoming vibe to a defensive vibe. If you violate either of these rules, we bounce you like Donald Trump’s campaign manager, without either a question or redress of grievance. You will not be welcome anymore. So as they say on the hill, you must avoid “even the appearance of impropriety.”
Now for the Guidelines:
- This is an uncensored forum. In order to come up with something fresh in comedy, the writer must feel free to take a risk. So if you are easily offended, stay home.
- We do a few exercises. Bring a notebook and pen. You’ll want it. Laptops and tablets work too, but you might find them cumbersome.
- Everyone is encouraged to share whatever they have. Nobody is forced to share. If you aren’t ready, you aren’t ready. Don’t pressure anyone else to share.
- This is a supportive forum. We offer suggestions, help people find something new, and we offer healthy critiques. If you think you are a heckler, stay home. How do you know you are a heckler? If after you have a few drinks, you come up with a really clever line (you know…that funny quip that you MUST SAY NO MATTER HOW INAPPROPRIATE) and you interrupt someone sharing material, then you’re a heckler. Yes, even if you really are funny. Yes, even if you think you are helping someone else be funny. (By the way, you’re not funny if you do this. You’re an asshole.)
- Having said that… If you want feedback, please bring a thick skin. We love you, and we support you, oh brave Comedy Writers, but BECAUSE we love you, we will tell you if it sucks. We are also likely to help you find something funny or help you tag something that is already funny.
- Let us know how you want your feedback. Do you want feedback after each joke? Do you want it after a story? Do you want ideas and suggestions or do you just want a thumbs up or thumbs down.
- We meet at a restaurant as our venue. We want to keep it a free meeting, but to do that we must show our goodwill to this place using our wallets. Please buy a couple of things. Tip generously. Cheap bastards will find the warm welcome cooling off.
- We don’t trash the venue. We are guests. When we leave, we leave it in good shape.
- We don’t drag other patrons of the venue into our work. They did not necessarily get the memo on the purpose of the group. Leave the innocent bystanders alone.
- If the leader is moving on to the next person or activity, please don’t take it personally, we just try to keep the meeting moving forward.
- Finally, the most important guideline (and yes, it is the vaguest guideline.) Don’t be a dick. If you offer criticism, put yourself in the other guys shoes. If you offer a lot of criticism, but you don’t share anything yourself, people are going to notice that. Don’t roll your eyes at someone new who is trying something (by the way, the pros who come in HELP the new folks, not tear them apart.)