LOGAN Murray has coached 6,000 people around the world how to be funny, in France, Greece, Shanghai, Spain, Britain, wherever.

“People say comedy must be difficult to teach in Shanghai, but honestly, I don’t think it is. They get it,” says Logan.

Now, 14 putative comics have signed up for Logan Murray’s Comedy Workshop at the Great Yorkshire Fringe, spending Friday until Sunday in his company in the Grand Opera House bar in York.

Murray, by the way, has pedigree.This is the man who taught Rhod Gilbert, Greg Davies, Josh Widdecombe, Andi Osho, Luisa Omielan, Diane Morgan, Joe Wilkinson and “loads of award winning comedians”.

One of his students in Barcelona, Joe Catalon, went on to win a major comedy competition and then support Rich Hall on tour.

York Press:

TIPS TO EQUIP WITH QUIPS: Logan Murray giving advice at one of his comedy workshops

That’s why this weekend’s places have sold out already. Participants must arrive on Friday evening “with a desire to play and explore and by Sunday night make an audience of the general public roar with laughter” after training sessions at 6pm to 9pm on Friday, 10.30am to 5.30pm on Saturday and 11am to 5pm on Sunday at a cost of £180.

Those 16 hours will climax with the two-hour Great Yorkshire Fringe Comedy Workshop Showcase on Sunday at 7.30pm when you are invited to “come and see what a bunch of comedy virgins have come up with, having spent the weekend with Logan Murray”.

“The vast majority of people want to do these workshops because they want to laugh; they want to play,” says workshop leader Logan. “A child psychologist said, ‘all creativity comes out of play’, and if you think of anything you do that’s a laugh, or even often that’s made you money, it’s come out of play.”

Logan had cut his own teeth on the comedy circuit in 1984 when alternative comedy was fighting against the mainstream of Terry And June and Bernard Manning. “Now we are the mainstream,” he notes.

His workshop course will concentrate on three main areas: performance exercises designed at encouraging spontaneity, creativity and developing your own comic style; writing games and homework, with group feedback and tutor led suggestions to help you build up a sense of comedic grammar and hone up your writing skills; and solo work where the student’s writing, stage performance and technique is put under the microscope.

York Press:

Leaping to it: Rhod Gilbert is one of Logan Murray's comedy workshop graduates

“The thing with comedy is not doing anything you wouldn’t do in real life,” he suggests. “The difference is, you’re having a conversation with the audience but it’s just you talking.

“What I’m doing with the workshops is giving people the chance to muck around together and keep reminding people how funny they are.

“What happens as they work with me and each other is they evolve into the idiot they can be and jettison the idea of how they think they were to become their full idiot instead! What we look at is what gets in the way of that idiocy, what stops them being funny, as soon as they start being a delivery system for their jokes, rather than just being themselves.”

Comedians must develop their style of comedy, urges Logan. "It needs to be there but you have to work at it. Like [former client] Rhod Gilbert. He's gone through three incarnations: the nice guy; the babbling character, and then all shouty. He'll probably do something else next in case he does his voice in!" he says.

York Press:

"I make it sound as if I’m a Svengali, but I’m not. I like to think I’m a facilitator,” says coach Logan

"That's why I always say to students: 'show me, don't tell me'. Somtimes people give an impression of what they think a comedian should be and that's the worse thing they can do, as that's shooting themselves in the foot.

"But if you turn your inner editor off and allow yourself to play, we very much more quickly get the picture of who you are. Look, we all go to a show for liberation: both the performer and the audience." 

Logan reflects on his leadership role at the workshops. “I make it sound as if I’m a Svengali, but I’m not. I like to think I’m a facilitator,” he says. “I have no interest in working in that way of breaking people down to build them up again, to ‘make’ them.

“I don’t want any bit of anyone closing off. I want them to be open on stage. Your tragedy becomes our comedy; your social ineptitude becomes our comedy.”

Tickets for the Great Yorkshire Fringe Workshop Showcase at The Basement, City Screen, York, on July 21 at 7.30pm are on sale on 01904 500600 or at greatyorkshirefringe.com