My first audience was Mum and her friends, back in England. When I was seven or so, if she had friends over, she'd call me into the room and say, "Lee, darling, make the ladies laugh with some of your silly faces and sounds." So I did. Making audiences laugh is a great feeling...and it's sort of addictive.
From my teens onward, the only comedy I created was on paper. I wrote (what I thought was) funny stuff and sent it to satiric publications such as Mad Magazine. My reward was a stack of rejection slips. During college my roommate Mark Dito and I recorded dozens of improvised comedy audio sketches. I took a short, 20-year break from comedy to launch a career, raise a family and make some money, then I wondered, "Am I still funny?"
"Not Quite Right" / "They Made That Up!"
In 2005 I started an improvisational comedy troupe called "Not Quite Right." Among the members were improv pros with training and experience at Second City, Improv Olympic and the National Improv Theater. Some had appeared on Disney and Comedy Central. We taped our unique brand of sketch-based improv for television, and it was cablecast throughout Southern California on Charter TV. Years later I condensed the best improv sketches we made into a feature-length movie called "They Made That Up!" You can read more and watch some clips at www.TheyMadeThatUp.com.
Here's a rapid-fire, 60-second reel of some improvised comedy sketches:
Here's a full (3 minute) improv sketch entitled "Rear End Collision," featuring me and fellow performer (and good friend) Jeff Klein:
Stand-up comedy is the polar opposite of improv, since everything a stand-up comic says is pre-written and memorized. For three years I performed stand-up gigs at clubs and comedy festivals.
Since 2009 I've been a member of the #1-rated improv comedy troupe in Orange County, California: Improv City. We do live shows every Friday and Saturday night in Irvine, CA. Find out more at www.ImprovCityOnline.com.
I prefer improvising over memorizing, but, on rare occasions, I'll grab the mic and do a little stand-up...just for fun. Here's a 4-minute video of my stand-up from an October 2011 show: