Stand Up Comedy with Corey Rosen

To me, the most terrifying, death-defying act I can possibly imagine isn’t bungie jumping or free solo climbing. It’s stand up comedy. It’s improv.


My guest this week is someone who teaches stand-up comedy and improv. But that’s not all he does. Meet Corey Rosen. Corey has hosted 105 live events for The Moth, including The Moth StorySlams and GrandSlams, since winning the first ever Bay Area Moth StorySlam in 2014.  He is an award winning writer, actor, and storytelling teacher. Corey has been featured on The Moth Radio Hour, Backfence PDX, “The Finch Files” and “The B-Sider” podcasts and is an on-air personality for Alice Radio’s “The Sarah and Vinnie Show,” the #1-rated commercial morning show in the San Francisco area. 


You can see Corey perform at BATS Improv, one of the world’s foremost centers for improvisational theater. He has written for Comedy Central, Jim Henson Productions, and Lucasfilm. He is also creative director at Tippett Studio, a 2-time Oscar-winning media production company, writing screenplays for seven theme park attractions around the world. But here’s a bonus tid bit… while at Tippet Studio, I got to hold one of Phil Tippet’s Oscars IN MY HANDS.




I wanted to have him on the show because I feel like there is so much that stand-up and improv can teach us, from a communication and performance perspective.


This conversation taught me so much, but here are the bits I loved the most: 

· Giving feedback doesn’t meet kicking the crap out of ideas that aren’t great. It means looking for what’s working. Where is the energy? What’s good? How do we make it even better?

 · We all know how important storytelling is for influencing an audience (really, any audience), but what if you’re stuck? Kenn Adam’s story telling spine is a KILLER way to get your juices flowing.

· Self-consciousness kills creativity. What stand-up and improv offer us is the ability to embrace the suck … to be ok looking silly, allowing us to play and invent and collaborate. That’s where the genius is. Anytime we have an opportunity to create that kind of atmosphere, we should take it. The results are usually pretty fantastic.

· Corey’s advice for overcoming self-consciousness is two-fold: 1) Breathe. Slow down, and take the next step, whatever that is. 2) Accept yourself as you are in this moment. Being human is hard. It’s ok to be a little freaked out from time to time. Extend yourself some graciousness, and watch your performance improve.

· Going on stage or presenting with other people can be unnerving, especially if you don’t know each other well. Corey’s improv game is a KILLER way to create an energetic connection/bond before going on stage … Person 1 says a word, and then person 2 says, “That reminds me of…” and free associates for a minute or two. The only rule is that you can’t just say “me too” at the end of someone else’s answer. BONUS! Corey and I play this game at the end of the episode, and it was more fun than a barrel of monkeys.


Resources mentioned during our conversation:

 · Kenn Adams Story Spine

· Matthew Dicks: Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life through the Power of Storytelling

· Ira Glass on Creativity

· Follow Corey: (upcoming shows and classes)

· Facebook: @storyrosen

· Twitter @CoreyRosen  

· BATS Improv ( (Corey’s improv theater company) and the Moth ( for local live shows and podcasts.  Corey’s book will be coming out this fall (date TBD)


Current Obsessions:

 Washington Black One of my intentions for the summer months is to consume excellent books. And this sucker grabbed me and didn’t let me go. Written by Esi Edugyan, this novel takes begins in 1830 on a plantation in Barbados, and is told through the perspective of a young slave named Washington Black. I don’t want to ruin any of the magic or suspense of this book, but “Wash” befriends someone who changes his life. It is so beautifully written that I had to read entire paragraphs multiple times, just to savor their music and meaning. It’s no wonder this book was on the New York Times Book Review Top Ten Books of 2018, and it’s no wonder Barack Obama himself said it was one of his favorite reads of the year. Warning: The ending is something you will want to discuss with someone. Ambiguous and perfect (in my opinion).


Nice Try Podcast When I discover a new podcast, my heart explodes into ten thousand pieces of unicorn shaped confetti. This series and I were destinted to fall in love. It’s about (failed) Utopian adventures from Biosphere to Jamestown (the colonists, not the kool-aid drinkers) and many in between. The narrator is smart, her voice is gravely and real, and the stories give you all the feels: outrage, hilarity, compassion for the very human inclination to create a “perfect” world, and the grief as we face our utter inability to create such a thing.


Just My Type by Saint Motel I’m calling it. This is the jam of the summer. I crank this up, roll down the windows and DANCE. Full credit to my daughter Stella for uncovering this one. It’s my absolute favorite at the moment.