classes & workshops



Comedy Isn’t Funny: Tools and Techniques to Conjure Comedy

Many would say that comedy and funniness are the same thing. Not at all. Laughter is always a very nice outcome, of course. But if we can set aside this expectation, this need, and add some very handy tools and new perspectives, we’ll be surprised by the adventures of misguided human beings simply doing their best.

Comedy Isn’t Funny is an interactive presentation where we explore techniques and experiment with human behavior in order to effortlessly generate comedic characters and premises. We reframe our assumptions and approaches to comedy by exploring original tools, breaking down film and trying on some improv – all designed to intuitively inspire the art of comedy. For an hour or so, we set aside whacky hijinks, wordplay and silly walks and feel what it’s like to be a deluded yet indefatigable human being. We discover that creating comedy can be as simple as setting free a flawed human and transcribing the results. In the end, we discover that funny is what makes us laugh but comedy tells the truth about people.


  • Discover top five ways to generate comedy
  • Create unique comedic characters
  • Generate character-driven advertising ideas
  • Shortcuts to comedic premises
  • Learn how to sell comedy
  • Solve the “likability” issue
  • Unearth your own comedic lens
  • Laugh only if it happens

Comedy in Sixty Seconds

This mic intensive workshop for voice actors will challenge you to discover the comedic nugget in a radio commercial. You’ll learn to recognize absurd situations, allow the script to open up, explore comic premises, and trust your performance the “funny” will happen by staying committed to the character’s needs and wants.

Comedic Radio Ads

You’ll work with Sam Pond to perfect your comedy skills by focusing on characters, story, scene-setting and improvisation. As you perform scripts he’s written, you’ll get a rare opportunity to find out immediately whether your interpretations match up with what he originally envisioned, and if not, what you can do to get closer to the mark. In many instances, you’ll also get to hear the actual produced spots and see how your performances compare.

Comedy Is Not Funny for Performers and Copywriters

A voice acting course? Well, yes. Comedy writing? Yes, that too. Improvising and and writing on our feet? Yes, a lot of that. Many of these techniques were designed for my recent course at Pixar Studios. Funny is what makes us laugh. Comedy tells the truth… about people. And comedy can be taught, even if you’re not funny.

  • Discover comedic techniques and tools for the copywriter and the actor.
  • Perform great TV, film, radio and advertising scripts.
  • View and discuss great comedic scenes from TV, film and advertising.
  • And laugh only if it happens.

Student Reviews

“I loved your class. I am going to gush for a bit because I am very enthusiastic about the whole experience. So much so that even my husband commented the week after class ended that he felt sad for me that I didn’t have class. I think you are a brilliant writer/teacher/human –It was great to mix writing, learning, improvisation, acting. I thought each thing informed the other and vice versa.  And class left me feeling empowered –like hey, this is doable…and it was fun!!! – Alisa Dichter

“Sam Pond creates an altered reality. One that thrives in the creative. The comedic. The concepts are so complex they are made plain. The atmosphere is so supportive and comfortable that anything goes. And thus anything does go. And a little magic happens. Meanwhile, you get to watch Sam Pond think on his feet. It’s truly impressive to watch him take three lines of dialogue and tweak them in 20 seconds into something full of potential. Potential humor. Potential meaning and relevance. He has a special way of making the mundane and the commercial profound. Without missing the importance of either. I can’t wait to take another class – for the honing of skills and the fantastic experience.” – Louisa Mackintosh

“Sam has the rare ability to effectively engage a project from the role of producer, director, writer or actor, in virtually any combination. He can quickly arrive at the essence of a script and get his ideas across to actors and other writers, but he is also willing to explore and collaborate in order to produce the best work possible. Sam’s workshops are relaxed and safe, challenging and inspiring. Whether you are usually focused on acting, writing or directing, the cross-pollination encouraged in these classes results in take-aways you are just not going to get anywhere else. – Glenn Carlson, One Act Audio Theatre

“As you may remember, I expressed a bit of anxiety early on about being able to be “real.” Getting to this place of being myself–I mean, who’s that? I still can’t quite put my finger on exactly what it was that got transformed in there, but, whatever it was, I know it stemmed from the trust we had in you. Because you were open, real and available. You explored and questioned with us–without judgment. You were curious and delighted to learn something new. How infectious is that?!   I had a notion, coming into this, about comedy– and it didn’t include me. Even though I’d done funny parts in plays years ago, in my mind there were the funny people and the rest of us. But the gift you just gave me is the realization that when relaxed, listening and available, funny things can happen–even for me. But here’s the thing–now, every time I go into the booth to audition I imagine you out there. And I think of what it was like to just tell a story. Not acting being real. Being real. Being me. And I suppose that’s it. That’s what you gave us. I have a reference, now, to what’s real, to that elusive “me” behind the mic.”  – Amy Ingersoll

“Sam is a quadruple threat of voice over teacher, writer/director, and comedian. As a teacher, he is attentive and clear. He taught me to analyze the structure of a script, in order to bring out a unique performance, while still encouraging my point of view. As a director, he is accessible, casual, and smart. While I was in the booth, I felt like we were working on the script together. I never felt intimidated or lost with his direction. And best of all, Sam is funny! He had me cracking up constantly. And he has such a creative take on voice over character work, I found myself thinking, “I never would have thought of that”. I hope to work with and learn from Sam again… and again.” – Sally Clawson

“If you want someone who can mainline humor from a script directly into the actors’ brains with concise and discerned direction, Sam Pond is your person. Working with Sam has helped me to crystallize what it is about me as a voice actor that can make a script come to life with humor, poignancy and connection. He is skilled in cultivating the rare environment of focus along with creative play, between all involved in a project, to make it greater than the sum of its parts. If you want someone who sucks all the fun out of acting, with a focus on how much more important he is than you, Sam is not your guy.” – Bella-Lisa Teeling

“When it comes to creativity, Sam is king. Not only does he create some of the best ads in the world, he is incredible to work with. As a voice talent, I have worked with many, many, many producers. I have never worked with a producer who is better than Sam Pond.” – Max Magill

“Every time I have worked with Sam, I have come away from the session with new knowledge. Especially, if there’s comedy involved, hire Sam Pond to direct it. I have never worked with anyone who has such an immediate understanding of what makes us laugh. Sam conveys to the actor what needs to be done, but also tells them WHY. When an actor has that information, the performance will always be better. Sam reinforces the importance of the characters and their interaction. We always explore the relationship between them. Why are they there, why are they talking to each other, why doesn’t one of them just leave!! The time and detail that Sam puts into ‘handcrafting’ the dialog, and the exploration of the characters brings about the best performances. Honestly, I think Sam Pond could get a great performance out of just about anyone.” – Brian Sommer

“Sam brought his years of experience to the class through his extremely specific direction and coaching. Being new to voice-over, I never felt confused or overwhelmed by his feedback, because it was very clear. I learned how to find the conflict or tension in a scene, how to listen as the character, and most importantly how to let go and let my voice do the work on its own. Sam created a relaxed and playful atmosphere where I felt free to experiment with my voice and did not feel any pressure to be “on”; yet he still kept the class focused and on track. My experience was both challenging and incredibly fun.” – Aurora Simcovich

“It has been my honor to have Sam use me as voice talent on several of his commercials, including a TV spot that won ADDY Gold. I also had an opportunity to view Sam’s work in a competitive atmosphere when I was Bay Area ADDY Awards Chair. I can safely say that in my opinion, he is the best radio writer/ producer in the Bay Area.” – J.S. Gilbert

“The Pond! First-Thing-In-The-Morning Comedy Drill” Get your mouth working before your brain engages. Surprising things happen.

“The Pond! What-Comedy-Radio-Can–Teach-You-About-Comedy-Writing Shindig” Learn new techniques for whatever comedy you want to write, perform or sneak into your public speaking or advertising ideas.