Busy road comic Andrew Goffman feels that theater helped him attain a comfort level on stage. "Getting up on stage in front of a packed house of 200 people was valuable for me; it gave me confidence on stage that I wouldn't get by going up in front of ten people at an open mike night," says Goffman, who spent a year in the Off-Broadway hit Grandma Sylvia's Funeral before venturing into stand-up comedy. "Also, being part of an interactive show was good training for stand-up, since you have to deal with the audience on a more personal level. We had our lines, but we were able to ad-lib a little, and if the producers liked it they'd add it to the show. At one point, the show was running three hours, so I guess our ad-libs were working."
While Ellis, Goffman and others were self-taught stand-ups, actor/comic Tommy Koenig has recently taken the theory of the Actor's Studio and opened the Comics Studio in New York to help stand-ups develop their craft. Koenig, a 20-year veteran of both stage and stand-up, started doing theater in Buffalo, New York, and has since directed and performed in musicals between stints on tour as a comic. He describes stand up as planned spontaneity: "I have a lot of actors in my classes. They are challenged by stand-up, because you are acting like you're not acting. The character is you, or an extension of yourself, doing set material that needs to sound as if it's 'off the cuff'...like you're saying it for the first time." He's also found that performers enjoy the concept of wearing all the hats (actor, writer, director) and taking all of the responsibility.