When it comes to the art of comedy, experience is 90 per cent the teacher, says Larry Horowitz, stand-up comedy instructor at Humber College.

Horowitz says although you can’t really “teach” comedy, you can coach, encourage, review and critique as well as pass on techniques and theory accumulated through your own experience.

“They must self-teach through spending time on stage,” he said.

Humber’s continuing education department offers three courses in comedy including Stand-up: Writing and Performance; Stand-up Comedy Master Class; and Using the Internet to Build a Career in Comedy.

Horowitz, a professional comedian who has been dubbed the dean of Canadian Comedy, has been imparting his comedic knowledge for more than 30 years and teaching at Humber for the past six.

He says that many of his students at Humber have gone on to do stand-up.

“Some as a hobby, some as a part-time job, and some only once, as a lark,” he said.

A handful of his students — some of whom went on to take the entire diploma course at Humber, which he also teaches — are now practicing stand-up comics, making a living.

“You would not know their names, but you will, eventually,” he said.

The goal of the stand-up course is to help aspiring comedians understand lateral thinking, timing, delivery and composition, Horowitz said.

Teaching, by its nature, means showing someone what to do — which defeats the process of creating something unique, he said.

“What needs to be done is to show them how unlimited what they can achieve really is, instead of trying to force them into a pre-existing mould,” he said.

Stand-up: Writing and Performance teaches students how to find their own unique comedic voice and learn how to isolate their personal experiences for use as material.

The Master Class focuses on the advanced aspects of writing and performance, touring, voice-overs and animation, television and film production, as well as self-promotion.

It builds on the Stand-up class with strenuous writing and pitching exercises and the emphasis placed on students’ finding a unique voice for their talent.

For more information on Humber’s continuing education courses in comedy, visit www.humber.ca/continuingeducation.