A few years ago, my family rented an apartment in New York City for a month during the summer. My kids were very active in theater at the time and were looking for workshops in the city to hone their skills. My daughter, Marisa was specifically looking for something comedy related. We found a company called the American Comedy Institute that offered a five-day intensive workshop on stand up comedy. The company claimed that by the fifth day anyone who completed the workshop would be able to deliver a five minute stand up comedy routine at the world famous Gotham Club in midtown. My daughter was not that interested in stand up, but I thought it would be a great experience. I told her if she took the workshop, I would take it with her. The workshop was very lean on frills but the content was good. There is a real science to comedy and I learned that comedians measure their success by laughs per minute. It was a fascinating process and I truly believe the work helped me with my public speaking. My daughter, on the other hand, was a natural and by the time we got to the Gotham Club, she gave one of the funniest stand-up routines of the night. The first couple of days of the workshop were focused on writing skills. On the first day they asked us to write a list of things that annoyed us and then had us read the list in front of the class — the basic form of comedy writing. Over the course of the week we spent our days writing our routine and the evenings practicing our delivery in front of the class. I would highly recommend a course in stand up comedy to anyone who wants to improve his or her public speaking or stage presence. If you are wondering what my routine was about, I can tell you that the first thing on my list of pet peeves was grown men who wear backpacks. They drive me crazy.