Lessons learnt from a live stand up comedy gig
Last week I shared my POWER presenting model taking through my entire process of preparing and performing as a public speaker in front of large groups of people. What started out as a quick tips and tricks piece of work eventually wound up as about 3000 words of strategic advice. You can take a look HERE.
Following on from the theme of public speaking I thought I would share some lessons learnt from earlier this year from the stand up comedy course and live graduation gig I did.
First things first I’ll answer the question you may be thinking ‘Why did I put myself through such a terrifying ordeal?
Well the truth is I wanted a challenge and had seen some good professional speakers had been talking about doing similar things. I did my research, it seemed like it was a good thing to do and all of a sudden I had enrolled into a 6 week course with a live graduation gig at the end.
I’ve never thought of myself as a presenter that uses humour really well like some of the greats out there. So the opportunity to improve myself in this area was really appealing. In addition, without question if you can make people laugh it will skyrocket your ability to engage and connect which is a catalyst when it comes to adding value and building a great business.
Ever heard of the phrase ‘people do business with people they like’? Sometimes we need to work on how likeable we are! Our likeableness…(is that a word?)
Over the course of the 6 weeks I had a thoroughly good time and learnt a LOT about myself, my presenting style, and of course stand up comedy itself.
What I learnt from the process:
- We take ourselves too seriously. I know I’m guilty of this. Day to day it’s all about work, business, training and I lose sight of having fun! The course focused a lot on how to let go and give yourself a chance to be funny. It shined a light on that aspect of my life and how many of us probably need to have more a laugh more of the time!
- It’s not about how funny you are but how are you funny! Far and away the quote of the course from our tutor Silky. The six weeks didn’t focus on how to construct jokes or specific information, it was more about you and the underlying personal processes of getting humour out of you on stage. We all need help with this.
- If we can make people laugh we can build a great business. Kind of outlined this above. People are more likely to warm to people who are funny and people tend to do business with people they like. So in short if you are funny you are more successful! A bold statement but I’m sticking with it!
- Stop hiding behind your intellect or your expertise. It’s too easy to be the expert that preaches and backs up everything with data and references. Whilst it may well be valid information there is always room for compelling and moving stories and beliefs. Beliefs always come before data . When it comes to presenting and leading people we need to use the data to help us make decisions but we need to be confident enough to say what we believe and not worry about being cut down for it.
- Notepads are mandatory. One of the things that our tutor on the course Silky stressed from the start was write stuff down. Through the course of a day at work or a weekend away the amount of stuff that happens is incredible. If something funny or eventful happens make sure you write it down. If two or more people laugh at it there’s a good chance that will make for a good anecdote or story in a presentation or workshop you’re delivering.
- People judge you from the very first instance. This is not a bad thing by the way, it’s just a fact of life! One of the drills we did on the course was to get up in front of the other course attendees, grab the microphone and then stand there for a few seconds in silence before returning to our chairs. Everyone wrote down two or three terms that come to mind about each other and we all shared it. The results are really interesting and the point is that you will learn what other people are thinking which means you can use it to your advantage to get the crowd on your side. If you know that you can be perceived by people as very reserved you can work this into your performance. Similarly if you are loud, brash or something like that again you have an angle.
- Just go with it. Sometimes being funny is just about going with the flow and letting stuff happen. It doesn’t need to be planned. We did some great improvisation drills and word games where we had to just come up with something. There was some seriously funny moments over the six weeks.
The learning for me was to expand on some points in my presentations that are totally unplanned and see where it goes. Maybe an audience member makes a comment and you let that go further. Maybe you make a mistake and say the wrong word. Don’t worry, just go with it.
- We need a goal to strive for. In the case of the course the stand up gig itself was the goal. Working long hours often into the evenings it’s always easy to cancel last minute. Having the gig to perform at the end in front of a packed out comedy club kept me accountable. How many things do we start and don’t get very far because we don’t have an outcome to prepare for. The gig although nerve wracking, was thoroughly enjoyable because we had come through as a group together. The beers afterwards were well needed though!
So just in case you thought I was making all this up (of course I wouldn’t do such a thing) here’s a couple of snaps that were taken. I might even release the video sometime down the line too!
Here’s a link to the course I took and I’m sure if you google it you’ll find something similar near to you too. I look forward to reading about your experiences in due course 😉. https://silkythecomedian.com/comedy-course/
Let’s keep pushing and sharing our learnings…