I love seeing comedians live.
It’s a very odd thing when you think about it.
Someone gets on a stage in front of a crowd of people and makes them all laugh involuntarily.
Anyone who’s ever given a speech or made a big presentation has some slight inkling of what’s involved.
Getting a reaction out of people can be tough.
I used to get asked to give presentations about my beer work to ad folks all over the place.
And I remember initially I tried the Churchill approach: write a great speech and read it.
And it was awful. I was terrible. I bombed repeatedly.
So then I thought about it. And I stopped giving speeches.
I would simply write down a list of interconnected stories and tell those stories off the top of my head.
This worked really well.
I was being myself. Not a scripted robot.
And the more I did of it, the better I got and the better the reactions to my talks were. I knew what got a laugh.
It actually got to the point where I remember giving talk in Toronto and the crowd simply laughed the whole time I spoke.
I honestly wasn’t quite sure what they were laughing at some of the time. But I didn’t care. Apparently everything I said was funny.
In comedy terms, I killed. They just liked what I was saying and the way I was saying it. It was a great feeling too.
I saw comedy legend Bob Newhart the other night. He’s 82 now but essentially is the same Bob of 40 years ago.
It struck me that what sets Bob apart from his wise-cracking contemporaries was that Bob was always Bob.
He has always had a slight stammer. And rather than run away from it and become Mr. Suave, he embraced it. It became central to his timing and delivery and to his charm.
Part of the fun of seeing Bob’s act is following along closely and working out when he’s being funny.
Bob related a story from his early days in TV.
The director of his first TV series asked him to speed up his halting delivery so they could fit the dialogue to the time.
Bob responded that this stammer had paid for a house in Beverly Hills and maybe they should…maybe they should lose some words.
Because he wasn’t about to speed up for anyone.
Bob being Bob was and is his act. And he wasn’t about to change it just to suit the medium of TV. The medium would bend to accommodate Bob. And it did.