Stage Time: “Forget Waldo! Where’s Humor?”
Kids around the world are trying to find Waldo while people around the world are trying to find humor! While Waldo, sometimes illusive, wearing a red and white stripe shirt is always found. Humor is often never found. It is there, people tend to be looking in the wrong place. So where do you look?
Many people writing speeches tell me, “My speech is done, I just need to add some humor.” Though I understand the sentiment, it is wrong. You don’t “add” humor. Fellow World Champion, Craig Valentine said it best. “You don’t add humor, you uncover it.”
This weekend in Vancouver I was presenting Humor and Hope. I mentioned in my early days of teaching humor a student came up to me on break at the Humor Boot Camp and said, “I know you are talking about finding humor in our personal stories, but nothing funny happens to me!”
When I first heard this I laughed. Then I suddenly realized the student, Ms. Bitter, was being serious. She could understand why my first reaction was to laugh. It seemed odd to her that I would find that funny.
In those days of my own learning, I thought this woman was wrong. Funny things happen to all of us. The more I studied humor the more I learned how dead on correct she was. You see, nothing funny does happen to her because she doesn’t “see it” as funny.
“Humor is in the mind of the beholder.”
Humor does not happen out there, it takes place in your own mind. It is directly connected to your perception. Consider, do you see funny things, or do you see things funny?
For example. When I was presenting at a conference at the Rio in Las Vegas, there are several long hallways between the sleeping rooms and the meeting rooms. It is a long walk that takes literally twenty minutes. I over heard in the hallways attendees quietly complaining about the long walk. Noticing what was going on I took the stage and said, “Welcome t the Rio, what a beautiful hotel (applause). You may not know this, but Rio is actually a native American term meaning long flipping hallway.”
The audience roared. I created a connection. I released the tension that was on the forefront of their mind. Can you see that was funny to them? They were on the frustration side of it. “To them” are the key words in that sentence. Now, what if there was someone not staying in the hotel who had parked just outside the door of the meeting room? They probably wouldn’t get it, unless they were aware of the situation or had spoke to others how did have to walk that far.
People ask me for advice about writing funny speeches. As I learned from teacher/comedian, Judy Carter, you write from your own frustrations and pet peeves. That is the starting point. That is where the humor gold is. Want to make people laugh, tell stories about your failures and your embarrassing moments. In my championship speech my topics included: my Subway Sandwich shop failure, bombing on stage, telling my speechless parents I wanted to be a comedian and my brother only laughing at me when I told him I wanted to be a comedian. Those were not magical moments in my life. In those failures were seeds of humor potential. It is said by many professional speakers that we have the rare career that when tragedy happens it often is great fodder for speeches.
“God did not give me the gift of making people laugh, he gave me the persistence to learn how.”
When speaking at the American Association of Therapeutic Humor I went even deeper than I can in this one article. I turned it into a brand new DVD called: Laugh & Let Go. I was telling the audience, my comedy mentor told me that when he was in his cancer support group with his fellow patients they would laugh together about the most disgusting things. When a single family member would sit in on a group meeting it would change the dichotomy of the meeting and there would be less laughter. Because somehow they were not comfortable with the very personal humor and tension relief. People need to laugh and to be encouraged to do so. Humor is such a powerful coping mechanism. It doesn’t take away the seriousness of the subject, in fact a great sense of humor can help you to see through the stress to find a way out.
I believe that comedy cuts down and humor lifts spirits up because it relieves tension. I’m so thankful for my start in stand-up comedy and it definitely has it’s place. For me, I found my calling is inspiring people and relieving tension with humor.
In my car I keep a sign handy that was given to me by one of my students. It just says: Laugh. At stoplights I sometimes hold it up for my brief neighbor in the car next to me. The reactions I get differ greatly. Some people smile, some laugh out loud and nudge their fellow passengers.
If you can find Waldo, you can find more humor in your life. It is there right in front of you, but you’ll only see it if you look for it. Steve Allen said, “Comedy equals tragedy plus time.” You are probably familiar with the idea when a tragedy happens we will laugh about this someday. My suggestion, Laugh sooner.
Stage time, Stage time, Stage time,
World Champion Speaker
P.S. Ever thought about having your own seminars or being a trainer? Want the secrets to making it simple and leaving a lasting impression, so you get rehired? Join master trainer, Ed Tate, and me for the TRAIN-the-TRAINER Champ Camp in Las Vegas on May 26th & 27th.
Come a day early and join us for the One-Day, Two Champ SPEAKING SCHOOL on May 25th!
I get emails. . .
This email came from Greg Parker. (Shared with permission.)
Darren I just want to thank you for all your emails that provide daily motivation. Also last year you and Ed Tate came to talk to us in California. I am in District 12 for Toastmasters. I just won the District level competition and will be on my way to Florida. I used what you provided us about humor and Ed Tates attention grabber. Please pass to him my thanks I beleieve that was what may have won it for me. I now have a lot of work ahead of me so I can win for 2012. I am up for the challenge though. The last three months have been great; retired at 20 years as a Marine, finished my Masters degree, and won the district competition. Not bad for a boy from Massachusetts that had nothing.
Again thank you. Time to get to work on my speeches.