Ever have an idea that you thought was brilliant and could not wait to bring to fruition? Isn’t it exciting? I love those kinds of brainstorms. It lets my creative side thrive! I worked on this idea that I thought was brilliant and became very excited when it came together even better than I had expected. Yes!
Then, as we all do, I shared it with people. We get even more excited when people share our vision and love the idea as much as we do. Boom! In all of our excitement, we continue to share it, and we hear that feedback that honestly catches us off guard. We allow that one comment to deflate our enthusiasm. Why do we? Many other people loved it. Let me give you an example that just happened to me.
First, a little background. This past summer I realized that more and more people are buying my MP3s and online programs, while I’m selling fewer and fewer CDs and DVDs. It makes sense with the growth of Netflix, with more people on mobile, and because the new laptops do not have slot drives. Each time I pull into my garage, I see boxes of CDs and DVDs that are becoming obsolete. Each month there are fewer and fewer people who even have the ability to play them. I decided that I would no longer offer them and would also not purchase any new inventory, but I also don’t want to just throw them out. What could I do?
I started looking for a way to offer them without devaluing the online versions of the same programs I offer. How could I do that? Then I had a flash of brilliance. Some of my friends work passionately for dog rescue facilities, and that inspired an idea! What if I offered the programs for adoption, like a puppy? I thought of the ASPCA commercial. Then my creative brain went into overdrive. I could not stop thinking about it. I love dogs, and I had three of them as I was growing up. What if I personified the DVD programs? Game on!
When I explained my idea to people, some were turned off because they thought I was making fun of dog rescue. I can respect that opinion, but I intended to make sure it was fun and cute. Regine, my office manager, helped me create the dog faces to put on the products, and one of the most talented people I know, Gavin Brawley, wrote and recorded a song parody. We went to an animal rescue shelter and filmed there. The whole thought of it cracked me up. It became Adopt a Product. I had so much fun creating it with my team. I finished a couple of weeks ago and uploaded the video to Facebook, put it on YouTube, and sent it to friends and family.
The initial comments and texts I got included some “OMGs!” I have to say I was excited and beaming a bit. The Facebook shares and views were some of the most I’ve ever had. Sweet. Then I opened an email, started to read it, and was shocked that someone would say that my brand new video, which I had just spent 2 months creating, was not funny! The peculiar thing was that they seemed mad and angry about it. They said,“That’s not funny.”I was told that my humor was juvenile. Yikes!
Yes, I had to admit it was a bit juvenile. I had put a cartoon face on a DVD set that made it look like a dog. That was part of the fun for me, the cuteness of it. I have to say the negative email did not thrill me. Then a couple of days later, one of my newsletter subscribers sent me this email:
Honestly, I don’t get why people had to tell me it’s not funny, but some do. Has someone ever told you that something you created to make people laugh was not funny? Ouch. Yep, it’s not fun.
Here are 2 things that you and I need to remember when it comes to humor. First, when we put something out there, we will be judged. Not everyone will like what we do no matter how good it is. We have to be willing to be OK with ourselves when people disagree or do not like us. It is a risk. That’s part of what we do on stage, in an article, or on a video. If the criticism makes you reevaluate, good. We all need to consider what our audience thinks. Sometimes we need to stick to our guns, and sometimes we should adjust, but never recoil or give up. It is easy to be a critic. (Look up Teddy Roosevelt’s poem on that.)
Secondly, humor is like judging a speech contest; it’s subjective. When someone says, “That’s not funny,” what they are really saying is, “That’s not funny to me.” For example, Billy Crystal’s acting in the movie City Slickers cracked me up, and although I respect his standup comedy, it never was really funny to me. If, however, enough people laugh and you are having fun, keep going! I learned a brilliant lesson from a humor mentor, Tim Gard. He said,
“If they laugh, it’s funny.”
That is powerful and poignant. We have to be careful and assess the laughter and make sure it isn’t sympathy laughter. And it’s always cool to try and make things funnier. What we can’t do is let one opinion stop us from having fun and bringing joy to others. Find your place. Find your audience. Find the people who do think you are funny, and keep ‘em laughing.
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