A few weeks ago, I did a humor workshop for the National Speakers Association in Salt Lake City. And within view of the Mormon Temple, standing in front of portraits of the Mormon prophets, I did a BJ JOKE. Wait... don't judge – I had a point.
Teaching comedy to corporate speakers is hard. These people speak to corporations where they are supposed to be appropriate, non-offensive, and non-sexual. But humor at its core is inappropriate, irreverent, and often SEXUAL.
The mistake speakers make when adding humor to their speeches and presentations is that they TONE DOWN their humor DURING the creative process, because they know they need to create “safe for work” jokes. But -- this approach often doesn’t create the results desired – because it’s exactly opposite of how comedy professionals work.
(Have you ever been in a room with TV comedy writers? I have just recently -- and it is a nasty business.)
A few weeks ago, one of my former students who is now, as my Jewish Grandma would say, a big shot, Big Marher (Yiddish word - big MAH-kher) TV producer. He asked me to come to the writer's room where we all sat and punched up his Disney pilot for young teens. Mind you, it's – DISNEY – YOUNG TEENS, so you would think the table would be full of “what the hecks” rather than BJ jokes.
Well, the BJ jokes didn't make it into the script, but they were bantered around the table, along with jokes so blue they would cause this email to be labeled as spam.
Is this necessary? Yes! Pros can't be their best when they're censoring themselves -- and neither can YOU.
Comedy comes from PASSION, and most often, ANGER. When I'm waiting off stage to do an hour set, I'm charged up with the passion to communicate my anger, but in a funny way. And that way, people can laugh and hear it. And the way to get to what is funny in your life is is to RANT.
The RANTING EXERCISE as described in “The Comedy Bible,” is the best way to create material. Ranting – with emotion – will help you blast through mental blocks and barriers. If you rant about what's hard, scary, stupid, or weird about your life and the people in it – you’re almost certain to land on something funny. And only after you get your ideas out in their raw, uncensored form, do you translate them into the language – and movie rating (most likely “G” for corporate gigs) that’s appropriate for your audience.