Hook 'em with Humor
eBook - ePub

Hook 'em with Humor

The Public Speaker's Guide to Having Fun and Using Humor to Mesmerize, Fascinate, and Engage

Ricky Olson, Laura L. Bush

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eBook - ePub

Hook 'em with Humor

The Public Speaker's Guide to Having Fun and Using Humor to Mesmerize, Fascinate, and Engage

Ricky Olson, Laura L. Bush

Dettagli del libro
Anteprima del libro
Indice dei contenuti

Informazioni sul libro

Ricky Olson is an award-winning humorous speaker. Although he was told all his life he was funny, no one was laughing when he gave stand-up comedy a shot. Being “naturally funny” failed him, so he was forced to figure it out or quit. After four years of intense study and after finding an amazing coach, Ricky shares what he’s learned, so you, too, can Hook ’Em with Humor.

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When Being Naturally Funny Failed Me
As I sat at the tiny Starbucks table, I wondered what I had gotten myself into. I had thought that, since I was naturally funny, I could easily become a comedian. So I decided to give it a shot.
But, there I was and there it was, my empty notebook page staring back at me ... taunting me: “Whatcha got, funny guy?” I let out a sigh and took another drink from the Grande Americano with an extra shot. Boy, oh boy, I really needed that extra shot to kick in. And then I heard that familiar voice of doubt: “Maybe you aren’t that funny after all. You only got voted second funniest in high school. Oh, and don’t forget when your ‘friends’ insisted you enter the funniest person on campus contest in college and you got second—again!” Who could forget that?
I continued looking at that empty page, trying to figure out what was funny and willing myself to write something—anything—I began to seriously question and wondered, “What was I thinking?” My entire life I’d been told I was funny. My parents’ friends compared me to the beloved character of Spanky in The Little Rascals. I actually laugh out loud while recalling one night while visiting another family, they proclaimed that we should stay for supper. While my parents were graciously trying to deny the invite (What were they thinking? They had great food), the man of the house declared, “You need to stay because I don’t want to be eating this sh** all week.” I barely missed a beat when my 10-year-old mouth quipped, “Well if it’s sh**, I don’t want to eat it now.” Everyone laughed, even my mother laughed while trying to scold me at the same time.
As I took another slurp of my Americano, I remembered in college, my friends always encouraged me, “You should really be doing stand-up comedy,” they’d say. “You are sooooOOOOO funny!”
And yet there I was, sitting in a Starbucks, staring at a blank page trying to write jokes. Now my mind has more evidence for how “I wasn’t really good at anything,” and this one really hurt because I was known as “the funny guy.” It was my identity. “The funny guy” is who I am, and who everyone tells me I am, but at that moment, I couldn’t think of a single funny thing to write! Another sip of coffee failed to java jolt my mind into thinking of something funny.
My mind started to wonder. I only even gave comedy a shot because I had stumbled into a free, introductory workshop to stand-up comedy. Heck, I thought to myself, if someone thinks they can teach comedy, I could probably learn it. But, as my blank notebook and I sat there, drinking coffee and struggling to write jokes, I felt like giving up.
Although the stand-up classes at the Tempe Improv challenged me, my biggest struggle was not knowing what the “instructor” wanted from me exactly. I was losing hope that a naturally funny guy like me would ever get paid to be funny. Although he offered an occasional “Nice joke!” or “I like where you’re going with that,” I also had to endure his always ambiguous and very frustrating coaching: “Write from more emotion. Highlight your setup and your punch lines.”
As an obsessive person who loathes failure, I doubled my efforts. Thanks to the Amazon Kindle, my wife had no idea how many books I was buying. She did see my effort and the time I was putting into it, which encouraged me and helped my confidence a lot. Now I started searching the Internet for answers, any answers ... COME ON! While preparing for my third performance, I felt my frustration reach an all-time high. I finally reached out to a man in LA who offered one-on-one coaching by way of Skype. The part that caught my eye? He promised a “systematic way to write comedy faster.”
What did I have to lose, right? He couldn’t make me less funny, could he?
Within the first 10 minutes of talking to Jerry Corley, I knew I had found the essential piece that I had been missing and what I desperately needed: someone who knew what he was talking about when it came to comedy. Jerry was able to explain why people laughed (he called them the Laugh Triggers). He could also derive the basic joke structures that came from their laughter. Over a couple of Skype sessions, we worked together and created a really great set of jokes for my third showcase. Then the most unexpected thing happened. Only one month later, thanks to Jerry’s coaching and mentoring, I got my first paid gig!
I was hooked—and hooked bad.
I drove to LA to take his weekend comedy-writing workshop. And then, a few weeks later, he started a new standup class on Saturday afternoon. Perfect! My wife supported me and drove with me over to Burbank on Saturday mornings. I would take Jerry’s class, we stayed overnight in California, and then drove back home to Phoenix on Sunday mornings. We did that for eight weeks. The drive time was six hours each way. The hotel room ran about $129 a night. Plus, I paid for additional private coaching sessions with Jerry over Skype, more weekend workshops, and three additional eight-week classes. Yes, you’re reading that right. I invested significant time and money to become good at stand-up comedy.
I believe that qualifies as doing the work—at least in part. In addition, I read more books, took improv classes, and joined Toastmasters. I was lucky to find a place to perform standup and improv regularly at a high-level for two, three, or four shows a week.
And then something I didn’t expect to happen, happened.
I was with a large group of people at a restaurant having dinner being my usual funny self. People were laughing so hard, they couldn’t breathe. I don’t say that to brag, but to tell you that making people laugh wasn’t an out-of-the-ordinary occurrence for me. This time, though, I noticed that, while I thought I was being my naturally funny self, I noticed that I was using one of Jerry’s formulas. In fact, I had incorporated two or three formulas into what I was saying.
From that night forward, I started paying more attention to how I talked with my friends. Sure enough, whenever I was being “naturally” funny, at least one of those formulas or laugh triggers was present. I realized then that I could teach people to become more “naturally” funny. As a result, I started studying all the research on laughter I could find.
At the same time, I was still working to win the Toastmasters’ District Humorous Speaking Championship. Finally, all the hard work paid off. In July 2014, I got my first paid headlining gig. And then in November, I won the District 3 Humorous Speaking Championship. Since then, I’ve been focused on refining the process of creating humor to help anyone quickly and easily add humor to their speeches and presentations. I’ve released two online courses: one for speakers and another for adding humor to dating profiles. I’ve taught several workshops on both those topics as well, and I’ve coached speakers and comedians alike.
I worked on this process for over four years. What it taught me is that being funny is a very specific skill. Being funny with a group of people is a different skill than doing stand-up comedy. Likewise, doing stand-up comedy is different from delivering humor in a speech or presentation. During this time, I made mistakes and experienced major obstacles. I’ve learned the value of having a good teacher, coach, and mentor. Investing thousands of dollars in this process was worth it because I worked with someone who could really help me shortcut the process. Excellent coaches say the right thing at the right time. Jerry told me I was one of the few who had what it took to be good.
“Do you know how I know?” he asked me. “Because you’re willing to do the work. Most of the people I work with aren’t willing to do the work.”
With Jerry, I experienced the difference between a subject matter expert and a substance matter expert. I first heard about the distinction between subject matter and substance matter experts from Tony Blauer, a self-defense expert. I bet you didn’t see that one coming did you? Self-defense expert in a book on being funny? Absolutely! Some audiences can be mean. Tony stresses the difference between someone who knows their subject and someone who understands the substance that underlies the subject. A substance matter expert does more than just repeat fluff advice. Finally, I learned to do the work. I didn’t always enjoy it. The jokes don’t just come to me without effort; writing a joke is literally work. I had to set goals and work up to writing more and more jokes over time. Once I wrote Jerry and told him, “I’ve made a goal of writing 10 jokes a day.” Then I asked, “How do I do it? Should I write one joke for 10 different headlines or 10 jokes on a single headline?”
“You’re a rock star, Rick!” He said I should find a news headline that interested me and stick with the one headline and write 10 jokes. He closed with, “I can’t wait to see what you come up with!”
At that point, I had to do the work on my own—just me and a blank piece of paper. Which is exactly how I started this chapter: just my notebook and me. But this time, I had an actual process for writing jokes, so I wouldn’t be looking at a blank page for very long. Now, I have several processes for writing humor, consisting of different tools, techniques, and formulas that I’ve honed over the years. I also have Jerry’s encouraging words in my head, along with the words from many other expert humorists, including John Vorhaus, Gene Perret, and Mel Helitzer.
As you continue reading, my hope is that you’ll be encouraged and educated about the power of humor and how to make it work for you. Pay no attention to how funny you think you are (or aren’t) now; it doesn’t matter. I’ve lived what I’m sharing about in this book. I know that, if you do the work and put in the practice, you can become as funny as you’d like to become. And, please, let me and others know how this book helps you become a funnier you.
Next, when I wanted to transition from stand-up to humorous speaking and corporate comedy, I joined Toastmasters and was pleased to discover they had a humorous speech contest. I entered two years in a row and failed to advance to the final round. Oh, I was funny, but all of the laughter came at the expense of the greater purpose of the speech. I decided I needed a new approach. One last time, I attempted to advance to the final round and win the District 3 Humorous Speech contest. The third time, as they say, was the charm. With my new strategy, I won the competition.
I’m going to share what I learned—and more—with you.
The 5 Obstacles to Using Humor and Being Funny
When it comes to being funny, adding humor to a speech or presentation and getting laughs puts you up against five major obstacles: mindset, willingness to practice, “vagueralities,” no mentor, and no process.
The first two obstacles—mindset and a willingness to practice—are opposite sides of the same coin. Daniel Coyle explains the obstacles perfectly in his blog: “[A]dult prodigies succeed because they’re able to work past two fundamental barriers: 1) the wall of belief that they can’t do it; and 2) the grid of adult routines that keep them from spending time working intensively to improve skills. In other words, it’s not so much about your ‘natural talents,’ as it is about your mindset and your habits.”11 Coyle’s “wall of belief” is what I mean by your mindset and the “grid of adult routines” is what I mean by your willingness to practice.
The First Obstacle—Mindset
In my experience, the biggest obstacle you’ll face is your own mindset because you’ll question whether it’s really possible to learn how to be funny, especially if you’re trying to learn to be humorous later in life. In the May 2013 issue of New Scientist, David Robin says, “A decade ago, few neuroscientists would have agreed that adults can rival the learning talents of children. But we needn’t be so defeatist. The mature brain, it turns out, is more supple than anyone thought.... Whatever you want to learn, it’s never too late to charge those grey cells.”12
Thanks to Professor Carol Dweck’s research, we know that being funny results from both nature and nurture. In her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Dweck discusses achievement and success, demonstrating that now, more than ever, we know that our ability to do anything, including be humorous, is directly tied to our mindset.
Allow me to introduce you to the two mindsets I’ve observed as I’ve been teaching people about humor. First, when I’ve been networking or having dinner with other speakers, they often say to me, “I’d like to, but I’m just not funny.” I usually smirk a little (mostly to myself, I hope) and say, “That’s funny.” This is what is call a “fixed mindset,” believing that certain skills or personal attributes are either part of who you are, or they’re not. Very often this first mindset comes with the fear of not wanting to look bad or fail. People with a fixed mindset prefer to tell themselves, “I’m just not _______________.” In this case, fill in the blank with “funny.”
I witnessed this fixed and fearful mindset firsthand as I got started in stand-up comedy. During my beginning humor class, I met Jim, a very funny guy who made me laugh. But when the time came for our first performance on stage, Jim didn’t get the laughs he wanted; he didn’t do as well as he thought he should. The very next class, Jim had a breakdown: “I guess I’m not as funny as I thought.” He tried one more class and one more performance. I thought it went well, considering it was only our second time on stage. Jim didn’t think so, and he never came back to class. Based on just his first two beginning performances, Jim abandoned his quest to do stand-up comedy. I miss Jim. Don’t be like Jim.
The second mindset is a “growth mindset,” which is when we believe that personal attributes like humor can be cultivated and grown through experience and practice. Jim and I started our stand-up comedy careers at the same time. Jim decided he “just wasn’t as funny as he thought.” In contrast, I decided I was as funny as ever, but I also learned that stand-up comedy was a different skill set than being naturally funny. I just needed more time to learn, experience, and grow into being a stand-up comic. And I was right. Even though I struggled, I didn’t give up. Eventually, I found a comedy coach who could explain key details to me like the triggers of human laughter. With that valuable information and his coaching, I got my first paid gig just two months later and my first paid headlining gig three years after that. Before you get dollar signs in your eyes, you should know the gig only paid $25. I spent more that night on drinks at the club. Sssh, don’t tell my wife.
Although I know I have a growth mindset, I still struggled and I also nearly gave up until I found a great coach. Even though my coach taught me excellent information and key details about being a good stand-up comic that had me excel in the long run, I still had to...

Indice dei contenuti

  1. Cover
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright Page
  4. Dedication
  5. Testimonials/Advanced Praise
  6. Acknowledgments
  7. Contents
  8. Foreword
  9. Introduction
  10. How to Use This Book
  11. Chapter 1: When Being Naturally Funny Failed Me
  12. Chapter 2: The 5 Obstacles to Using Humor and Being Funny
  13. Chapter 3: Humor Demystified
  14. Chapter 4: The Laugh Generator™ Process
  15. Chapter 5: The 7 Reasons Humor Is a Must or You Fail
  16. Chapter 6: The Simple Joke Writing System™
  17. Chapter 7: The Laugh Multiplier™: Turning One Laugh into Many
  18. Chapter 8: The 7 Deadly Humor Mistakes Speakers Make and How to Avoid Them
  19. Chapter 9: Delivery and The Laugh Amplifier™
  20. Chapter 10: The Laugh Troubleshooter™ Process
  21. Chapter 11: The Unfortunate Truth—Why You Aren’t Funnier
  22. Chapter 12: The Safe Humor Solution™
  23. Chapter 13: Where to Add Humor
  24. Chapter 14: The Material Machine™: Finding More Humorous Content
  25. Chapter 16: Putting it All Together
  26. Chapter 15: The Writer’s Block Eradicator™
  27. Resources
  28. Author Bio
  29. Notes
Stili delle citazioni per Hook 'em with Humor

APA 6 Citation

Olson, R. (2017). Hook ’em with Humor ([edition unavailable]). Ricky Olson. Retrieved from https://www.perlego.com/book/2862705/hook-em-with-humor-the-public-speakers-guide-to-having-fun-and-using-humor-to-mesmerize-fascinate-and-engage-pdf (Original work published 2017)

Chicago Citation

Olson, Ricky. (2017) 2017. Hook ’em with Humor. [Edition unavailable]. Ricky Olson. https://www.perlego.com/book/2862705/hook-em-with-humor-the-public-speakers-guide-to-having-fun-and-using-humor-to-mesmerize-fascinate-and-engage-pdf.

Harvard Citation

Olson, R. (2017) Hook ’em with Humor. [edition unavailable]. Ricky Olson. Available at: https://www.perlego.com/book/2862705/hook-em-with-humor-the-public-speakers-guide-to-having-fun-and-using-humor-to-mesmerize-fascinate-and-engage-pdf (Accessed: 15 October 2022).

MLA 7 Citation

Olson, Ricky. Hook ’em with Humor. [edition unavailable]. Ricky Olson, 2017. Web. 15 Oct. 2022.