Motivational Speakers Are Always Looking At The Funny Side of Life
Not every keynote speaker uses humor – but those that do understand its value. Audiences love to laugh and meeting planners love to book funny speakers. Simply put – funny sells. That’s why so many speakers (like me) are constantly looking for ways to add humor to our presentations. It’s a hard thing, learning to write and deliver humor – a subject with many lessons, techniques, and approaches. But for today, I’m just going to share one – two words – LOOK AROUND. Humor is everywhere.
There are hundreds of funny little things that happen around us all the time. We just aren’t trained to look for them. And then we sit and stare at a blank piece of paper and try to conjure up funny which is almost impossible, even for me. So here is my advice to all those out there wanting to use more humor on stage – start looking for it. Carry a notebook and a pen everywhere you go. When something funny happens, write it down.
Don’t worry about writing a whole story, or the whole incident – just write enough notes to trigger your memory later.
Sometimes I will just remember the funny premise – like how it’s funny when husbands and wives argue over directions. One of my most popular comedy bits on spankings as a kid, started when I was at a cookout and everybody started sharing stories about how they were spanked. People were laughing so hard they were crying. I ran for my notebook.
Sometimes Funny Isn’t As Funny As It Is REAL
It’s hard to try to write something funny – but it’s not hard to write about something real. I always tell speakers to shoot for the real quirks and oddities that exist in the people you meet. Hit on real, and funny will usually follow naturally. The weird things people do are always where you find the humor. Nobody cares about normal people. Pay attention to the times when you (or others) vent or rage about something that happened. Or the moments when you (or someone else) are complaining about yet another stupid thing in this world. Chances are good that if you find it strange, so do others.
So start looking for funny things around you. It will be hard at first, but once you get going, you will be amazed at what you see. Life is filled with humor – we just have to look for it.
Here’s a little story I wrote on potty training when my son was younger. Maybe you can relate. Or maybe it will make you think of a story of your own.
On Potty Training…
If you’ve ever been an active participant in a toddler’s potty training season, you know the tremendous victory when he finally conquers his fears and, without prompting, deposits his first unsolicited stinky in the potty. I am proud to say that my son finally crossed the finish line this morning. There were hoorays, high-fives, and tears of relief that my son won’t be the only kid on the football team wearing a pull-up. I kissed him, gave him the five pound bag of M&M’s I had promised, and put a nice cap on what was already a treasured moment by promising him a trip to the auto shop – his favorite place in the whole world. Forget Disney on Ice, forget Elmo at the coliseum – take my kid to watch Buster breathe life into a Dodge Duster and my kid hits toddler nirvana.
Unfortunately, this is never as cheap a form of entertainment as I would hope. It’s the auto shop after all.
My son starts shaking in excitement at the mere sight of that giant plastic tire in the sky and we pull into one of those quaint small-town operations where not only can you get your tires rotated while Hank sings his sorrows from the dusty old radio, you can find out whose kid is sure to be crowned homecoming queen, hear where old man Jenkins turned up this week on his wayward scooter, and even buy some bait if you feel so inclined. All to the sounds of various auto shop tools that form the symphony my son so loves. I’m convinced that when his Sunday school teacher sings about heaven, this is what he sees.
I am still getting out of the car when my son bolts out of the back seat and sprints across the parking lot so fast I feared the wind would catch hold of his protruding ears. He is partly fueled by the M&M’s that have left a perfect o-shaped chocolate ring around his mouth, and partly fueled by the fact that he has got news to share.
And before I have time to stop him he comes to a screeching halt in front of the row of open garage doors, takes a deep breath and screams in his loudest voice to date, “I went stinky on the potty!”
My heart stopped from extreme embarrassment and time stood still as his announcement echoed and bounced through the walls of the auto shop and down Main Street where they stopped pumping gas three blocks down. I debated the idea of pretending I’d never seen this kid and making a run for it, but I figured that might turn around and bite me. So I just smiled the same “what can you do?” smile I pasted on when he sang, Jesus Loves Me down every single aisle of the grocery store.
What felt like an eternity in that parking lot was really in retrospect only a second when he screamed, “I went stinky on the potty” and without hesitation there came from the bays in that garage a unifying resounding male cheer from under cars and behind hoods. It was no less enthusiastic than had he just scored the game-winning touchdown in the Super Bowl.
“Way to go,” they cried. “Good job,” they screamed as the air filled with waving wrenches and power drills. And my son beamed as his greatest heroes in the whole world stopped what they were doing to recognize his accomplishment.
And in that moment, they became my heroes too.