I did a stand-up comedy gig. True story. YES you can watch the video but then you must look here and sign up to try it for yourself and then send me flowers afterwards to say thank you.
The moral of this whole story is ANYONE CAN DO ANYTHING ON A STAGE!
My great friend Adam has been telling me to talk to Belina about her courses for years and I'm glad I did. The biggest barrier to me doing this course before now was my diary - I was very rarely in the same city for weeks at a time so I couldn't commit but this year I've been travelling far less (phew!)
The reason I did this is I'm building a business that is about changing confidence. I spend a lot of time talking to others about being on stage, putting themselves out there and speaking up when it feels scary. This was an exercise of empathy for me and I'm building #upfront in a better way because of it.
I'm really good at talking to crowds and I love being on stage but I'm firmly in my comfort zone every time I do both of these things - even with massive crowds. Being funny on stage is a whole different ball game - no amount of design knowledge or expertise is going to guarantee you'll make someone laugh so this is why I wanted to do it. The other big reason was making people laugh is a very powerful way to talk about things that matter - about scary problems and controversial subjects. One of the things I learnt very early in the course is that comedians have permission to tell the truth in a way that nobody else does.
Our class was diverse - different ages, genders, accents, professions, races. We all had two things in common in - firstly we were all driven by making a positive change in the world and secondly we all wanted to try being a stand-up comedian.
Half way through the 6 weeks we met the fabulous Steve Cross who filmed each of us practising our set. This was the night I performed 2 minutes of stand-up comedy in front of ten people. We then watched it back in silence - who do we see? What kind of person do you look like when you separate the performer with YOU? It was a really useful exercise- I forget how much dressing all in black impacts how people perceive me. You can look like a personality that is different from yours and you can use this to your advantage when trying to be funny.
A key learning for me was the idea of always finding the joy and the beauty in things. The first round of feedback I got was that I was coming across as angry. Damn right I'm angry! I wanted to use humour to talk to others about why I was angry so we could all get to work on taking action to tackle the problem! Boy, did I get this all wrong.
Comedians who are angry and have dark material have been doing this for a very long time. You can't be angry when you are just learning because it disengages the audience and makes them feel bad. This was hard for me to get to grips with. The more I practised my material slowly it started to change. One week the group told me it felt like a public lecture with a few one liners in there - that's something very different to a stand-up set. I had to learn how to talk about things that make me really angry in a joyful way. Next time you are angry, ask yourself what is the positive, joyful way of looking at this?
I learned you can control the audience with your face. Any personality test type thing I've ever done in the past has a whole paragraph dedicated to the pros and cons of my inability to hide what I'm thinking or feeling at any given time.
This was actually really useful when trying to be funny because I was making people laugh in an authentic way - what you see on my face is real! You can see pictures of the final show here.
I practised a lot. I really enjoyed the process of writing and rewriting and getting feedback from my very funny baby brother who definitely helped me with some of those cracking one-liners! Hat tip to Bloody Good Period who inspired a chunk of my material.
I used to think comedians we see on TV were just naturally good at being funny. The reality is that every single line, breath, pause and facial expression has been designed and redesigned one hundred times. It's an art and a craft.
I'm going to try and get a slot at an open mic night in London so if you know a good one let me know. I'm also doing more work compering and hosting events and conferences so if you need a host for your next event I'm your woman!
Are you brave enough to tell a joke? In one month from today, the next London Sustainable Stand Up course starts. This one is a hybrid:
Two in-person classes: Sunday April 23 (10-1700) and Sunday May 21 (10 - 1400)
Three on-line classes: Sunday April 30, May 7 and May 14 (1830 - 1945)
And one show in Soho: May 21, 7pm start
All we need is you to join the class and shine. Book now https://www.sustainablestandup.com/#courses