Okay, first of all, it helps if you’re funny. If you’re not naturally funny, it’s going to be an uphill battle. But, even if you are naturally funny, this in no way prepares you to be a Funny Motivational Speaker. It is part art, part science. It’s a skill to be learned and it takes years to develop it. There is one thing in being funny for your family and friends and another to do it in front of a roomful of strangers.
There are two elements here: “Funny” and “Speaker.” They are two completely different skill sets. I did the funny first. I have been told that I’m funny for as long as I can remember. So, taking a dare to do standup comedy was a natural progression of events. I was on a Club Med vacation in Cancun, Mexico. I had been joking around all week when someone said, “You are so funny! You should get up on talent night and do a standup routine! I dare you.”
Well, I’ve never been one to dodge a dare. So, I went up and did my jokes in front of an audience who was comprised of half French people.
I absolutely—as they say in standup—killed! I guess the French people thought I looked funny because they were laughing, too.
When I got home, I decided to try my hand at standup comedy at the local comedy club on “Open Mic Night.” I died a terrible death. (Notice how all of the standup comedy metaphors have to do with death and dying?) Now, having been told I was funny my entire life and just coming off my big Club Med Talent Night, this ticked me off. I thought, “I KNOW I’m funny. I can LEARN to do this.” So, that’s exactly what I did. I set out to be funny to that roomful of strangers at the weekly Open Mic Night and before I knew it, I had been bitten by the comedy bug. I would get a few laughs, then the next week, a few more. I was hooked.
Doing standup comedy takes years and years to become any good at it. It’s really not something you ever master, because there is always room to grow and evolve.
I ended up doing standup comedy professionally for many years. Eventually, I moved to New York City and studied at the feet of the masters: Jon Stewart, Jerry Seinfeld, Louis C.K. just to name a few. For four years, I lived and performed standup comedy in New York City.
Through a series of personal circumstances, I ended up leaving New York and returning to Ohio to become my mother’s caregiver. I was a standup comedian in New York one day and a caregiver the next.
Fast forward 7 years after she passed, and I was at a loss as to what to do with my life. I knew I wanted to return to the stage, but I wasn’t sure at what capacity. I dabbled in standup, but it had lost its magic for me. I reconnected with an old comedy pal who had transitioned to being a Funny Motivational Speaker. She said, “With all of your comedy experience, life experience and education, you would have a lot to bring to the speaking world.” I was fascinated! Before long I was hooked. I embraced the challenge of combining clean, relatable humor with solid content to deliver Funny Motivational Speeches. I have come to absolutely love what I do! Combining the two skill sets of comedy and speaking was a challenge and didn’t happen overnight. I joined the National Speaker’s Association to learn more about crafting a speech and then marketing your services. Then, it took several years of trial and error with live audiences to hit my stride and meld what I wanted to talk about with what an audience wanted/needed to hear. Just like standup comedy, it takes years to develop speaking platform skills. Speaking is not something you can just read about, no more than you could read about playing the piano. You have to do it over and over, hundreds and thousands of times.
But it can be done! To be a Funny Motivational Speaker, it takes passion and drive combined with resilience and flexibility. It’s really no different than learning any other skill. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” I’m very grateful that I took that first step.