Joking with Small Groups

9 People???

This week had I had the opportunity to be in front of a small group. . . 9 people. That’s NINE – single digit. . .no, I didn’t miss a zero. Before  this, the smallest I’d spoken to was 12. . . a little bit of a drop from the 4400 people I was in front of at the Mayo Clinic last year? If it gets any smaller, I think I’ll be performing in a phone booth.

In comedy clubs,

whenever there’s a small group, the comic tends to make fun of the crowd. The standard joke is “only 15 people here? This is intimate. Which in comedy language means crappy turnout.” It’s a funny line, but it makes the crowd feel bad that they came out. . hey, it’s not their fault!

Make them feel good. . .  

So remember, in the case of small groups, you need to make them feel good about being there. I generally start off with a compliment. . “.I love being in front of small groups.” Then hit them with a tasteful joke “it’s just that if you showed up at your job and there were only 2 people there, wouldn’t you figure you missed a holiday or something?”

my group of 9 – teambuilding cooking & then me!

 It’s all about YOU

Find a way to turn the joke on YOU not them. There’s always the standard “I showered” line, but that’s stock. Maybe something a little more to the point – “this always happens when they hear I’m on stage” might be a better way to do it if you’re really, really confident that you will do well.

 I could have started out with. . .

”By the way, there was only 9 people because it was a RETREAT. It was designed that way. . .people didn’t “no-show” because I was speaking.” (Which it really was a retreat designed for just the 9 – just to answer your question) OR maybe the phone booth line above would work. . .hey let’s hold this in my living room and be more comfortable.

 The bottom line is, these people showed up, so you want to make them happy they did so. They’re already self-conscientious about it, so don’t add to that.

 Jan

www.TheWorkLady.com

www.JanBlog.com

The Irony of Ironies

In the previous blog,

I mentioned putting together lists of the environment and then finding the ironies between things in the environment. For one group I realized that they were not getting raises and that they were having a mild winter.. .which lead to the joke “So you’re having a pretty mild winter here in Iowa and there’s no snow and ice? In fact I understand the only thing frozen around here are SALARIES.” That joke was good because I was able to pull out the irony once I had my list of the elements in the environment.

at the bar after skiing! at 4 degrees the irony that there were more people in the bar than on the slopes

 

BUT the irony of ironies is that

sometimes they don’t just jump out at you. I also had to go through that list and determine what other words we use when describing not getting a raise. THAT’s how I came up with“salaries are frozen.” The list was something like “Cap on Salaries” “no cost of living” etc. . . AND I had to look at the fact that Iowa was having such a mild winter and, again, come up with other words for what having a mild winter means. . such as no snow, no ice, nothing will freeze. . .ahhh, so I’ve found freeze in 2 of the things in my list. . .and then I’m able to make the connection.

So to find them. . .

when you write down your list of the environment and list of what you know about the group, don’t stop at the first things you write down. Look for other words or phrases or slang terms we use to say those things and then you’ll make even more connections.

 Jan

 www.JanFanS.com

JanBlog.com

What’s Your Goal???

Goal-Talk

As we cruise into the new year, “goal-talk” is in the air. . .weight loss, exercise, making a bazillion bucks. You name it, we can turn it into a goal. Well, when you’re writing humor, you have to also ask yourself, what is your goal? Are you looking for a HUGE laugh to follow some big event or just a chuckle to get everyone relaxed? When I opened for Julio Iglesias this past year, I THOUGHT it was to warm up the crowd. One minute in, I realized I was there more to settle them down. People were still eating, the wait staff was clearing dishes, and basically I realized that Julio didn’t want to go out to that – that’s why they hired me. Once I realized the goal – that I wasn’t there to get HUGE laughs – I was able to settle down and just enjoy being on stage.

What do you want to doooo

So when you sit down to write some funny material, decide in advance what are you really trying to do? Some goals you might have for the joke: A transition from one speaker or segment of the program to another A tension reliever to get people to move on from a tough topic A stalling joke while people are finishing up dinner A killer line for following something really spectacular That doesn’t mean that you write lame jokes because you’re just looking for a tension reliever versus a killer line, BUT it will take the pressure off trying to come up with a killer line if you really don’t need one.

Me & 3 nieces/nephew (Sandy, Patrick & Abigail) set a goal of cooking xmas eve dinner for 19. A success!

And, as you’re writing, you may realize that a chuckle line you came up with will suffice – so you can save yourself a little time as well!

Jan

www.TheWorkLady.com

www.JanBlog.com

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