Sometimes I am tooooo deep. I know this. I know I can get in a self or socially conscious rut at time. Perhaps this lil' bit of advice will lighten the mood here a bit as I work on my next scathing artice/essay. Come on...you know you want to read it!
In transitioning from stand up comedian (who speak their minds) to a Toastmasters Humor Speaker in a contest, let me tell you what not to do.
There is a rule known in comedy circles, and actually any performance circle, called 'know your audience.' It is a good rule and one that will always help you craft your message to the correct demographic. Unless you are a smart aleck comedian.
I recently competed at the 'area' level in a Toastmasters Humorous contest. I scratched my way to this second level of five levels. Now, I knew who would comprise my audience. There would be basically conventional Toastmasters types that delight in stories about coffee, the dreams of a boy and a broken television and relatively safe stuff. Hey, let's just say totally safe material!
I knew this coming into the competition. I knew it after I heard the first humor contestant delight in 'why do women in SUV's drive with their cellphones attached to their heads.' I knew it from checking out the audience before the event. By the way, these are the lessons in this article:
check out YOUR audience before the contest, mingle with them, and listen to the other speakers to see what the audience is going for, and hopefully these hints will guide your speaking efforts.
I know of these things, yet, I choose to blatantly ignore them for the sake of, one, stage time, and two because the words Penis and Vagina, of which everyone in the audience was in possession of, should not have made them cower or recoil. Which I believe some of them did! Apparently, those accouterments are not used very often...by some. (Another lesson, do not be mad or blame your audience for your performance!) (And, no, I'm not mad nor blaming them...I'm sorta making fun of them, I'm a comedian, remember!)
Which brings me to the last lesson. Do Not, I repeat DO NOT do what I did (you'd have to be really brave or crazy!) Do not use language that will turn some or most of the audience against you! Think through your speech! I made people feel uncomfortable...on purpose!
I knew way ahead of time, that I would not nor could not win a Toastmasters humor contest...not with my mouth or my comedic past!
I even mentioned to the audience their discomfort in hearing those words within a speech. My speech BTW was not blue, laced with any expletives, nor did I mention anything graphic. I simply uttered 2 terms that tend to make adults feel like, 'No! She didn't say that! Oh, my God, I'm embarrassed! Now, John (?) knows I have one! Damn Her!" Or they were feeling something like that. I must also say that I am a registered nurse, so those terms, PENIS and VAGINA are part of my working vocabulary. Although, I must say that they are used in the nurses lounge more than in relation to patients!
If you've read my other articles, you know by now that I cannot count. So here is the other lesson that I took a 'hit for the team' in order to write this article (and get the precious, precious stage time!) At some point take the chance, take the risk and say what you want to say! Risk putting yourself out there. I am not talking racism or porn! I was not tarred and feathered. I am still alive. Some of the older ladies gave me a few looks. So what! Actually, a lot of the audience thought I was really funny (one guy stated that I could be a comedian!)
Which of course leads me to the final lesson. Please make sure the MC, or whomever introduces you, gives you the correct introduction! Immediately, after the 'comedian' comment from an fan, I thought, perhaps some of the audience would have accepted my material better, if they had known I was a stand up comedian and nurse from the beginning. I would have been given a bit more leeway in stating or being more blunt...not blue, not offensive, but directly stating certain words!
So those are the lessons I offer to you.