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T. Bubba Bechtol is a speaker turned professional comedian. Beside dozens doing dozens' of television appearances, Bubba made his Grand Ole Opry debut in 2000 and has become a regular. He has released several comedy albums/CDs' including "Bill Ain't No Bubba" and his most recent "I'm Confused" by MGA.
I have been talking Bubba up for ages. Let me share an anecdote.
Jim: One last question, Cantu. Is there any real money in being a humorist if you stay with it and get really good?
Cantu: Let me share a story to answer that. A couple of years ago, a comedian friend of mine, who I'll call Jim, was booked at the Bohemian Grove, located on the Russian River, a couple of hours drive north of San Francisco.
The Bohemian Grove is where big mucky mucks go to play. The Bohemian Grove is owned by the Bohemian Club. The membership list has included every Republican U.S. president (as well as some Democrats) since 1923, many cabinet officials, and directors and CEO's of large corporations.
Jim: Got the picture.
Cantu: Jim is a comedian headliner who has been on network television more than a dozen times and has opened for Willie Nelson. He was booked to provide entertainment one weekend as a comedian at $700 a performance.
Jim noticed another person on the schedule billed as a "humorist." The other person, as it turned out, was a speaker colleague of mine, who I will call Terry . Jim took the time to check out Terry's presentation. It seemed to Jim that Terry was essentially doing a comedy act, but mostly with personal stories and anecdotes -- not filled one-liners.
Jim struck up a conversation with Terry. They hit it off and hung out together the rest of the weekend. On the last night they were booked, Jim asked the question he had been dying to ask, "Terry, what's the difference between a comedian and a humorist?"
And Terry replied "About $15,000 a booking." I figure Terry probably does maybe close to 100 engagements a year. You do the math. (Terry is T. Bubba Bechtol)
And now here's Bubba being interview by June Cline.
June Cline: Bubba, you are one of the rare ones that has successfully crossed over to the entertainment world from speaking. How did you do that?
Bubba Bechtol: The one thing I had to do was be willing to start over again in the entertainment field.
All the recognition and expertise I had learned from NSA and the speaking world was of no use whatsoever, with the exception of the platform skills. I was light years ahead of the competition when it came to performing, and that is what has brought me success so far.
It was a different world entirely. The speaking profession did prepare me for the change. I had hours of material, not just minutes, like other comedians I was competing against!
I knew how to be funny, but now it had to be in the first 15 seconds on TV, instead of warming up, as we do in the speaking business. But, as a humorist, I found that people laughed at the same stuff. I just had to present it a little differently-- shorter, much shorter.
Secondly, in entertainment, you don't sell yourself; the manager and the agent do. That was frustrating for me. The buyers don't even want to speak to "the talent."
They will avoid you. They like to speak to managers and agents only. Booking agencies and booking bureaus are totally different, as well. The agent sells the dates on the calendar, the manager manages and advises your entire career, and the PR person gets you known in the business.
In the speaking world, a bureau sells dates on the calendar and a few offer other services, but you do all the rest yourself.
JC: What's the one thing that transfers between both worlds?
Bubba: I guess the one thing that transfers in both is this: My grandfather was one of the last CC riders in the South. He was a pastor for several small Baptist churches in Southern Mississippi and was a great mall in all ways.
He told me once, "Terryl, people will forget what you say, they will forget what you do for them, but people will never forget how you make them feel." Laughter makes them feel great in both arenas, and if you make them "feel it" they never forget you in either one!
This interview is was edited and adapted from an essay originally published in Professional Speaker® the official member publication of the National Speakers Association. http://www.nsaspeaker.org
June Cline CSP is a professional speaker, based in Kennesaw Ga, and is also chapter President of NSA-Georgia.