Increase the humor content (and laughs) of your professional presentations, informal business talks, and every day conversation.
My background as a writer - those of you, if you have taken my standup class you’ve heard this before, please bear with me.
My introduction to comedy essentially was hearing funny jokes at school, grade school, kindergarten, first grade, second grade. Hearing funny jokes and coming home and telling them to my mother. And my mother was a large, fat - a big fat woman. Which was great because when you tell a fat person a joke and they laugh you see the reaction. The whole body reacts. And I just loved watching my mother shake with laughter. So that’s really my introduction to comedy. And I just always liked jokes. Hearing jokes, telling them to my friends. Sometimes things would happen and I would think of a line but I never thought of myself as a joke writer. I never thought of myself as a class clown. Except sometimes at school, sometimes you say things people laugh at and sometimes you say things and they don’t laugh at it. You just do what you do.
I do remember for a short period in high school, I used to memorize Bob Newhart albums. I loved Bob Newhart. The telephone bit. It's really great. I loved the way he's paint these wonderful pictures and I would memorize his albums. I'd hear them on the radio and I would memorize them, go to school and do them as my own. And that was my introduction to performing. But I never really, as I said, thought of myself as being a comedian, comedy writer or a producer of humor.
Around 1968 I read in Writer's Market - Cartoonist buying gags. Cartoonist, by that I mean when you look at Playboy, Playgirl, Cosmopolitan, Saturday Evening Post, those cartoons you see in the paper or magazines - most of those artists buy ideas. And I read about that in Writers' Market and I thought I have found my life's work. I'm going to start writing cartoon ideas because I loved cartoons and in six months I'll go to the Bahamas, I'll just sit on the beach and this will be the life for me. Well, it's one thing to know you're funny, it's another thing to sit down with a blank sheet paper and write funny stuff. And when I learned that, it was the most humbling experience of my life up to that time. I thought what is this?
I know I'm funny but when I look at a blank sheet of paper, three hours later, I have a blank sheet of paper. I know that I was not going to get to the Bahamas having blank sheets of paper. I actually did write two lines. I think in three months I had written 30 cartoon ideas. That is 10 ideas a month. I knew right then and there I was not going to very far on this. Because first of all, the reality is that what ever you produce, you are never totally successful - you're successful with only a small portion of your efforts.
If you write 30 ideas, you might sell 5% - 10% - 20%. No body has a 100% track record. Baseball players - if a baseball player steps up to the plate and misses 6 times out of every 10 times at bat he's considered one of the best rate players in the land with a ratio of - if he strikes out 6 times - a three hundred batting average is considered good for players. That means he missing at least 6 out of 10 times. We have a certain amount of failure built-in. Well I only had 30 strikes to begin with and it was frustrating. And I thought, Well, I guess I'm not a funny as I thought was. That was painful to admit to myself. And I stopped writing in 1968.
But two years later, I saw a cartoon...