Have you ever looked into the socks drawer of a horse?
It’s full of socks in ones, twos and threes, completely useless. Did you laugh? Didn’t you? Well, that is the point. Either of those outcomes is fine.
I want to be a comedian. Do I want to be a comedian? My father was an actor, and he kind of made sure that I wouldn’t actually go on the path of performing as an actor. But as a public speaker, I can feel that at least to some degree I would enjoy it, and maybe would be good at it. Telling a story, hearing the feedback from the audience, being able to read how they react, who are attuned to your speaking, who is maybe even riveted. And then, when I deliver a keynote, after I’m done opening the Q&A, I actually understand that people have been provoked into thinking, into asking themselves questions. These are indicators that possibly I could attempt to act as well.
Even seasoned professionals, comedians you admire, need the experience of developing the jokes, testing them and improving them until they work. And of course, during the process, they feel silly, they feel bad, they feel the hurt of the audience not laughing at the joke that doesn’t work. So this is the same iterative process that I talk about so often, where you want to go somewhere, and you want to know what is needed in order to get there, but not exactly how it is going to play out. And as long as you are able to measure the outcome of a given step, you are able to improve, to try variants, until you achieve what you want.
The opportunity of going out on a limb, of getting your hands dirty, of making mistakes, of understanding how and when these things can work is part of the effort that makes the result valuable. The effort that distinguishes those who actually invest in the process, and those who do not. Knowing that we have put in the effort that we have made, the mistakes and that we have achieved our goal of making people laugh.
Watch the video until the end to hear my favorite joke.