The day I ‘died’ on stage


When I started stand up comedy my stage name was Nessie Flange (don’t ask).

‘Nessie’ was a very posh lady, given to passing wild opinions – a sort of Hyacinth Bucket character.  She wore a prim black suit and wedding hat.   Nessie was funny and usually made her audience laugh.  But then something horrible happened. Let’s just say there’s a gig somewhere I’ll never be invited back to.  Why?

I ‘died’ on stage – in front of 80 people.  Whatever I said elicited no response. In my prim black suit I was in effect, talking to myself…whilst everyone stared at me with increasing hostility.  Can you imagine how that feels? To this day I shudder at the memory (I’m reaching for the biscuit tin as I type).

What went wrong?

It was a ‘working men’s’ audience – with hardly any women – and they had no way of connecting with the prim, posh character act on the stage.  Did I know this before I went?  No.  So what’s the lesson here?

Research your audience!  When you are giving a presentation observe your audience and your fellow business people.

Get a feel for those around you – the consequences of not doing so can be catastrophic.   It’s always worth getting there early if you can.  Look for the following

  1. With a business pitch or presentation, how are your audience reacting to the type of humour used previously in the room?
  2. Is there anything funny you can pick up on with regard to a comment from previous speaker or business person or audience member?  If you can do this you’re more likely to get a laugh as your comment will be ‘spontaneous’.

At a recent networking meeting all attendees stood up and introduced themselves for 40 seconds.  There were three hypnotherapists in a row.  They all mentioned, obviously, that they were hypnotherapists.

The next person stood up and said  “I’m Alan, and I’m NOT a hypnotherapist….”

Gentle simple humour, completely spontaneous and it got a lovely laugh.   And what happens when people laugh with you?  They can envisage enjoying working with you…..

So…..don’t forget, look around, observe your audience, what’s going on, and with a little planning you can be completely spontaneous.