When I first heard about the Clean Comedy Challenge my ears perked up. Then I found out it would be held in the middle of an Indiana cornfield, 2 hours away from civilization. Since I am on the once every 12-year vacation plan, I thought it best to stick to my motto: if traveling more than 3 hours from home, there better be waves of foam.
I want to pick up sea shells not corn husks.
Then they moved the venue a little further south to St. Pete’s beach in Florida.
Major game changer. I thought… sugar sand beaches… oceans of blue green… and COMEDY.
I am so there.
The comedy challenge started on a Wednesday afternoon in July. I walked into the Coconuts Comedy Club with 15 other comics at all stages of the game. Slight tension and nervous forced jokes filled the air, but soon we relaxed and became funny friends for life.
Here is how the week’s agenda broke down. Comedy veterans with 20 years of experience taught afternoon workshops. Then we broke for dinner. At 9 pm we hit the comedy stage to perform our first set. Every set was judged by a professional comedian and the next day we received a private evaluation from them.
Most comics might consider going up second in the line-up the kiss of death. Not me, I was about to hyperventilate. And that set felt like the longest 3 minutes of my life.
Afterward, judge Bill Gordo gave me some advice. He said, “To calm your nerves, jump up and down 100 times and down a shot of caffeine.”
I’m a good listener, the next night before my set I ran a marathon and downed a 6 pack of Diet Mountain Dew.
Good thing, because this was the night comedy legend Eddie Brill would be judging.
I went up on stage, did my second set and gave it my best shot.
The next day Brill led our workshop and gave us our evaluations.
In late night television, Eddie Brill is considered a comedy god and his word the gospel.
During the 17 years he booked for David Letterman, Brill told us that on average, he received 25 tapes a day of comics dying to be on Letterman. His job was to be able to recognize talent quickly and book over 3,500 comics a year, not including the regulars.
He told our group, “You might struggle in the beginning because you’re not sure who you are yet.”
And that is when he looked to me and said, “You came out on stage, you were really funny and I’ll point it out in front of everyone, you have it.”
I looked behind me to see who on earth he was talking to.
Realizing he meant me, I was flattered but a bit embarrassed, especially for him, because I knew at any moment he would turn and say, “Sorry, I thought you were somebody else.”
When I walked in for my personal evaluation with him, he said, “I already gave you your feedback.”
I said, “Good because I got it on tape so you can’t take it back. And while you’re at it, define it.”
Showing me his notes he said, “Look… good personality on stage. You can tell you love it…You have what it takes to be a performer. You have what it takes to be a comedian. Now you just have to do the hard stuff, the writing. So write, write, write (which as you can see I am doing). But natural, very funny. You can’t buy that.”
Grinning from ear to ear, I drove back to the hotel to prep for the last night. But all of a sudden I was about to hyperventilate from the intense pressure to prove that I really did have it.
You see, knowing you have it is only part one of the equation. Choosing to do something with it will catapult you into living a thriving life.
And if I can do it, so can you. Here’s what you do:
- Discover it
Every one of us has a unique gift and God-given talent. And you must take the time to discover it. Start by make a list of what comes natural, fills you up and sets your hearts on fire. Your strength could be writing, catching a ball in your mouth or burping at 110 decimals- yes ladies, he really does exist.
Once you make your discovery then comes the time to get after it.
- Work it
Okay, so you’ve figured out what you’ve got. Now what? Start simple: take a class or join a club to learn how to hone your skills and work it. Hang out with likeminded people because great minds think alike. The energy and knowledge you will share within the group will spark excitement, desire, and the courage to continue on your successful path.
And I promise, you can’t help but get better when you consistently work it.
- Give it
We have been given this gift, this talent. We’ve honed our skills and worked it in safe places.
Now I know it sounds like Indian-giving but in this case, we’re supposed to give it back to the world.
Unfortunately, this is where many get skeered, high tail it and run! We get caught up in the fear of “how it will pan out, or not.” Or we believe we can’t put it out there until it is absolutely perfect, hoping to avoid all potential risks.
But you can’t keep it to yourself screaming, It’s Mine, All Mine! Mwha-ha-ha!.
Not sharing it with the world is kind a selfish and it doesn’t give others the opportunity to see what we are really made of.
Our responsibility is to give it back to the world-to use our gifts and talents to their fullest extent.
So go for it!
Humorist, Erma Bombeck, said, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say I used everything You gave me.”
I think it is safe to say she did just as she hoped and because of it she lived a thriving life. And her followers were grateful.
Start now. Make the choice to discover it, work it and give it back to the world so you can live a thriving life.
Because if I can have it and do it, so can you.