I’ve always thought I had a pretty good sense of humor. Lurking in the dark recesses of desire (somewhere near being a jazz singer in nightclubs, playing the electric guitar in a rock band, meeting Andrea Bocelli and competing in dressage at the Olympics) lies the normally dormant craving to be a comic. I would love to do standup. To be as funny as Paula Poundstone – is there a loftier aspiration in life? Well, OK, yes there is. My point, however, is that I love humor, and am thought of by many as posessing a relatively good sense of the same.
Enter dilema (every good story has a protagonist)….. I have signed up to compete in our Toastmasters’ group annual Humerous Speech Contest, and, to tell you the truth – I got nuthin.
As I desperately try to channel Erma Bombeck and George Carlin (my tastes are nothing if not eclectic!), my idea pool resembles the local water table – pretty low and drying up faster than you can say “Hay is going to be REALLY expensive again this year!” (That, however, is a whole different story, and not very funny at all…)
I flip through O magazine and revel in the effortlessly witty tales of Martha Beck and Lisa Kogan, which surely leap onto the page fully mature, dripping with wisdom and a wry sense of humor to which I dare not aspire.
I think of Robin Williams, Billy Crystal and the (love him or hate him) talented Jeff Foxworthy, making their millions by just talking about life. My life, I’m quite sure, contains enough fodder for their worthy mills that they could retire off just a few of the events in which I have been an often unwitting (and sometimes unwilling) participant. The problem here is not lack of material – it’s an embarassment of riches.
How do I narrow down, winnow out the chaff, and come up with a theme or event around which I can craft a speech with a beginning, middle (with two or three supporting points) and end (in which I bring home the goods, wrap it all up and end with a finale which rivals the Beijing Olympic fireworks? As I said earlier – I got nuthin.
For previous speeches, as both of you who have read my previous posts may or may not remember, I have had at least a rough framework going into the speech. Of course, seeing as the contest is not for another six days and I have also been known to chuck the whole framework the morning of and start again from scratch – I guess I shouldn’t be worrying…… yet…..
However, this is a contest. A chance to be judged by my peers, my fellow Toastmasters, and possibly to move on to the next level and represent my club. It’s one thing to stand in front of a group of a dozen and a half people you see on a fairly regular basis, (and who want you to succeed, I might add) and speak for a small amount of time on a subject with which you are at least somewhat familiar. It’s a whole new game when you may be representing those same people in front of a larger group. Suddenly you have a responsibility ( bold text added for emphasis). The chips are down and it’s time to ante up.
So, the next few days of my life will be spent (in between the two jobs, the family, the pets and the volunteering by teaching dressage to kids at camp this Saturday), in trying to come up with a topic, build the framework, flesh it out, and then bring it all together by noon on Wednesday. Wish me luck! Oh, and if any of you happen to see Paula Poundstone, have her give me a call!