Earlier this month I wrote this piece on how professional stand-up comics and presenters & speakers have much in common. Many of you agreed. Then my buddy and marketing guru Mitch Joel in Canada left this comment concerning a wonderful little documentary called Comedian: "[Comedian] is the movie that aligns perfectly with this blog post," wrote Mitch. "To watch Seinfeld grapple with new material, work it out in front of an audience, refine the flow and the stories, rehearse, plus, on top of it, the isolation that all speakers feel was scary (and brilliant). I highly recommend it. I think all people passionate about presenting should rent, buy, and devour the documentary Comedian starring Jerry Seinfeld...."
Well, Mitch was right. I loved this documentary and I too highly recommend it. However, it's not for everyone — don't buy it if you just are looking for laughs; it's not a comedy though it's often funny — but if you are a professional speaker or presenter (or any other professional) with a passion for learning and improving your speaking skills, then I think you will enjoy this documentary. William Krischke's Amazon review of the documentary (DVD) parallels my own reaction to the the film. "This ends up being less a documentary about comedy and more a character study of a mature and an immature craftsman," wrote William. "The craft here is comedy, but it really could be anything, especially any type of art. A friend and I watched this and afterwards talked about how well Jerry Seinfeld and Orny Adams illustrate the principles of leadership."
I too thought of the dynamic between Jerry Seinfeld (sitting above, back stage) and Orny Adams (standing right, on stage) was a lesson in contrast: the master artist and the aspiring artist/student. But the student shows he has much to learn, not about technique (he's already good) but about himself and learning to get over himself and his ego. Unlike a good student of the Zen arts, for example, Orny fought against constructive criticism and advice from the masters in the film. Yet the grasshopper fought mostly against self-doubt and his own attachment to the way he thought it was suppose to be. This destructive monologue of self-doubt and comparison with others is something most of us carry on in our heads all the time; the true master of any art learns to go beyond such crippling talk.
In this scene below from the documentary, you can see how the master is so perplexed by the grasshopper's concern for the things that matter not. Orny's head and concerns are in the wrong place. So the master tries to make his point, not through lecture, but through a short story (as a former musician on the road I found this old story quite amusing and illuminating). Checkout this clip below.
Update from the other side of the pond
Below is a short video message recorded yesterday on the beach here in Oregon. Hope your summer (or winter for my friends Down Under) is going well.