I've said many times before that the art of the live presentation has a lot in common with the art of stand-up comedy. Few things are more difficult than standing with nothing but a mic in hand in front of a crowd who expect you to make them laugh. Good stand-up comics tell good stories, and story, among other things, is about emotion. Presenters do not have to be funny, but they do need to evoke and to engage, something stand-up comedians know very well. The best stand-up comedians are wonderful performers, but my favorites are the ones who make it feel natural and conversational, as if they are doing the routine (or having "this conversation") for the first time. That is, they perform as if they were not performing. Good musicians do this too. Although they played the song a thousand times before, when they played it for you it felt fresh and new. Maybe you have experienced this recently? (I thought the Stones were amazingly fresh, for example, in their 2006 performance that is the meat of their new movie by Martin Scorsese. See the trailer. I saw the film three times on the way back to Japan.)
Podcast with Microsoft's Ric & Howie
Part II of the podcast I did with Microsoft's Richard Bretschneider and Howard Cooperstein back in Silicon Valley last May is now up on the Presentations Roundtable site (here's part I). Howard does stand-up comedy and when we get together our conversation usually turns to comedy at some point, such as in this podcast. Below are a few samples of some stand-up comics I like, beginning with the late George Carlin, one of the legends. (All three clips, to varying degrees, contain adult language and themes.)
George Carlin on "stuff"
Below George Carlin warns of the danger of attachment to things like...stuff.
I discovered Adam Hills while watching one of the early morning talk shows in Sydney last week. Seemed like a very likable guy. Liked his material on YouTube (and I even understood his jokes about Australia). Here's a short clip below.
Here's a short clip of Lewis. (Warning: Lewis Black uses adult language and has a point of view — you have been warned).