As I and many others stated earlier, tremendous lessons for presenters can be found in the 2002 documentary Comedian. The biggest takeaway from the film for me is that no matter how good you get — no matter how big you become — the art of getting in front of a crowd and taking them someplace will never be easy (even if it looks easy to others). Crafting a solid 60 minutes of material takes a very long time, and getting comfortable with the material takes seemingly forever. In the documentary we watch the master Jerry Seinfeld start stand-up all over again from zero. We see Jerry deal with self-doubt and insecurities as he struggles to build his new act over the course of several months. After erasing all his material and starting fresh, it takes Jerry about three months of hard work before he even starts to feel somewhat comfortable again. This little-known documentary, which my buddy and professional speaker Mitch Joel so highly recommended, has changed the way I look at the art of presentation and my own future as a professional speaker.
A few quotes from the documentary
On the flight back to Japan last week I watched the DVD again, this time while jotting down notes and quotes from the film. I put the quotes in a Slideshare below. This Slideshare is not meant to be a presentation — I'm simply sharing with you some of the new slides I'm working on as I prepare for new talks. Perhaps a quote or two from this deck will be useful for you.
Below is Jerry Seinfeld's first appearance on Late Night with David Letterman since his comeback to stand-up (this is on the DVD in the extras section). Normally a comedian of Jerry's fame would not do stand-up on a talk show, but as we see in the documentary, this was another step in Jerry getting his stand-up chops back. Watch it below.