The Ignite presentation method
Slide:ology: My favorite presentation book of all time

Lessons from the documentary "Comedian"

Mic 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.

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: comedy reynolds)

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.


Mitch Joel - Twist Image

Like you, I watch that documentary often. Every time I learn something new or pick up a line I didn't catch before.

All of that pails in comparison to your awesome Slideshare... wow.

The more of them you do, the better they keep getting and I love how they really tell a great story.

Thanks Garr!

kelvin newman

i'd not particularly made the connection between the two before, looks like another DVD amazon will be posting my way

Mike Wagner

I'm with Mitch on this one. Your Slideshare captures the simple story and lessons.

What I like is how a simple summary like what you've done by capturing the documentary quotes is enough to suggest all kinds of meaningful applications for me.


Keep creating...a brand worth raving about,


I've seen this documentary many times - I love it. I don't know if you've seen the trailer for it ( It's pretty hilarious.

By the way, I've read your blog for a long time and recently met with Jeff Widman who talked quite a bit about you. Thanks for all the great articles!



I've been reading this website for a while and I am really impressed. I bought the book and now, I want to be able to make the kind of presentations that you evangelize.
The problem is that I don't know how to create those slides.
It would be great if you, or anybody else reading this comment, could recommend me some books or websites to read.
I have to mention that I am a begginer in creating slides so if you want to recommend something please keep that in mind.


Jan Schultink

Thank you for sharing the summary of the video.

The need to be on top of your material is indeed important, and it is good to see that even the best need months of preparation to get there.

Now that I think of it, most of the best speakers I have seen in a business context tend to give a presentation that is basically a modification of "their story", one that they have given many, many times before. (I.e., a CEO introducing his company)


I haven't seen the documentary, but I probably will now.

The Seinfeld footage is quite difficult to watch...but it was probably even more difficult for him to perform. His routine isn't particularly funny but the audience hang on every word, and just don't stop laughing.

I guess Jerry was in that awful situation where he could just walk on stage and burp and the audience would go mental - so it must be impossible to judge whether you're actually funny any more.

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