Water Off A Camel’s Back
This Speech Came 3rd in Area 6’s Club Contest.
This speech originated from an amalgamation of a great deal of truth and a certain amount of pain!
There are two main stories regarding cycling in Edinburgh within the story, with extra bits from other things that happened there, and I chose them for the humorous competition because first and foremost, as stories they are interesting. This is not entirely necessary, the dullest subject can be made funny, and done well can be even funnier that written material (think Dudley Moore reading the telephone directory), however, it is easier to write an interesting story and possibly easier to come up with interesting material.
I tend to try to be as factually accurate as I can be, however this is something that I am fighting with myself about, if it is funnier for the story that something else happens or when you are making a point the point is stronger if something is left out, there is a strong argument for changing reality. I want my stories to be as funny as they can be, and the truth gives a trellis up which the story beanstalk can grow, using the trellis as support but extending its branches wherever it requires in order to do its job producing the comedy beans (to be sold to Jack the Genocidal Giant Killer in exchange for a cow)
Once the speech was written, I went through it and at every idea in ever sentence I tried to come up with a funny idea or two – or ten. Loads of them were weak, some were unsuitable and some just weren’t quite right, but eventually I had enough to pad out the story.
The key then is to go through the story and make sure they insert ok whilst keeping the logic of the story. For a funny story, the logic doesn’t really need to be that strong, however if you do keep to the logic then it makes it easier to remember and sometimes easier to do a call-back to something previously said, which makes the audience feel clever for having remembered!
In stand up, one of the keys is to break down the “fourth wall” – the barrier between the performance and the audience. One way to do this is to talk to members of the audience directly or even get them involved. The risk (that you lose control) is outweighed by the power this confers to you in the eyes of the audience.
Finally, for people to laugh at you, they have to like you, and you have very little time to get there. There are things that you can say that might make the audience hate you, and it takes real skill to bring them back. The key thing is not to judge the audience. Assume they like you. Remember, the enormous bloke with his arms crossed right plum in the middle who looks like he is about to attack you is probably sitting like that because he is worried that you will talk to him and, despite the fact he looks scary, he is more scared of you than you should be of him.