Jason Hartman talks with Darren LaCroix, the World Champion of Public Speaking, who out-spoke 25,000 contestants from 14 countries to win that title. That was just a benchmark. Since that victory, Darren has traveled the world demystifying the process of creating a powerful speech. He has roused audiences in faraway places like Saudi Arabia, China, Oman, Malaysia, and Taiwan with his inspirational journey from first-rate chump to first-class champ, proving anything is possible if you are willing to work for it. More at http://speakingofwealth.com/category/podcast/.
Darren may have been “born without a funny bone in his body,” but he possessed the desire to learn and the willingness to fail necessary to achieve his dream. The self-proclaimed “student of comedy” is living proof that humor is a skill that can be learned.
As a keynote speaker since 1994, he brings his incredible story to conferences around the world. He is consistently the top rated speaker at conferences. He changes the way people think about challenges, humor, and presentations… forever. His clients include IBM, Fidelity investments, and numerous associations too long to list! He is known as the person who helps speakers launch their careers in professional speaking. His trademarked program Get Paid to Speak by Next Week
Now, Darren is in high demand as a speaking coach. The new standard for advanced presentation skills was created when he co-created How Professional Presenters Can Own the Stage . There is no other program on the market that even comes close to this transformational program. Viewers witness exactly how coachees can create lasting significant improvement in just two days. His successful book, Laugh & Get Rich: How to Profit from Humor in Any Business (6 th printing), contains interviews with corporate executives who share his philosophy. Now translated into three languages, it is a mainstay on business bookshelves. As co-founder of The Humor Institute and a co-creator of The Humor Boot Camp®, Darren directs seminars that help presenters wisely use the power of humor to “lighten up” their presentations. He is also an award-winning producer of the film Healing, Hope, and Humor.
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Jason Hartman: It’s my pleasure to welcome Darren LaCroix to the show. He is a keynote speaker, author and comedian, so it’s great to have a funny guy in the show and [laughter] and I’ll tell you this is really one of the most important skills for any speaker and I got to say I’m not great at it. I tell a few funnies here and there, but I – I’ll tell you you can conquer the world with humor and Darren, it’s great to talk to you, welcome to the show.
Darren: Delighted to be here, thanks for having me, Jason.
Jason Hartman: Well good, you are coming to us from Las Vegas today. Yeah, I guess my first question really Darren would be, is humor something that is inborn, some people have it and some don’t or is it a learned skill?
Darren: Well, that’s a – that’s a perfect question. And I’ve actually made it my life mission to dispel the myth that most people do believe you are born funny or you are not and I am living proof. In my keynotes I actually show a video clip of my first time on the stage and how bad it is and how within nine years I actually went on to win the world championship of public speaking got 18 laughs in seven minutes.
Jason Hartman: Wow! [laughter] Okay, that’s pretty good.
Darren: I’ve come a long way, but it truly is something that can be learned, but there really is that myth and I understand the myth, I believed the myth. There are people who are naturally funny and just like you Jason, I hate them too.
Jason Hartman: Yeah. [laughter]
Jason Hartman: I – I – I have a friend, he does a lot of public speaking, and on or off the platform the guy is hilarious. I mean, he is just – he is just the funny guy and I don’t know how I could learn that from him, it’s just the way he is. What are some of the things people need to do to be more humorous?
Darren: Well, part of that problem is that people like him, we all know someone who is naturally funny and it’s you envy that and it’s understandable. But they’ve actually been learning it their whole life and they’ve been around funny, they think funny. Would you agree, Jason, that funny people think differently? Does that make sense?
Jason Hartman: Yeah, I would agree with that. They just kind of look at the world in a different way. They look at it from sort of a lighthearted perspective I think.
Darren: So, if funny people think differently, then if we want to get more laughs, then we have to think the way a funny person does and what I didn’t know the big aha for me because I’m still not a class clown, I’m still not considered a funny person, but I have developed some material that for my subject in front of a live audience, I’ve got humor that works and helps me deliver my message. So it is something that can be learned, but comedians don’t want you to know the secrets, they don’t want you to know that they actually most of them have writers. They don’t want you to know that there are formulas that they can use and before we end Jason, I’ll give you one of my favorite formulas that anyone can use that most people don’t even realize is a formula.
Jason Hartman: Yeah, great, it’s – yeah, I guess it’s the protected secret as it is with magicians, right?
Darren: Absolutely, absolutely. There is – I mean, there is an element of delivery, there is an element of just understanding your basic audience because humor is actually release of tension, you know, we are not talking about jokes. I’m not talking about being in front of an audience and – and telling knock-knock jokes or two guys walk into a bar, that’s not humor. Those are jokes. I don’t teach jokes, I don’t teach jokes at my boot camp, I don’t teach them in my DVD set, but I teach humor and humor is a release of tension.
So one of the first principles that I try and teach people are these two questions and I hope people are – write these two questions down because I think they are kind of the key to at least starting to understand how to tap this power of humor. And the questions are number one, where is the tension? Where does the tension lie for whatever you’re trying to, like if you are teaching public speaking, part of the tension is the fear of public speaking. If you are teaching customer service, part of your pension is stupid customers, [laughter] you know.
Jason Hartman: Right, right, right.
Darren: If your audience is CEOs, their frustration are the VPs that work for. If you’re talking of VP, that’s the employees that work for those VPs. So, first is, where is the tension? And then second is, how can I relieve that? How can I relieve that? And that’s where the comic mind starts by looking for ways to relieve stress and frustration. And the whole concept like I wrote a book called Laugh & Get Rich and the whole concept really stems from, I used to be in sales for 11 years with this man worked in my department, his name is John Yitch and he actually worked half as many hours of as everyone else but yet he sold twice as much as everyone else and – and I asked him, I said, “What do you do differently?” I mean, he didn’t really seemed to be that different and here is what he said. He said, “The days I don’t make people laugh are the same days that I don’t sell much either.”
Jason Hartman: Interesting, that’s a good point.
Darren: You know, so he went for the laugh and the connection rather than making his focus the sale and I think that’s what presenters have to keep in mind. Now, whether it’s being funny or not, we got to connect first. It seems obvious, but if you’re going up there and starting your presentation blah, blah, blah, I’m happy to be here, what an honor, that’s…
Jason Hartman: Right, that’s what it is.
Darren: Puke, it’s get me engaged, get my thoughts engaged, get me thinking so even if it’s not funny just making that connection. And the other principle that I – I love talking about is, you and I just mentioned briefly Jeffrey Gitomer, who is a – the sales guru and one of his quotes also help me design this – this humor program that I have and he said at the end of laughter is the height of listening; at the end of laughter is the height of listening, so that’s why for us as presenters it’s so important and so powerful because we want people to listen, we want them to get our message.
Jason Hartman: Alright, sure.
Darren: Well, if you are going to sell something or even persuade people to your point of view or your message or – or your idea, your product whatever you are selling, we got to get them engaged, we got to get them – if they are laughing they are listening.
Jason Hartman: Yeah, then that’s interesting. I guess the end of the laughter is really almost like the pregnant pause that we as speakers use. The pregnant pause is like an exclamation point that gives impact. It’s like boom, that’s what you’ve got it here. And I love how you distinguish the difference between humor and jokes. That’s – that’s an interesting – interesting distinction and before you go on with – with some of the stuff which is – is – is quite fascinating, I want to just back up for a second if I can, Darren and ask really maybe almost all too obvious question, but I – I just want people to hear it from you.
Jason Hartman: What’s so important about humor? Why is – why is it important for speakers and experts and I mean, is it just what you said, the end of laughter is the height of listening or are there more reasons?
Darren: It’s not just that, but that’s one of the points. It’s the fact that the attention span, this day and age is so tiny that if you don’t have them laughing, if you don’t have them engaged, you’re just going to lose them, their mind will start to wander so we’ve been ruined by TV so it’s really about attention span. It’s also if you noticed whether it’s businesses or speakers, if you are the meeting planner, put yourself in the place of the meeting planner and you have the speaker A who is an expert and you have speaker B who is an expert but happens to be funny, who would you choose? You are the meeting planner.
Jason Hartman: They are going to choose the funny person all the time.
Jason Hartman: Yeah.
Darren: So speakers who are funny earn more, speakers who are funny sell more in the back of the room and people who are funnier get invited back more. It’s just really there is an old adage in speaking that says, you know, you don’t have to use humor unless you want to get paid.
Jason Hartman: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I – I – I think people trust people who are funny and do you think their trust level is higher? I think maybe it is, huh?
Darren: I – I think trust and loyalty because if you can make me laugh that means you get me, you understand me, you are – in avatar terms you seeing me, you know, and I think it is crucial, I think it is trust, I think it is loyalty and I think it’s attention, you know, there is no way you can educate, entertain or persuade unless you connect first and I think it’s just so crucial to the connection. That’s why I disagree with it, but that’s why the old term in speaking was or the old philosophy was always start with a joke. I think that’s stupid but that’s where the idea came from to get that connection and I think it’s stupid because a joke, if it doesn’t work, people sit there thinking, okay, why did he say that or even if it does work, a savvy audience is going to be well, what is that have to do with this presentation anyway?
So, that’s why in going back to what you are saying about differentiating, I started in the Stand-up comedy and then I found professional speaking and I thought oh my gosh, this is better, the audience is sober, they’re going to pay me 10 times as much, I am in. So, I kind of converted over, but when people think I’m a comedian or something, I try to differentiate where a comedian comedy is the message. As a humorist or a professional speaker who uses humor humor is the media to the message.
Jason Hartman: Right. And – and that’s a [laughter] lot less pressuer than a comedian, right?
Jason Hartman: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So just give us a little more of a differentiate – some points of differentiation on the – on the difference between a joke and humor, because like you were saying if a joke flops, you are dead, alright, yeah. I mean, you are Jay Leno doing the monologue, and frankly I don’t think Leno is that funny to tell you the truth.
Darren: [Laughter] He’s actually brilliant in the Stand-up, but when he has to do The Tonight Show doing new material every single night, it’s different. If you ever seen him doing stand-up doing his own thing the way he wants, he is amazing.
Jason Hartman: I have not seen him.
Darren: But I agree, doing the opening monologue every night, I mean, I couldn’t even think of coming up with new material every night even if you had a team of writers.
Jason Hartman: Right and he does obviously, yeah, it’s – it’s so hard. So, any other points of differentiation between a humor and telling jokes.
Darren: Lot of people, you know, either come to my Humor Boot Camp or they are interested in my DVD set, but they have the wrong philosophy. They come at it, they think I just want to add humor to my presentation and a great distinction from one of my other world champion buddies, Craig Valentine is that he said, “You don’t add humor to a speech, you actually uncover it.” And there is a big difference, because we don’t want to do what I call or what Craig calls detour humor and you go off track just to get the laugh and then you have to come back, because if it’s not funny you just put yourselves dead in the water and if you are professional, you look like an idiot, but when you can uncover it in the story then if you don’t even get a laugh it doesn’t matter, it’s okay, it’s just part of the story.
Jason Hartman: I would think so that there are a lot of speakers who are listening to this now and they are thinking, “I am just not a humorist, that’s not my style.” And they look at their material and because I am kind of doing that right now [laughter] myself and I am looking at my material and I – I do a lot of speaking engagements on economics, real-estate investing that kind of stuff and I really make the audience laugh a little bit, but that [laughter] certainly wouldn’t qualify as a humorist now I am…
Jason Hartman: Probably telling myself I have to make it true by saying it so I shouldn’t say that I am not sourcing and I think I don’t know what’s really that funny in my material, I mean how do I uncover it, what do I do?
Darren: That’s perfect because you – you don’t – you are not there to be a funny person, but any levity that you can bring to your subject differentiates you from the other speakers who speak about the same subject. So here is a philosophy to think about that I learned from Stand-up, “The problem is funny, the solution is serious.”
Jason Hartman: Problem is funny, solution is serious.
Darren: So, what we want to do is, find the humor in the problem. That’s the issue, that’s the commonality that brings us in, that again going back to the stress and the tension and the frustration and the – the real key that I find it easiest to find humor is usually in the dialog with the characters in my stories. That’s really best. And that’s one of the things that I see even just coaching speakers.
I have a coaching camp and people come in and I work with them in a small group setting and the first thing I am teaching them is, stop with the narration. Narration is a story that happened in the past. Bring us to the moment. It brings your speech to life even, you know, the most extreme corporate sales presenters that I work with, I teach them it’s the dialog. Don’t just tell me what happened. Let me hear the customer and how they are mad and what they said and then let me hear the customer testimonial after you helped them. Let me hear them speak because then it’s not you bragging, but it’s also much more vibrant if I can hear the story as it happened rather than tell us what happened yesterday, it’s flat and boring.
So when we can uncover it looking at the humor, what else could have been said? So even if you take in a little creative license, as long as the – the emotional – the emotional part of the story is true and real, you know, we need to say tweak it or Hollywoodize it to make it a little more interesting, little dramatic, so the message is received and anchored, that makes sense?
Jason Hartman: It does makes sense, it does makes sense. So, go on with maybe some examples, some templates and formulas. I think not being an expert, but one of the real keys to humor is sort of the unexpected, it’s kind of like you trick the listener, you trick the audience until they think this would be the conclusion, but then you surprise them with that and – and – and it’s sort of that – that will kind of one or two punch where then you give them an unexpected outcome that you won’t really leading up to, is that kind of one of the major formulas?
Darren: Yeah, there is – here I give you couple of secrets. Number one is that you have to understand all humor stems from tragedy, all humor stems from tragedy. One of my comedy mentors, his name is David Gerald, he said comedians are people who get paid to complain, if you think of… [laughter]
Jason Hartman: I – I do, you know, now that you say that that’s very true, I mean, and – and – and it’s everywhere from Seinfeld to the Stand-up people I have seen have improved over the years may complain about stuff.
Jason Hartman: Yeah, right.
Darren: You know, if you look at opening monologues, if you just think for a second, forget the comedy but step back for a second and say, what are they talking about? Well, they are talking about the stresses, the frustrations, the stupid people. Well, okay, if that’s what they are talking about, maybe then we all need to take that lesson away. The second secret is exactly what you said and here’s how I define it is that my comedy secret number two is people laugh when their minds are successfully tricked.
Jason Hartman: [Laughter] Right, yeah.
Darren: Laugh when their minds are successfully tricked and that’s exactly what you were saying just said in a few different words, but it’s taking your audience down one path and changing the direction on them. But even though it’s not about jokes, it’s still understanding how humor works that it’s like the best analogy ever heard was George Carlin. George Carlin said it’s like a train going down the tracks, you can tell exactly where the train is going because so you can see the tracks in front of us, but we laugh when that train is derailed and that’s the whole key. So, if we take a definition from the Stand-up just to understand the change of direction, a setup is actually creating an expectation. A punch line or a laugh line is the change of direction so the better your humor is, the better you can create the expectation, change the direction.
So, let me give you an example and here’s again what I mean by tying into tension. So, comedy secret #3 is that there are templates and formulas that comedians don’t want you to know about because then you realize that they are not as brilliant in the moment as they appear to be. They are brilliant, they worked their butts off to make it look like they are just ringing, but let me give you an example. This is a one formula that I call redefining humor. So here is a situation, so let’s go to an exact speaking situation. I am speaking at the Rio. Have you ever been to the Rio there?
Jason Hartman: Sure. Yeah, couple of times.
Darren: Have you ever spoken in an event there?
Jason Hartman: No.
Darren: Well, if you have ever been to an event at the Rio you would know that the meeting rooms are like 20 or 30 minutes walk from the main towers where the rooms are.
Jason Hartman: Right. I – I – I bet you are going to complain about that now, aren’t you? [laughter]
Darren: [Laughter] You could, you could, Jason. You are on the post.
Jason Hartman: Trying to be a good student.
Darren: Well, you are. You are a good listener…
Jason Hartman: Yeah.
Darren: Which makes you a good interviewer and most people are, very cool.
Jason Hartman: Thank you.
Darren: So, the Rio, so here I am, I am speaking in a convention conference for – for a company called Contours Express and they are the competition to Curves. So they are all franchise owners mostly women, 99% women of these workout places and retail shops so all are these franchise owners in this room. So, I always look for any specific event not only what’s the frustration of the audience, but also what’s the frustration – the common frustration of that event right there now? So there are two different frustrations, their frustration in general and their frustration of the conference.
So, I just listen and I always get to a convention or a conference as early as I possibly can, you know, if I am coming from another conference, you know, and doing my best, if I can be there for the whole conference I want to because I want to see what other people say and what’s going on, I want to be on the post. And the thing that I kept hearing over and over again was, these women were saying, “Oh my gosh, my feet are killing me, I should have wore my sneakers, these heels, ah such a long walk” and blah blah blah. So, I kept hearing it again and again and we are not looking for one person. We are looking for the common frustrations.
So, here is redefining formula and I will explain the formula after I tell you what happened. So I got up on stage and I said, wow, isn’t it – and it’s a beautiful hotel, don’t get me wrong, it was just the frustration of the walk and to get from one to another you – you walk down this long hallway, it’s for ever and then you take a right and then you go down another long hallway, take another right and you go down another long hallway. So, I get up on stage and I say, “Hey, welcome to this convention, isn’t this great?” And they really were having a great time, so I have a big round of applause and “This – this hotel, The Rio, this is beautiful,” another round of applause. I said, yeah, I said, “I don’t know if you know there is an upper Rio is actually a native American term, it means long flipping hallway.”
Jason Hartman: [Laughter] Right.
Darren: Right. And so, I mean, even just your laugh right there, it doesn’t have to be brilliant and you are also obviously not in the frustration end so that’s different as well, that would actually heighten the laughter so you got the joke and you weren’t even in on the frustration. The power of this is now I had them in the palm of my hands. Why? Because I knew what they were all thinking only because I looked for it.
Now, let me explain if you have – you are listening to this and you have a pen and paper. Let me explain exactly how this works. Now here is the formula. First, we take the term, which is Rio. Now if you were in customer service, if you were in real-estate, in real-estate you could use the term like REO if you were talking to other real-estate investors. So, you pick a term that the – that the audience is used to, they hear all the time and we are going to redefine it or maybe they have – maybe it’s a new term that – and that we are teaching them. So we take the term, then you say literally which is a – and then put a blank there, term?
So, I always look for “ Okay, what kind of language could this word come from?” So, Rio I just said native American, but you know, sometimes you could say, which is a Latin term meaning, I was just with Jeffrey Gitomer this weekend and I did one with his group and they all know him and they love him and he is Jewish and they – he picks on himself about being Jewish, so I said is a Yiddish term meaning. So you take the term, which is a blank term and then we redefine it based on the frustration of the audience.
Jason Hartman: Let me take a brief pause. We will be back in just a minute.
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Jason Hartman: That’s a great formula so – and so it could be the hotel, the event location, it could be a term that’s common to the industry of your audience or is it always a term or is it just sort of like a general problem or…?
Darren: What you want to do this, now there is a lot of formulas I – I wish, you know, it took me two days to go over all the formulas [laughter] and templates I created that came right from the Stand-up role, but it depends and there are many different ways to use it. But the beautiful thing is, especially if this was a term and you were talking to another real-estate association, if it works in one place, it can work in another and it can work in another. So this one was just for that event, but I think it’s even better if you can have one in general.
So, let me just give you another example because sometimes it’s better to get your – your hands around it. Jeffrey Gitomer, if you don’t know Jeffrey, he is – he is a sales speaker, he is historical, but he is also like right in your face and tells it like it is and his audience knows that. So, the one I used when I was teaching them humor was I said, “I don’t know if you know this or not, but Gitomer is a Yiddish word meaning brutally honest, what you need to hear whether you like it or not.” So, to them knowing him, it was just a fun way to look at it, because he is right in your face telling it like it is. I will give you the same exact formula. This maybe a little strong so forgive the language here, but this comes from Robin Williams where he used the same exact formula and what he did is he redefined divorce and he said, “Ah yes, divorce from the Latin word meaning to rip a man’s genitals out through his wallet.”
Jason Hartman: [Laughter] That’s not funny, but…
Darren: [Laughter] But it – so, and the reason I like to give those three examples is like, you know, you think Robin Williams is just brilliant and he is and his delivery is brilliant. What a comedian has to do is every 10 or 15 seconds has a laugh. You and I, when we are up on the stage, we don’t need that, but if we can take some of these principles and define it through the humor and the frustrations of our audience and we can use it over and over again, we make one little line and just build on that, it’s beautiful anyway…
Jason Hartman: Okay, that – that – that’s excellent. So, can you share one more formula? We don’t have much time left, but one more you can give us another idea, that would be great.
Darren: Sure. Well, I’ll give you another one from the Stand-up and this is actually one of the first principles that I learned in the – in the Stand-up comedy world and it’s about self-deprecating humor, but bear with me for a second, I will tell you how it works, but then I’ll show you how to make it even more professional. So, in the Stand-up world, we take our heritage, okay, where we came from, but we take just a left and a right, so we take literally I am half French and I am half Polish. I come from Boston, so in Boston there was lot of comedians who are half Irish and half Italian, but what you do is you take who you are and if you are, you know, three nationalities you just take two for the sake of this exercise and you will take all of the basic let’s say stereotypes. So, let me just ask you real quick. If you think of Polish, what comes to mind?
Jason Hartman: Frankly, I have always felt and I am not just saying this that that was a very unfair stereotype that Polish people are very smart. All of these, how many Polish people does it take to screw in a label, I’ll tell you, I was in Warsaw, Poland and first of all, I met a lot of smart people, but beautiful women over there, wow! [laughter] I was impressed, I mean, one of the best places on the planet. Anyway, that’s – that’s the stereotype of course.
Darren: So, if you think of Polish, what comes to mind? So, making a quick list, you know, back in the day when I wrote the joke, there were a lot of Polish jokes out there, so it was present in mind of a lot of people, but if you even you think now, you know, you think Kielbasa, you think Pogues, you think, you know, so you make a list of all the things that could relate or the stereotypes of Polish and you make a list out and the comedy formulas that takes 10 to get to so you at least come up with 10 and the best of it is usually at the bottom because it’s not as top of mine. Then you take a list of French, so when you think of French, what do you think of?
Jason Hartman: Hottie, snobby kind of difficult.
Darren: Yeah, so the top terms could be romance or romantic, could be snobby, could be cheap.
Jason Hartman: I’m sorry, I – by the way forgive me audience, I was not thinking of anything positive. I thought you were looking for negative associations.
Darren: No, no, absolutely no, positive, negative.
Jason Hartman: But of course the French, just to stick up for them, they have the most beautiful language on Earth, they basically invented style a lot less to Italians [laughter] architecture to an extent, yeah.
Darren: Negatives good too.
Jason Hartman: Okay, I was thinking of negatives.
Darren: I use Escargot.
Jason Hartman: Yeah, I don’t know if that’s not positive, but okay. [laughter]
Darren: But – but anyway, but see this humor we are creating about ourselves, so we joke hey, if it’s negative. It’s actually better if it’s negative. So we make a list of one and then the other and then what we do is, the formula for this one is well, let me tell you a little bit about myself. And you might not start with this as a speaker, but it might be after your opening story and your questions that bring the audience in, so it’s after that where this one would fit better or you tell, “Well, I’ll tell you a little bit about myself, I am half French and half Polish, which means I have a very romantic love life but it’s a joke.”
Jason Hartman: [Laughter] Say that’s good.
Darren: Okay or it could be, so you are looking for the things on that – on that list that you could combine. What would happen if we combine them like a lot of Irish, Italian comedians used to say, “I’ll tell you a little bit about – about myself, I’m half Irish and half French, which means I like to get junk and beat myself up.”
Jason Hartman: [Laughter] Yeah.
Darren: But I mean, I could say, you know, for the French-Polish thing, I could say, “I love to eat Escargot every time I poke it, did the poke or something like that”, but you test a few things and see what works best for you.
Jason Hartman: Can you say 10 to get to, is that a….
Darren: Yeah, your full list of 10 and then you add up your list of 10 it will give you two good ideas to test, you test those two ideas and then you use the one that works better. So, now let me show you real quickly how to take that and make it more professional. So now instead of French and Polish, we could take, I am a Toastmaster and an engineer or I am a speaker and I am a real-estate guru or I am in real-estate and then we take the stereotypes of those and then we would combine them. So the formula is, I am half blank and half blank, which means – and then you combine the two. So, toastmasters, for example, like if it was half toastmaster, half engineer, which means every time I lay out a blue print I clap.
Jason Hartman: [Laughter] Okay, great, yeah, right. Okay.
Darren: That’s just off the top of my head in Rio, but if you see if you could spend 15, 20 minutes working on something like this, you could create a joke just from what I have told you right now and use again and again and again for years to come.
Jason Hartman: Sure, you could, that’s good, yeah, because the first part that you mentioned, the self-deprecating stuff, that’s got to be, I mean, we live in a very politically correct world, I don’t know if they tell you that, that’s got to be self-deprecating, you can’t use that really, I mean, comedians do on the Stand-up circuit but not in the sort of corporate world that kind of stuff unless it’s about you, right? It – it’s safe when it’s about you.
Darren: Yes. Well, it’s – it’s okay if it’s about you. The other thing is, notice what I did with the Rio, I didn’t make fun of people. Well, here’s an example, another example. It’s what I call the registration desk principle that I teach speakers, you know, if you are looking for tension or stress, where do people complain? Convention or conference, I’m – I’m going to the registration desk. So, why not go ask the people work in the registration desk? I was doing this one presentation in San Antonio, Texas and all the meeting rooms were, all the break up sessions were in one area, but there is one specific meeting room I always remember, it was called the Hacienda G was really half the beaten path from everything else and no one could find it, so you know, so it was because I had that frustration I – ding, ding, ding, possible humor goes off my head, I got up on the stage and all I said was, if anyone is looking for Hacienda G, I don’t even have to say anything else, they all started rolling.
Jason Hartman: Because they all knew that was like an inside joke they will knew that will have to find that room.
Darren: Yeah, but then after I get the laugh I said, it’s really how you do is go down this hallway, go through the kitchen, go down the Crockett Avenue about half a mile, take a right at the Alamo and at this point they were just rolling because they were all in that frustration. So that’s an event-based one, but I think it’s even better if you can get industry specific based humor. And again it doesn’t have to be rip roaring because we don’t have that pressure. It just has to even put a smile or a giggle on their face just to create that connection. That’s the power of humor creating that connection.
Jason Hartman: Yeah, and then that’s – that’s the magic of it, absolutely. Well, so those are some excellent ideas. Tell us a little bit more about what you do and – and what you offer so – so people can learn more?
Darren: Well, thanks. I will tell you real brief about how this all came about is, I used to own a Subway sandwich shop and I was driving down the road listening to Brian Tracy and it was a motivational tape of Brian Tracy and he said, “What would you dare to dream if you knew you wouldn’t fail?” And I thought, “I would be a comedian, how cool would that be?” And the problem was I wasn’t funny and I just made this determination that I was just going to try it once because I didn’t want to regret later in life not trying so I committed to doing a one Open Mic Night, but I didn’t even know what an open mic night was.
So I – I went and asked a comedian for advice and he told me to go get this book by Judy Carter. So I went and got the book and I studied for two months, I went to open mic nights and I – I watched people go up and – and they were horrible and I thought, “Well, I can do that. I can go up and jol in myself.” It was horrible, but inspired me. Well, that first night I got one laugh and it was a mistake and I – and I was bit by the bug and I said, “I am going to figure this out.” So I took every comedy class I could, I got on stage every night, I joined Toastmasters, I joined four Toastmasters Club all to just to be funnier on stage and then I found speaking.
So, what I have done is, I have – I created this thing called the Humor Boot Camp where I took the principles of Stand-up comedy and brought them over to clean corporate speaking to help get – speakers get their message across. So I have a live boot camp coming up in January with Judy Carter, the woman who wrote that book that I first started with. So it’s like very cool, I’ve never shared the stage with her before, she is awesome.
She has sold so many of those books because of my success and me telling my story, but I also took my Humor Boot Camp, but I’ve had people overseas who wanted to go, but didn’t want to fly all the way over, so I brought in a camera crew and I – I videotaped it and then now I have a 10 DVD set called Get More Laughs by Next Week and this is a 10 DVD set just like you are sitting in this live boot camp where it gives you 17 laughter getting exercises that I walk you through and it’s like you are with the boot camp, there is 44 people in the audience and you go through the same exercise as them and then you watch them get up on stage right then and there and deliver what they came up with, which will give you more ideas. It’s a powerful program that I think will change your thinking about humor forever.
Jason Hartman: How much does that program cost?
Darren: The live boot camp is 795 bucks. The DVD set is $495.
Jason Hartman: Great. By the way, we are going to put that all up on our site for you and a link to yours as well so that will be at speakingofwealth.com/offers, that’s speakingofwealth.com/offers. And what – what else would you like people to know about this extremely important subject Darren, just to kind of wrap it all up? I mean, it’s really the – the magic. By the way, I got to make a comment. It amazes me that we have to as speakers and – and trainers and communicators when teaching to adults, we have to use so many gambits and so many things to keep their attention like – like be great at humor and be interactive and all this kind of stuff whereas I don’t remember any of my school teachers when I was in grade school and college [laughter] doing any of this stuff but are adults – are they really harder to – did they have shorter attention spans than kids in a way?
Darren: Well, I think – I don’t think it’s adults versus kids. I think it’s now versus 10 years ago because I wouldn’t want to be in front of a youth audience now. Oh my gosh, one of my buddies is fixed, oh my goodness.
Jason Hartman: They – they will be texting on their phones, you know, you couldn’t keep their attention, yeah.
Darren: So, I just think it’s – it’s in general, so every time your cellphone works, appreciate technology because when you are on stage it’s – it’s killed our audiences, it’s made their attention span the size of a net. So, it’s difficult, but at the same time if you are willing to work hard to learn the tools and techniques of people who are great speakers, no matter who you – I don’t care who you learn from, but commit to learning those advanced techniques whether it’s humor or storytelling, find a speaker coach, find someone you – you can trust and work with that help make you better, because now it’s not even the differentiator.
Now it’s about survival, you know, the speaking industry changed after September 11 so it used to be okay, the funny people were different – differentiator, now it’s almost like you have to just to compete. So, commit to your craft. If you care about your message, commit to your craft, understand that humor is something that can be learned. It’s not just about okay, he is funny and – and you are not.
There are techniques that you can use and appreciate the little tiny victories. I – I spoke this weekend, it was good, it wasn’t amazing, I didn’t get tons of laugh, but I get some. The more I learn it, the better I get. The – the laughs are bigger now than they used to be years ago, but it’s really about the connection so if I learned it, anybody can learn it and you can go online, in my website there is a video clip or you can put the video clip on your website on how bad I was when I first started, that will inspire you.
Jason Hartman: That – that takes a lot of guts to do that, Darren, and I – I’m impressed, [laughter] you – you put that up, huh?
Darren: Not about looking good, it’s about inspiring people and – and giving them hope.
Jason Hartman: Excellent, excellent. Well, Darren LaCroix, thank you so much for being with us today and sharing some of this insight into the – the magic of humor. I hope that you didn’t break the code of the humor is too bad at least with your colleagues won’t put a hit out on you, but we really appreciate that. It’s such an important skill and again some special stuff for all our listeners at speakingofwealth.com/offers and stay fine my friend.
Darren: Alright, thank you, Jason.
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The Speaking of Wealth Team
Transcribed by: Renee’ Naphier