Originally written for confetti.

There must not be any other skill in this world that is as underrated as the ability to make another person laugh out loud.

Telling jokes to friends is one thing, but doing standup comedy is a whole other thing. Not only is it public speaking, but it also requires both impeccable delivery and timing. To make hundreds (if not millions) of people from different background think and feel (and laugh) is an art, a performance.

Since watching my first stand comedy and after watching countless more, I realized the amount of work that goes into it. Not only has the industry made me laugh over the years, but it also deeply inspired me. That said, here are three lessons that standup comedians taught me about life:

Being Observant Is A Superpower.

Listening to comedians will give you a sense of how much insight you can derive from the little things if you just take the time to pay attention. Good comedians can turn any situation, experience, or interaction into a “material” or into a “bit.” Each of them has that unique ability to make something that is so commonplace and so invisible into a big deal – talk about it in a very specific angle, and then make it funny.

That ability to find something specific and funny from the daily ordinary things is something we all should learn. In any job I may find myself in, whether sale, events management, or marketing, it usually pays to notice the things noone else would. When I was in sales, one of the skills that I watched my boss did (that astound me to this day) is that time when he turned an irate client into a repeat client over the phone. And he was able to do that by really paying attention to the words the client was using. He addressed the real issue of the client, which was that he felt shortchanged and undervalued – not that the product didn’t deliver (which is what he had kept saying). Our team could not help him because we were only hearing “how our product sucked” and not really understanding that the problem is that no-one paid him attention when he called for support that one time or that he couldn’t find the solution to his specific and technical problem on our website.

There are also countless times when paying attention saved me in my marketing job. Noticing the sponsored contents in my social media newsfeed, for instance, helped me a lot in assessing whether or not some of our marketing ideas will work.

Ultimately, when so many things are competing to get our attention, I learned that disconnecting myself from my phone and taking the time to observe my surroundings is calming and entertaining in itself.

Personal Statements Make A Difference To People.

One of the first observations I had when I started listening to standup comedy is how the comedians often start with something personal about them: “My girlfriend and I just moved in together…”, “I just turned 40 years old…”, “I live in New York…”

They then proceed to frame their bits and their jokes using these personal information. Although often used as a segue, I realized that these personal statements are a way to draw the audience in, to show openness and vulnerability, which allows them to connect to their audience. Think about it, if you’re also moving in with your girlfriend or if you had just celebrated a milestone birthday, he or she has immediately connected with you.

In jobs where you daily have to face clients, it is crucial to be likable and to look trust-worthy. To do that, it wouldn’t hurt to be empathetic and to utter words like, “I would feel the same if that happened to me…” or “I see what you’re saying…” or even “I will personally take care of this issue.”. These statements show openness and give a sort of personal touch, a way for the listeners (or customers) to trust the person on stage (or on the other line or behind the counter).

Words Are Powerful.

The amount of care that goes through crafting a five-minute comedy bit is incredible. I learned that from Jerry Before Seinfeld. Jerry had pages after pages of bits which he wrote over the years, perfecting hundreds of jokes in the process. Comedians like him learned to cut away all the unnecessary words – and to find the best phrases to make their audience laugh.

For me, that says a lot about how we should use our words carefully to evoke the emotion we want from others as well. There’s power in being able to make people feel and think things they otherwise wouldn’t have felt and thought. The great thing is that none of us have to be onstage to have that kind of effect on people. We can use words to do something as simple as draft an email or present in meetings or even just talk to our bosses.

Comedians and comics can dissect any situation: whether the topic is piddling or provocative, unifying or contentious. The perspective that they present is often unconventional and will not leave you unscathed. But that is the very thing that makes their performance incredibly enjoyable: their fearlessness to confront any topic at all, their audacity to be open about themselves, and their confidence to deliver their jokes to the world. Like I said earlier, we don’t have to be onstage to be fearless and confident. We can be that in our own office and with our family and friends.


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