Ok, this lesson is on recovering. What do I mean by that? Well today I had a great group of pharmaceutical people, and we had a lot of fun. But it could have turned out differently. . .Part way through my show, I did a joke about WalMart. Guess what? There was a WalMart executive in the crowd. I addressed the situation and it ended up being one of the highlights of the show. How did I create quick humor that saved me?
First, I tuned in. I realized after the joke (which got a great laugh) that one table was really laughing and looking at one guy. So I asked the question – “don’t tell me he works for WalMart”. . . of course the answer was yes. I got a huge laugh. . .at my expense, as I looked like the person out of the loop. Had I not paid attention to the extra laughs and looks at that table, I would have missed a chance to have some fun AND address a possible upset attendee (he wasn’t as my joke wasn’t that bad, but who knows how sensitive people are).
Second. I focused. I saw he had a bunch of different ribbons on his badge and I immediately thought that must mean something. . . So I asked the question. . . “you’re not on the board of directors for the organization are you?” He held up his badge to show me he was and that got another huge laugh. . . also at my expense. Which is great!
Third. I had a pat answer. You should have a line or two of self-deprecating humor that you can twist into any situation. I have a line about stopping payment on a check, so I tweaked it and blurted out. . . “great, the one guy I’m goofing with knows how to stop payment on a check.” This worked like a charm and got another big laugh at my expense.
Fourth. I pretended I was in trouble. From that point on, I went into exaggerated “suck up” mode. I called him my favorite audience member, and gave him a book. Also, after my show, when they were doing the prize drawings, I held on to my mic, and from off-stage, I made comments such as “that prize is available at Wal-Mart.” “You should buy that at Wal-Mart.” More laughs and giving his company some recognition.
Now granted, the guy was nice and really good about playing along, but hopefully I made it a win-win for both me and him. After the show, many people (including him) said that that exchange was one of the best parts!
Comedy is about superiority . . .and I used several opportunities to let that audience member be superior, thus saving me from having someone potentially upset. So pay attention to the reaction your joke gets, to know if you should address something, and then look for ways to give the other person the upper hand. It’ll work out great for everyone!