October 13, 2016
You’ve probably heard this story a million times but it goes like this…
I started my blog after coming dead last in a race, in fact I was so slow by the time I got to the finish line, the finish line wasn’t there…and neither was anyone else!!!!
Now that my friends is a true story which you can read about here…but it also happens to get me a laugh whenever I use that line in one of my talks.
Getting your audience (or anyone else come to think if it) to laugh right from the off is always advisable. It puts them at ease and takes the pressure off you a bit too.
I never mean to be funny, but funny shit happens to me all the time…so whats a girl to do?
It’s true though, I started writing my blog back in 2010 because I did think other women and maybe even men might find my running escapades funny to read about…I didn’t realise back then that it would evolve into something a little more serious…but the humour is still there I guess, as there are always things to laugh at in my crazy world.
So back to my work as a speaker.
For the last 3 years I have been giving talks at various events about my journey, about plus size fitness, and about setting and achieving big fat stupid goals. I have given talks to women’s networking groups, massive expos, as an after dinner speaker, at conferences, in workshops, and even as part of a parliament commission on inactivity…but in the last 2 weeks my speaking has gone in a whole new direction.
The direction of STAND UP COMEDY.
So every year for the past 3 years I have gone to Mega, the annual convention of the Proffesional Speaking Association a 3 day learning extravaganza with some of the best speakers in the world teaching you to speak better and speak more. Its a fabulous weekend. And on the Friday night is the infamous comedy night, where speakers from all walks of life who speak on all types of topics, have 5 minutes to make their friends and colleagues laugh…with varying success.
In 2014 when I first went along I laughed my socks off and thought
God I could never do that
But in 2015 I sat there instead thinking
Oooohhh I wonder if I could
And the following week before I could chicken out put my name on the list for a slot at the 2016 convention. That gave me a whole year to prepare, a whole year to be fearful, a whole year to imagine dying on stage in front of an audience of my colleagues.
But, what was I worrying about…I had loads of funny stories to tell right? And I’m always funny after a drink or too…surely I could put together 5 minutes of comedy and not make a complete fool of myself.
So I did, I scrambled together some of my funniest stories, embellished them a bit, added a few swear words for effect and there it was I had a 5 minute comedy set to perform.
But what if it wasn’t funny?
I mean it was in my head, and my sister laughed out loud in her office when I emailed her a copy of what I was going to say…but she thinks everything I do and say is funny so she doesn’t count.
No. I would have to practice it to a live audience before the big day.
So I managed to get a comedy set in a local newcomers competition at the Theatre Royal Stratford East. Now this was perfect because I used to work as a theatre usher here in my teens, and I have been known to frequent the weekly comedy night…so I felt comfortable in my surroundings, although the organiser warned me that the Stratford crowd was notoriously a hard crowd…hey I should know I’m from Stratford…and we take a lot of impressing.
So last week Monday I headed to the gig with nerves like I have never experienced, and waited for my turn…I was last on the line up…well save the best till last I guess?
I stepped on the stage, did my opening gag about being a marathon runner and not looking anything like Paula Radcliffe, and thats when I heard it…laughter, and not just from my friends who I had invited along. Every few seconds there was more of it. There was laughter during the gaps, laughter where there wasn’t supposed to be and it was like a drug.
Julie Creffield you REALLY are funny.
I finished on a particularly naughty gag about protein and left the stage to rapturous applause, 5 minutes or so I was receiving more of the same as I was announced as the winner of that weeks competition. I was gob smacked!!!
And better than that.
I now knew that at least some of my jokes would be funny at the PSA convention….and of course they were. I still had the nerves, I still worried what my colleagues would make of my content especially seeing as many of them had never seen me on stage before…but hey it was comedy, it was supposed to be rude and ruckus and provocative.
Am I now going to enter a new career of doing stand up…probably not….unless there’s a slot at the London Palladium going this weekend.
Will I use some of my new found talent and introduce more humour into my talks…hell yeah!!
This week in the aftermath of my comedy debut I have been thinking about the concepts of Fear, Fatness and Funny…I mean this is what Too Fat to Run is all about right? Being Fat is not funny per say, but gosh if I don’t laugh at some of the stuff I have experienced over the years I would cry…and I have of course done that too.
If I can use humour to help get my message out there more about health and happiness for women, and continue to break down barriers with my tongue in cheek approach to fatness in a way that serves this movement then I will.
What I do know, is that by setting myself that big fat ridiculously stupid goal more than a year ago, I would never have discovered this side of me. I am incredibly proud of what I managed to achieve…it wasn’t easy, it took some hard work, and it wasn’t completely natural to me…but fortune favours the brave and I have a paid comedy set coming up in November.
TWENTY QUID I do believe….well that will buy me a pint or two to celebrate with after the gig I guess.
Just want to say thank you to everyone who came along on the 7th to support me at my first gig, and to my PSA colleagues who helped me with my set, took pictures of me on stage and gave me awesome feedback afterwards. You guys ROCK!!!