I started my podcast in late 2016, interviewing people who use improvisation techniques in their work. Six months and fifteen episodes later and already it’s paid off in more ways than I can think.
Fifteen isn’t a massive number of episodes for a podcast, but the original intention was to ‘box it off’ as a project with a beginning and an end so it didn’t turn into a spiralling not-for-profit time sink. Focus on quality, not quantity, find great guests willing to give up an hour of their time to be interviewed about their work.
It’s been enlightening listening to different points of view, and stories of people in different parts of the world and how they teach the ‘way’ of improv in different environments. I’m getting a lot of great feedback and it’s evolved into one of the most enjoyable things I do.
I’ve just delivered a couple of talks at ‘WMUG‘, a group run by Mike Little one of the co-founders of the crazily popular WordPress system. The first was on the podcasting and the second was on ‘Real World Clients’.
Despite doing stand up comedy forever I’ve never got up and talked about my design work – ever, let alone my experiences with clients. I’m totally comfortable getting up and talking. In fact chatting to the group beforehand, I think that was my worry. In comparison to being Danny Pensive this was a ‘zero pressure gig’. My desire to entertain, rather than inform could easily take me take me way off topic very quickly. Without high stakes I could get sloppy.
Having said that I was really worried about throwing myself under the bus. There would be other developers in the room and I wasn’t just telling stories, but also talking about my work processes, potentially laying myself open for judgement. So actually there was a bit of pressure, but not the kind that i’m used to. That’s good, a bit of performance pressure is better than not at all.
So I dipped back down the last five or six years of work history and picked out a dozen or so projects, then mashed them all together. Mixing old real world situations I’ve come up against with a bit traditional narrative structure. A call to action here and a stink of death there and pretty soon had something I could work with and relate back to WordPress.
It was a success I thought, in fact putting my comedians head back on…I think there might be a show in this.
John Cooper, Comedian & Improviser. Public speaking workshops and training for UK businesses. Dealing with public speaking nerves and providing confident focus through unique and entertaining workshops