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.
I’ve done a book. I say I’ve done a book, I’ve written and illustrated it and now seeking a publisher.
I set myself a goal at the beginning of the year to create something ‘solid’ something less ephemeral than stand up. Yeah, you can record a stand-up comedy show and sell it as a CD or try and get a DVD deal with an agent, but it still doesn’t beat the live experience I don’t think, the intended experience. So I’ve written book, a guide more specifically, and I’m excited because it feels new and fresh and I’ve not really taken any advice, save for stuff I’ve picked listening to loads of business podcasts so it could be a big risk. Regardless, I think it’s ace, so I hope others will too.
It’s con-incidental that I’ve completed it in August, Edinburgh festival time, as I never had a timescale on it. While many of my comedy chums are gearing up for a month of shows, I’m off to a printers to look at a sample proof, then payout the equivalent of an Edinburgh show budget to get 150 ‘proof of concept’ copies made.
With all the business books and podcasts I’ve listened to since the beginning of the year, and observing the direction the Edinburgh Festival has gone in, it just made less and less sense to go there as an opportunity to advance, be seen or break through. There is show and there is business, and Edinburgh is now more of the latter. Perhaps it always has been and it’s only recently I’ve been able to see it.
I can draw many comparisons, but very few conclusions. If I indulged my cynical side it would tell me I’m working on a project in and industry I don’t know as it’s easier to be optimistic then in the industry I do know. Time will tell.
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