Ep 209: How to be Funnier with Darren LaCroix | Recap Episode

RV (00:02):
Welcome back to the influential personal brand podcast recap edition joined by my wife, my business partner, my beauty, my favorite person in the whole wide world. AJ Vaden also our CEO at brand builders group. Today, we are breaking down the interview that I did with Darren LaCroix, who is the 2001 world champion of public speaking from Toastmasters. One of my OJI mentors. And really, I would say without a shadow of a doubt, Darren has taught me more about being funnier than anyone else. And it’s been a huge part in my career and just just a point of learning. So AJ and I are breaking it down. AJ welcome. Good to see you.
AJV (00:47):
Glad to be here. Ready to give you all my opinions.
RV (00:52):
I like it. I like it. Well I’ll go first with my first takeaway. You know, we’re sharing our top three takeaways each. I think one of the biggest things about humor is just realizing and, and identifying where are there opportunities for natural humor and not trying to force natural jokes, like not, not trying to force unnatural jokes, but just identifying these opportunities. And Darren talks about four ways to identify humorous opportunities, which I thought were so straightforward and clear. And these are, these are F’s, they’re all F’s. So what are your flaws? That’s an opportunity. What are your failures and talking about your failures, people love hearing about your failures. What are your first, like the first time you ever blanked and what are your frustrations? What are your flaws, your failures, your first and your frustrations. And, and I think the only other thing I would add to this is that not only are these great opportunities for humor, even if they’re not funny, these are great opportunities for stories. So AJ that I think is going to stick with me as a, as a big highlight from this episode.
AJV (02:04):
Yeah. And I know in his interview he gave some really great examples of how to do that. And I think one of the things that really stood out to me as he talked about this, and it was similar to this because he was talking about, you know, the frustrations failures first and flaws, but then he said learning how to do it in the moment. So it’s and so one of the things that I wrote down that it, it’s kind of similar to what you said, but I wrote down is that learn how to create humor for specific audiences, locations, industries, or companies. And then from there, it feels really custom and in the moment, and he tells this really funny story about, you know, this example is what I remember is the Hussey and G right? You’re at this big convention, everyone is frustrated about not being able to find this one ballroom HASI ended G so he found the frustration, but then he also did it in the moment and real time, which made it way funnier.
AJV (03:07):
Right. And so I think it’s one it’s figuring out what is the frustration of the moment. And I think that’s really easy because we all have them. I think one of the biggest things that I just kind of jotted down as a great reminders to myself and I used to do this and I haven’t done it in a really long time. I know if you’re listening, you can’t see what I’m doing, but if you’re watching, it’s like I used to have this little notebook and I would carry it around and I would write down stories. Right. It’s like when my kids say the most hilarious thing, it’s like as much as I think I’m going to remember that by that night, when I’m trying to tell, you know, you worry about this story. I’m like, wait, what did he say? And it’s like, really conditioning yourself to like, jot this down and be like, I don’t know where I’m going to use this or where I’m going to tell this, but this is just too good not to include somewhere. So I don’t forget it. And I think the same thing happens in just everyday life and then being able to filter it through those four apps. But then also really focusing on, you know, to me it’s about a location, an industry, a company or even like a specific audience of a type of people. And I just thought that was a really good way to make it super neat. And also relevant to the people that you’re talking to.
RV (04:27):
Yeah, yeah, that actually was, so my second takeaway is very much related to that. I wrote down, convey the emotion of the moment and I think just like what you said, what’s amazing is when you write spontaneous humor like that, it doesn’t have to be nearly as well written. Yeah. cause it just like, it’s just, you know, it’s so in the moment and it’s so special that that people, you know, are just completely unexpecting that. And and so, you know, I think identifying those frustrations and then also just conveying whatever the emotions are of, of any of those moments. So if you’re talking about your flaws, like you have to talk about how did you feel when you made this mistake or like when you had this failure, if you’re talking about your first and you’re telling the story you got to share with the audience, what was your emotion in that moment?
RV (05:26):
And because that’s what we really relate to. That’s the human, the human experience is emotional. And I think one of the, one of the hallmarks of a great presenter is that you can move the audience emotionally. You can take them on this rollercoaster ride of emotions. And part of the way you do that is just by sharing all these stories from these different parts of your life and just sharing the true real emotions that were there. Even if it’s not funnier, it’s more engaging. And it, it just kind of breaks up this monotonous of information that your presentation might otherwise be. So I, that was, that was a big thing for me. That was my second takeaway.
AJV (06:05):
Yeah. So my next one would be, is kind of on the same lines. And I’ll try to make these at congruent points when we can, but it’s that humor is probably more about the delivery than it is the words. And I think that’s a huge part of it. And I loved in the interview, he was sharing that example of some guy who had memorized all of these Robin Williams jokes, but they didn’t land because of the delivery. And it’s like words, aren’t what necessarily engage people when it comes to stories and humor. It’s the emoting, right? It’s the vocal quadrants. It’s the hand motions. It’s the facial expressions is everything that goes into the delivery and something that really isn’t that funny. If you just say it, when you add in the necessary hand gestures or facial expressions or vocal variety, all of a sudden, it’s hilarious. And then, so it’s like, it’s not just about figuring out what to say. It’s how do you deliver this in a way that’s authentic, but it also really creates this light-hearted emotional feel around the entire experience. So I thought that was this important because we talk so much about what to say, but really that’s just a teeny part of it. It’s also how you say it.
RV (07:27):
Yeah, for sure. It’s amazing how adding one little gesture or facial expression, you know, an eyebrow raise or something like that, just like completely enhances the, the whole story and the joke that’s I love that. That’s a good reminder. So on that note, you know, you’re talking about delivery, which is huge. One of the other takeaways for me, which was something that I’ve heard Darren say before, I’ve heard lots of comedians say this before, but it is such a great reminder is that great lines aren’t written they’re rewritten. And so when you do think about the writing, you got to realize like, nobody, like almost nobody, even Jerry Seinfeld or Ellen degenerate, they don’t just sit down and just like write a perfect line. They identify an opportunity for humor. They apply some of the basic kind of principles of the psychology of what causes people to laugh.
RV (08:23):
They write it, then they go deliver it. Like you were saying, they enhance it, they test it, they tweak it, they edit it. And by the time we ever hear it in like a stand-up comedy set in front of an arena full of people or on HBO, or, you know, some nighttime late night television show, they’ve delivered that line hundreds of times, it’s totally polished, totally dialed in. And so, you know, if you think, well, I don’t know how to write jokes. Yeah. Welcome to the club. Even the people who do it as they don’t do it, it’s a craft. It’s a skill. It’s something that can be practiced, just like any sport or artistry, you know, humor is, is a form of artistry. And a lot of it is, you know, there’s certainly some that is talent and gifting and that, but a lot of it is just discipline and practice and regimen, which for someone like me who was not born naturally funny, that’s really, really great news.
AJV (09:22):
Yeah. Well, I think if you just kind of go back to that though, it’s like for the people who are going, I don’t want to have hundreds and thousands of hours to go and practice how to do this. It’s go back to the whole point of it’s about looking around your real life. Real life is the best place to tell humor. And without having to write any jokes, you can be incredibly humorous by just capturing the ridiculousness of life. Right? It’s like we have two young toddlers. There is at least an incident or a shenanigan every single day that it’s like, I cannot believe this just happened. And it’s like, there’s no writing to that. It’s capturing the essence of life in the moments that you remember to do it. So a little hope for all of those who are like, I don’t, I don’t know how I’m going to learn how to write jokes.
AJV (10:12):
It’s like, don’t remember to write down the funny stories that already happened. You don’t have to create anything. You just have to remember the things that actually happened to you that are funny. And my last thing, and I, this is a little quote that he said somewhere, but it really stuck out to me. And it said a comedy cuts down, humor lifts up. And this isn’t about comedy. This is about humor. This is about lifting up. This is about lightening, the mood. This is about giving that mental break to a serious subject or creating that break where the audience needs a little relief from this. Isn’t about making fun. This isn’t about cutting anyone down. This is about lifting up and using the humorous parts of life and situations in order to lighten the mood, not cut anyone down. And I really loved that.
RV (11:03):
Hmm, amen. Just a little levity to the whole conversation. Well fantastic. Always love getting A’s thoughts. Go back. Make sure you listen to the full episode. The interview with Darren, you hear from prince own mouth, what he’s talking about and make sure that you share this recap and both Darren’s episode with anyone out there, you know, who might want to learn how to be funnier,
AJV (11:25):
Basically, anyone, you know, who’s not funny that listen to this, you need help with your stories. That’s who this is for.
RV (11:33):
Yes. And don’t send it to me. I will be personally offended if you do that. So don’t send it back to me, but we’re so glad to have you keep coming back here. We’ll catch you next time on the influential personal brand.