by Frank King
If you missed the AENC Marketing and Communications Conference at the Sheraton Chapel Hill, it was fabulous. See if you can’t borrow someone else’s notes. For those folks who were there, we’ll always have the Paris Room. More on that in a minute…
I remember when the Sheraton Chapel Hill, was the Hotel Europa. The reason I recall it, it’s burned into my memory.
It was a dark and stormy night…actually, it was moonlit and just really humid. I was booked to do a one-nighter in the lounge, “Rick’s Place,” if memory serves…kidding…just don’t often get to work in two “Casablanca” references.
Never ask a comedian what his or her best show was, because more often than not, they won’t be able to tell you. However, ask ‘em their worst show, and you will get chapter and verse.
Mine went like this…the place was packed with people dancing, drinking, and having a good time, when the hotel manager pulled the needle off the album playing (yes, this was pre-CDs), and stopped the music. He said something like, “Okay everybody, stop dancing and having a great time, we’ve got a standup comedian.” From the crowd’s reaction, it was news to them. Not one person in the room, beyond the manager (who is hopefully now running a Motel 666 on one of the rings of Dante’s classic tale), and I, knew we were having a comedy show. Nobody likes unpleasant surprises.
What followed was a sleigh ride through Hades. My goal changed from getting laughs, to getting out alive. There were many hecklers and many heckles, but only one that was PG-13. Someone screamed, “Tell us some jokes we can dance to!” My response, “Here comes a slow one, you can slow dance.”
There was a technical problem as well. I noticed that my microphone was producing less and less sound. When I asked the guy in the sound booth what was up, he yelled back, “We’ve had complaints that people are having trouble hearing each other, because the comedian is talking too loud.” Bad grammar, worse night. And folks wonder why I no longer do clubs. Can’t say that’s ever happened at an association gig.
Back to the present, and the AENC gathering. Being 56 years old, I’m a little unnerved by the technological requests. The first one was, “Take a picture,” not a problem, and “Put it up on Instagram along with AENC, and you’ll get a print of that picture.” Problem! That would involve downloading the app, creating a profile, uploading the picture,… I’d rather do a one-nighter in “Rick’s Place.” That said, I did it! Then came the Opening General Session with Charles Popper. His information was great. His opening exercise, made my brain throb.
He said, “We’re going to conduct a survey, “Text a KEYWORD to 22333.” A good 50% of the folks in the room stared at him like the Amish at Best Buy. He checked the results of his survey, found that only a handful had been able to make the technological leap, and said, “Okay, maybe we’ll come back to that later.”
My thought was, if you want to survey THIS crowd, either ask for a show of hands, or provide us a high school kid to walk us through it. I’m just sayin’…
I also thoroughly enjoyed the breakout with Dave Rendall, but that’s for next time.
Frank King is a Certified Laugh Coach, a Certified Speaking Professional, and full time Professional Comedian who has been helping people laugh and learn how to use humor to turn their losses into laughs, their pains into punchlines, and their stresses and messes into successes, for 30 years.
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