Just Stand Up, Speak Out

“My father established our relationship when I was seven years old. He looked at me and said, “You know, I brought you into this world, and I can take you out. And it don’t make no difference to me, I’ll make another one look just like you.’”

Did it make you smile? That famous line was once said by Stand Up Comics Hall of Famer Bill Cosby. Bill Cosby is a successful comedian, product endorser, story teller, author and television and film actor. Cosby is one of the most respected comedians in Hollywood and not to mention his numerous awards to boot. He started his career as a stand up comedian wherein he developed his trademark using “raceless” humor to capture his audience.

Anyone who has ever tried going to comedy night at a local comedy club can attest that not just because you look or think funny or you can make your friends laugh does it automatically mean that you are a good comedian. Being a comedian is such a difficult job, and a stand comic at that, it’s doubly agonizing. With a live audience in front of you, it can be a nightmare for the mediocre, aspiring comics!

That’s why, stand up comedians are really admirable with their craft in making the audience laugh. They are very good in poking jokes or situations that make the audience giggle with laughter until their sides hurt not minding that they are being watched by lots of people. But, as was mentioned, not all can be a good comedian, not everyone can be a stand up comic, and not everyone can speak in front of an audience.

Public speaking, performing on stage or giving a presentation in front of a large crowd can be very difficult thing to handle by other people. Unlike seasoned comedians like Bill Cosby, there are some individuals who experience racing heart, shaking knees, sweaty hands and shortness of breath when speaking in public. These are some signs of a person with anxiety symptoms. It is a feeling like you want to get out and run from a frightening situation. Situations that are ever present in our everyday lives.

According to the “holy trinity” for comedians, there are three qualities to remember to be a good comedy act; you’ve got to have good material, you’ve got to have a sense of timing, and you’ve got to have a stage presence. As with public speaking there are also important rules to remember to conquer the fright.

· Familiarize yourself with the place you are about to speak or do a presentation. Arrive early and prepared. Walk around the speaking area and practice using the microphone.
· Greet the audience as they arrive. It is much easier to talk to a group of friends than to a group of strangers.
· Practice your speech or presentation and revise it if necessary. If your uncomfortable with your material, your tension will increase.
· Exercise. Relax and take a deep breath before your speech or presentation.
· Visualize. Imagine yourself successfully giving your speech.
· Concentrate on the message. Focus your attention away from your anxieties but on your speech and your audience.
· Twist your nervousness into positive energy and enthusiasm.

Moreover, do not apologize for any nervousness you think you have with your speech, you might be calling attention to your audience to something that they did not even notice. Try to also realize and bear in mind that the people want you to succeed and they do not want you to fail.

So the next time you have a big presentation or a speaking engagement, add some humor to it to shake that nerves off and remember another famous quote from one of the comedy greats, Bill Cosby: Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it.

For more history on Black Comedians such as Bill Cosby, Jackie “Moms” Mabley, Eddie Murphy and others, read the book entitled “Just Stand Up: A Tribute to Black Comedians” by Eric Reese.

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