Category Archives: Creativity Tools

How to be a Really Funny Comedian, Part 8: Professionalism

How to be a Really Funny Comedian, Part 8: Professionalism


You may have seen's 2011 output of the 100 Most Creative People in Business back in May. That ridiculous photo of the many Conan's sure caught my attention. Though Conan O'Brien came in 8th place, the focus on his creative process is worth reiterating. Plus, he wrote a guide to creativity. Who doesn't like guides?

The man is a true professional who rides on the success of effective preparation. But key to his real success is the pressure-induced, improv decision-making that follows his good prep. "Prepare like crazy," says Conan. "But then just as you're heading out, half an hour beforehand, forget all of it. It's in your reptile brain. Go out but feel loose enough to grab opportunities as they come up."

Conan draws analogies between horse-racing, diamond-formation, cooking and surfing to the business of creative comedy. Somehow these topics have a few things in common: they are greatly impacted by the chance occurrence of the perfect elements, the presence of a ton of pressure, and the flexibility to go off course should the opportunity arise. Conan puts a lot of weight in the fun factor and maintaining a loose work environment to allow full freedom for mistakes and mishaps that may turn into the next best idea. Also, knowing what he can and cannot control has allowed Conan to tap further into his improvisation. His job is to set the tone, not to micro-manage his writers. Therefore, his tone is light and he considers the best and the worst to be on equally footing for funny material. The best material from Conan happens when he draws outside of the lines and the audience can tell that something organic is happening. Conan tells his colleagues that "the only way we can screw up is by not being bold enough." 

So what can we learn from Mr. O'Brien's guide about creativity in the business of comedy? 

1. "Creating a show is like playing the horses… No, wait-it's really like the making of a jewel." (i.e. The build up of pressure fosters a great production).

2. "Prepare like crazy so you can wing it." (i.e. Trust your 'reptile brain').

3. "Improvising is like surfing." (i.e. Be open to the whim of the current and ride out the opportunity to improvise).

4. "Creativity should be fun. Seriously." (i.e. Seriously fun).

5. " Fostering a collective comic sensibility is like cooking." (i.e. Get a rough idea, but don't overcook things with intense rehearsals because you need room to seize the moment for improv). 

6. Learn from other creative CEO's, and pep-talk your staff (i.e. Only try to control what you actually can, and create an environment where people are encouraged to be bold). 

How to Become a Comedian, Part 5: Your Voice

How to Become a Comedian, Part 5: Your Voice

Imgres-3Check out the earlier blogs for more secrets…

And let's not fool ourselves. Being a comedian is not so simple as follwing some blog entries and then saying you're a comedian, is it? Well, yes it is. All you have to do is follow the simple diagram. I promise you that with these key ingredients of persistence, seeing cutting edge live comedy, appreciating the masters of standup, and writing your humorous inclinations down, you will become very close to being an actual comedian. Or comedyan, if you want to be politically correct. Just kidding.  

The next ingredient is that you begin to write some actual jokes.  

ACTION: Sit down with the notes you've taken in your comedy notebook and begin to look critically at what is actually really interesting in there.  Pick out a few ideas and talk them out, out loud. Use a voice recorder. You can do it alone or with friends who you feel funny around (in the good way.) Just babble and rant about these topics. Question things, be curious, really drill down and just get silly. Try on some different comedians' voices. Pretend you're Ellen, Conan, Seinfeld. Pretend you're Elvis and do your rant with a honkey tonk accent. The idea is to have fun and get loose and let your ideas flow.  

Next: Even more incredible secrets you have to know before you can get on stage.

5 Ways to Deal with Professional Envy

5 Ways to Deal with Professional Envy

Elvis-presley Is someone else getting more attention than you and it's driving you crazy?

Sometimes it can be challenging to watch others finding success in your field while you struggle. Perhaps they started their career after you and are already enjoying compliments, getting great work, and appearing in the limelight.  It's interesting when, instead of feeling inspired, we feel envy or jealousy.  What a great opportunity for growth!  Particularly artists, who are often a 4 in the enneagram, are susceptible to jealousy.   I work coaching a lot of artists whose main block is comparing themselves to others.  And let me tell you: jealousy has not made any of my clients more talented, more brilliant, funnier, or smarter.  BUT…

Envy tells us several things:  

  1. It points to something we want.  Good to know what you want!
  2. It points to somewhere we can grow.  Good to know where you want to grow!
  3. It points to someone we can appreciate and admire.  Good to know exactly what you appreciate about them!
  4. It points to somewhere we can have compassion for ourselves for not being "perfect" already.  Great!
  5. It points to somewhere we have an attachment to things being other than exactly how they are and helps bring you back into the reality of your situation. Ahhh. 

So…  top five ways to deal with professional envy are:

  1. Write down what you want, based on what you're envious about.  Allow yourself to feel it.
  2. Write down where you'd like to grow.  Take an immediate action based on this.  Do something in the next five minutes that gets you closer to your goal. 
  3. Write down the qualities in them you admire, and then meditate for five minutes, feeling into how you already possess those qualities. 
  4. Meditate for another five minutes on compassion for yourself.
  5. Accept how you are right now.

5 Needs Your Creative Heart Demands in Order to Grow

5 Needs Your Creative Heart Demands in Order to Grow

Imgres There can be times in life when we get stuck, when old patterns begin to rear their heads.  It can creep up on us slowly, without us noticing.  We'll be zooming along, working, going to school, or raising a family, and it seems like we're really in the flow when one day we realize we have totally neglected our creativity, or disconnected from the source of our inspiration.  It's at this point when it's helpful to recognize that creativity needs several ingredients to grow.  When I was in grammar school, we planted a marigold every year in a cup.  We'd water them and leave them on the window sill, and nothing would happen, but one day, a bud would burst through the moist soil and almost overnight a flower would emerge.  That would be right about the time in May when Mother's Day falls, and we were told to bring the flower home in the little styrofoam (ugh) cup to our Mama.  

Well, creativity is just the same way.  And the world is our Mama.  The earth is our Mama.  It's just our job to tend to that little seed.  

Here are the top five ingredients you need to help get that creative seed germinating so you can write that screenplay, that solo show, play that album, or cook that masterpiece meal:

1. Soil.  You need a container, a solid ground to sprout from.  A foundation.  Make sure that today, you eat well, sleep well, and stay rooted.
2. Water. Water is the wet, moist carrier of new information.  Bring in new information, new ideas, new juicy things into your life to keep things flowing upward.
3. Sunshine.  Being in nature is a great way to connect with something greater than yourself to recharge your batteries and give you the oomph to expand.
4. Love.  Be kind to yourself.  Love and adore you are right now, with no need to change anything, and you will find that what flows from that place is infinitely more interesting.
5. Time. Be patient.  Give it all time to do its thing and you'll see your bud in no time.

Now go out and grow!


"Man (or woman) can live abou forty days without food, about three days without water, about three minutes without air.  But only for one second without hope."  -Anon

Half off an Initial Coaching Session through December 31!

Half off an Initial Coaching Session through December 31!

Free_woman Dear Friends and Colleagues,

You might know me mainly as a working comedian and solo performer.   However, for the past several years, I have also been enjoying life as a creativity coach, working with actors, writers, painters, comedians, and people who want to expand their creativity and joy into every facet of their lives.  I am deeply committed to the fulfillment of true self-expression, in my own life and in the lives of those around me.  

Specialties include:

-Creativity Coaching: Depth Work & Transformation of Creative Blocks into Creative Material

-Standup Comedy Coaching: Confidence and Presence on Stage

-Solo Show Coaching: Exploring Your Life Story through Performance

Transforming Habitual Behaviors into Creative Acts

Tools include: 

-Diamond Heart Approach Breath Work/Essence Work

-Guided Visualization/Journey Work

-Emotional Freedom Technique

-Body-Based Authenticity & Arete-Style Reflection

-Spiritual Grounding for Material Manifesting

-Humor & Playfulness


Experience includes:

-12 Years Training and Working Artist & Performer

-Focus, Time-Management, Organization, Accountability, & Integrity

-Branding, Marketing, Social Networking, & Training as a Visual Artist

-Transformational Courseleader Training with Arete Instructor Guy Sengstock

-4 Years of Method Acting & Diamond Heart Work

*Special Coaching Offer* Through Friday, 12/31 only, I'm offering a limited number of half-price coaching sessions to people who haven't worked with me before.  (I always offer a 20-30 minute consultation for free, but this offer is unprecedented.)  Coaching is normally $100-$75/hr sliding scale. You are welcome to come for a session for half price, or offer a donation of your choosing (completely your choice!).