Professional Speaker Magazine -- January 2004
Thursday, 01 January 2004 00:00
The PEG experience means different things to different people. For some, being a member of a PEG means sitting and listening at the Workshop and Convention sessions. For others, like Humor PEG members Bobbe White and Jason Hewlett, being part of a PEG means putting your hands in the dirt and digging, planting and creating new directions for their speaking businesses.
"Making humor work is, well, work," says White. "The Humor PEG has helped to show me how successful speakers incorporate humor seamlessly. And it doesnt happen without a lot of time, thought, effort and a few misses before getting the hits."
White remembers the PEG session at the 2003 Eastern Workshop in Charlotte, where everyone was trying to learn how to do what Leno and Letterman do every night so naturally: finding humor in newspaper headlines and articles.
"My table struggled," she recalls. "I personally failed miserably. But when some of the PEG members got it, it was exciting! Attending the session or reading the newsletter, which, by the way, is a terrific resource, helps to impress upon us that humor is a discipline, an art form. Meeting some of the Humor PEG members, and then watching them on the platform, it's like watching an exquisite meal being served-with none of the food being burnt. The silver cover is lifted and for the first time, we are allowed to see the presentation from a different perspective. Keep dishing it out. I'm not full yet!"
For Jason Hewlett, a 25-year-old member from Utah, being part of the Humor PEG was at first intimidating. But as time went on, the connections and the observations proved priceless.
"I went to my first Chapter meeting in Utah, and the before I knew it, I found myself in New Orleans for the 2003 National Convention as a 'nobody who knew nobody,'" Hewlett relates. "I got my name tag and on it was the 'Humor PEG' sticker. So I went in search of other humorists. I found the guy that originally suggested I join NSA, Steve Rizzo."
Hewlett had called Rizzo months before to get some career advice. "In true Rizzo fashion, he told me to join NSA and tell everyone that it was his idea or he'd never talk to me again," says Hewlett. "So I joined (I still wanted him to talk to me)."
Once at the Convention, Hewlett found Rizzo in a room leading the Humor PEG session that would come to define his first experience as a member of NSA. "Here he was, the Steve Rizzo, the guy that I grew up watching and laughing with, a legend in the comedy club circuit, teaching a bunch of what I thought were 'wanna-be's' how to become powerful humorists in the speaking business," he remembers.
Hewlett sat quietly in the back of the room scoping out the "competition." "I saw a guy that looked like Santa Claus, a dude dressed like Will Rogers with a camera around his neck, a 300-pound lady in a tank top taking notes like crazy," he recalls. "And I swear I saw an Abraham Lincoln in there. I thought I was in the 'We-don't-know-who-we-are-so-we-just-came-from-the-Rocky-Horror-Picture-Show-PEG to this one.' But as I listened and stopped judging all the people surrounding me, Steve talked about how we're all a team in this game of life just trying to add humor into our surroundings."
"'We just have to laugh and help others see what's humorous in this crazy world,' Rizzo suggested. I realized that we are the ones responsible for helping others lighten up through humor. We are in a position to inspire through the music of laughter and motivation of humor! Yes, all of us, the Humor PEG, not as competitors but as a team. And at the front of the room was a guy who's made it. Steve Rizzo, comedian turned humorist, teaching us and helping us in this worldwide effort to spread humor, together."
The young new member of NSA went away from the PEG session with a room full of friends, he says, because of his new affiliation with these people who are all part of the Humor PEG. "I went back to my room and faced the people in the elevator, as opposed to the door," he points out. "I wiggled my nose and made faces for them as they watched the show and laughed. I learned that even though what looked like a bunch of 'wanna-be's' filled the Humor PEG room, we're all 'wanna-be's' because we want to be like each other."