FYB 96 | Making Your Podcast Funny

 

Humor is probably one of the strongest suits a speaker could wear when they want to bring people over to their table. Unfortunately, being funny is not easy. Switching it up, host Tracy Hazzard brings on Stephanie McHugh who is not a podcaster but a comedian. Also a motivational speaker and a humor coach, Stephanie has been helping entrepreneurs and speakers add humor to their presentations. She talks about the many advantages of putting humor to your presentation and shares her three weird tips on how you can be funnier when you give your next speech. Make your podcast funny. Don’t miss this show to learn more about bringing out funny into your stories, what it is like being an introverted comedian, and what snickerdoodle has to do with everything.

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Making Your Podcast Funny: Bringing Out The Funny With Stephanie McHugh

I’m doing something a little different. I’m not doing a Center of Influence. I’m not interviewing a podcaster. I’m interviewing a comedian. I’m interviewing Stephanie McHugh. I met her at a local Dames’ event. The Dames is a local Orange County in Colorado area. You can belong virtually anywhere but we have local events. It’s fun and they like to bring in the funny. Stephanie was the comedian that they brought in the last event we had. She had me in such stitches. She could tell there was an audience of more mature women than those of us over 40. She was telling the funniest jokes and the things about what happens when your kids are grown and what happens when you get divorced. There were many funny jokes in there that I realized that she’s got something great going on and she reads a room well. She has something that sparks excitement.

I thought, “This is interesting. How can I be funnier when I speak?” Lo and behold, she made an offer at the event. She offered to send people these 3 Weird Tips she has, which we’re definitely going to talk about on this show and how you can be funnier when you give your next speech. She trains speakers on how to be funny and how to bring funny into their stories and into their talks. I thought that’s going to be so valuable to all of you podcasters and aspiring speakers out there. One of the things that I’ve discovered over time is I’m a lot funnier than I thought. It’s a funny more of like a sarcastic funny.

When Tom and I do our talks together, when we’re doing co-hosting together, we’ve been told that we’re funny to listen to because of how we interact with each other. It’s been a surprising find for me. Doing it with an intentional purpose, I’m going to talk about that when I talk to her because I took one of her tips and I used it. Let me tell you a little bit about Stephanie before I bring her on. She’s been doing comedy for less than a year, but she won a trip to the Las Vegas Comedy Festival and now has been on the Denver comedy scene for many years. After she’d only been doing it for one year, she won a festival. How cool is that? She’s been doing comedy for many years. You may have seen her on Nick at Nite’s TV show, America’s Funniest Mom. Her home club is the world-famous Comedy Works where she can be seen at the MentalPause Comedy Show laughing off the middle ages. In addition to stand-up, Stephanie is passionate about helping entrepreneurs and speakers add humor to their presentations.

Stephanie, I’m glad to see and talk to you.

Thank you so much. I’m excited to be here.

It was so much fun listening to you do your routine. I could tell that you were customizing it as you were doing it at the Orange County Dames. What I loved though was that it was so personal. It made us all laugh because we were all the right age women. How do you do that? How do you improvise like that? Is that trained in you?

I have to say being a stand-up comedian that I have had practice doing it, but not to say that everybody can’t do it without being a stand-up comedian. The good news is you don’t need any training necessarily to be in the moment. You have to keep reminding yourself to be present. It’s amazing how the funny can show itself that way organically. You’re authentic too. I’m a big fan of being yourself and authentic and it will bubble up that way.

How did you get started being a stand-up comedian? That’s not an ordinary course. I could see my dad rolling his eyes at that one. He’d be like, “That’s going to happen. You’re still going to end up an engineer.”

Trust me, my dad rolled his eyes too although he is my biggest fan also. To go back even before I got on stage when I was in junior high. Why making people laugh became so important to me was I moved in the middle of sixth grade from Indiana to a small town in Durango, Colorado. I wore a brace on my back for scoliosis because it’s not awkward enough without that. I had a good friend shortly after. We would go to her house to play or hang out after school. Her dad would be there sometimes and he was an alcoholic. He could be incredibly cruel particularly to her. I found out if I could make him laugh that it would change the tone of the room just like that. It was efficient and it struck me. I didn’t realize it on a conscious level, but humor is important. It connects people. It can change how the tone of a room can go. That’s where it came. Sadly, she passed away. She got ovarian cancer when we were sixteen. I couldn’t make her laugh anymore.

I felt so bad that I couldn’t make her laugh at the end. I bottled those feelings down and lived in Chicago in my twenties. I didn’t go try stand-up, which would’ve been a perfect time with no kids and no responsibility to do it, but I didn’t. I didn’t act on what I wanted to do. I got married and moved back to Colorado. I had two kids and I kept thinking about my friend’s mom. I would always walk home from school after she had passed and I would sometimes pass her. She didn’t have a car and she would walk home. She would say, “You should come over to the house.” I couldn’t do it. I wanted to let her know that someone still thought about her daughter. I wrote her a letter and she wrote me right back and said, “I got it on my friend’s birthday. I didn’t even realize.” I let go of the guilt and thinking that I needed to be something that everybody else thought I should be. I signed up for an acting class and did an improv class and someone said, “You should try stand-up.” I did it and it’s a love-hate relationship.

I was having a conversation with my daughters. My youngest said, “Who am I named after?” My middle one was named after someone and who she didn’t know but she’s named after someone. She said, “Who am I named after?” I said, “You’re named after this very funny girl.” I took weaving in college because I literally went to textile school. People are like, “You took weaving.” We used to have the looms next to each other. When you’re weaving at 2:00 in the morning and you’re exhausted, you need someone funny. She was my funny and her name was Vanessa, which is what we named my daughter. We named her after her because she died of ovarian cancer. How ironic that you said that. She was the funny. She was this bubbly red head with all these freckles. I thought, “There isn’t someone who doesn’t deserve to live on after this.” This is why we gave the name to our daughter, our youngest. You’re right, the funny helps. It helps in every situation.

I keep track of things that happen because sometimes things may not feel funny. In fact, oftentimes it’s not funny in the moment. One of my new favorite jokes is about my dad. I talk about my kids in more self-deprecating humor when I’m on stage. My dad needs help. He has Parkinson’s and a little bit of dementia and I take him to his classes. He has a Parkinson’s boxing class. There’s a class specifically for people who have Parkinson’s because it helps with hand-eye coordination. He can bring a buddy so I can take the class with him. After the class, someone came up to my dad and said, “Jim, thanks for bringing the eye candy to the class.” I’m the new young hot chick at the Parkinson’s boxing class.

It’s making funny out of something that has too much seriousness to it.

It hurt a little bit when it happened because my dad looked at him. My dad is a big guy. I thought many years ago, no one would have come up to him your daughter is hot. I was like, “I still have it and because they have dementia, I’m the new young hot chick every time.” I can hear 1 or 2 groans sometimes in the audience and I still do it. You’ve got to know sometimes I’m like, “I feel for you. I’m sending them love. I know where you’re at,” but we’ve got to laugh, I feel.

I don’t consider myself funny. My daughters think I’m funny. I always thought my husband was funny. We’ve been married for many years. I’ve been with him for a very long time. I always thought he was funny. That was desirable because I thought I was way too serious, but it turns out that my kids think I’m funny. I discovered that I’m funny in maybe a sarcastic way on stage and on my podcast, but I’m getting that. I was like, “This is a new-found tool.” I’ve been honing it, trying it and doing some more things with it. I took your advice. For those of you out there, Stephanie gives out this offer and she sends you these three tips. One of the tips happens to be about snickerdoodle, which I’m going to let you explain. I’m going to tell you what I did with it that you’re going to love. Tell why snickerdoodle?

I send a recipe. I have 3 Weird Tips to help you be funnier in your next presentation or podcasts that you don’t think will help, but they do. I send a bonus snickerdoodle recipe because snickerdoodle is unexpected. You don’t expect a cookie recipe. That’s the one part. The second part is snickerdoodle is a funny word. If you’re telling a story and you want to punch it up a little bit, let’s say something funny happened to you. Instead of going down main street, you might want to think of a funny name of a different street to throw in a little bit of humor. Did you make snickerdoodle or have you used the word?

Snickerdoodle is one of our favorite cookies here. I made for Thanksgiving a Snickerdoodle Cake, which turned out fabulous. I’d send you that recipe because it was awesome. I have to say I’ve made it now and it’s good. I was at this event where I was interviewing someone who runs the improv comedy. He’s the CEO of all the improv comedy groups and he was engaging and interesting in the pre-interview. On stage, and we’re on this panel, he was dry and boring. I was like, “I don’t know if this audience is going to go to sleep here.” I’m the moderator and I’m like, “I’m figuring out how I’m supposed to pick this thing up.”

We’d also been talking about dry stuff like artificial intelligence and stuff like that. I say to everyone, “There’s a lot of us out there who are scared about this AI stuff. What I’m even more scared about is the next generation.” I tell this story about my daughter, Vanessa, who wants so badly to control the music playlist in the house. Her sister is ten and dominates it right from her phone and streams it right over Alexa. Vanessa has a little bit of a list. She’ll run over to Alexa and she’ll go, “Alexa, play The Middle,” which is the song. It is what I said this very first time I gave this thing. I said, “Play The Middle,” and she does it.

Humor is important. It connects people and can change how the tone of a room can go. Click To Tweet

Vanessa turns around excited that Alexa, this robot in our house, understood her. Now she’s queen of the world. I tell this story because it’s a story about digital marketing and how we need to get AIs to understand us. The second time I did it, I did it not too long ago on another stage event. I changed the song because I realized people were like, “What’s The Middle?” They didn’t know what it was. I changed it to Baby Shark and the snickers in the audience because it was right after the World Series ended, were hilarious. I was like, “It worked.” That was my snickerdoodle moment, I changed it to Baby Shark.

Everyone can relate to it. It’s cute and snappy. That’s perfect. I’m so happy.

This stuff works. You can bring in humor even if you think you’re not funny.

That’s another great example too of you keep building on it. Dave Chappelle doesn’t go out and do an hour. He’s revising it. You keep honing it in, switching it up a little bit, trying it this way, trying it that way and you keep building. It’s like a puzzle. If you can think of it that makes it a little more fun or challenging to think of it as a puzzle. Does this work or does that work? Baby Shark works.

We have a lot of podcasters and some aspiring ones who are intimidated by the idea that they have to be entertaining up here. In their mind, that means that they have to be funny. Not everybody has to be funny, but how can we be a little more engaging?

We both told stories about something that had happened to us. I pay attention to when people laugh sometimes. When another presenter is on stage, I listen. You’d be amazed at how often people laugh at connection a little bit too. It’s not a huge roaring laugh. You were telling that story and I laughed. I can’t remember what but I laughed because I remembered a time in my life with a similar situation. I would say that’s a great place to start. Write down whether you have a notebook or I use Evernote like I wrote down the Parkinson’s thing and kept it there. I decided to try it on stage. Give yourself a little bit of grace and we all start at the beginning. Being in the moment, being authentic and being real can go a long way, particularly in podcasts. I don’t know. You’re the podcast expert.

I think so. When people aren’t real, it’s not sustainable. If I were to sit up here and have pre-planned jokes, it has to come natural out of the story. I might tell the story again and I might refine it and I might get it funnier. I could definitely see myself doing that. I couldn’t sustain it if it wasn’t my natural part of storytelling, as a natural part of the way that I present and the way that I do it. That has worked for me. Amping that up and making it a little bit funnier, that only helps it. I’m going to call it selling. I know that sounds a real thing but I was watching a group of German speakers. They were out of Germany. They came over and they didn’t even know they were going to give their speeches in English.

That was a miscommunication on the process. I’m at what they call a speaker slam, which is where you go, maybe comedians do the same thing. You’re basically rating, reviewing them and voting on who’s the best. I’m in the audience and I’m one of those. That’s what my job is to sit there in the audience, listen to them and give them an evaluation of how they did. This woman comes up and she was probably the one who spoke the least English. It’s intimidating for her. She comes up and she gives a talk about why she’s the German version of Proctor & Gamble. She was the top salesperson out of there and her speech was about how you can be a top salesperson.

The one line that she said that I still recite is if they laugh, you sell. I thought, “I hadn’t thought about that.” That was the first time that what she said has resonated in me like if you can make them laugh, they will buy. The more I thought about that, the more I do find that true. It’s about not necessarily makes them roll on the floor laugh, but that connection laugh like you were talking about. That resonates with me. I like chocolate because that means something to me. When you say that, that makes them want to do more business with you, whatever that might be in your case or listen to more episodes. That would be good too.

Humorous speakers make more money. They get more gigs and they make more money. You’re bringing up a great point too. Humor helps your audience remember what you’re saying too. You may not be able to remember a statistic or something like that, but a Baby Shark story, you’ll remember that. It helps your audience connect and remember what you’re trying to convey to them.

FYB 96 | Making Your Podcast Funny

Making Your Podcast Funny: Humor helps your audience remember what you’re saying.

 

Retention is critically important, especially when you’re listening on a podcast because there are a lot of us who listen on double speed. I’m totally accused of doing that. Do you listen on high speed? I have to listen to many different shows all the time to evaluate them. I will slow them down at some point to get a sense of them. I’m trying to get through the content and how is this person doing? What’s their show structure’s like? I need to get through it. You can’t retain at that 2 or 3 level. Unless there’s something funny and interesting, you won’t retain it.

I’ve listened to some of yours at 1.5. You go right a lot. I can’t do two. I got to slow it down.

We used to joke because my co-host is my husband. Many of my shows we’re co-host on. He’s slow, it drives me crazy. I’m faster in contrast to that. I was like, “People have to speed it up, slow down, speed it up, slow down. I don’t think our podcast editing crew can handle that, level us out.” This is the thing. It’s hard to be funny alone sometimes because you’re not talking to anyone. It’s easier for us to have a conversation, make connection and be funnier. Do you find that hard when you’re on that stage or do you make the connection for yourself with the audience?

I do make a connection. I get in the zone before I go on the stage. If I’m doing a show at night for stand-up comedy, I’ll imagine the audience like a babysitter. She’s getting dressed up. It’s their date night. They haven’t gone on a date night and to picture someone out there.

That’s a good advice. We used to do that early on in our podcast because you didn’t know who is listening, so you would have to imagine what they were like. Eventually, they reach out to you and you get to know them. Those would be my new avatar and my new people that I pictured. Until you know them, you have to imagine it.

It does help for me to do that, to make it about them.

When you did The Dames, it was a much smaller group and you were there early. Did you talk to people and start to figure out? Because you could probably pretty easily look around and assess the age of all of us knowing that we’ve been all happy for that 40something.

On stand-up, a lot of times it’s dark. I can only see the front row and pass that. I love this about stand-up. The energy back and forth is a high for me almost. Each audience is different. When I can see their faces, I’m getting better at talking to people, but I try not to think too much because sometimes I can be more like, “They’re not going to like this stuff.”

Being in the moment, being authentic, and being real can go a long way, particularly in podcasts. Click To Tweet

Youre censoring yourself.

I have a conversation with myself not to take it personally. This is my show. We’re going to have fun because I could see everyone. It was a lit room for The Dames. You go, “This is my show and we’re doing this.” We had horses growing up and I was not a good horseback rider. I would get thrown off a run. I feel like audiences are the same way. Everyone gets nervous. In fact, I get nervous if I don’t have a little bit of amped up. I don’t want to say nervous because that’s not the energy that I want to say it is because I’m not scared but I’m ready to go. I’m like, “This is all about them but this is my show and we’re going. I’m riding the horse. I’m not going to get thrown off. If you don’t like it, you don’t like it. This is my deal and we’re going with it.” I’ve been performing on cruise ships. Taking that lesson from watching some comedians who are not household names, but who have been in the business for 30-some years that knock it out of the park every single time. It is your show. No apologies. You can switch it next time you say it if you want or whatever. Be authentic and go for it.

I have to ask this because this is a hot button around there. I was shocked to find many introverted podcasters. Do you consider yourself an introverted comedian? I’m sensing that.

Yes, I am an introvert. You’re not, are you?

No.

I knew that from The Dames. I would say a lot of comedians, which is why if I’m with some friends and they go, “She’s a stand-up comedian.” I’m like, “They’re about to be so disappointed being me not on stage.” Don’t worry if you’re an introvert or you’re an extrovert. I don’t think that has any part when you are sharing on your podcast.

I’m not an introvert so it surprised me that there was so many. We went to an event with 600 podcasting women and they had a whole section. If you were introverted, you could go out there and it was the quiet zone. I almost wanted to go hang out there and find out what happens. What do people do out here? Because I’m not one of those. It’s interesting because when I go to an event, I like to go early and get a sense of the room and find out what people are doing. That’s how I customize my talk. I will change up what I’m going to talk about. I change up the stories that I have because I have hundreds of stories of different podcasters.

I can pull a real estate one out, a couple doctors, depending on who’s in the audience. I can do that because I’m comfortable with my material. I know that these stories are all good examples of what my principles are. It doesn’t matter which one I use at any given time. That allows me to do that. Because I’m an extrovert, it’s easy to go out there and meet the people, get them talking, get them telling me that. Later what happens is I get the feedback, “I felt like you made that presentation for me.” The reality is I go, “Yeah, sure,” but it’s true. I actually did.

I would say as an introvert, I’m there but I’m observing. I’m not necessarily communicating with everyone. I’m listening to everyone and picking it up that way from an introvert style.

FYB 96 | Making Your Podcast Funny

Making Your Podcast Funny: Comedy is practice. If you’re doing a podcast, listen to it and see how you’re doing in the beginning, and then refine it as you go along.

 

You can do it either way. That’s why it’s so important though to start to find out who your audience is. Who’s the right audience for you and are you going to resonate with this audience because you know it works every time. That makes it so much easier I would think to do your job.

I do come back. This is something that I’ve done. You find your audience and when it comes right down to it and you’re doing it. You switch over to, “This is my show. This is all good. You guys are going to have a great time. Here we go,” and go with it.

You’ve been interviewed on a couple of other podcasts. One of them I happen to produce so it was funny, I’m Not Joking, which is a great show. How have you found other podcasters out there? Have you done a few? What do you think?

I’m Not Joking with Peter McGraw is a great podcast. He is in LA now but from Colorado, which is where I’m based out of too. We had mutual friends that made an introduction. I love podcasts. I listen to them. I would say I know people in the community too but if I don’t, I listen to a couple and then reach out.

Do you have any advice for podcasters now that you’ve been a listener, which is different? There are so many of my podcasters who aren’t listeners themselves and it shows in the quality of the show. I can hear the difference. You’re a listener. Is there something that you find humor works better this way or this is funnier or something’s going on with the way that it happens in podcasting because it’s solely in your ear? There’s no visual humor.

I’m going back to your stories. That’s where the humor is too because podcasting to me is an intimate media. I’m listening to it while I’m getting ready in the morning. They’re in the bathroom with me when I’m blow drying my hair or whatever or driving sometimes. Listen to a couple of them and you don’t have to listen to the whole thing, but listen to a few to get an idea of what you like, what you don’t like and you can listen to it. We both admitted that we listened to it at twice the speed sometimes and find out what you like.

If you have any advice for the podcast hosts themselves on how they can make that more funny in that more intimate setting?

Imagine your audience, your avatar and be there with them like you’re talking to them. It’s a little bit different. I’m sitting here thinking then speaking on stage. I generally help people when they’re on stage and sometimes we talk about exaggeration, how that can add humor. I’m thinking with podcasting, it’s a little bit more of a conversation. It’s more the stories and the one-on-one. I don’t think about the audience right now.

Because there’s the energy of you and I, but that’s my style. This is a purposely chosen style that I’ve done here is that I like the conversation. I like having a co-host for instance. I don’t like to do solo shows. I can do them because I do solo speeches on stage all the time, but it feels like a lecture. This is a conversation. This is where my energy is going to be amped up because you’re here. I’m going to show up for you. We’re going to engage. That’s why we have video, even though we’re not going to share it. We have video because we’re looking at each other. I like that personality. That’s why I chose to do the shows this way. It works for some people and for others, it doesn’t. That’s not who they are. That’s the energy of that moment that comes across and that’s what people are listening in for is the connection and energy. Whether you’re making it with the audience or you’re making it with your guests, it’s still a connection at the end of the day that they’re listening.

Humorous speakers make more money because they get more gigs. Click To Tweet

I would totally agree with the connection. That’s interesting you can tell if someone’s listened to podcasts or not because I do enjoy listening to podcasts like yours where you’re listening in on two people having a conversation that they’re passionate about something and you learn something new while you’re entertained.

That’s how I always look at it and that’s why I like the co-host model. It’s harder to do. I would imagine you’re thinking about if you were at a comedy ensemble, that’s harder to accomplish. You have to plan more. It is going up there and you’re like, “That one didn’t work. I’m going to improv and do something different.” You have to be more cohesive as a team. It is easier for me to do that with people I’ve known for a long time. It’s much easier with my husband. We’ve been around each other forever. We’re best friends and it’s easy for the comedy of that to come out because we’re husband and wife. People are watching that as like, “This is a train wreck waiting to happen.” I’ll tease them and criticize them because we used to have a podcast about 3D Printing, which you cannot get geekier than that.

Our very first podcast was on 3D Printing and he is the consummate geek. The reality is at the end of the day, I’m the tech geek. I can program the DVR and figure out how all this other stuff works. He can’t get his email to totally download properly. That’s the funny thing is we have that relationship and people think that’s hilarious. It works for us. You couldn’t do that without time spent together. It is a harder thing to accomplish. When you do your cruises and you have a group who are all doing different shows and different things. Over time, you all have a cohesiveness of you know this person is going to say this so you know that is going to work when you’re funny about this later. You’re tying in and you’re tapping into what’s working and what’s going on because you have that concentrated time where you’re all together.

Being an introvert, I’m not necessarily around people but I’m observing the passengers on the cruise and how life is for them on the cruise. There was one couple who I got done with one. We were in The Bahamas. I was in the elevator with them and they’re like, “We went on a Rome tour. It’s so bad. There’s $10 for all you can drink and we don’t drink. It is so bad.” You’d think that would be so fun. I’m like, “That sounds so fun.” They go, “It was horrible. I can’t walk.” That’s something that people on the cruise ships. I wrote it down because that will work on the next one and stuff like that.

You’re like, “I’ve got this.” My editors are going to go nuts because everything that Stephanie said was incoherent. That’s the whole point of it. While you’re getting that across, they have to create a transcript because that’s what we also do. Don’t worry about it because what I’ll do is I’ll make a note and say it’s okay if it comes across incoherent, put in italics and in quotes, it’ll be fine. When you’re listening to these things and you’re like, “I can’t take that out because that’s hilarious, but how do I get it across in print?” It’s a different media. Now you have to get it across.

That’s where we all have to think about the fact that some of us are doing video, audio and blogs. When you look at all of that, it doesn’t translate always in the different places. I always say this, funny doesn’t come across well in a blog. No matter how hard you try, I’ve tried being funny in my column and my articles, it doesn’t work. You’re not sure someone’s laughing on the other end besides you who thought it was like cute that you made reference to the fact that you’re an ‘80s girl and that’s funny to you. The Millennials are reading it going like, “That’s stupid. That’s my mom’s joke.” That’s where podcasting is much easier for me as to get it across. I’m comfortable on video too because I have lots of hand motions because I’m Italian so that works as well. There’s energy in that. The blog version of it is where I come back to my AI story, is that the only person that ever reads it is Google. There’s an Artificial Intelligence that reads it. That’s the point. If it’s incoherent, you might as well make it like a graphic because no one will ever read that. You got to come up with a funny visual.

The beauty of podcasting too, being a guest on a lot, is you don’t know where it’s going to go, just be organic. You have the points that you’re going to hit but it’s fun to see how it goes.

A lot of my podcasters are aspiring speakers. You’ve been helping speakers on stages. Tell me a little bit about how that works. They already have their speeches in line. How do they engage with you?

I work with speakers to help them craft their story and find the humor so they can connect with their audience. That’s what it comes down to. I also work with some people who are at the beginning and they’re like, “I don’t have a speech yet. How can I work with you?” It’s not a problem. We can sit down and work together and find the nuggets of humor and how to punch it up per se.

FYB 96 | Making Your Podcast Funny

Making Your Podcast Funny: If something painful happens, heal through it, but know that’s where the humor and the story to share is.

 

I have good stories because every good speech has good stories to start it. That’s a great way to start, finding your stories that resonate and building your talk about it. I love that model. That sounds like a lot more fun. How do I come up with a tip that covers this great story?

I have the 3 Weird Tips that we talked about how you can add humor that you don’t think will work. I’m more than happy if anyone’s interested to get a little more information. It’s a great way to start. Tracy, I’m glad it helped you out too.

It totally helped. I couldn’t wait to hear what those tips were. As I was reading them, I was like, “These are amazing. These are helpful.” I figured out how to apply them already. This is where I believe that we’re always continually learning. That’s what you’re saying is you’re refining and adjusting it. We’re continually learning how to craft this. Comedy is a practice.

One thing that’s interesting, Dave Chappelle is coming to Comedy Works. He likes to work out material. He does one show after the other, after the other. Comedy Works now closes up people’s phone so that they can’t record him. He doesn’t want anyone putting it on YouTube when he’s still working it out. He gives himself that space to just try that out. If you can mentally be in the present moment, work it out and listen to it later and see where you want to refine it.

Do you do that? Do you listen to yourself later? Do you watch the recordings? I’m intimidated by that.

I don’t listen to all of them but I do record all of them. I’ll put a little note on myself like, “Tried Parkinson’s joke for the first time,” so I can go back as I’m working on something and listen to see how I did it. Many times, you say it differently than how you thought. You’re like, “That joke didn’t work.” I’m like, “I stuttered on a word a little bit.” You don’t know. You’ve got to listen back to do it. I’m trying to find out too. I used to have one where I could listen to it at one and a half speed because sometimes I don’t like listening to my voice. If I alter it a little bit, it’s not me. It’s Minnie Mouse me.

That thing is when we do hear our voices, we don’t think that’s what our voice sounds like. That was a hard thing to get over when I first started podcasting. We’d done 100 episodes and someone would message us and said, “I’ve been binge listening to your podcast. I’m at episode number 50 or something. I’m wondering if you’re going to cover this in your future. If not, I want to put a request in for you to do it now so that by the time I get there, you’ll have recorded it.” That’s the way he said it. I looked at my husband, I go, “People are binge listening to us. They can listen to me for that many episodes.”

I was horrified. I was like, “What do I sound like?” At the end of it, this is the coolest and most empowering thing ever. I don’t listen to myself anymore but I do record all of my stage shows as well whenever I give a speech. I do go back to sections that are new. That’s the only thing I’ll zip forward to the section and check it out. I don’t have enough time. If it’s a brand new show, I will always listen to it and check it out. I do come across the way I wanted it to do, but I don’t have time to relisten to the show unfortunately. That’s a good place to be. No one is complaining so we’re okay. I’ve probably done 1,000 interviews and shows. I’ve got four podcasts. I’ve written 500 articles for Inc. Magazine. There’s a lot of interviews under my belt. There’s a confidence in that. I’m sure that that gets to be the same case for someone who’s on stage like you.

That’s great advice like you were saying, if you’re first doing a podcast to go back and listen to it to see how you’re doing in the beginning. Did it land the way you wanted it? Not to necessarily change that podcast but to refine it as you go along.

The beauty of podcasting is you don't know where it's going to go. Click To Tweet

If you are authentic all the way, the audience likes to come with you. They like to see how you’re improving and where you’re going. The biggest problem we have with most podcasters is how to start or how to end. Do you have the same problem with your shows?

How to start and how to end? I always like to start with something a little new specific for that group or that time on stage. I tried to change it up. It keeps it fresh for me. I tend to end on the same thing. At first, I thought maybe that doesn’t resonate with podcasting, but it does. Making it about that specific time where you’re at, what happened that day and then ending on something comfortable too.

That’s such good advise because the reality is that we find a lot of people trail off and stop listening in the last few minutes of every show. They think you’re going to do the typical wrap up and you’re going to tell them where to find you. They’re like, “This is my twentieth time listening to you. I got this covered.” They skipped the very end. If you were making a call to action, you’ve missed it. They don’t hear it. If you’re going to end on something big every time, something that’s memorable, that in and of itself could be a reason why they don’t miss it. We got to have a big finish here, Stephanie. Now there’s pressure on us.

I was trying to think of stories. This is one thing that comedians have a different mindset than other people. When something goes wrong, other people think, “I wish that didn’t happen.” Where comedians go, “Awesome, I got five more minutes of new material.” I got a job on a morning radio show in Denver, Colorado. I totally feel it because I put my pants on inside out. I was auditioning. I had to get up at 3:30 in the morning. I set out all my clothes the night before. I got up and went to the audition. I had done four mornings and I’m standing there in the morning talking to him. I’m rubbing my arms against my pants. I could feel something flapping. I’m like, “I have spent a whole morning in this radio station with my pants on inside out.” I shared that story right on the air, right then in the moment. That got me the job. If something painful happens, heal through it, but know that’s where the humor is also and the story to share.

Stephanie, thank you so much for coming on the show. I appreciate you sharing your humor and your advice. I will make sure everyone knows how to find you at FeedYourBrand.co. Thank you again. I appreciate it. I can’t wait to see you again at another event. Maybe I’m going to catch the Denver Dames and go see you do a longer bit sometime soon.

I would love it. Thank you so much for having me, Tracy. It was great. It’s fun to be here.

I am excited to be bringing you diverse thinking as to how to amp up your podcast show and how to bring new things. Tom and I have been sitting back and thinking about how we can bring you more value. What we’re hearing from our clients and from all of you who are reaching out to us is that you would like more business building things. You would like ways to build your business. If I can help you by bringing someone like Stephanie who can help you amp up your speech so you can make them laugh and be able to make them buy, I want to do that.

If there are more things like that out there where you found something that you think is great or you’re looking for something, please reach out to us at FeedYourBrand.co or anywhere on social media, @FeedYourBrand and let us know what we can bring you. How can we make you more successful as an overall business with podcasting just being your content media tool? I’m looking forward to talking with you next time and bringing you more great Center of Influences in the podcasting world, great podcasting tips, cool and interesting people like Stephanie McHugh. Thanks, everyone.

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About Stephanie McHugh

FYB 96 | Making Your Podcast FunnyAfter doing comedy less than a year, Stephanie won a trip to the Las Vegas Comedy Festival and now has been on the Denver comedy scene for 16 plus years. You may have seen her on Nick at Nite’s TV Show “America’s Funniest Mom”.

Her home club is the world famous Comedy Works where she can be seen in the MentalPause Comedy Show, laughing off the middle ages. In addition to stand up, Stephanie is passionate about helping entrepreneurs and speakers add humor to their presentations.

 

 

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