A life-changing rule c/o comedian Sarah Millican.
As you might know, I’m a comedy fan. I watch it online, on TV and live too. I’ve even been on five comedy courses now and I’ve done some standup myself. As a speaker, you’d think that it would be easy for me, right? But actually, standup comedy is very different to being a speaker. One of my mates who’s a pro comedian was joking with me that quite often speakers and preachers chat to him saying “we do the same job really, don’t we?”. I think he probably doesn't say anything, but to be really honest they are very different.
Comedy is like speaking on speed and it is often cited as one of the toughest things you can do, well, it’s not brain surgery or bomb defusing, but it is pretty tough. It is scary because, not only are people generally scared of public speaking but add to the mix that for stand-up the audience is sat there expecting that you’ll make them laugh every 10-20 seconds! When I’m speaking I aim for a laugh every 3-5 minutes, so every 20 seconds kinda piles on the pressure!
So, lots of people I’ve trained with are doing it to build their confidence and to push themselves out of their comfort zone. Our comfort zone is great, but we grow when we push ourselves out of it, like getting a new job or trying something new for the first time. As a speaker I just wanted to push myself to be better ‘in the moment, on stage’ and so stand-up comedy and improvisation courses are one of the few places I can go to stretch myself.
Lots of people try comedy, lots of people fail, there is a high drop out rate, almost as high as the drop out rate at the gym on the fourth week of January. So when people really make it in comedy, I like to find out more and learn a bit about their story. Sarah Millican is one of the big names in comedy right now. She has been on a long journey to get there. My friend who runs comedy nights for years said that she had slept on his sofa as she did the local circuit years ago, learning her craft.
Being from the north-east myself I've always liked to watch north-eastern comedians and when Sarah Millican hit the big time I thought she was great. She is cheeky, thoughtful and honest. As I started following her on Twitter I saw some articles on her, and about her: i.e. she does an amazing thing every Christmas helping lonely people by using the hashtag #joinin and people on Twitter support each other at a tough time of year for many. Brilliant.
But one of the things that I discovered about Sarah, could well be the secret to her success. She calls it ‘Millican’s law’. She developed this during long runs on the Edinburgh Fringe where she was doing dozens of comedy gigs back to back.
So, here it is…
If she has had a bad gig, she only allows herself to be mad, moan, wallow and be angry until 11am the next day. Then she draws a line under it and gets on with the next gig. Because if she goes into a new gig thinking she’s terrible then, of course, she’ll probably fail again.
But there is another side to it too…
Even if she nails it, storms it, does well or even gets a standing ovation. She only allows herself to be smug until 11am the next day. Then she draws a line under it and gets on with the next gig. Because, she says that if she goes into a new gig thinking she is God’s gift to comedy, she’ll lose her sharpness and her focus and she’ll probably fail.
She says that this little law, has made a real difference to her. It has helped her move on from life’s up’s and down’s.
But because Sarah is a comedian and they live fairly nocturnal lives, getting home in the early hours and getting up late - then 11am works for them. But for us who have day jobs we need to move that forward to 8am.
So Millican's Law has henceforth become the ‘After Eight’ rule.
Yesterday was yesterday, and whether it was a bad day or a good day, today is a new day, with new opportunities.
Don't live in the past, embrace the present and learn to move on.
Well, at least by 8am, just so we can moan a little but then get our heads straight for when we walk into work!
Let me know how you get on with the ‘After Eight’ rule (not just the chocolate!). It could be a life-changer.