If you'd asked me before I read this book "Nick, do you talk to funny?", I'd have had the answer on speed dial "No way. I'm awful at telling jokes". But just through the act of reading this book, things have improved immeasurably...
Armed with the secrets of comedy storytelling, I'd capture your attention by setting the scene with a memorable story from my past, I'd sell you a dummy by sending you down the garden path, and right there where I'd primed your senses for wild and uncontrollable laughter... the intensity and excitement would overpower me and I'd pass out - like the first time I almost lost my virginity in thorny bushes alongside a disused railway track.
I may never get a second chance to make amends, but I'll always have a second chance to go back and enjoy David Nihill's "Do You Talk Funny". A book that made me laugh so much, fellow passengers on my daily commute into London were laughing along with me and they didn't even know why! Well, until we got into zone 1 - then we all had to put on our "don't look at me or I'll break your legs with a giant garden paving slab" commuter faces.
From time to time, I do enjoy a bit of public speaking. And not just telling the hoards of sweaty people on the train in zone 1 to get their hairy armpits out of my face. And I've always wondered... what does it feel like to say something funny and see people laughing at you? It must be such a delightful experience, to bring a smile to the face of others and to make the world a happier place for a few short moments. That's why I picked up a copy of this book. It promised to make me a funny public speaker.
All of my talks are about the IT business. How can we write software better or deliver software better, that kinda stuff. So I'm facing a real challenge here. The world's unfunniest man, talking about the world's unfunniest - and probably most boring - topic. Could this book really help me? Well it couldn't make me worse...
Not too long ago, I was presenting a talk to an audience of close to 1000. I'd prepared a few little jokes - guaranteed laughs they were. I couldn't wait to get up on stage and finally make someone laugh - in fact, make almost 1000 people laugh. How cool would that be for a first time? Surely that would make amends for my past failure.
As I'm on the stage, I'm working through the first few slides and I know the first joke is coming. So I take a deep breath, I tell my little story, and just seconds away from someone laughing at one of my jokes for the first time in my life, I close my eyes, I put a smile on my face and I deliver the punchline expecting the audience to burst out into uncontrollable laughter.
But I don't hear anything? Maybe the audience are laughing so much and so hard at my amazing joke that it's too much for my ears to handle and they've passed out. So I have to revert to vision. I open my eyes expecting to see 1000 happy faces in hysterical laughter at my amazing joke... But no. I'm looking at 1000 faces who all look like they want to break my legs with a giant garden paving slab. "Who is this stupid English man? Is he supposed to be the unfunny Mr Bean of the English IT scene? Actually, he looks more like one of those weird Chuckle Brothers, only his ears stick out more".
I'll bet my life savings I won't be getting invited back to that conference next year. Not unless there is a sudden surge in demand for the unfunny Mr Bean of the English IT scene who looks more like one of the Chuckle Brothers with ears that stick out more.
Anyway, you get the idea right? Me and comedy, we aren't BFFs who hang around at pool parties drinking Mojitos and petting each other's hair. So why don't I just take everyone's advice and give up my life's ambition of telling a funny joke? Blame David Nihill.
David says I can be funny. He says if I follow 7 simple habits, I can be funny. All I had to do was buy his book, and I did. So now I'm officially funny, which means you're all laughing uncontrollably at this point, right?
Have my ears passed out again?