Welcome to the Telling of Story Podcast. I’m your host, Storyteller Jewels, and along with my guests, it’s my endeavour to explore the art and science of storytelling to attract, engage and retain a business audience and to unpack why it works for some and not for the many that try. Listen in as Rodney Marks talks about how to engage with your audience.
[00:00:29] Rodney: Eye contact. and changing your pace, embracing pausing and the odd silence and asking and answering questions. In a stand up setting, dealing with hecklers keeps people in the audience entertained. In a corporate comedy setting, instead of heckling, there’s asking questions. And it has the same sort of competitive edge to it.
[00:00:53] Rodney: A heckler and a questioner will be trying to best the presenter. And the [00:01:00]audiences enjoy that. And sometimes it’s good to let the heckler or the questioner win. That’s fine as well.
[00:01:11] Jewels: In this episode, I have the pleasure of talking with Rodney Marks. Rodney is a comedian. His character is over explained, but not very well. He has over three and a half thousand live comedy performances under his belt, and a repertoire of over 350 characters. Rodney has been earning his living as a comic for 30 plus years and has performed in 11 countries.
[00:01:32] Jewels: Rodney, welcome to the show. Thank you,
[00:01:35] Rodney: Jewels. It’s a
[00:01:36] Jewels: privilege to be here. Rodney, which of your 350 characters do we have the pleasure of speaking with today?
[00:01:43] Rodney: I guess just an exaggerated version of myself. Uh, you never really… your authentic self in public. Uh, so this is my public persona.
[00:01:53] Jewels: Rodney, tell me the reason I brought you on.
[00:01:56] Jewels: There’s a couple of reasons. I think comedians are some of [00:02:00] the best storytellers there are. And I’ll come back to a few questions around storytelling in the comedic sense, but you also have a very specific form of comedy called. comic hoax. Can you just explain what that is and how the hell did you become a comic hoax?
[00:02:17] Jewels: Well,
[00:02:18] Rodney: the comic hoax is a sub genre of comedy and combines a bit of sketch, a bit of stand up, and quite a lot of storytelling really. And the hoaxer
[00:02:32] Rodney: Has a fake biography, which eventually is revealed as being fake, and a story to tell the audience about why he is there at the event. The event is often a business event, but occasionally a private event, a major milestone, a wedding, a funeral, a major birthday party, a housewarming, something like that.
[00:02:55] Rodney: But mostly it would be a conference, a seminar, a, [00:03:00] uh, an awards night, a business event of one sort or another. My character is introduced often in a program, supplemented by a spoken word introduction by an emcee. The formal or informal MC. And you know, here we’ve got a professor, you know, Harry Diculus from Oxford University, who’s going to talk to us about a new way of thinking that combines lateral thinking with longitudinal and vertical thinking and how it will impact the manufacturing sector of which our company is a proud company.
[00:03:35] Rodney: Thank you. Part of over to you. And then I will hopefully be entertaining. Um, but certainly be full of nonsense from the very beginning. And surprisingly, a lot of people expect nothing but waffle and intellectual nonsense. And I then have a break for questions. And people will ask me serious questions.
[00:03:57] Rodney: Some believing to the very end [00:04:00] in the credibility of my character. But the audience very often splits Between people who are laughing and people who are offended by the people who are laughing. Because don’t you realize we have a very important person from the University of Oxford or, you know, wherever.
[00:04:15] Rodney: What is the, you know, some other country. So cultural cringe hinges here. Don’t you realize that it’s the president of Switzerland? Don’t you realize that that’s a Nobel laureate in economics? You can’t be laughing at him. And the other people are saying, mate, you know, get with the program. We’ve just been had.
[00:04:33] Rodney: No, no, no, no, no. And so the story I will often tell is, everything you have been doing to date is completely wrong. That your superiors have no idea about leadership. Uh, they have no idea about manufacturing their product. Uh, no idea about, uh, delivering the service that they have to deliver. And slowly, people realize that the humor is [00:05:00] self deprecating because it is their boss, they will realize.
[00:05:03] Rodney: Who has, uh, given license to this clown to, uh, invite the employees to question each and every part of their working day. So, yeah, the storytelling is absolutely part of it. I wonder if that answers that question.
[00:05:18] Jewels: Yeah, absolutely. Tell me, how did this start? Where did all this begin? And at what point did you realize that the comic hoax was the…
[00:05:26] Jewels: The genre that was going to pay the bills, I guess.
[00:05:29] Rodney: The comic hoax has been around forever. I’m a big fan of the history and theory of comedy. And by the way, I’m just, I have here my, my antidote to a tickle in the throat, which is Diet Coke product placement.
[00:05:43] Jewels: Just for those people listening, we have the pleasure of talking to Rodney who happens to be sitting in a car, which is great, which is fine, but it’s also raining here in Sydney, which we are both a part of and enjoying.
[00:05:55] Jewels: So the little noises you may or may not hear in the background. [00:06:00] There’s little droplets. They’re actually droplets of water on his, the roof of his car. So apologies for that, but it’s all good. We will take the conversation and you’re coming through nice and clear, Rodney. So hopefully, uh, it doesn’t matter that there are few droplets in the background, but just to be clear, that’s what those noises are, if anyone is
[00:06:17] Rodney: asking, wonderful technology.
[00:06:19] Rodney: I love the character in, uh, Comedian Del Arte called Il Dottore, and he is a professor of everything, a doctor, he wears an academic gown, and he is a, a court jester, a fool, and the audience, in this case, because there’s masks and the staging is so clearly theatrical, they don’t believe in the genuineness of the character, but the Type of character who overexplains, who’s full of himself, who’s full of other people’s wisdom.
[00:06:50] Rodney: Like Polonius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. This character is universal. And I try and create modern versions of this character. The [00:07:00] futurist, the professor of philosophy, the president of a company, president of a country. These people who we look to to solve all of our problems. And dare I say, in whom we abrogate all personal responsibility for taking action ourselves, taking responsibility ourselves.
[00:07:19] Rodney: This character is universal, and I find it funny that people will look for a guru to solve all their problems. So I’m assuming that many people also find it funny, so I tap into the world that already exists. So of all the genres, it’s so self contained. I like the fact that you can write and perform without relying on other people.
[00:07:43] Rodney: You don’t need a director, for instance, or a stage manager, or a travel agent, or a producer. It’s a cottage industry. I like that very much. And I don’t get bored because every performance is a one off. Lots of characters. So, I [00:08:00] might do the same character several times, but he’s talking about different things because he relates to the audience.
[00:08:06] Rodney: So you talk about the audiences, if it’s a business function about their products and services, about their organizational structure, about the people who are in the organization, about the buildings and so on that they inhabit. If it’s a private event, we talk about the person around whom that event centers or persons of bride and groom or the birthday person and so on.
[00:08:28] Rodney: So. You really are serving your audience, and yeah, it’s good fun. A highly recommended genre, but not many people go into it. I think the homework turns fellow comedians off. Where, you know, if you can get a good hour of material as a stand up comic, that can do you for 30 years. Whereas for me, an hour of material will last one event.
[00:08:50] Rodney: Courses for courses.
[00:08:51] Jewels: So I imagine the research component is quite a large part, is everything scripted for that hour or so that you’re on stage, [00:09:00] or is it just
[00:09:01] Rodney: prompting? No, it’s a structured improvisation. So, you know, in basketball, there are set plays, and then there’s a lot of freewheeling stuff. So here I know I have to mention certain people.
[00:09:14] Rodney: Places, products, services, events, and so I usually have one piece of paper with all the key things I have to get through and I work out a scenario and with the scenario, the mentally held scenario and one bit of paper, you can get through an hour.
[00:09:32] Jewels: That sounds to me like that’s the voice of experience talking as well.
[00:09:37] Jewels: I imagine that’s taken years to refine that capability because that’s not something I’m sure that would be natural for most people to be able to hold a conversation to be ad lib following a structure, sure, but filling in the gaps for an hour is something that would be quite challenging, yes?
[00:09:53] Rodney: It’s similar in apprenticeship in duration to stand up comedy and I’ve I’ve read and [00:10:00] heard lots of comics say it takes about eight years to hit your stride and not eight years of study, but eight years in front of an audience.
[00:10:10] Rodney: And I think that’s right because eight years gives you time to make many, many mistakes and not all of them, there’s always new mistakes to make, but eight years is for live comedy, including the comic hoax is about right. And obviously you, you can earn money in that eight years, but when you get confident that most of your performances will succeed, then you really need to have a couple of hundred gigs under your belt.
[00:10:40] Rodney: If I’ve done three and a half thousand gigs in about 32 years, that’s about a hundred gigs a year. So if you’re doing 800 gigs to, uh, Become competent. I think that’s about right. If, of course, you have talent or brains, it might be quicker. But in my case, I think that’s about [00:11:00] eight years. So in
[00:11:01] Jewels: the stand up comedy world, my understanding is they spend a lot of time testing their material, right?
[00:11:08] Jewels: So they’ll write 10 jokes. They’ll do an open mic, you know, a 5 or 10 minute open mic. They’ll test the 10 jokes. Then maybe 6 of them land and 4 of them aren’t great. So they go back and write another 4 fresh ones. Rewrite the 6 good ones. Go back to another stand up mic session. Test those 10 to try and get it to 8.
[00:11:30] Jewels: You know, and they’re continually sort of refining their material. Because obviously… As a comic, you want to get those laughs and you want to get that audience reaction and participation. Whereas what I’m hearing you say is a lot of it is one off. How do you get the opportunity to test some of your material?
[00:11:47] Rodney: Well, it’s a filter. First of all, for a stand up or a sketch comic or a comic hoaxer, unless they’re saying really that they’re humorists and, oh, it’s okay to [00:12:00] just… For an audience member just to sit and smile wryly. But if you’re putting yourself forward as a comedian, you usually have about 200 jokes that you use in an event.
[00:12:12] Rodney: And so on a cruise ship, for instance, a comedian will have a 200 joke set of, say, 40 minutes. That they’ll do in the daytime and then a kind of a rougher set that they’ll do at night. Yeah, for, for more, uh, luder, more profane. So let’s say you’re delivering 200 jokes in any of this, these genres or sub genres, you will begin with.
[00:12:35] Rodney: And I do the same. Kind of a, a scattergun approach. You’ll do some, in my case, I might do some boss jokes, might do some marketing jokes, some finance jokes, some operations or production management jokes, some industrial relations jokes, some strategy jokes, and then you just go where the laughter is. If you’re doing standup, you might do some divorce jokes, some first date [00:13:00] jokes, some political jokes, some kind of sexy jokes.
[00:13:04] Rodney: And you go where the laugh is. But in order to deliver 200 jokes in a set or in a performance, you’ve gotta have many more than those jokes. So I have a, a repertoire of gags. I think that it’s about 2000 now. It’s taken 32 years to get there, but that is not unusual. And I belong to various social clubs of other comics and they have a different group.
[00:13:30] Rodney: And sometimes I go to funerals. Of comics. I went to a funeral of a wonderful comic magician who died in his 90s and put out on a bench at the church was a kind of a ledger of lines that were numbered and he’d written the punchline to the jokes that he’d been using since the 1930s. And between us, between a dozen guys and girls, we knew every joke, but no one [00:14:00] individually knew every joke.
[00:14:01] Rodney: And he had 700, by the way, he got to 700 lines. So, if you’ve got a repertoire of 2, 000 jokes and you have to deliver 200, then you filter them as you go. So you, you’re only doing, if it’s, if the people in strategy have got no sense of humor, but the people in marketing love the attention, you’re doing marketing jokes, but if everyone likes laughing at the boss and the boss is laughing, very important, then you do boss jokes and then everyone.
[00:14:28] Rodney: Has a common focus. You know what I mean? Yeah. And the same with stand up that it turns out that everyone in this audience is divorced. You know, first date jokes are not funny. Political jokes are not funny because there’s some political tension in, you know, you know, there’s multinational audiences, not necessarily multicultural, but multinational.
[00:14:48] Rodney: I know we don’t want to buy into it. Politics of other countries. Let’s stick to divorce jokes. Okay, I’m going to do my 200 divorce jokes so you can see it’s kind of logical. [00:15:00] It’s creating an event from existing material.
[00:15:03] Jewels: The reason I’ve asked you those questions is because I think it’s kind of similar in the business world where.
[00:15:10] Jewels: We get the opportunity often to present things to clients, either prospective
[00:15:15] Rodney: clients. Can I just pause you for a moment? Yeah. And I should tell your audience that what I’m watching is you Jewels, the tail of your dog. Yes. Wagging vigorously. It’s the happiest dog in the world. He’s now left the scene. He was photobombing you.
[00:15:35] Rodney: He was
[00:15:35] Jewels: photobombing me and a family member has just arrived home. He’s very quiet though. Did you notice? He’s not a barker or anything, which is fabulous. He’s a beautiful dog. Which is very handy for a podcast, uh, scene. Yeah. So. In business, we get the opportunity to use material, if you like, over and over again.
[00:15:55] Jewels: Whether it’s a new client, whether it’s an existing client, whether it’s somebody early [00:16:00] stage conversations or later stage conversation, we often have the opportunity to either present to them or speak to them. And one of the things that I work with clients is having that sort of, Kit bag of material that you can use to connect with that audience.
[00:16:14] Jewels: So something that you said that I really liked was the fact that you actually do some research before you go to any one of your events. So that’s obviously hugely important, right? So, you know, a little bit about the audience, you know, what to expect and hopefully some of the material or the material then becomes more relevant to that particular audience.
[00:16:33] Jewels: Nothing’s different there than how you would present to a client, for example. So research is really important and making it specific. The other portion that I liked what you said was that you have a whole bunch of material in which you then use that on the audience and you pivot a little bit as you go, depending on the kinds of reactions that you get.
[00:16:56] Jewels: And that’s something too, I think in the similar in the world of, you know, [00:17:00]business where. If you’re explaining something and telling a story and you can see that the audience is tuning out or not listening or going to their phones or whatever it is that’s distracting them, then it’s okay to actually go off script a little bit.
[00:17:13] Jewels: It’s okay not to go too far down a particular rabbit hole because you’re only going to get further and further away from keeping that person’s attention. If you’ve already lost it, then switch to something else. But the experience part then brings the, is able to bring all that together in a logical.
[00:17:30] Jewels: sequenced series of events. So I think there’s quite a lot of similar, and that’s why asking you the question, there’s a lot of similarities in the way. Businesses can develop some of their material, look, and it doesn’t have to, it’s not comedic material or not in every sense, but it’s okay to have stories and it’s okay for it to be personal as well.
[00:17:49] Jewels: How do you feel about that sort of approach when it comes to speaking to a business audience in particular?
[00:17:56] Rodney: I think what you’re saying is absolutely correct. When I do [00:18:00] something that’s personal, it doesn’t relate to me, to Rodney, it relates to my character. So, that might be a point of difference. You know, my purpose is not to deliver a message, my purpose is to keep people’s attention, and to entertain them with, uh, material that is tailored for them, written for them.
[00:18:20] Rodney: So that they don’t feel treated to something that’s off the shelf. Yeah. So some comedians have a message, you know, it might be a message that I approve of, like take notice of climate change or support diversity, engaged engagement and inclusion, you know, messages that I totally support. That’s not my comedy.
[00:18:41] Rodney: My comedy is to entertain people. I am interested in, you know, wordplay and the meaninglessness of jargon, for instance, and, uh, The ridiculousness of a lot of management terminology, I’m very interested in that the purpose [00:19:00] is not to say, don’t use jargon because I think it’s unavoidable and would be naive to say that and prescriptive, but I just find it funny and I think it’s enough.
[00:19:10] Rodney: To entertain and there are management educators who can do the message delivering. I don’t believe that’s the purpose of
[00:19:18] Jewels: comedy. Tell me a little bit about the art of keeping somebody’s attention. Because again, that’s what we try to do on a daily basis. When we’re talking to businesses, we’re talking to clients.
[00:19:30] Jewels: We’re trying to get their attention initially and then we need to keep it. As well. So even if it’s only in that short period of time, whether it’s 15 minutes or an hour, what’s some techniques perhaps of helping people keep somebody’s, you know, get their attention and keep it eye
[00:19:45] Rodney: contact and changing your pace, embracing pausing and the odd silence and Asking and answering questions in a stand up setting dealing with hecklers [00:20:00] keeps people in the audience entertained in a corporate comedy setting instead of heckling there’s asking questions.
[00:20:07] Rodney: And it has the same sort of competitive edge to it. A heckler and a questioner will be trying to best the presenter and the audiences enjoy that. And sometimes it’s good to let the heckler or the questioner win. That’s fine as well. But it serves the overall purpose of keeping people attending to what’s going on.
[00:20:29] Jewels: Rodney, what do your
[00:20:30] Rodney: kids think of your work? Well, they’re all in their thirties. I’ve got three sons. The oldest is a comedy writer. That’s Benjamin. Comedywriter. com. au So I think that his chosen profession indicates that he supports what I do. The next one, Joshua, is a documentary filmmaker. www. docco. tv for all your short and long form documentaries.
[00:20:55] Rodney: And the youngest, Samuel, is a medical research engineer at Harvard [00:21:00]Medical School. And he’s a very funny guy. We thought he would be a comedian. But it turns out that when he presents stuff about glaucoma or some medical device, he uses his humor to keep people’s attention. So I think they probably think that they wished there was more money in dad’s profession.
[00:21:18] Rodney: I think that that’s fair. But we’ve had fun. So far, yeah, they’re, uh, very supportive.
[00:21:25] Jewels: It sounds like a very creative family. Tell me a little bit about your younger son there, the medical researcher. That material can be quite dry. How does he bring those two worlds together?
[00:21:38] Rodney: Well, he’s got a PhD in medicine from Sydney Uni, and he’s developed a number of devices for detecting initially one was for melanoma and the next one is for glaucoma and other eye diseases.
[00:21:53] Rodney: Well, for instance, he developed a device that costs less than one cent. It’s an ophthalmoscope and it competes with [00:22:00] ophthalmoscopes in the market, which cost about a thousand dollars. So he loves it when salespeople from the more conventional ophthalmoscope companies are in the audience and he teases them because his device has just blasted them out of the water.
[00:22:15] Rodney: I might say, I must add that he doesn’t make any money from his devices. He’s open sourced the code. And published the blueprint, he wants to solve the problem of glaucoma, which is also annoying to the, the other ophthalmoscope manufacturers. So I think in terms of his humor, it’s like taking on the status quo, undermining authority is a great style of humor.
[00:22:38] Rodney: And I think that’s his, he also thinks that universities are going to have to teach in completely different ways that artificial intelligence and machine learning are going to take over from, uh, Traditional, uh, uh, standard to live a lectures. I think he finds the humor in superiority, inferiority, switching.
[00:22:57] Rodney: Yeah, he’s a pretty funny [00:23:00] guy. He’s a really funny guy. Yeah. Of course we love him. We love him lots. He’s 31 and I don’t know what he’ll be like at 41 or 51 or 61, but so far the, Iconoclast nature of comedy has served him well in medical engineering. He’s not a medical doctor. He’s a medical engineer.
[00:23:19] Jewels: Fabulous. What a creative family. So tell me a little bit about your, the creative process for you, uh, offstage. So where do you find, you know, you obviously do some research before for a gig, where do you find your inspiration? How do you, what’s your process of, of writing? Are there any other formats that you enjoy as well?
[00:23:41] Rodney: I’m a great consumer of comedy. I hope I’m a good audience. I try and meet with the client, hopefully in person, otherwise by, by Zoom. And I find out about their, their, the history of whatever it is that they’re doing, whether it’s a private event or a business event. And I try and get non [00:24:00] confidential, publicly available information about their products and services, about their organizational structure, about where their business is located.
[00:24:08] Rodney: And annual reports, things that are publicly available. Sometimes people want me to sign non disclosure agreements. And of course, I’m happy to do that. And I tell them, so I don’t need private information. I don’t need confidential information and organizations have their own culture and their own climate.
[00:24:26] Rodney: And it’s fun to play with that, but it takes a while to learn about what’s going on. It doesn’t take that long. You know, it might take a day. It doesn’t take a year, but you just kind of sit with it. So yeah, short notice gigs can be just as successful as long notice
[00:24:42] Jewels: gigs. And what’s your process? Do you sit down and mull through that and then write out a bit of a guide or a few things you want to hit?
[00:24:49] Jewels: Where does it go from? No,
[00:24:51] Rodney: no, I make sure I’ve got a sort of a fact list. That, you know, I’ve got to mention this computer, got to mention this city, got to mention this… Great [00:25:00] business success, but no, I’ll try and just absorb it and then then slowly take on the character. I mean, I’ve written books and so on, so I’m not averse to writing, writing a script for a performance.
[00:25:13] Rodney: That’s not what I write. I use joke names, character, joke names, and that helps me embed a personality into that character. Can you gimme an example? Oh, well, um, uh, her ridiculous. Mort Gage, um, Ulysses Up for Renewal, uh, Silly Names, uh, Heim’s a Boss, uh, Dictate, hundreds of Silly Names, which is called comico binomial nomenclature.
[00:25:44] Jewels: Very fancy word for Silly Names. Silly Names.
[00:25:48] Rodney: Also, I think Rodney’s a very silly name, so I’m, I’m trying to put you in my own, yeah. Although, two of my favorite comedians are, uh, Rodney Rude and Rodney Dangerfield. There you go. [00:26:00] There you go, but, um, Rodney, I, yeah, I blame my parents for that name. I’d much rather be one of my character’s names.
[00:26:12] Rodney: Mike Robe and so on. So, you know, Mike Robe is the chief medical officer of whatever country you come in. Yeah. It’s just silly. And sometimes people really do have these names. That’s really funny. They’re not just drag queens or comic hoaxes who have silly names. Real people have silly names. Yeah, yeah.
[00:26:35] Rodney: Yeah, Dr. Pain, and so on. Is the
[00:26:37] Jewels: goal for you to keep the hoax up for as long as possible? Or do you want to get the sort of early nod and then just take them for a ride
[00:26:45] Rodney: from there? The comic hoax should turn into character comedy. My character tries to show that he is surprised that the audience has caught on.
[00:26:56] Rodney: It’s important for the character to be the dumbest person in the room [00:27:00] and to give a nod to the smarts of the audience for decoding what’s going on. But I keep in character when it comes to question time. But sometimes I’m in character for a very long time before I go on to the performance space, which might just be a lectern and a microphone down the bottom of a training room.
[00:27:19] Rodney: So, you know, I’ve been in character for a few days at a time. And I’m very often in character for half a day, that would be the most common.
[00:27:27] Jewels: So you’d turn up to the conference itself and mingle with the crowd as the character? Yeah,
[00:27:32] Rodney: right. You know, if I’m on at lunch, I’ll be there from before breakfast.
[00:27:36] Rodney: Very often I’m on over dinner, arrive at lunchtime and just attend, ask a question in character. Mix and mingle with people at the conference tables, you know, go to the bathroom in character, the whole, the whole
[00:27:49] Jewels: thing. Yeah, it feels like you probably have a lot more fun in those parts of the sessions.
[00:27:55] Jewels: Like I imagine you could take that anywhere and enjoy that process yourself.
[00:27:59] Rodney: Yeah. [00:28:00] I mean, once I did a gig for Novo Nordisk, a huge big pharma company. And it was a conference on short and slow growing children. And I was a pediatric endocrinologist talking about growth hormone therapy over a cocktail party at the end of the day.
[00:28:18] Rodney: So I turn up and I ask a question in character of one of the medical sessions. And a lady came up to me and said that she was the, uh, My name was Gene XY, Dr. XY. So, Gene XY asked a question, and this lady came up to me, I’m the editor of a journal called Nursing Ethics. I loved your question, it was so insightful.
[00:28:41] Rodney: Would you do us the honor of editing? One of our quarterly issue. Oh, I’d love, oh, I’d love to, that would be wonderful. So I didn’t see her again. It was just, I thought, well, she’ll figure it out. And then I do the, the performance and I’m just standing and talking [00:29:00] to some, some, uh, people afterwards, the people that booked me.
[00:29:04] Rodney: And I saw this kind of flurry. Flurry come up to me, I felt a great slap across my face and then Flurry disappeared. So this woman assaulted me really, and the people in the group, my status went up. They thought, oh, you must have done something salacious or you must be your ex wife or you know what I mean there.
[00:29:24] Rodney: Yeah. Yeah.
[00:29:25] Jewels: Well, she did take offense. She took
[00:29:27] Rodney: offense and I never mentioned her or anything. Ha ha. So…
[00:29:31] Jewels: She took it personally, wowzers. Yeah.
[00:29:34] Rodney: How fabulous. But you see, for me, that’s it. The mixing and mingling serves the purpose of establishing the credibility of the character. So he appears from within the audience, doesn’t appear from behind the curtain.
[00:29:47] Rodney: Yeah. And it’s like, Oh, yeah, I didn’t speak to that guy, but he looks familiar. He’s been here for a few hours. And that’s also You know, they wouldn’t expect you to be a comedian. So just, Oh, he’s a funny guy. What a [00:30:00] funny guest speaker. Oh, this is so unusual that, uh, you know, the president of Norway would be a funny guest speaker.
[00:30:05] Rodney: But oh, well, I suppose that’s how you get, you get ahead in politics and so on. You know, people make up their own rationalizations, which I think is the key to storytelling. Once you have The through line, maybe the character, maybe you are the character, the expert giving advice becomes a character, then the person or people on the other side, they fill any, in any missing gaps.
[00:30:29] Rodney: So it’s a co creation. Story is a co creation. There’s the story they have in their head. Well, this person must be jet lagged or this person must be knowledgeable about so many areas. This person is so worldly. Or so well travelled, or, you know, whatever. You haven’t said any of that. You’ve just said, I’m the President of Norway.
[00:30:50] Rodney: And everything else gets made up in the audience’s mind. It’s quite a co creation.
[00:30:55] Jewels: Rodney, what advice would you give to somebody in business? You know, perhaps they’re the owner [00:31:00] of the business, or the CEO, or the head of sales. It doesn’t really matter what position they hold. But perhaps they’re a little bit…
[00:31:06] Jewels: New at the storytelling game, they’re not as confident perhaps as they could be in front of an audience. What advice would you give somebody who wants to improve their storytelling and presentation sort of ability? Where would you
[00:31:19] Rodney: start? Well, they’re probably better at storytelling than they realize. So part of it is naming the elements.
[00:31:27] Rodney: You know, let’s say that they are a shop that sells upmarket dresses to the mother of the bride. Let’s say that’s their shtick. Well, you want to tell the story about how you became a dress designer, how you chose the shop in that area, how, when you were a younger person, you always admired. People who could make a living themselves, they created something and then, well, this dresses are for people who don’t have standard shapes, you know, they’re not waif like, super [00:32:00]slim, they’re dresses for people who’ve got a bit of some love handles and some life experience and let me tell you the story, I couldn’t even get models to parade my dresses because all the models were so thin and you know, I had to overcome challenges, I got some girlfriends to help me.
[00:32:15] Rodney: And then when we sold the first dress, you know, I kept that check or I kept a photocopy of that check and I framed it. The storytelling comes naturally. It’s what you hear people talk about in pubs or in restaurants or at your kids schools. So in a way it’s empowering people to own their own expertise.
[00:32:37] Rodney: And to, to name the parts of it, and you see in some beautiful ads, the story is told so quickly in 30 seconds or 45 seconds, the story about how drinking Diet Coke makes you feel like you’re at a party, and so there’ll be an image of a party, and you know, how driving a car makes you feel like you’re already home, it’s like an [00:33:00] extension of your home, it’s an extra room of your home that you just take on the road, how wearing a particular jacket Makes you feel that you’re not wearing it, but it’s wrapping itself around you.
[00:33:12] Rodney: It’s hugging you and the manufacturer would say, that’s what we aim for. We’re not selling a brand. We’re selling an experience. So I think that lots of people use storytelling, but not to the best effect. They need someone to walk with them to identify this, the skills they already have, and to tell them how to use those storytelling skills.
[00:33:36] Rodney: To sell the experience of buying the product or service that they’re selling, you know, going to the dentist, is that a grudge purchase for most people? Yes, but if the dentist or the dental receptionist is able to say, you know, if you come here, your smiles will improve, you’ll be happier. You won’t be ashamed of your teeth and it will improve your social life [00:34:00] because your confidence will be better.
[00:34:02] Rodney: So when do they mention teeth? Nowhere. They mention the outcome, you know.
[00:34:08] Jewels: It’s fabulous advice Rodney, I think we get too hung up on the feeds and speeds and the technical specifications of the beautiful products that we’ve spent years and years developing. And what we lack is that backstory, as you mentioned, the human side of how you got there is often the most compelling part.
[00:34:25] Jewels: It’s, people think they don’t have a story to tell and yet when you start digging, they’ve got enormous amounts of stories. Leading up to a particular event and any one of those can be linked through to the experience, as you say, like rather than a product or service, it’s an experience. It’s something that you’ll get out of this particular thing, and it’s the back story.
[00:34:46] Jewels: It’s the story surrounding those. Aspects that will humanize
[00:34:50] Rodney: it. I think that the work you do is really important and I don’t see any end time to it. Storytelling is perennial. You can do this for [00:35:00] another couple of generations. It’s um, as low tech or as high tech as you want it to be and as contemporary or as old fashioned as you want it to be, depending how your clients or customers match with that style.
[00:35:14] Rodney: But you’re doing a really important job. Allowing people to tell their own
[00:35:17] Jewels: stories. Thank you sir, and we’ve been telling stories for thousands of years, so I don’t think it’s going to go away too soon. I think it will see me out
[00:35:26] Rodney: anyway. Bravo. Rodney,
[00:35:29] Jewels: I’ve thoroughly enjoyed our conversation, I do appreciate your time, and I’ve got to thank your wife who’s sitting patiently next to you in the car, the rain has stopped.
[00:35:39] Jewels: Where can the audience find out a little bit more about you and perhaps even book one of your sessions?
[00:35:46] Rodney: Look, I’m so old that my own, the domain name, comedian. com. au. I saw that. Well done. So I’m easily findable and always looking for the next gig or [00:36:00] gigs. And of course, if any gigs come from this, Jewels, I’ll get in touch with you.
[00:36:05] Rodney: Fabulous. Let you know. And 10 percent coming your way. Oh, I’ve
[00:36:10] Jewels: got that on record. I’ve recorded that. So Rodney, thank you so much. Appreciate your time.
[00:36:16] Rodney: Thank you, Jules. A pleasure.
[00:36:23] Jewels: There were lots of little things to learn from Rodney. Getting in front of an audience is the only real way to practice your craft of communication. Own the skill of reading your audience and adjusting on the fly to keep the audience’s attention. Spend time to get to know your prospect before you get in front of them.
[00:36:41] Jewels: And good storytelling is co-created between you and the audience. Much love Chat soon.