I’m taking a public speaking course and it’s going to change my life

Trying to escape communication is like trying to escape oxygen.

Everywhere you go, even when you’re alone, you’re communicating something. You’re always talking to yourself. In the Freudian sense, you’re always in a conversation with your culture and the ideal version of you. Other people expect you to behave a certain way (that’s culture). And that image of your ideal self (that’s ego), the “you” with an outstanding portfolio of work and an impressive collection of achievements, expects you to behave in a way that allows you to fulfill that portfolio of work and to collect all those achievements.

But you can’t do any of that unless you change the way you communicate with yourself and the people around you. Because the world reflects how you act. And how you act reflects how you communicate with yourself.

Communication is a superpower. History has seen phenomenal speakers use the power of words to manipulate entire countries into committing atrocities against innocent people. It’s because of this complicated history that people often see communication as manipulative. And they’re right. Communication is manipulative. But everything has a dark side and a bright side.

The bright side of communication is that we can use it as a force for good. Used with good intentions, communication is a powerful tool. It helps us do the risky work of telling others what we’re up to. It helps clear our muddy thoughts. It helps other people trust us, see us where we are, and enroll in the changes we’d like to make.

I write to figure out what I know. What I know informs what I intend to do each day. But if all I do is write, then nobody can understand me. Speaking is an extension of writing, and writing is an extension of thinking. All forms and methods of communication (writing, posture, speed, vocabulary, subject, intent, medium) are extensions of thinking.

I speak to figure out how I should share what I know with other people. I can’t enlighten and entertain people if I’m speaking like a walking corporate PowerPoint presentation. And so I’m pleased to tell you that I’ll be taking Performative Speaking, a public speaking course created by my friend Robbie Crabtree and his team.

Robbie’s a powerhouse. His command of the English language is inspiring. His understanding of story and narrative is at the level of mastery. He could have kept all his knowledge to himself. Instead, he’s sharing his 10 years of experience as a trial lawyer with those brave enough to enroll and put themselves on the hook.

This course is going to change my life. Not because I’ll be walking across hot coals, but because I’ll be doing something much scarier: talking about myself and my work in front of people I’ve never met.

If you’d like to know more about the course, and how it’ll change your life, click here.

And if you’d like to know more about Robbie, you can listen to my conversation with him by clicking here.

The Penguin Latte Podcast #5: Audrey Hebert On Laughing at The Sliminess of The Human Condition

[A note on audio: this was recorded in my room. I only have one mic. This was the best that I could do given my current equipment and setup. In retrospect, we could have leaned into the mic, but I wasn’t thinking about that. So, pardon that.]

Hey guys, welcome to another episode of The Penguin Latte Podcast! Today I’m joined by my girlfriend, Audrey Hebert. Audrey is a stand-up comedian and visual artist. In 2019, she won the funniest student contest at UC Santa Cruz. She’s one of those comedians that makes us laugh at the sliminess of the human condition. Seeing her perform always reminds me not to take myself too seriously. What I’ve learned from her comedy routine is that we are all just pissing, shitting, slimey, smelly monkeys in space who have no clue about anything.

You can find Audrey Hebert’s art on her Instagram page by clicking here.

“Sometimes you just have to do things that will make you feel like pure shit in order to get to do the things you want, and to get to a place to where you feel comfortable.”

Audrey Hebert

Talking Points:

  • Our favorite passage from The War of Art (3:00)
  • Time slots in stand-up comedy (6:00)
  • Dealing with hecklers (12:00)
  • Being inspired from local comedians (17:00)
  • Why being yourself on stage is important (21:00)
  • Gary Goleman’s gigantic list of tips for comedians (22:00)
  • Leaning into your intuition as a way to find your true fans (24:00)
  • The element of surprise in comedy (and cooking) (25:00)
  • Writing jokes on the day of the show (27:00)
  • The one Google Doc of Jokes (31:00)
  • On writing and drawing (34:00)
  • Cringing at our old work (37:00)
  • Strangest places for comedic inspiration (40:00)
  • Crowdworking (43:00)
  • A comedian who asked her parents to heckle her (45:00)
  • Why certain types of comedy age badly (47:00)
  • The Monty Python Debate (48:00)
  • On Curb Your Enthusiasm and Seinfeld (49:00)
  • On the brilliance of Nathan Fielder (50:00)
  • On the brilliance of Niel Cicierega and Nathan Fielder (57:00)
  • Why we need comedy (1:00:00)
  • Audrey’s message for people who want to get started in stand-up comedy… (1:13:00)
  • …and for getting better at performing in front of people (1:15:00)
  • Parting words of encouragement for those who are stuck (1:20:00)

Show Notes

The War of Art

Nathan Fielder

Monty Python

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Niel Cicierega

Gary Goleman’s 366 Tips for Comedians (Much of this applies to more than stand-up comedy. See, The War of Art, Mark Twain quotes, and other names I’m sure you’ll recognize.)