Twenty three years ago, Jan McInnis left her marketing career to become a comedian and comedy writer. She's performed for thousands of organizations and has sold material to everyone from The Tonight Show to guests on Jerry Springer. She is also a keynote speaker who shows audiences how to use humor in business.
NOTE: Complete transcript available at the bottom of the page.
Screw The Commute Podcast Show Notes Episode 080
Internet Marketing Training Center – https://imtcva.org/
Higher Education Webinar – https://screwthecommute.com/webinars[02:17] Tom's introduction to Jan McInnis [04:24] What Jan's doing now [13:17] Transitioning from work to comedy [19:43] Screwed over in the comedy world [21:44] Bizarre and crazy introductions [25:38] The best and worst parts working for yourself [28:33] What Jan's got available [31:28] Sponsor message [33:21] A typical day for Jan and how she stays motivated [41:00] Parting thoughts for us Screwballs
Higher Education Webinar – It's the second webinar on the page: https://screwthecommute.com/webinars
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Screw The Commute Podcast App – https://screwthecommute.com/app/
Make 'em Laugh Webinar – https://screwthecommute.com/makelaugh
Finding The Funny Fast book – https://www.amazon.com/Jan-McInnis/e/B003NZ571Q/
Comedian Stories Podcast – https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/comedian-stories/id1446046198
The Work Lady – https://theworklady.com/
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Episode 080 – Jan McInnis
[00:00:09] Welcome to Screw the Commute. The entrepreneurial podcast dedicated to getting you out of the car and into the money, with your host, lifelong entrepreneur and multimillionaire, Tom Antion.
[00:00:24] Hey Everybody it's Tom here with episode 80 of screw the commute podcast. Well I got a wonderful lady here today. Jan McInnis is with us and she quit the stuffy corporate world because she wanted to be funny. And boy did it pay off. You'll hear about her in a minute. Hope you didn't miss episode 79. That's how to make money with private Facebook groups. Now that's one of my Monday in-depth trainings. You know we on Mondays I do trainings on some topic that's either made me a lot of money or save me a lot of money. And then on Wednesdays and Fridays we do these interviews with great great entrepreneurs. Now remember our podcast app is now in the iTunes store and you can get it there and then we'll do lots of cool stuff. It'll do so much stuff. We made some training for you at screwthecommute.com/app. And you can do all kinds of great things with that on your mobile devices. So check that out. All right. Our sponsor is the make em laugh training webinar. If you do any speaking at all people in your audience expect an appropriate entertainment level whenever they listen to a presentation. I mean from the boardroom to the ballroom you must put just the right amount of humor in your talk or you'll be considered a snoozer. Now if you're speaking for money or aspiring to be a pro speaker using humor effectively will ramp your speaking fees up quickly. Now you can watch this pro level webinar over and over until you master the techniques in it and I can tell you from experience that adding entertainment value to your material can catapult you to stardom in the speaking and business world. So check that out at screwthecommute.com/makelaugh.
[00:02:18] All right. Let's get to the main event. Jan McInnis twenty three years ago left her marketing career to become a comedian and comedy writer. She's performed for thousands of organizations and has sold material to everyone from The Tonight Show to guests on Jerry Springer. I didn't know they had coaches for their stellar performances. She also is the keynote speaker who shows audiences how to use humor in business. Jan are you ready to screw. The commute. I don't want to get punched in the nose here. It's been a long time. When did we meet it. It's been quite a few years.
[00:03:06] I can't remember when we officially met. Will you remember me. I remember you. I think we're episode 80 so that was about 80 years ago. We were the NSA meeting back in D.C. National Speakers Association and it was a local chapter meeting. And I was sitting behind you. I was still had my day job so I had to be twenty five years ago and the Internet was just coming out and you know we dial up then I think you were plugged into the wall sitting behind you going. This guy gets it. He gets it. He's making millions in front of me and I was struggling to get onstage I was just becoming a comedian open mics and such. And so I didn't even have the bandwidth to figure out the Internet. But I remember watching you and thinking This guy is this is becoming a millionaire in front of me. I can't do anything about it.
[00:03:58] Don't try to stop me.
[00:04:00] Yeah. I didn't and you did.
[00:04:03] So yeah that was a long time ago and it's not that I was any kind of brilliant on it it's just that I like avoid working for a living. And I'm thinking man you know in those days as a speaker it was hard enough to sell your stuff across the street let alone around the world from your desktop. So I said I'm gonna figure this out because I like sitting home. So tell us to bring us up speed what you're doing now then we'll take a little throwback into how you got there and you were in the corporate world. Got out of it but what are you up to now.
[00:04:35] Yeah. Right now I do a mostly keynotes for associations corporations that sort of thing with a lot of humor in them. And also I'm touring theaters with the baby boomer comedy show. We're touring around. We found a good audience. It still goes to theaters. So we we've got a couple a lot of shows coming up.
[00:04:54] Coming to Virginia Beach?
[00:04:54] I'm not sure when these episodes airing but coming up will be in Salt Lake City in Pueblo Colorado Convention Center and Casper Wyoming shockingly I've been to Casper three times this year. It is a hotspot and it's always in January. So touring with that. Doing the keynotes you know selling books writing still do a lot of writing working on all sorts of different projects and that's a that's my life.
[00:05:33] When's your sitcom coming out. I was just seeing that Dennis Regan after all this time finally got a sitcom produced by Jerry Seinfeld.
[00:05:42] Everyone will ask that it becomes too much like work right. Yeah. It's like a day job you get to go in every day for that.
[00:05:51] Well make your own and do it on demand you know.
[00:05:53] That that's true. People always ask it about when you're gonna write for a late night TV. I've done a lot of freelance writing for late night and as you said Jerry Springer and groups like that but I haven't. You know it's too much like a day job you get to go in every day.
[00:06:07] But I got to hear about that guests on Jerry Springer actually had humor coaches.
[00:06:15] You know what it was it was a celebrity going on I can't really say oh but they say We're doing kind of a discussion on Springer with some kind of what he called debate. And so they needed some zinger line.
[00:06:28] I thought It was one of those regular guests that came from Tupelo Mississippi there and they're pregnant by six different people.
[00:06:38] Like throw the chair now.
[00:06:40] And pause after you do it because we're going to get the reaction of the audience.
[00:06:47] And then announce to your other daddy's baby.
[00:06:52] So let's let's throw back to the the corporate you were a corporate marketing person. How long was that and what was that like.
[00:07:00] Yeah I did it that for about 12 years you know I always wanted to be a comedian. But I remember graduating from college and having that dinner with my parents I'm thinking now is not the time to tell them. So I went into marketing back the D.C. area I worked for associations I worked for National Ocean Service National Academy of Sciences did a whole bunch of different marketing things back there and which was great. It was a nice not knowing that at the time but I was a nice base for running your own business. And I learned a lot of business skills that helped me out. And I did that for a good 12 years.
[00:07:34] Were you dreading it or was it just okay I'm learning and it's OK it's not too bad.
[00:07:39] It was fine because I you know I didn't grow up in an entertainment family so I did not know how to be a comedian so I really didn't I wanted to but I didn't never talk about it very much and I didn't say walk around saying I'm going to be a comedian. I had a job and that's what you do. You get a job after college.
[00:07:58] So this was all secret in your mind then not even your friends didn't know.
[00:08:03] No I didn't really say anything because I didn't think I was gonna ever happen. You just think you get a job you work you you know pay a mortgage. I like the jobs I had I had interesting jobs I traveled you know I learned a lot of stuff and you know interesting groups I worked for so it was fine. And you know I guess it takes it you take something to shake you up and finally I thought I had this nagging thing I want to be a comedian. Let me just get on an open mike you know.
[00:08:34] All right so you were still working. Yeah. So you just didn't quit. And then just jump into it. You did a transition.
[00:08:40] I had a lot of starts and stops I did probably I got on stage one time at a open mike and did just fantastic. And the lights were I remember the lights I couldn't see anything and people were laughing but I was kind of freaked out about the lights and I. I finished that open mike and I'm leaving the club that night a. seasoned comedian. He'd been on a lot of you he'd been working full time came over to me and as I'm leaving the club he said please promise me you will do this again. And I said I don't know I was kind of freaked out. I didn't go back for seven years. I missed the whole boom the whole comedy boom.
[00:09:19] Well you did fulfill your promise I guess.
[00:09:23] I look back on it seven years later and tried it again and and I got hired off of that when I did open mike Comedy Cafe back in D.C. They had a they had a strip bar below it and below that was a sports bar in the top level was a comedy club.
[00:09:42] Oh yeah. I mean you're good while you're there you could do a little stripping a little comedy a little stripping a little comedy you know in case one didn't work out.
[00:09:49] You know I'm so I'm so naive. The town I did not I could not figure out where the comedians went between shows. I realize there's a back staircase down there. Oh well I went up on stage and open mike. And I remember doing really well again I'd practiced this time and you know had lights shining in my eyes and all that. When I practiced so when I went up on stage I got off the stage and I sat was sitting there and I finished up about three minutes instead of five because I ran out and forgot my act and get off the stage or laughing Get off the stage so I got off stage and was sitting at a table and M.C. walks up and goes call Pat. And I said Who's that. He goes. She caught your act. She books this place she wants to give you some work and Oh my God. It's I'm going to be a comedian. I was still working at the. Yeah. And I went out and I and I again I didn't immediately do. I didn't. I got I guess I did call her. Yeah well in between the seven years it was one other thing that happened the year before I went on the open mike. I was a Jay Leno comedy challenge which the tonight show they're trying to find a comedian to be on the show. Give a up and coming comedian a chance.
[00:11:06] So a year before that at last open mike I sent in a tape. They said you had to send it a five minute comedy tape. I didn't know anything about it. I didn't. I did. I walked around my apartment holding a mini cassette tape recorder and I talked into it with some jokes I'd written and I mailed it in. And I get this call the next week and they said we want you to be on one of the shows.
[00:11:35] So it wasn't even video.
[00:11:36] No I didn't know you did that. So naive Tom. And they called me and they said they're going to have showcases they pick in D.C. they're gonna have three different shows and then the winner of that moves to the state and winner of the state moves on to the national and somebody gets on tonight show. So I said how many people entered this contest. And they said oh we had over one hundred entries we only picking 20 people for the shows. So I got on one of the shows and I remember arch Campbell. He was he was guy and kind of in charge of the contest and I'm the first show was the first night I was on the third night. So the first night I'm watching his TV show and he got gets on there and goes comedic. Professional comedians are vying for a spot on the Tonight Show. And I sat straight up one professional one open mike six years earlier. Know I'm not a professional. So I was freaked out so I get to the show that night.
[00:12:31] And I was the only one who had never been on stage aside from that one time. And I thought OK just don't bomb right. Oh bomb that's all. I just don't bomb. And I ended up being like fourth or something on the show. And I didn't bomb I did actually pretty good. And the next day I didn't win. I didn't move on but the next day the newspaper had a story about the contest and it mentioned me and one of my jokes and said how there was good but inconsistent X I was on the moon. But I still took another year before I went back and did that whilst it did open mike and then that's when Pat called me told me to call her and I called and. And I got some work and I started to started my comedy career.
[00:13:17] All right so. So how did you transition out of the work environment. You know saving money. Did you give a lot of notice how long was that transition.
[00:13:29] You know I worked for about two more years. I was doing open mikes I didn't know I was getting a little work here and there. But it wasn't right what's it like. I had five minutes at open mike. I mean that's you know you want to jump off stage. If I had started when I first went on stage I'd probably be you know the star by now. Well I had somebody starts and stops I. So I worked for about two and a half years and finally got to a point where I kind of had a few things going on the office I didn't like.
[00:14:08] I had little disagreements with upper management. I had some things that I thought I can't do this day job anymore. So I called in sick one day and wrote my game plan. I made six months. I picked a date and six months in the future and I did what they called throwing your hat over the fence where you had. Then you have to go get it. I mean I picked four weeks of comedy clubs I booked myself and four weeks of comedy clubs knowing that I wasn't going to get that much time off. I'd have to quit or I'd have to cancel the club work right and they wouldn't book me again if I canceled. So I picked that date and then I get I. I didn't tell anyone still. And I waited until I get my two weeks’ notice and then jumped in full time.
[00:14:48] But because of the marketing because of I knew about the the corporate market I knew the clubs were great and it was fun and but I knew you know I remember hiring the capital steps for an event at my company and paying them a big check and thinking Wow I bet other groups hire comedians and speakers and my comic friends were like No no no. All there is is you know private parties at Christmas. That's a no I think there's another market here. So when I went into the clubs I kind of had my eye on the corporate work on the convention work. But I went to clubs for seven or eight years before I even started approaching that.
[00:15:23] Yeah well that was what I learned very quickly because remember I don't know if you remember now. I came from the prank masters company I had custom designed practical jokes and I was writing custom humor every day and I delivered like a thousand of jobs myself but I kept thinking that there's gonna be something bigger out here. And I originally broke in As a humorous. When I found out that you could make more money as an expert speaker who's funny calling yourself humorous because you know they can't take full tax deductions for entertainment. And in the bad years that was hard to justify entertainment. If the company was hurting but they could always bring a speaker in that was teaching them something. So that was my first lesson in there.
[00:16:09] I started call myself a corporate comedian. People like I never heard of this. Well I made it up. I made up my job title that's what I want to be.
[00:16:16] So you know when you first started. What was the atmosphere for female. And I don't really know the proper terms comedienne or is it still just the comedian or what.
[00:16:27] Comedian is fine. You know I you know I worked with some jerks certainly but the guys that were jerks to me were jerks to other guys.
[00:16:35] Generally the percentage of females at that time was way less.
[00:16:41] Oh way less and they have a hard had a hard time putting two women on a show because they would then have to call it a women's show and turn off. But a couple of club owners were great. They did not do that. They remember a Mark Ridley up a comedy castle in Detroit put me and Kathleen Madigan on the show and I remember thinking Yeah I remember thinking well he's gonna cancel me I know he's gonna cancel he's going to realize he put two women and when I did the show it went great. And I said Mark is just a great guy. And I said Why did you not cancel me. He said Jan I build this is a comedy show you both are funny you're not womeny you're not bashing guys you're funny. And it was a very big compliment. So less you know I didn't work with a lot of women. And you know I felt like whenever I bombed I was bombing for every woman out there because people would would say oh yeah that we know women stink. And I had at least three occasions where people came up to me. One was at his club a group came up to me after the show and said we have to apologize when we saw a woman comic was on the bill. We all looked at each other and said this show was going to suck and you were great. And I've walked up on a group that was standing outside a comedy club looking at the my poster and going one woman goes Oh I hate women comics I just hate them they're not funny. And I walked up behind her I said oh we're not that bad. And then that night it was a great show and every time I my joke it I couldn't see her because it had lights. But I look in her direction every time I see we're funny.
[00:18:13] So what were the length of the segments at the comedy clubs.
[00:18:18] I would have usually used three people they really know how to run a show. That was the thing I had to get used to in corporate is they're not used to comedy shows. They're comedy clubs know that you need a you know M.C. 15 minutes 30 minutes features the middle act and then the headliners 45 minutes and they're the closer and they they you know there's no intermission. They put the seats together. So everyone's laughing and laughter is contagious and lights down. They know how to run it. That was a big change when I moved to corporate because they don't know how to run it.
[00:18:49] They got round tables people 400 miles from you. Lights are Full blast and they're not drunk.
[00:18:57] I don't people drunk. Yeah yeah yeah they don't. So you have to do a lot of educating and and I got educated because I had shows where yeah there was a moat between me and the audience. It's not intimate. And you know we're going to put you up you know twice I've been introduced up to the read off the list of people in the organization who died. Throw me a bone here. But you're right about the speaking I moved into keynotes probably about 10 or so years ago doing more of those with humor because people still want the humor but they want the message and there's a lot of lessons learned from comedians a lot of things you can learn from what we've been through. And so I came up with a couple of keynotes that are just sort of taken off because of that.
[00:19:43] Now some of you know some people would say the comic world is somewhat cutthroat have you ever been screwed over.
[00:19:53] The comedy world. You know I. Well money certainly is always an avenue you can be screwed over. Yeah. I found I didn't get a lot of that. I think the thing that bothers me the most is there certainly was people that cut the money cut the money is a nice way to say we cheated you. But what really bugged me in the comedy world was you would get and this is now a lot of it's done on the Internet. Obviously I can see it but a lot of times you'd have to go in for a live audition 15 minutes during a show do a guest set and the club owner Booker would watch you and then they they'd hire you and a number of times I'd show up and you spend money and time and energy doing this and they wouldn't be there to watch you. And I did this one one time and it just rocked it was a great club and of course the club owner wasn't there. About three weeks later I was at the L.A. improv standing around at the bar and this guy walks up to me and I go introduce me and he was the club owner and he said my staff talk just raved about you. And I think why are you introduced me. I don't even know I couldn't pick you out so I'm not going to go up and scream at you. Why did you do this. And he just raved about me. He talked me up and said Please call me every. I think he would do bookings on Thursday mornings or something call me and I will book you. I called a guy for two years every Thursday. They wouldn't so it was the business is a an entertainment is like yeah a different part of this. Yeah yeah well you did the bar business it's a different world out there you know.
[00:21:32] Well here's the thing I was going to go into the comedy arena but they all wanted to sleep with me and I said no I draw the line here.
[00:21:41] You only have so many nights a year.
[00:21:46] So what's the what's the most bizarre crazy funny things happened to you out there.
[00:21:52] I'd have to say been introduced after the. The weird introductions. You know I've had I've had people I started out going by the work lady because I do a lot of work humor people call me the working girl. You know that's a whole different profession. I've had one woman introduce me as you know this woman better be funny or not paying her you know that always ends up well. One guy who couldn't remember my introduction so he knew I'd written for The Tonight Show and places like that. So he got out there he said. And now a here's a writer for Reader's Digest. Can't anyone do that. A friend of mine said you should tell him there you're a reader for Writer's Digest. I did have been introduced after they read off the list of people who died. And one of them was a very solemn candle lighting ceremony lit a candle for everyone who died. Then they sent me out I looked over I said you know we got some candles left over I don't think some of y'all are supposed to be here this week. You've got to improvise a lot. So I think that would be the weird stop is you've got to recover fast.
[00:22:57] And then how do you come out and start funny after all that you know. You know I've had the same thing emaciated dogs they're collecting money for then big fat me comes up.
[00:23:15] And you like the cause but it's like can we do it you know. Could you do this is that bathroom announcements in between or something.
[00:23:22] Yeah I got to the point that a lot of these public seminars where I was the headliner I even put stuff in my contract. I need to know what's happened before me what's happened and after me before I agreed to it because I mean it really can you know just be stupid. I mean just from our point of view because we know what works and what doesn't. But there are a lot of the promoters did two events or something or the you know the meeting planner was the secretary yesterday and has never done an event and all of these things just screw you up. So yeah I take note of the seating. You know what my favorite is semicircular theater style. No chairs. Everybody's in a semicircle so they can see each other's faces rather than. And then not have to turn their head real hard from the end of the row and have a kink in their neck.
[00:24:13] I was on stage one night and when people don't realize you really can't see anything right. From the stage the lights. And I was rockin’ and all of sudden it just just stopped and I thought you know in your head you try and think Did I say something and was I on remote control you know not paying attention I'm saying. And I get off stage and the client comes over and goes I guess we shouldn't have pushed on the six foot tall chocolate fondue fountain during your show. Chocolate fondue can't compete with anything. You can up there delivering the cure for cancer and nobody. I'll get it later we'll find it later it's chocolate back here.
[00:24:49] Right. Right. Yeah. The thing that kind of threw me off the most because I didn't do much comedy clubs or had too many lights in my face. But but it was when I was first IMAX you know where the big screens have you. And I'm standing right in front of the front row and they're trying to look past me. To see me on the screen. It's very disconcerting. They're like looking somewhere else and you're trying to deliver.
[00:25:16] And you lose the laughs. I look when I no go in I look okay. They're IMAX screens and they're high ceilings I mean lose the laughs. So you get. That's a timing thing.
[00:25:24] That's what professionals do. A lot of times you have to go through 500 presentations before you figure it out.
[00:25:31] Billy Joel has a song the entertainer and it says the things I didn't know at first I learned by doing twice.
[00:25:39] So what do you like best for about working for yourself and what's the worst part.
[00:25:43] The best part you know being able to create my life being able to create in my life and work I can count on two hands literally number of times I've not liked working for myself. Yeah. Number of days that I've not liked it. You get to you know there's a lot of limits but you get to come up with projects and ideas and and kind of you know if you think something's interesting or you can explore it you don't have to go through levels of other people to say hey this might be a good idea. You get to kind of go down that path for a little bit I try to leave myself some time every week at least to just explore what are some other things I could be doing.
[00:26:25] And that's I think that's the thing I like the best thing a thing I don't like the best. What do I not like about this. There's a lot of the travels okay I guess.
[00:26:39] The travel is getting worse and worse for me. They even came out and said they're going to reduce the size of the bathroom on airplanes to get a couple extra seats in and it will make them 400 grand a year by doing it. I can't fit in there now. I mean I think they should just put porta potties at the seats.
[00:26:59] Well when I started out there was no the Internet was here. But it wasn't a big deal so I missed co-workers. It's a lot better now. But you're still you're very isolated. You better be good at being by yourself and being able to do it by yourself. I really missed. I remember standing in my up my condo one day I'd been out about six months and I thought nobody on the planet knows I'm here. No they don't. And now we've got all the social media and things and people you can at least connect but it's still you don't have a co-worker to stop and ask how your day was your weekend was or go grab lunch. You got to really go out and do that and find people to do that.
[00:27:37] Now you're still in L.A. right.
[00:27:39] Yeah that's my. My stuff is my cat.
[00:27:41] There's no better place to screw the commute. Be a comedian when you're sleeping through rush hour.
[00:27:49] Yeah I take the first flight out in the morning the 6:00 a.m. so I miss all the traffic.
[00:27:54] Yeah that's nice. I remember Kathleen Madigan was talking about how people send out things at Christmas about their family. You know all the things their family's doing and those little letters they send out she said What am I going to say. She says I got extra money and I sleep in.
[00:28:15] I've got scooters and motorcycles I ride those through traffic and get around.
[00:28:18] Oh yeah. You're allowed split lanes on that too.
[00:28:22] Yeah. If you're brave enough.
[00:28:23] What I'd like to do is open my door and I just created an international incident. Motorcycles going by. What do you got to sell. I mean you got the books and courses.
[00:28:39] I got a course we got stuff to sell. I got the book. You know I have a book that's been out for a while but it's a it's a good book at some. It's called finding the funny fast how to create quick humor to connect with clients co-workers and crowds. It's a small book. It's for anyone that wants to add some humor you have to be a comedian but you want to add spice up your e-mails or your memos or your speeches or whatever. Just a few tips. Easy Tips on how to do that because I think people are we're tired of boring you're competing with so much out there. Even if you have a regular day job or you're trying to you know you're starting out you want to be funnier or make people read your your proposals. You can you know a little bit of humor. So I've got my book finding the funny fast and and then I've got a podcast I just started up comedian stories. Oh and some of these stories from. They're Tales from the road and under five minutes so everyone has a longer podcast. I'm going for the shorter.
[00:29:35] Right. Right. And so how do you how do we find all this stuff. And of course we'll put it in the show notes so they can just click over to it.
[00:29:42] Yeah well hopefully we have a link to the book in the show notes and it's on Amazon it's on my Web site theworklady.com.
[00:29:51] Not The Working Girl.
[00:29:53] No. Don't even say that.
[00:29:58] I don't know you probably never met this lady. Her name is Silver Rose. She's an older lady. She's I think she's in her 60s and she she's the stand up and she says that Silver Rose is not my it's not a stripper name. She says that's my real name candy cane is my stripper name.
[00:30:23] That's good. Well Jan is kind of a plain name for comedy. Did you pick that out. No. Who picks Jan for comedy.
[00:30:33] So. So. Okay. So we're going to get a copy of her book. I've seen it's really really great. And the podcast.
[00:30:47] It's on iTunes it's on stitcher it's on tunein it's on everything. I follow you Tom.
[00:30:55] So yeah we're we're everywhere with screw the commute and it's like saying you can't pick a better city to screw the commute than Los Angeles.
[00:31:05] But you know D.C. was the second worst and LA is the first.
[00:31:10] Yeah. It used to be rush hour noon or morning noon and afternoon now it's continuous 24/7 rush hour up there.
[00:31:19] Yeah I'll plan my flights in. Oh it's landed at 5:00. No I'm going to stay in Kansas for another two hours.
[00:31:27] All right. So I'm going to take a break for a sponsor when we come back. We're going to ask Jan what's a typical day look like for her and how she stays motivated and then she'll give us some parting thoughts for our screwballs that want to get out of that work and JOB.
[00:31:46] If you do any public speaking folks or business presentations you can really triple the effectiveness of your talk by adding appropriate amounts of humor. You can get Jan's book that's for sure and I'm not talking about telling jokes either. There's there's over 30 ways you can jazz up a presentation using simple techniques that anyone can master and none of them are telling jokes. Now in presentations and speeches you're not trying to be a stand-up comedian you're trying to get your message across while keeping the audience's attention. And these techniques work no matter how serious the presentation. I mean even Shakespeare used Comic Relief in the middle of tragedies because people can only absorb so much heavy information before they can't take it anymore and they zone out. So you can watch this make em laugh pro level webinar over and over until you master the techniques in it and I can tell you from my experience that 3000 presentations and being invited back to some of the same events more than 25 times that adding entertainment value to your material can catapult you to stardom in the speaking in a business world. So check it out at screwthecommute.com/makelaugh and of course you'll find it in the show notes this is episode 80 and anytime I say that on one of these episodes you can go to screwthecommute.com/80 and I'll take you right there and that's where you can find Jan's book and her podcast.
[00:33:22] All right. Let's get back to Super Duper Jan McInnis quit the corporate world told him to take this job and shove it. Don't know if she said that exactly. Turned Comedian you know every parent wants to hear that that you're going to. I heard this one guy say oh you're supposed to be an engineer but I told my parents I'm going to be a clown. So what's a typical day like look like for you. Now that you've been doing this standup thing.
[00:33:57] And by the way Tom the way to get I got my parents on board was I only invited them to the good clubs the Improv in D.C. I never let them see me in the bar gigs.
[00:34:07] Or the strip joint. Oh where's Jan. Well she's upstairs folks.
[00:34:14] Typical day. You know one thing with people and entertainers I think don't realize this is a business. I mean whatever you have you want to screw the commute you may make widgets or whatever it is you want to do. It's a business. And I wake up you know 9:00 to 5:00 are 8:00 to whatever seven or eight four and I work on it. I get up I've got a database and you made a good point that that.
[00:34:43] It's not about jokes either when you do your presentation to be funny. And my book does it too. You're not trying to be a comedian. You want to add humor and you want to add make it interesting. People remember it and all that good stuff. So I wake up and I look at my database and I see what what I've got. What I've got cooking what I have to follow up on what I try leave some time for writing.
[00:35:07] Well I have an assistant part time so once a week we Skype and we talk about what's coming up for the week. It's really kind of my database tells me what I'm supposed to do. And of course is a lot of flights I don't have a typical day because I really do travel quite a bit. I'm a high flyer on a couple airlines now and it's great now because I've got all got internet so I don't lose that.
[00:35:30] How much writing do you do.
[00:35:32] For my act not as much as I'd like to try to spend some time every week doing that. But I write on projects different projects. The podcast I'm working on a one person play. I do things like that. And then I try to you know I've got shows coming up this weekend. So I'll pull together my notes from things I want to try out this weekend.
[00:35:58] What percentage of new stuff do You do in a presentation.
[00:36:01] In a comedy show not a lot. Not much. I do three to four jokes a minute. So for me to do five minutes has got to be 20 new jokes and it's that's 20 really good solid jokes is is a lot.
[00:36:19] I test out three or four new jokes a show at least. So you know I'm trying a new minute or so of jokes but I don't if I did stories it's you know five or 10 minutes but jokes are harder to slide in there. And so I don't I don't put 10 new minutes of material out. I work. I would never do that. You don't want to. What was that movie that had Tom Hanks. They they would say oh we're going up on this competition I've got 10 minutes a new nobody does that right.
[00:36:45] Nobody does that. It's a very slow process. If you watch any of the Leno and any of the other people well big stars. Their act doesn't change as fast as you think it does for TV. Their 5 minute monologue but not their 45 minutes because you hone it. You work on it you craft it. Get to where you want it to be. So I write on different things. My act but also other projects. Of course we sleep till noon. I don't think I've ever done that.
[00:37:19] So how do you stay motivated like said Your you're alone. Most of the time there's a natural habitat being alone. You like that better.
[00:37:29] Well you have to be OK with it cause you are alone twenty one hours a day even if you have a show that night. You know you've got you're around people for two hours and you're around yourself for the other twenty two hours. So I don't have a hard time you know because I really like what I'm doing. I just it's fun and I have sat there a few times and said you know none of this is exciting what I'm doing. Some of it you know I'm working on the database or a website or something. So I have to inject some. OK I got to change gears and do something that excites me for for an hour or something so and come back to the dreary part of the work that I don't have a problem with being motivated. You know you it's exciting to book gigs and and to learn about the companies I love learning about the different industries most people work in the industry one industry their whole life maybe two whole week speakers get to go in 50 different industries and learn about men I love the learning part of it. So that kind of motivates me.
[00:38:26] I was in eighty seven industries in my first five years and how much do you customize for these keynotes.
[00:38:34] I use for the keynotes I go a little bit I have a conference call ahead of time for the comedy shows I started out Tom I knew the corporate market and I had a you know I was working comedy clubs I was always clean but I had about maybe 10 or 15 minutes of jokes you just can't do in corporate they're not dirty you just can't do them. So when I started working corporate I was like oh crap I got I do some and I'm a fast writer. I've written for you know radio I've written and used to write 15 jokes a day for hundreds of stations around the country. So I'm a fast writer so I would learn about the company and that saved me I would start off with 10 minutes on them. I don't do that anymore I don't have that kind of time. I mean I don't do as many comedy shows for corporate anymore so I don't do as much but sometimes my act couldn't follow the jokes I wrote for them.
[00:39:21] That was the problem. But they liked hearing about it and it really saved me until I got my act up to where I didn't need to kick it off with a couple of jokes I'd like to know what what the group is so I can reference things as I go through and then joke about it and I like to know the audience I don't just want to go in and write in the material. You know sometimes they'll tell me stuff I can't really use. I was at one time in this group told me Oh yeah you gotta talk about Bob. He's he interrupts everyone he's awful. I said you know I can't I can't.
[00:39:52] And I'm on stage and I'm going through this and this guy kept interrupting me. And finally I stopped it. You must be Bob and the place went nuts. OK I got this. I try to at least you know something. I did a show for a group it was up in Iowa years ago at holiday inn the holidays. And it was it was cold but they had had a pretty mild winter and they told me before they said Well everyone's in a bad mood because we just told them there's no raises. And so I started out and they were a nobody wanted to be at that party. They were unhappy. And after a couple of minutes I stopped and I said you know you had a pretty mild winter here I said I understand the fact the only thing frozen here is salaries. The place went nuts so I had them. And I had um you know so you just sometimes you just need that one joke or two jokes to kind of kick things off and and connect.
[00:40:43] Yeah that's great now. So how if somebody needs to book you for a show or keynote. How did you do that.
[00:40:50] My work Website. TheworkLady.com or Jan@theworklady.com.
[00:40:58] All right so what parting thoughts there we call or screwballs or listen the show. If somebody is out there wants to make that transition then what kind of advice would you have for them.
[00:41:12] I'll give you three quick tips that have help me kind of stay stay in business.
[00:41:16] Number one don't be a comedian.
[00:41:21] I'd say you've got to cross pollinate you've got to find. Don't just stand your one track. You want to find ideas from other businesses industries that sort of thing that you can use in yours. I get together with my my sister is a realtor and once a year we get together at a winery and she tells me things that they're doing in the real estate world that can translate over to mine. So I do that. The second thing is you gotta find ways to do things you don't want to do. Comedians like to write. We want to sit around and write all day. You know that's not going to get you bookings. If you might not like working on your Web site you gotta find a way to do it.
[00:41:57] You got to find a way to do things you don't want to do. There's there's so many talented people who are not making it because they won't do the things that they and talent not just entertainers but people running their own business that refuse to do what. The things they don't want to do. They like to make their widgets or do their thing. And it's like no you go look at the whole picture and find a way to do it find someone that'll do it for you and oversee that find some way to do that. And the third thing I'd say is create your own projects find something. Don't just do things the way everyone does and find other ways of doing. When I moved to L.A. they didn't know what I was doing I was totally clueless. And that someone said well what you do is you gotta get an agent a manager so what you do is you buy this list of 300 agents of managers and you get a showcase somewhere and an e-mail or a postcard out to these people and they show up they see you. They like you they book you. Yeah right. Right. So I did that I bought the list. I spent money I spent time I got to showcase it. I mailed it out. I got one guy responded with a no. And he only he responded because I knew his girlfriend. I thought this is a waste of time and there are people I'm sure still doing that. You got to find something else create something else go a different direction and when you've cross pollinate and you've done other things you can find other directions to go look at different resources to come up with ideas that may work in your in your business.
[00:43:23] That is great advice from a very funny and brilliant lady and I'm so glad we we crossed paths again. And thanks so much Jan for coming on.
[00:43:34] Hey thanks Tom I appreciate. And check out Tom's Web sites because you got some great stuff I've followed you for years and you've you've helped my business.
[00:43:42] You were there when I didn't even know you were there.
[00:43:45] I watched you become a millionaire. I was just trying to get to open mikes spot.
[00:43:50] So everybody thanks so much for listening to this episode. This has been Jan McInnis episode 80 so check out the show notes to get in touch with her. Get a copy of her book for sure. They make great gifts too. If you have some really terrible person that's boring send them one. And don't forget our our app is now available. Let's you do a lot of cool things on your cell phone and tablets so you can listen. You can mark your favorite episode. This will be one of them I'm sure. And then please leave us a review at iTunes and a star rating and we really appreciate it. So we will catch everybody on the next episode. See you later.
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