Humor Tips From the Great Jeanne Robertson

If you think humor is just for professional comedians and humorists, think again.  In fact, it’s been said that “humor is the shortest distance between two people”. This valuable asset is for speakers, teachers, leaders, salespersons, and anyone who wants to bring a little sunshine into their everyday conversations.  Why?  Because humor brings balance to otherwise heavy or dry topics, humor sells, humor breaks down barriers and humor even heals.

Last Saturday, I experienced the infectious Southern humor of the great Jeanne Robertson, nationally recognized humorist whose anecdotes can be heard daily on Sirius XM Radio.    The 70 year young, 6’2″ former Miss North Carolina was the featured speaker at the monthly Georgia chapter of the National Speakers Association and had us belly laughing from the moment she took the stage.

I’ve admired Jeanne’s humor for years.

Jeanne Robertson

But I did not know how gracious she is.

At the close of her engagements, when given the choice of rubbing shoulders with VIPs or instead hanging out with the folks who came to hear her speak, she told us that she prefers the latter.  Very impressive.

I was one of four who had the privilege of speaking and receiving feedback from a panel of professional storytellers, Judy Cline, Ken Futch and Jeanne Robertson.  What helpful, hilarious and insightful feedback from these three!

www.conniecarey.com

Afterward, Jeanne gave a presentation entitled “More Funny, More Money”.  Here are six of Jeanne’s tips for incorporating humor into your conversation, whether speaking professionally or just enjoying a dinner party with friends.

1.  Jokes are fine, but a personal story is fabulous.  When you use a personal story, you don’t have to wonder if someone has already heard it.

2.  Find humor in everyday life.  Funny stuff is all around us, but we have to be on the lookout for it.  Find it at the airport, in conversations with friends and family, in the newspaper, at work.

3.  Write it down.  Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’ll remember the funny things that come your way.

4.  Test new stories on friends and family first.   By trying them out in small groups first, we learn in the process what works and what doesn’t.  How that punch line could be rearranged to be funnier.  What finally emerges is a great story.

5.  Be willing to wait for the laughs. It’s tempting to keep on speaking after you’ve delivered a humorous line.  But sometimes, you can milk it for even more laughs by letting it hang in the air for just a few more seconds.

6.  Use your body.  Jeanne told us that she learned from Don Knotts and Lucille Ball about incorporating physicality into her stories.  Be willing to contort your body and use facial expressions. Also use the entire stage, moving not only left and right, but also forward and backward.  Physicality brings a story to life, enhancing the humor.

Jeanne’s youtube channel has received over 20 millions hits (and counting).  See why as you enjoy this clip, “Don’t Go to Vegas Without a Baptist”.  Get ready to laugh!

Taste and See (The Thanksgiving My Nephews Finally Tried My Sweet Potato Casserole)

Thanksgiving confession:  I’ve never cooked a turkey.  I’m ashamed to tell you that, but, each year, when the family sign-up list goes around for who’s bringing what, I just pretend I don’t see that blank spot on the page.

Taste and SeeHowever,  I do make a mean Sweet Potato Casserole!  I’m talkin’ the kind with  pecans and carmelized brown sugar on top.  And I don’t mind saying, I’ve had my share of enthusiastic raves every time I make it.  You could say I’m known for it.  (At least in my mind.)

So when my three nephews were old enough to talk and eat real food, I couldn’t wait to introduce them to my Famous Sweet Potato Casserole.  Each Thanksgiving, I lovingly prepared the dish.  Did I used canned sweet potatoes?   Oh, no. Only fresh would do.

Taste and See

The first year, my oldest nephew stared mournfully at his plate.  He tearfully asked his parents, “Do I have to eat that?”  They whispered, “Your Aunt Connie made this for you.  Just try a little bit.”

“You’ll like it!”, I coaxed.  He wasn’t buying it for a minute.  “It looks like baby poop”, he announced flatly.

The next Thanksgiving, I made my dish with eager anticipation.  

Thanksgiving

They were too little to know how good it is, I chucked confidently to myself.  This year, they’re gonna LOVE it!

They cried and gagged without even tasting it.  Next Thanksgiving, I said to myself.

I’m not marketing this right, I thought.  The next year I said, “It’s practically dessert!  You LOVE dessert!”  The look on their faces told the awful truth.  This would not be the year.

As they grew older and their social skills developed, their protests became more sophisticated.  “Oh, Aunt Connie, it looks delicious, but I’m afraid I’ve loaded my plate with soooo much turkey and dressing that I don’t have room for the casserole.”

Liars.

At least they didn’t call it baby poop.

I knew that if they would only taste it, they would love it.

Then, one magical year, a Thanksgiving Miracle occurred!  My middle nephew scooped a spoonful onto his plate.

Quietly, I gasped.  EUREKA!   I tried to be cool.  “How is it?”, I asked, looking out the window, like I didn’t care.

“This is like….dessert!”, he exclaimed.   

REALLY?  IS IT LIKE DESSERT?  CAUSE I’VE BEEN TELLING YOU THAT FOR FIVE YEARS.  JUST SAYIN’.

“May I have some more?”

Oh, the sweetness of that moment!

And then it hit me.

How many times has God called to me…invited me…implored me…to taste of His goodness? Yet, I thought I knew best…and had my well rehearsed excuses ready.

“I’m so busy, God.  When things settle down, I’ll spend time with you.”

“I want to do things my way, God.”

“There was that time that I prayed, but things didn’t turn out like I’d planned.  You hurt my feelings, God.  I’m not sure I even want to spend time with you.”

Yet, He waits.  Patiently.  Lovingly.  Knowing that He is the answer to every situation, every need, and every problem that baffles us.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good”, He beckons (Psalm 43:8).

Taste and See that the Lord is Good.

Have you tasted of His goodness?  Or do you feel like an outsider? “Whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (John 6:37).  Put a toe in the water.  Ask Him to show you Himself. Taste and See.

Have you known His goodness, but are now far away, like the Prodigal?   Experience His gracious forgiveness and cleansing as you confess your ways to Him (1 John 1:9).  Taste and See.

Are you struggling with grief or disappointment?  Bring your sorrow to Him and find that He is close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18).  Taste and See.

Are you serving Him with all your might, but are feeling weary and burned out?    Ask Him to renew your strength (Isaiah 40:31).  Taste and See.

This Thanksgiving, may you experience the joy of tasting and seeing that the Lord is indeed good!

Someone Needs a Hug (Worst Family Portrait Ever)

Remember Buddy the Elf’s famous line of encouragement?  “Someone needs a hug.”

That’s what I think of in these 3 family photos.  Our grandson, upper left, was having a bad day in two of these family pics.

Someone Needs a Hug.

They were months apart, but still the theme was the same.

Someone needs a hug.

“I NEED A HUG!” he seems to say.

These two pics reminded me of another family portrait taken some 45 years ago.  Let me set the scene for these tragic expressions.

My parents had been on a weekend trip with another couple and had left explicit instructions with the babysitter: when they arrived home on Sunday afternoon, time would be of utmost importance.  Our appointment for the family portrait in the church directory was that afternoon.  Our clothes had been laid out days in advance.  We were to be bathed, hair combed and dressed.

Details escape kids.  I don’t remember anything about the instructions.  I just remember my little brother and me playing in the dirt, barefooted, and me with tangled hair.  I don’t think we’d had a bath since they left several days prior.  It was marvelous.

The car careened into the driveway on two wheels and screeched to a stop.  My brother and I jumped excitedly from the shallow hole we had scooped out and were filling with water from the garden hose.  Yay!  Mom and Dad are home!  From the way they quickly leapt from the car, it was obvious they were just as excited to see us, too!  We ran toward them, eager to show them our new discovery: water mixed with dirt creates mud!  Who knew??!!

But one look at their faces said it all.  “GET IN THE TUB!”  they both shouted.  “NOW!!!  GET IN THE TUB!”

WHAT???  Our parents always greeted us with hugs and “we missed you!”,  “how was your day”, “show me what you made” and “oh, isn’t that beautiful?” kind of stuff.

Not today.  Instead, each parent grabbed a kid by one arm as we hollered all the way up the back steps, leaving a trail of red Georgia clay and mud through the kitchen and into the hallway on our way to the dreaded bathtub.

They threw on their Sunday clothes, yanked us out of the now orange/brown water, got clean clothes on us and off we headed to the church…all in a record 10 minutes.

Weeping.

Wailing.

Gnashing of teeth.

The result?  This delightful family portrait, which, by the way, made its mark on posterity in the Ingleside Baptist Church Directory of 1967.

Worst Family Portrait Ever

Looks like everybody could’ve used a hug that day!

Tell it Well!

Whether it’s running for office, speaking up at a community meeting, delivering a moving tribute at a friend’s memorial service, sharing your faith effectively, or even conveying your thoughts clearly and confidently at work or a dinner party, you have a unique voice and the world is waiting for your contribution…yes, yours!

Over the past year, I’ve been blessed to extend my speaking into serving other speakers through coaching/training both individuals and groups.

Tell it Well

It’s been fulfilling to see inexperienced speakers trade fear for finesse…and to help seasoned speakers fine-tune their speeches into unforgettable messages.

Tell it Well!

I wholeheartedly believe everyone has a story.  And that story is worth telling well!

It’s been many months in the development and now it’s official!  Visit my new site www.TellItWell.org to learn more. Please “like” my facebook page and take a moment to sign up for my Tell it Well blog to receive tips, articles and videos to help you put your best forward.  And thanks to Skype, coaching sessions are not limited by geography!

It would be my honor to support you in developing a talk that expresses your thoughts and ideas beautifully.  In the process, you’ll come away not only with a great message, but with more confidence and skill that you can apply to future talks.

Everyone has a story…here’s to telling yours well!

In the Sweet Spot of Weather with Favorite Fall Foods

I think I hear someone calling me as I walk past my back door.

“Who’s there?”

“Come on, baby,” my patio table calls in a sultry Barry White kinda way.  “You know you been missin’ me.  All them suppers inside can’t satisfy like I do”, it croons.

Sweet Spot of Weather

I close my eyes and smile as the memory of outdoor dinners by candlelight and starlight tantalizes me.

Before it got so infernally hot, that is.

“Soon,” I whisper.

Days pass. My patio table beckons me: “How long you gone make me wait, girl?  You know you wanna be with me.”

Finally, the promised night comes.  I count the hours, then minutes as twilight turns to darkness.

Come away to a secret place...

On the menu?  Swordfish encrusted with sesame seed and thyme and topped with roasted peppers, shitake mushrooms, spaghetti squash.

To make the swordfish, you’ll need:
  • 3 tbs.  EVOO
  •  Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 16 oz. swordfish loin
  • 2 tablespoons  sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 tbs.  fresh or dried thyme leaves
  • 1/8 tsp.  kosher salt
  •  Lemon wedges
Directions
  • Preheat oven to 450. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  • Mix lemon juice, oil and pepper in a bowl. Add fish and turn to coat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour, turning occasionally.
  • Meanwhile, combine sesame seeds and thyme in a small bowl.
  • Sprinkle the fish with salt and coat evenly with the sesame seed mixture, covering the sides as well as the top. Transfer the fish to the prepared baking sheet and roast until just cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges.

OK.  Well, it tastes better than it looks.

My personal chef extraordinaire (AKA husband) concocted this delicious dish of shitake mushrooms.  He’s not one for exact measurements or times, so here’s his rendition of how it’s done:

  • Saute chopped shitake mushrooms and 1 chopped shallot in olive oil and butter.  (amount: whatever you like.)
  • Add salt, pepper and a dash of white wine at the end. (time: till wine evaporates.)

One of our favorite Fall foods?  Spaghetti Squash.  Cut in half, scoop out the seeds.  Bake open side down in a pyrex dish with a little water at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.  Season with a little EVOO and salt & pepper to taste.  Scrape out the squash with a fork and watch it magically become a delicious spaghetti texture.

Spaghetti squash

We light the candles, turn on some tunes, but not too loud….we want to hear the symphony of crickets.

Sweet Spot of Weather

Friends venture out to say hello.  Or steal our food.  We’re not sure.

And as we bask in the perfect evening, an old song from the 70′s comes to mind: “Reunited and it feels so good.”

Sweet Spot of Weather

Hello, again, dear patio table…it’s been much too long.