DAY 183: Telling a good yarn

2 Mar

NO offence, right, but I’m more charged in my own company. When I’m around people I feel like my brain is idling in neutral and I can’t get it to engage. People drain my battery. They may not mean to, but they do.

In my teens I’d experiment with how long I could go without talking, and now I keep things ‘economical’. Needless to say, then, I’m rubbish at telling yarns. My mind goes a-meandering, distracted by my ever-present desire to physically wander off. An anecdote is likely to peter out at first corner like a faulty motor, belching smoke and a final “um”. Oh to be effortlessly erudite and witty like Lucille Ball, or Ronnie Corbett, or Kochie… or anyone, really.

While some people are born raconteurs, others – I’m sure – work at it. Like a muscle, verbosity needs to be developed or you’ll get anecdotal sand kicked in your face.

With this in mind, I hit up notorious stand-up comedian, media rabble-rouser and enfant terrible Catherine Deveny for her tips on how to deliver.

Catherine says:

1. Give someone one word to remind you of your point before you start.

2. The more you lose confidence, the louder your voice should get and the larger your hand gestures should get.

3. When in doubt apply the words ‘moving forward’ liberally.

4. Type the story out and listen to it on a speech-to-text device. You can buy one on iPhone called Speak It. Best way to commit to memory is listen or read aloud while moving. Gets into your muscle memory.

5. If you break your yarn down to five bits you can attach those bits to your fingers. Write the word, then just the first letter on your finger and eventually you will just remember: Goldilocks, bears’ house, porridge, chair, bed.

Dammit, I should have asked Catherine to help me with my expansive hand gestures while I was at it.

Thanks, Dev. I’m going to try all the above when it comes to remembering classic anecdotes that ought to make me sound legendarily but currently make me sound really vague. For more everyday, unexpected stuff, like being asked a joke or what bands I’m currently digging (what? Beyond 1996?) I will learn the answers by heart, or at the very least stick them in my iPhone Notes application.

Keeper: Ask to hear my one about the old lady at the ATM.

PS – Catherine’s one-woman show, ‘God Is Bullshit’, is back for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Go along and shake her hand – you might rub the cues off her fingers.

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