Creating Content For Commerce, 10 Things To Do with Matt Kazam
Successful business owners have a system they have developed to able to pivot and become marketable. They come prepared all the time with good PR being the key. Matt Kazam saw all of this when he was the most in-demand comedian in Las Vegas. His father taught him that in order to become successful, he needed to do 10 things to get work done. He continues to do that today, but Matt has also found a system that puts value in businesses using humor to enhance his business. Creating content for commerce is not that different from setting up for a stand up show. Learn how comedy can be applied in your business and elevate your brand.
Creating Content For Commerce, 10 Things To Do withMatt Kazam
My guest is a business expert who has built a business while laughing all the way to the bank. Not quite what you’re thinking. He’s one of the most successful comedians to ever hit the Las Vegas scene with over 6,000 performances and over 1,000 corporate events. Besides being constantly in demand, he’s built a system to teach businesses how to use comedy to enhance transactions and drive revenue. Let’s give Matt Kazam a big Las Vegas welcome to the show. Matt, so grateful to have you here.
Thank you so much for having me. This is a new space, a new idea, a new concept for people. Your show is a great forum for it because your audience is going to get some real value here and ways to be in the forefront of what is the future commodity in business, which is humor and being able to use the tools of standup comedy and now apply them to their world. I’m excited about this.
Are you from New York City, Mr. Matt Kazam?
Yeah. I’ve been gone probably 30 years but my tongue is cursed. I’m going to sound this way forever. I tell people that my inner monologue sounds this way too. Even when I talk to myself, it’s like I have Joe Pesci in my head. I’m definitely a New Yorker.
On this show, we like to unpack how each of the successful entrepreneurs and business owners started and discovered the key to being successful. We’re going to do that with you as well. Let’s go back to the beginning and tell me a little bit about how you got started in business and certainly in comedy.
Comedy, it’s a weird one for a lot of people to understand. I started when I was three years old. I grew up in a Jewish household and comedy was celebrated then too. Up until now, the profession of the comedian goes back to the royal courts. The court Jester was there. It’s a job that’s been around for a long time and revered for a long time. Now, we’re seeing the negative aspects of comedy. Maybe we’re trying to draw some lines and comedians won’t stay within them or should they be able to stay with them. Back then, the idea that somebody could be a comedian, my parents saw it in me at three years old. Both of my brothers are lawyers, my sister is a doctor and I do this. They knew that. I was the son of an immigrant. My father didn’t like the idea of show business but he knew it had been around for a long time. They nurtured it. By the time I was six, I was doing shows at birthday parties and for family events. Then I had to go to college because that was the one deal my father said, “You have to get a degree.” I got a degree in finance and then started my senior year in college doing standup. For the first ten years, I always tell people, “You could be a doctor faster than you become a professional standup comedian.” You need the hours on stage like a pilot’s flight hours. You can learn way more from a bad show than you ever can from a good show. You need all those things.
Creating Content For Commerce: You can learn way more from a bad show than you ever can from a good show.
It wasn’t until I knew I was going to have to take ten years to learn the craft anyway and I was blessed to be coming out at a time where comedy had a second resurgence from cable TV. The comedy clubs were full. I got a BS in Finance but then I went out and got a master’s and PhD in comedy on the circuit learning from all the guys that you see successful today, Drew Carey, Jeff Foxworthy and Ray Romano. It was back then where comedy was only dark on Mondays. You spent the whole week in a condo with these guys and they cared about nurturing and developing. That’s why there’s the Friars Club and it’s such a big connection. I spent my twenties and part of my 30’s just learning how to do this and not even worrying about where it was going to take me. If I knew I had a solid foundation in the craft, with something that’s been around forever, so even if I don’t make it on TV, I’ll find my way.
You’re very lucky to have had supportive parents because you said your other two siblings are what you would call professionals. For parents to say, “My kid’s going to be a rock star or a comedian,” they must have been a little nervous about you moving forward in this occupation.
Except if I would have grown up in Indiana and had the same situation, it may not be as big a deal. We used to go up to the Catskills. It was tangible to me because I saw the Freddie Romans, the Shecky Greenes, the Buddy Hacketts, the Don Rickles. We would go and they would do the show. If I said I wanted to be the milkman, it would be no different because the guy brought the milk every day. It was a job. It wasn’t as much of that except when you’re the child of an immigrant, constantly your father is in your head. Your career path is decided at conception. You’re not going to wind up being somebody who doesn’t have a job. He’s constantly telling me, “I did not come to this country for you to tell a joke,” but he said, “If you’re going to do this, understand the science.” He was a finance professor at NYU. He nurtured that. He took me around to all the shows. We studied the silent comedians, Charlie Chaplins and even to the contemporary ones when I probably shouldn’t have been watching them. It became about making sure that I had the best chances, the same way he did with my brothers-in-law and my sister in medicine. These were going to be our trades and how do I prepare them the best? Maybe you don’t see that as much today but definitely from our generation, that’s how parents were involved.
It’s great that they’re involved and they were involved at that age. Let’s talk about the time when you truly had to make a living with comedy. Let’s get into the first few times that you got paid. I don’t mean as a little boy, I’m more thinking along the lines as a professional. When did that start for you?
The first time I got paid was the third time I went on stage. There weren’t as many comedians then. In the old days, comedians were born to do this. People saw it in me at three years old. Only ones that got pushed into this were the ones that were basically born to do this. The third time I went on stage, it was at a crab house. In the beginning, you think it’s going to be comedy clubs and you’re performing in non-traditional settings, but in retrospect, that’s where you earn your chops. It was a crab house and the guy said, “I’ll pay you $1 a minute for as long as you could stay up there.” Nobody came to a comedy show. They came there to eat crabs. I wound up getting paid $7 the first time I ever got paid because I stayed up there for seven minutes. I think one guy chuckled in between crab sucking legs or whatever. Then the comedy club scene burst on the American landscape. A lot of people don’t understand that comedy has only been around since the ’70s in the comedy club setting. Catch a Rising Star in New York opened up and that changed. Now, we’re all over the country. You could make a living pretty quickly. Then it became about, “How do I get the gigs?” It’s not like today where I’ll just send them an email. I even predate VHS tapes. You basically had to get recommendations and then send the whole press kit with a picture that wasn’t Photoshopped. A guy hand-touched the picture but you had to send out all these things and eventually get the gigs. It became about being able to route stuff and learning the logistics of the business. Now it absolutely turned into a business right away.
You got one chance to go to Hollywood and be new. You don’t want to go too soon because then you blow that chance. For me, staying out on the road and I was able to make a living and stay out there, sometimes three months, just literally going from gig to gig to gig in the Midwest. It wasn’t until about fourteen years into it that I had the genesis of the idea where I could teach this. Now, people were coming to me at this point going, ” I don’t want to be a comedian but I’m running for mayor or I’m an attorney, I’m a trainer, a coach or whatever.” I started teaching people and I didn’t know that that would lead eventually to They Laugh You Win. It was the first time where I realized that Hollywood was only one revenue stream, that this was a business and I’m selling my genius and my talent. Hollywood is a great revenue stream but it is just one of them. There are a lot other ways. You only get to be new once.
I wanted to go back and do a little mining here. What I’m interested in is what happened and I want to unpack what you said because a lot of us are in the same position. You talked about PR, you talked about outreach and I don’t think whether it’s the internet or social media, it matters. It’s all about PR. It’s all about outreach. You said something important. “You only get to be new once.” You must have had to do some planning around what that looked like. That’s a very insightful statement. How did you plan to be new once at a different level each time? First it was local, then it was the city, then it was state-to-state and then all of a sudden now, to be new once in Las Vegas, that’s a whole different trip.
Vegas was always the goal for me. It was never to be Seinfeld or Redd Foxx, Freddie Prinze or any of those guys. When I was ten years old, my parents took me to Vegas and I saw my first comedy show at the Riviera with Joan Rivers and Shecky Greene. I knew I wanted to have a show in Las Vegas. That was the skill set that I was developing to become that versus becoming a comedic actor. 35 years later, I get that show in Vegas. I had a couple of runs in Vegas before I got the big show that I got. That was part of the process too. If you’re going to get the big show in Vegas, you need to have the show. The dream is one thing but now you’re selling a one-man show which is much different than standup. The goal was to get my show in Vegas and then there were steps along the way. If Hollywood became an option, then that would only help the eventual goal of this. I always looked at Hollywood as a transactional thing. Go in and do the Last Comic Standing, go in and do Conan O’Brien, go in and do Showtime specials but never totally put myself in that world because it would have taken me away from that goal.
The number one thing was to perfect the craft because that’s the only way I’m going to eventually get to do long form standup which was the 90-minute one-man show in Las Vegas. I eventually had to go to Hollywood. Also, youth became a commodity in comedy. The landscape always changes and how I got here is almost as important as what I’m doing because I’ve had to pivot so many times because how people consume comedy changes faster. Netflix right now has totally changed how people consume comedy which is why I’m not in the ticket selling business anymore because that’s not how people do it. There were all these immediate goals but that was always stage time. How do I get on stage? How do I get paid to do it? Understanding what it would take to do that and move up the chain. There are even some dynamics to comedy which you start off emceeing, you’re doing ten to fifteen minutes, then you’re doing 30 minutes and then you’re doing an hour and then that’s what they’re paying you for to be the anchor of the show. There were those goals but then these were always steps to get to the bigger goal. Once I got to Vegas, that completely changed. The Vegas that I saw at ten years old was not the Vegas I saw at 45 years old. This became a convention town. Once again, I had to pivot. That’s the one thing I would tell every business owner and everybody knows that is that, “You have to either be barking up the right trees or the right part of the tree,” and that’s always how I looked at it.
We all have to pivot in business and my audience know that from the many speakers who’ve said that on my show. Here’s the important thing and this is the thing I want to bring out and I want to notice. You did this in a systematic way. Even though at first it might not have felt like you were but you did. You took the progression. You stuck with it and you pivoted along the way to adapt what you did to be marketable. Tell us about the marketing. How did you market yourself in Vegas in particular and now, how do you market yourself to Netflix? It’s all about marketing. The youth became a commodity in comedy.
The best piece of advice I ever got was from Pat Cooper who said, “Do ten things a day to get work and you’ll get work.” When he’s talking about ten things, making a phone call costs money. That took a commitment for you and you never call them just once, you are going to have to call the guy 50 times to get them on the phone. You had to do these things every single day. In the beginning, it was the tools that were around which was the US Postal Service. If you could print something in color, which would cost you a fortune, you needed to send that stuff out. Then the internet comes along and that changed the game for not just me, it changed it for everybody. Electronic press kits now became possible. The rule of getting up every day and doing ten things a day to get work, which once the business is successful, that’s only a small part of it. You have to run the business, you have to travel, you have to do all these things. You have to write, you have to be creative but you always have to do those ten things a day, whatever those things were.
For things now, LinkedIn makes it a lot easier because you could target the people that you want to talk to and get to them there. Vegas even then in the old days, the casinos would help you. When I got my deal to Riviera, it was the only way a guy like me could ever have a show in Las Vegas because I needed the casino to have some investment in it. Now, they’re all landlords. They’ll rent you a room with four walls. In the old days, they brought you there. I had built my model based on a guy named Danny Gans, whom to me was the most talented guy to ever hit Las Vegas. He was the first guy to ever use the taxicab roof as a marketing opportunity. I embraced the guy like that right away because he saw new things. I could spend $10,000 on one billboard or I could get 120 cabs to drive around the city pushing me. If you’re going to beat Las Vegas, you’re not going to beat it with money because Jersey Boys just closed here and then you can make a go of it. The way you’re going to do it is getting the infrastructure of the town to believe in you. That’s the cocktail waitresses.
The number one question in Las Vegas is, “Where is the restroom?” The number two question in Las Vegas is, “What’s a good show to see?” I started beating it that way with the service having industry nights, buying 1,000cab drivers lunch. I stood there with a bag of lunch and they drove up and I gave them a bag of lunch and another one drove through there. I came to this town with $120,000, which sounds like a lot of money but in Las Vegas, nobody said I could do it for less than $500,000. The first ad I bought was in Las Vegas Magazine. It’s the glitzy magazine that’s in every room when you check in, 300,000 rooms. I spent $54,000 on the cover of that magazine but that was my introduction to the town and it made me look like I had $500,000. Even when I teach the tools of standup comedy, you have to break these things down to the minutia and go, “This one thing could be valuable but does it reinforce the overall plan?” I guessed wrong a bunch of times but you learn from that too, and you just move on.
Matt, you said something important. You said, “You want to do ten things every day in order to make sure that you can work.” I have the same question that I would pose to anybody, “What ten things a day are you doing to make sure that your pipeline is filled, to make sure that you have business coming through the door?” The key is to go out and prospect. The other thing that you said Matt, which I love and I respect for understanding it is you have to keep in mind with everything you do what your brand is. For someone like you, brand is far more important than it is for maybe other people who have different types of businesses. You decided to spend half of your entire nest egg on one ad. What was cool about it was that you didn’t stop there, you supplemented by giving out lunch to cab drivers. You understood the step. This is the stuff that makes someone like Matt Kazam incredibly successful at what he does. Matt, this has been quite a tale of how someone could go forward in show business. I’ve had other show business people on the show but what you’re telling me and unpacking these details makes it real for so many of us, certainly for me.
Creating Content For Commerce: Don’t try to wear every single hat. Wear the hats you have to wear and the things that you’re great at.
The Hollywood model wouldn’t be as much. This is just a business. I’m selling my craft, my genius, all that. Once I got to Vegas and I started producing the show, then that’s what you’re doing. If you look at your business as you’re the producer of it and you wear all these hats but you find that not one hat is any more important than another hat. One thing I did learn is let the experts do what they do best as quickly as possible. Don’t try to wear every single hat. Wear the hats you have to wear and the things that you’re great at, but when it came to PR, I picked the best PR firm here. Once I had spent the money and made it look like I had $500,000, the way I supplemented, the lack of not having money was going at it from a PR standpoint. I knew though I spent this money, it was part of the plan to eventually bring in the PR angle and then all the guerrilla stuff I can do myself. Why I am successful and why I was able to beat Las Vegas was the playing field is leveled. If you work hard and you do the right things here, everybody has a chance. That’s not necessarily the case in Hollywood.
Matt, you’re a content provider. You’re spinning content out regularly and your job is to find a way to monetize that content. Lots of us are content providers and clearly yours is entertainment versus education. What you’ve done and what I want to talk about next is how you’ve shifted from taking the skill that you’ve developed not just in marketing yourself but in creating that content to help others create that content for commerce.
You asked about the ten things I do a day, this is one of them, trying to get on as many podcasts and to do as many blog interviews. LinkedIn for my business is incredibly powerful because now I can target learning and development people. I try to make ten contacts there. I try to write articles and post them out there myself. When you think about it, it is endless to be able to do those ten things. You’re also creating webinars and videos and this is a niche of the business that I’m working on now, which is finding how people are using words and enhancing those words using humor to make those things more effective. Doing the things you have to do. Putting together a standup set is not much different than putting together a presentation or a speech or a webinar. Taking the science of what I do when the expectation is laughter. One of the great things about the way the business is viewing humor and comedy right now is in the science of you’re presenting something and maybe it’s on a webinar or on a talk or whatever, people only remember 10% to 20% of what they hear. If you wrap that message in humor, it’s 50% to 60%. If you’re out there doing a webinar or a talk or using content for commerce, dumping humor in there will make it really effective. You also want the natural organicness of things going viral. Write the articles and push them out there. I always say, “If you’re not going to toot your own horn in business, nobody is going to hear you.” It’s not like there are other people who are going to be out there doing this. You are also the PR firm for your business. Having a great command of the content and being passionate about it and sharing that passion is what’s going to enhance and elevate whatever the content is.
Matt, how do you teach somebody to be funny?
It is a skill though, one that can be developed and honed. All of my teachings come from what I call the “Three Rings of Stand-Up Comedy” which is the public speaking ring, the performing ring and then the joke writing or material ring. I break out each part of the process. People look at creating content or putting together a talk or speaking in the abstract. They don’t look at the concrete things you can do every step of the way. Once you break those things out, then it becomes very easy to teach people how to be funny. The reason you can’t necessarily teach somebody to be funny and become a better speaker is they’re thinking about the wrong things. I deconstruct them and build them up with the actual realities. One of the biggest things is that people think they’re not funny. We’re all given a sense of humor. It’s how we’ve made it this far without things being much, much worse than they are. It might be why we’re having so many challenges in society now because we don’t have humor to lean on anymore. It’s in all of us. We’ve been programmed to think some have it, some don’t. If I break all that down, build it back up and then teach them an actual formula to funny and why people laugh, people only laugh for two reasons: out of commonality or superiority.
Superiority is the one we all want to stay away from now because you see where that goes wrong. Commonality becomes something powerful. What you’re saying, “Can we not find the right story of your life to help make your content come alive and then enhance that with humor and timing and rhythm and cadence?”It’s not one thing. It’s like my mother’s mac and cheese, it was comfort food for the soul. It wasn’t one thing she did. It was 50 little things she did to make her mac and cheese. Now, people eat Kraft Mac & Cheese and think that’s good. I break the process down and then give them real concrete things. A lot of my teachings come from, “If you start in a negative place, only negative things can happen, so let’s start in a positive place.” When somebody knows they have to give a presentation or do a webinar and get in front of the camera, all they’re doing is freaking out. The number one thing they’re freaking out about is, “I’m not going to remember what I’m going to say.” I assure you, if you are worried about not remembering what you’re going to say, you’re not going to remember what you have to say because all the energy of the brain is now focused on worry. Let’s teach you how to be confident and have a command of the material all along the way, then some amazing things can happen. If you start in a negative place, only negative things can happen.
You talk about a formula, Matt. I’d like to know if it’s possible for you to share that formula on the show. Sometimes what we can learn in a very short period of time could be very beneficial. Why don’t you share that?
A lot of it is being able to, first of all, understand why people laugh and then be able to look for the areas where laughter might be possible. If it’s a group of accountants, what can I say about this group of accounts? If it’s a certain speaking environment, a Tony Robbins seminar, what do I know about this audience? Reading an audience is part of the formula as well. It’s not about your sense of humor. It is now about what is going to make them laugh, what is going to make them all connect with you, what is going to make all their minds go in the same direction. The actual formula is you set up the situation, then you describe the situation and then you have a punch line. Have you seen the toys kids get to play with now? They’ve got good toys now. Virtual reality, DVD, CD-ROM computer games and all they ever do is say they’re bored. They don’t know what bored is. You spend all day moving an Etch-A-Sketch, that’s bored. You spend a rainy day with a Lite-Brite, that’s bored. It’s like, “I’d rather be in school.” It’s about getting down to as few words as possible. I always thought they’ll be a great game show like Name That Tune with two comedians and go, “I can get to funny in seven words. I can get to funny in six words,” because that is what it is. It’s eliminating all the wasted motions.
The formula itself is the setup of the situation, “Have you seen the toys kids get to play with now?” That paints the picture for them, as few words as possible. Then you describe the situation. “CD-ROM, computer games, virtual reality and all they ever do is say they’re bored.” Now, they’re set up for the punch line. What did these things now is going to trigger laughter in the mind. Taking it back to commonality to anybody who’s our age, we’re going, “We would have loved to have these toys.” That is the premise of this joke. Just choosing the right words, “Because they don’t know what bored is. You spend all day moving an Etch-A-Sketch, that’s bored.” Once you’ve delivered all this and have the imagery already in their head, use what’s called tag lines, which is another punch line after the joke but it’s another way to get another big laugh without having to set up a whole other situation. Some of my punch lines have ten tags on them. Eventually, I use the tags as segues. Even the science of segues, when people are worried about memorizing their presentation, when people go, “How do you remember a 90-minute show?” I’ve been doing it so long. The big reason I know is I know how the material connects. Commonality becomes something powerful.
It’s not about memorizing what goes on either side. If I remember how they connect, the segue leads me flawlessly into the next joke. When I talk about there’s a formula, there is that actual formula and there are rules to why people laugh, things that are ironical, derailment jokes. The first joke I ever wrote was a simple derailment joke which was, “You’re a very nice crowd tonight, last night they weren’t so nice. There was a woman in the front row. As soon as I got on stage, she was like, ‘Boo, boo, you stink. Boo, boo, get off the stage. Boo, boo.’ I was like, ‘Ma, can you just quiet down?’” That’s a simple derailment joke. You take the brain in one direction and take it to the other direction.
That’s interesting because it seems there is a formula. The formula is basically find the common elements of your audience first which is know your market. If you’re starting a webinar and you’re a coach, the first thing you want to do is talk about what you know coaches have in common upfront. The next thing is to state the situation or as you say, “Set the landscape.” You talk a little bit about, “These clients come and go. They pay you some money and you give them some great advice but in the end, what do they do?” Now you need a punch line. The punch line could be, “As long as they keep paying me, I don’t care what they do.”
It’s the same thing that you hear from the people who join a health club. They’re like, “This health club isn’t working.” You’ve only been twice. If you don’t put the program into practice and do the things, which is the biggest challenge with the coach, I have a lot of coaching too, where you set these deadlines, they miss the deadlines and they wonder why they’re not getting any further. That’s what we all have in common, but then taking it and connecting it with the health club thing which everybody understands, it makes it more tangible. I just wrote a piece of content for a woman who goes on QVC and she sells handbags. We’ve come up with the perfect joke about the handbag because not only will people remember you when they’re thinking about handbags. They’ll think about you when they’re thinking about health clubs. It’s a whole other way to get you inside there. What does the word brand mean? It’s to stick a hot metal object into something and burn it in there. Humor burns it into our mental hard drives.
It’s the same as storytelling. Storytelling is how we’re supposed to communicate in the most effective way. The history is from the beginning of time when there was no written word, we told each other stories. That’s how we moved information from generation to generation. What you’ve done is you’ve taken an element of storytelling and you’ve created a formula and a process around it. Now, you’re teaching that process through your courseware on exactly what it takes to take a presentation and convert it from boring facts, numbers and sales pitches to an enjoyable romp through a humorous example of what it is that’s going on in their world.
Creating Content For Commerce: Comedy is about exaggeration and finding the right word.
The big thing to remember about storytelling is it works well with your friends because they know who the heck you are. Even with your audience, you have got to bring them up to speed on your point of view, your background, all these things so that this story now absolutely makes sense. If you got up there and told the story, it may not do that. Your friends also have a lot of time. With the regular story, they’re always too long. That’s why in comedy, we talk about wasted motions, anything that doesn’t need to be in there. The longer the setup, the bigger the punch line has to be. There’s too much stuff along the way they’d have to remember and it may take the impact away from that. It’s taking those stories and then enhancing them. Comedy is about exaggeration and finding the right word. If you’re using the word blue, magenta might be funnier. That’s one word but that’s how I can get down to funny quicker than anyone else because I know the most impactful words that are going to work in the situation.
It’s like power words on closers. What people have when they start writing sales scripts is they come together and discuss what their power words are. You have a set of words that are funnier than other words. I never even realized that before. Give me some examples.
It goes back to old Anglo-Saxon times. Words that end in the letter K, for whatever reason, make people laugh. There are some dirty words that end in K but people laugh for a different reason there. It’s a social taboo if a person talks about dirty words. It’s how people are seeing the value in humor, even in the introduction of the speaker. Everyone’s always worried about how we get these people focused when we have a speaker coming in. “Let me write you a funny introduction about the speaker instead of you making that boring as well and setting the tone that way.” The speaker had written four New York Times best-selling books with his brother. To me, I see it right away. I can teach people that they’ll know when funny is there. It’s like jazz musicians. They riff for a while but they know when they hit a note that’s going to work.
To me, that’s where we were going to mine for funny is the fact that this guy wrote four, not one, not two, not three, four books with his brother, the guy who was going to do the introduction. I said, “Do you have a brother?” He goes, “Yeah.” I go, “Could you write a book with him?” He goes, “Hell no.” That was my proof of concept for the material. Then it was about coming up with the right word. You could say, “I want to bring on this next guy. He’s wrote four books with his brother. By the way, I have a brother, I could never write four books with him.” That’s one way to do it. “Here’s this guy who wrote four books with his brother. I have a brother. I’m not even sure I could write a pamphlet with my brother.” Pamphlet is the word.
I’m watching how this is all turning out. I’m seeing your process as you’re describing it. I think there’s a different part of the brain that we use to learn and another part where we relax and allow ourselves to be entertained. When that part of the brain is switched on, that’s the most powerful way to get your message across. When someone relaxes and is agreeing internally that they’re about to be entertained and they want to be, then about anything you say that is entertaining will be retained. That’s so powerful. That’s really incredible. We want to talk about teaching and we want to talk about communicating. When you run a course for people, when you are teaching people this process, are you specifically doing it for people who are doing webinars or public speaking? Is it for anybody? Do you use the physical aspect of humor as well or is it just verbal?
If you’re performing live or doing your talk live, absolutely, physicality comes into this, and managing and maintaining energy and shifting up and shifting down. Whereas, the webinar is more about being comfortable in front of the camera and being able to speak through the camera to your audience. Physicality might distract them. It would be smaller movements. In comedy, we have something called the cage, exactly what you think it is. It means how much of the stage that comedian uses. Bill Cosby did his whole act from the stool, no physicality. Forget what you hear about Bill Cosby today. He was a master at the craft of standup. Being able to do it with no physicality was amazing and guys used to work from the stool. From all my coaching clients, it literally runs the gamut. It’s webinars, it’s live speaking performances, keynotes, even what gets them to the webinar: the three takeaways, how they go through the sales funnel. Even choosing the right images and words for the ad itself, thinking about what is going to make those people click.
It is about the whole process but different when you’re in front of the camera, different when you’re live. The people who are also recording courseware, some people, it’s on massage or on how to be a management consultant. It’s making people more comfortable however they’re doing this. I’ve been on stage maybe a couple of hundred times. There’s something you learn about being on stage over 6,000 times. Empathy is gone in sales so much today and you have to truly understand. When I’m structuring these webinars, to me, problems are a great source of fuel for comedy. Whatever you’re doing is solving a problem. There is a way to use humor to talk about how they’re doing it now. Even Black Friday comes along now. It’s shifted to that if you’re the one going to the store, you’re the weird one that you’re not doing it online. Understanding how your audience is going to think and how imagery and words are going to motivate them to action because at the end of the day, that’s all we want.
Tell us a little bit about how people would find out more about your courseware.
My website is TheyLaughYouWin.com. We’re putting together a short master class on standup comedy. It turns out that there are a lot of people that want to learn it where the application is standup comedy. I encourage every entrepreneur out there to go find an open mic in your town and prepare for it. You will grow from the experience. If you need me to be involved in the process, I do that as well. Even at the end of it, not everybody has a webinar, not every CEO gets up and does keynotes but he sees the value in learning what I know and having that club in his bag now. We’re putting together the core program, which is Stand Up & Public Speak which is the tools of standup comedy but the application is for presentations, keynotes, webinars, however you use words.
Matt, I have a couple of questions for you and these are questions I have a feeling we’re going to have some fun with. I know that for me it always helps me better understand my guests. Who, in all of space and time, would you like to have one hour to enjoy a walk in the park, a quick lunch or an intense conversation with?
For me, it starts and stops with Mel Brooks. It’s weird because I’m a comedian and you would have thought I would have met him at some point and I’ve been to the Friars and it was like, “He was here ten minutes ago,” or I showed up to an event and he just left. The piece of music that I heard that made me want to be a musician when it comes to comedy was the 2000 Year Old Man records. It was theater of the mind. It was that character that basically went inside your head. They did this act inside your head and how somebody could be so gentle and heavy-handed at the same time and not have any of the social stigmas to say whatever. What we’ve lost a lot when it comes to humor is intent. There was no intent to put anybody down or defame any of the characters in history. It was this amazing piece of comedy that he owned. Just to tell him how much he inspired me. I always think, if you had somebody mentor you and had that profound effect on your life, it would be a shame not to be able to say, “Thank you.” Then to have the conversation and how much I could benefit from that but at the very least, for me it would be Mel Brooks. It’s weird because it’s not Carl Reiner and he was on the record too.
My second question is the grand finale question. It’s the ‘change the world’ question. What is it that you are doing or would like to do that truly has the potential to literally change the world?
Creating Content For Commerce: If everybody has the same chance at success around the world, it’s a great thing.
That changes a lot. Right now, getting a lot of the charities I work with to embrace using humor and my skill set in their development of what they need to do which is raise money to help people. We’re working with an organization that helps the children in Tanzania. It’s a concept I didn’t understand which was when you don’t have access to the internet, there’s a digital divide in the world. Working with them to raise money to be able to help the children in Africa close the digital divide so that everybody has the same chance at success around the world is a great thing. They came to me and they wanted to do some video, the same thing we’re talking about webinars. “What video program content can you come up with so that we can launch it and hopefully get people to donate money and buy some more gifts?” I’m always looking for learning tools for my daughter, Tulip, who’s three years old The idea of what it takes in Tanzania to be a student, if I could get my daughter to understand that, it would be worth anything to me.
We came up with the whole Ask the Students of Tanzania Program where we’re going to videotape American children and have a contest for children all over the world to ask the children of Tanzania a question. Then we’re going to use humor in the video shooting and the writing of the answer and how we shoot it. Basically, to deliver that we’re all the same and that it may be a little harder over here but we’re all just kids. I’m doing that with a couple of other really impactful non-profits, another one where they’re bringing organic, natural, fresh plant-based foods to the inner cities. When you’re talking about food and diet and nutrition, the fences go up, but humor makes people more relaxed. I love seeing people win. What I have after 29 years of being up on that stage is basically I’ve built this super computer in my brain that if I apply this lens to what people are doing, they will win. That could change the world too.
Matt Kazam, you’ve been an incredible guest. A lot of us have learned so much from you. The process that your mind goes through is just fascinating and I can’t wait to take your course because I need it. Thank you, Matt. I can’t wait until our next conversation.
Take care. Be well.
Resources Mentioned in This Episode: