Tag Archives: comedy

How Old Am I? I am the Age I Want to Be.

Be Happy at the Age You Are
By Leigh Anne Jasheway

Leigh Anne Jasheway

Leigh Anne Jasheway

I used to subscribe to a magazine for women of a certain age (no, it wasn’t Seventeen) but I got so tired of the monthly advice on how to prevent looking old by adopting fashion and beauty trends of younger women that I stopped reading it. This reminds me of that old cliché from childhood, “If all the other kids are jumping off the roof, would you do it too?” Only in this case, the magazine insisted that I do it in 4″ stiletto strappy sandals and false eyelashes. And that I post my status to both Facebook and LinkedIn on the way down.

The best way to keep aging from getting you down is to stop thinking about how old you are and get on with your life. If you let a number stop you from doing something, wearing something, or thinking something, you’re letting math win. And that’s worse than letting the Packers win. (Ed. From a die-hard Vikings fan.)

Leigh Anne and Friends

Leigh Anne and Friends

On Monday, I gave a presentation to the Lions Club. I showed up wearing an above-the-knees black & white polka dot skirt and an orange v-neck blouse. I know Lions — they’re mostly men in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and I wanted to make sure the oldest stayed awake. (Side note: I once did a presentation at a nursing home and afterward a woman came up to me and gushed, “My husband didn’t fall asleep once!” High praise indeed.) I was the younger woman and I got a free neck massage and dozens of great laughs out of the morning.

On Wednesday, I went to a comedy show in which several of my friends were performing, including Virginia Jones from Portland. I wore jeans and a casual, yet somewhat sexy shirt. I sat with the comedians, who ranged in age from 22 to 30-something. I was the older woman and I got lots of laughs and lots of great conversation out of the evening.

If I’d said to myself, “I’m only 50, I don’t have anything in common with 80-year old men,” I wouldn’t have enjoyed myself so much with the Lions. If I’d said, “I’m over 50, I shouldn’t be out at 11:30 at night on a Wednesday hanging with people half my age,” I wouldn’t have enjoyed myself so much at the comedy club.

I have a quote on my office wall that says, “Some people pursue happiness, others create it.” If you want to create a happy life, forget your age. Act your strappy sandal size instead.

Leigh Anne Jasheway

Leigh Ann can be found at the Accidental Comic.

She has written Don’t Get Mad Get Funny available from Whole Person AssociatesDontGetMadGetFunny

Don’t Ask Your Doctor

Leigh Anne Jasheway-BryantI am an outlaw. Maybe I’ve never robbed a bank or tagged a train with “Menopausal women rule!” but I have worked out to exercise videos without consulting my doctor first. Go ahead, send the fitness police–I’ve got some Zumba moves that will daze and confuse them.

Really, how many of you have a doctor who gives you more than 5 minutes to discuss the situation de jour? Once you’ve chatted about that weird mole on your back or the fact that your right kidney seems to be asleep, you’re supposed to yell at the M.D.’s quickly disappearing backside, “Do you think I can safely do the Bollywood Bootylicious Bounce for Beginners?”

Unless your doctor happens to also be a fitness enthusiast, chances are he or she knows less about exercise than your pet groomer, hairdresser, or plumber. In fact, I’m fairly certain you can better fitness advice from a 12-year-old nerdy boy who never leaves his mom’s basement. At least he knows how to play Wii tennis.

I was once married to an overweight man who went to the doctor a lot with issues that were all clearly related to being overweight (bad back, bad knees, high blood pressure especially when weighing himself, permanent impression in the mattress because he never left bed except under threat of no food or sex). I regularly accompanied my ex on medical appointments because he tended to have anger issues (yes, he was a peach; thanks for that). Not once in five years of visits to multiple practitioners did any of them say, “Just get off your fat ass and get some damn exercise!” Which made me look like a bad guy when I said it.

Most doctors learn everything they know about exercise from watching Dr. Oz and The Biggest Loser. This does not make them an expert in the field any more than my watching Private Practice means I am qualified to deliver a breach baby or sleep with everyone in the office.

I understand that exercise video people are just trying to cover their Spandex behinds in case you keel over and die while kick-boxing in your living room. I think we’d all be safer if they changed their warning to: “Consult yourself before beginning a new exercise program. And remember: we have lawyers on retainer.”

From Leigh Anne Jasheway’s blog, accidentalcomic.

Top 10 Ways You Can Improve Your Speaking by Acting Like a Stand-up Comic

10.          The most important thing to do in the first thirty seconds you’re center stage (even if you’re sitting at the conference table) is make the audience like you. Do this by using a conversational tone instead of a droning academic “I know more than you do” tone, making good eye contact, connecting with specific people in the audience, and giving the audience time to respond appropriately to your jokes and stories.

9.            Use stories from your own personal experience. The more your presentation is based on your own life, the more the audience will sense truth and human emotion. These are very important elements in getting an audience to accept what you have to say, especially if it is something includes bad news of some kind.

8.            Plan for things to go wrong. Stand-up comics write “savers,” funny comebacks for the things that might go wrong while they’re on stage. For example, the microphone stops working, cell phones go off, instead of thirty minutes there are now only seventeen for your presentation, half the audience has just rushed out of the room with food poisoning, etc. Being able to respond to problems with a sense of humor shows the audience you work well under pressure and don’t let a few setbacks stop you. And, if you are able to deliver your savers as if you just thought them up off-the-cuff, the audience will be impressed by your quick wit and intellect!

7.            Apply some of the rules of comedy to your presentation. Comics all know the rules for making things funnier. These rules also apply in many cases to presentations of all kinds.

  • Rule #1:  Your material should be universal; everyone in the room should be able to understand the material, the context, and the emotions behind both. If you are speaking to a room full of accountants and all you keep using references to quantum physics, you’re violating the rule of universality.
  • Rule #2:  Be as specific and visual as possible. The better you can create a picture, the more engaged the audience will be in your presentation. It’s not an office, it’s a 7-foot x 7-foot cubicle wedged between the women’s bathroom and the elevator.
  • Rule #3:  When dealing with topics that are still painful to the audience (recent tragic events, lay-offs at work, new management, budget cuts, etc.), use exaggeration in your examples to keep things in perspective. Here’s an example:  “Things have been really stressful at work, what with the new CEO, the changes in our job description, and the dress code that requires everyone to wear prison uniforms on Wednesdays.”
  • Rule #4:  KISS (Keep it simple, stupid.)  Make your presentation only as long as it needs to be. Avoid complex ideas that require more thought than the audience will have time for; those are better discussed in breakout sessions or meetings. There’s almost nothing worse than an hour-long speech with only ten minutes of “stuff” in it.
  • Rule #5:  It happened today (or at the latest, yesterday.)  Use present tense verbs to give your presentation a feeling of being topical and urgent.

6.            Remember, what you say is only half the game; your emotion is the other half. A speaker can have the most interesting material in the world, but if there is no passion behind it, no personal interest in what is being said, someone will probably fall asleep and it might be the speaker. Some ways stand-up comics show passion in their material include:

  • Using lots of facial expressions and gestures.
  • Modulating their voice. Vocal variation is very important to keeping an audience’s interest.
  • Getting rid of the lectern and standing where people can see them.

5.            Structure your presentation like a stand-up set. Open strong and close even stronger. In between, vary your material so that your stronger and weaker points alternate. This is also a good way to structure a presentation that includes many points that may be received negatively by the listeners – intersperse them with whatever good news you can find so that the audience has a chance to catch their breath.

4.            Engage the audience in participatory activities. It’s easier to keep an audience with you if they feel involved, rather than spoken at. Try to keep participatory activities simple, especially if your presentation is in the late afternoon or evening. Hand raising is good (“How many of you have ever experienced any stress?  Okay, how many of you are clinically dead?”)

3.            Be aware of what speakers before you have discussed. This allows you to avoid duplicating material, but more importantly it gives you an opportunity to show you were listening to them too. This simple tactic increases the audience’s affection for you right away. You too have been “the audience.”  And you will get brownie points for being able to show how your topic builds on those of the speakers before you.

2.            When you think audiovisuals include props in your thinking. One way to set yourself apart from other speakers is to broaden your use of visual aids beyond PowerPoint to include any objects large enough to be seen by the audience. Hats can be used to distinguish between different jobs or tasks or sides in a debate. A skeleton is a good way to demonstrate a bare bones budget. Have fun with choosing your props and your audience will have fun listening and watching you.

1.            Honor your fear. Comedians feel fear too. But they know how to use that fear to fuel the energy behind their set. So next time your knees knock and your palms sweat, think how funny it’ll be to the audience. And think how much more they’ll like you because you’re a real human being too!

Copyright Leigh Anne Jasheway, 2008

Are You A Life-O-Sucter?

by Leigh Anne Jasheway

Life-O-Sucter, it’s a new word for an old problem: someone who sucks the life out of everyone he or she comes in contact with every day. Unfortunately, just as  vampires can’t see themselves in the mirror, most Life-O-Sucters (abbreviated LLS) can’t see their own bad habits. Take this simple quiz to see if you’ve developed any of the symptoms and to learn what you can do to avoid turning into full-fledged LLS.

1.         If a friend tells you how bad her day has been, what is your usual reaction:
a.         You listen to her without judgment.
b.         You offer her a shoulder to cry on.
c.         You tell her how much worse your day was – in vivid gory detail.

If you answered “c,” you might be a Life-O-Sucter. LLS like all attention to be on them all the time, even in one-on-one interactions. It’s like they’re playing a game called “My Life Is Worse Than Yours!”  If someone has a bad day at work, the LLS has had a bad month or year at work; if someone has a fender bender on the way to the store, the LLS has a brush with death on the freeway. There’s no sob story a LLS can’t top.

If you find the words “You think that’s bad? Listen to this,” frequently fly from your mouth, you might as well get yourself a cape and fangs. Or you could change your behavior by making a list of alternative phrases to use in these situations. Phrases such as:
I’m so sorry this happened to you.
No wonder you’re (exhausted, frustrated, angry, etc.)
Is there anything I can do to help?

It won’t be easy to stop yourself from jumping in with all the horrible things that have ever happened to you, but if you keep using the list, you’ll find this monstrous habit will soon be defeated.

2.         Which of the following words apply to you:
a.         Drama Queen
b.         Hypochondriac
c.         High-maintenance
d.         None of the above

If you answered “a,” “b,” or “c,” you may be a Life-O-Sucter. Drama Queens, hypochondriacs, and high-maintenance people are all overly-involved in their own lives and can’t usually find the time to be a positive force for others. And if their lives aren’t dramatic enough, they create drama – for example, thinking every bump and bruise is cancer or every friend who’s late to lunch has either been killed on the way there or has dumped them.

One of the best ways to stop creating drama where there is none is to help someone else whose life really is rife with stress and drama. Volunteering with an organization like Habitat for Humanity, visiting kids with cancer in the hospital, or helping an illiterate adult learn to read will help convince you that your life is pretty good. And by helping others out, you put positive energy into the universe instead of negative.

3.       Compared to five years ago, do you have:
a.       More good friends.
b.      About the same number of good friends.
c.       Fewer good friends.

If you answered “C”, you may be a LLS. Eventually Life-O-Sucters lose their friends. Who really wants to stay in a friendship with someone who always one-ups you, never lets you have any attention, and whines more than a puppy left home alone for the first time?  Being friends with a Life-O-Sucter is like being friends with a leach – it’s exhausting, draining, and sooner or later you can’t wait to shake them off!

The best way to reach out to friends who’ve gotten fed up and moved on is to apologize and tell them you want to change your ways. Admit that you haven’t been the easiest person to have as a friend and ask for help to do a better job. Chances they’ll have plenty of advice; all you have to do is be humble enough to listen. To show you’re serious, bring a pencil and paper and take notes!
4.         When chatting with someone on the phone, do you usually:
a.         Hang up as soon as you’re done with what you have to say.
b.         Wait until the other person is finished talking before hanging up.
c.         Hang up at a mutually-agreed upon point in the conversation.

If you answered “a,” you may be a Life-O-Sucter. LLS think that when they’ve finished saying what they have to say, the conversation is over. If you’re always the first to hang up and people have actually asked you why you always slam the phone down in the middle of their sentences, ring-ring, it’s the Life-O-Sucter clue phone!

A visual reminder may be needed to change this bad habit. Print out the question, “What else is new with you” on a sheet of labels and apply one to each phone in the house (and your cell phone too, if there’s room!)  Tell yourself you’re not allowed to hang up on anyone without having asked the question at least once.

5.         When it comes to face-to-face interactions, phone conversations, or Instant Messaging, do you:
a.         Let other people do most of the talking.
b.         Hold up your half.
c.         Monopolize most of the time.

If you answered “c,” you may be a LLS. If the people around you are always starting thoughts, but never completing them, you either hang around with very forgetful people, or they never get a chance to finish what they start because you constantly interrupt them. Life-O-Sucters believe that whatever’s running through their head is more important than anything anyone else has to say.

The best way to stop this bad habit is to let your friends and relatives know you realize you have a problem and ask them to let you know when you’re interrupting them by using a unique code phrase like “Fuzzy bunny slippers” or “Brad Pitt.”  Anything that will get your attention and stop you mid-thought will work. And if you choose a fun phrase, it will help you keep a lighter perspective while you change.

6.         Do you usually see the glass:
a.         Half full.
b.         Half empty.
c.         Completely empty, dirty, and you have to wash it.

Again, “c” is the Life-O-Sucting answer. Choosing the most negative perspective on life (and it IS a choice) is one of the classic symptoms of being a Life-O-Sucter. If you’re always negative, the only way your relationships work is that other people are putting positive energy out there to feed you. Eventually, they just get exhausted.

Some people keep a gratitude journal to remind themselves of the good things in their lives. I recommend keeping a “Gratitude List” on your refrigerator, right next to the grocery list. Every time you think of something good in your life, jot it down on the fridge where you will see it every time you’re in the kitchen. Regular reminders that your life is good overall can help you overcome the negativity fiend.

7.         Look closely at your face in the mirror. Which do you have more of:
a.         Frown lines
b.         Laugh lines

If you answered “a,” you may be a LLS. Over the years, Life-O-Sucters tend to develop something I call Irritable Scowl Syndrome. You’ve seen it on people’s faces, maybe even your own. It’s that permanent look of annoyance and irritability right between the eyebrows. It’s no wonder Botox is so popular!

Changing this LLS symptom is relatively easy because you can fake a smile and it will boost your mood, no matter how you really feel.  Since it’s really hard to smile and frown at the same time, you get at two-for one bonus. And, not only will you feel better, but those around you will feel more positive when you’re around. Not bad for a Life-O-Sucter!

If you’ve noticed lately that people run screaming from the room when you come in or light torches and try to run you out of town, try a few of these tips. Because nobody vants to be a Life-O-Sucter!

Leigh Anne Jasheway-Bryant, M.P.H. has been helping people learn to use their funny bones, their smile muscles, and their optimism to have a better life for fourteen years. She is a nationally-recognized keynote speaker, author of fifteen books, and winner of the 2003 Erma Bombeck Humor Writing Award. Visit her website at www.accidentalcomic.com.

Don't get mad get funny








Are you Playing With Me

Are You in Love with Stress?

Stressed Out and Like It?
By Leigh Anne Jasheway

It’s tough not to be overstressed these days. With all the roles we play every day – parent, employee, caregiver, interior decorator, organizational expert, chauffeur, medical consultant, CEO of everything – it’s only logical that we’d feel overworked and overwhelmed most of the time.

Have you ever thought about the possibility that you might actually like being stressed out?  That in fact, you might get the same kind of giddy high from having too much to do that you get when you fall IN LOVE?  There’s a bumper sticker that would be funnier if it weren’t so true for so many of us: “Don’t tell me to relax – stress is the glue that holds my life together.”  If you’re measuring your value and purpose by a full calendar or the fact that your cell phone never stops ringing, you’ve formed an unhealthy love relationship with your stress. Take this quiz to see how in love you are with the stressors in your life.

1.         When it comes to multitasking, do you:
a.         Try to never do more than one or two things at a time.
b.         Juggle as much as you need to in order to make it through your day.
c.         Hope it becomes an Olympic event because you know you’re a shoo-in for
the gold medal.

2.         When you open your calendar, which of the following would make you feel best?
a.                   Lots of blank space.
b.                  A good balance of scheduled and unscheduled time.
c.                   So many scheduled activities you need a magnifying glass to be able to read what’s there.

3.         Speaking of blank space in your organizer, if you had a full day open, what
would be your first thought?
a.         I wonder if I have time to go to the gym.
b.         What have I forgotten?
c.         I’d better scribble something down in case anyone peeks inside so they’ll
see how busy I really am.

4.         When someone asks you to do something for them and you really are too busy, do
a.                   Thank them for asking and turn them down nicely.
b.                  Agree to help out this once, but chide yourself for caving in.
c.                   Say “I’m really overbooked, but I’ll try to squeeze you in,” then make a point of showing them how crowded your calendar is.

5.         As you go through your day which of the following phrases is most likely to run
through your head?
a.         Wow, this is fun!
b.         Slow down, you move too fast!
c.         I feel the need for speed!

6.         When a friend or co-worker tells you how busy she is lately, what would be your
first response?
a.                   Helpfully suggesting she take some time off.
b.                  Saying you know how she feels.
c.                   One-upping her with anecdotes about your even-busier life.

7.         If you were stuck at the airport for an extra hour, would you be most likely to:
a.                   Enjoy a conversation with a stranger.
b.                  Call and check on the office, then if there’s time, your family.
c.                   Pull out your laptop and happily disappear into your own little world.

8.         When your kids see you at the end of the day, do they:
a.                   Excitedly tell you about their day.
b.                  Give you a few minutes to yourself.
c.                   Avoid you like you’re a low-fat snack food item.

9.         Which cartoon character best reflects your life?
a.         Sleeping Beauty – I know the importance of rest and rejuvenation.
b.         Snow White – I’d really like to delegate things to the dwarfs, but I usually
end up doing everything myself.
c.         The Tasmanian Devil – I’m more comfortable spinning around as fast as

10.       When you lie in bed at night right before falling asleep, do you:
a.         Give thanks for all the wonderful people and things in your life.
b.         Plan out your next day.
c.         Lie awake restlessly, looking forward to the next day so you can get back
to being busy again. After all, sleep is for sissies!

SCORING:  Give yourself one point for every “a” answer, two for every “b,” and three for every “c”.

1-10     You’ve got a healthy relationship with stress and busyness. You understand that there is more to life than increasing its speed and that your family doesn’t come with a rewind button.

11-20     Although you think you’ve got a handle on things, when the chips are down, you tend to “Just say yes” to stress. Follow some of the tips below to make sure you keep things under control.

21-30   You’re not just over-stressed, you’re in love with the feeling it gives you. Being crazy busy gives you a sense of power and makes you feel better than your friends, neighbors, and co-workers. But your body and mind (not to mention your family and friends) are probably already suffering the consequences of your choices. You should pay attention to every tip listed below to try to end your relationship stress.

Read about Leigh Anne Jasheway-Bryant!

Are you Playing With MeDon't get mad get funny