1 hour Humour Workshop with Sonia 16 Mars 2017

Sonia Aste, has become Comedian, MC and Standup Comedy Producer also.
She offered us a workshop in our Witty Storytellers Online, toastmaster club.
We invited also members from other Online Clubs participating actively in it.


On Becoming a Stand-up Comedienne at 77 Years Young

I am not sure if I already have it in my blog?
One of my preferred movies about me, lately
beside that done for Goldsmith University

"do not put yourself into a box"


9 recommended books (and others) from my bookshelf

Public speaking is telling stories, using humour, presenting them all together. And conveying an old wisdom in a new way. Here a few of my favourites I studied and read again and again, Each time discovering new nuggets and understanding deeper.

1st where all starts :
The Power of Personal Storytelling, Jack Maguire
Why, how to find, how to shape, how to remember the story parts, embed it in yourself.
- the speaking champion Malachi studied it before going all the way up to Las Vegas
- the renewed education Ambassador and well known workshop leader is studying it now too

2nd, Improving your storytelling, Doug Lipman
About finding "MIT": The Most Important Thing. Explains a lot also of our links between the audience, the story and the teller and relative, different the importance at each telling. Also the different kind of audiences and evenings; the joy of reaching each time the "one" who does needed it.

from my Books for Public Speaking3 th Wired for story, Lisa Cron,
Explains, what we expect from stories. How to hook the reader, delving deeper in "why" we are expecting, why it is important to go deep. Not easy to reach all the goals the book talks abut, but explained clearly what we are "wired for", need from a story.

4rd speak like Churchill, stand like Linkoln by James C. Humes
Secrets of history's great speakers. Easy to read, great "power technique"s. First chapter for example is  "The Power of Pause" that I learned to apply and it does give great results.

5th the Story Factor by Annette Simmons,
Influence and persuade at work through the art of storytelling in the enterprise and workplace. Why, how and what kind of stories to give in companies.

6. Be a great standup, by Logan Murray, London. He is also great workshop leader, I did attend three of his workshops. For all budding amateur comedians, the book explains some important basics, with examples of how to develop a "comedian eye".

7. Standup Comedy, the book by Judy Carter, 
First ever book about standup comedy, some great techniques, basics on humour. She has a chapter on the importance of "top the punch", how to use the punch line and add another to it. Very effective!

8. The naked presenter, Garr Reynolds,
Presenting with or without slides, but opening up going deep into your story. Opening yourself to draw the audience into your speech and your point of view.

9. Resonance, Nancy Duarte
Present visual stories that transform the audience.

Another time, I will add three more book to the list. All these books I read and studied and re-read., they all helped me to progress and added to the total. I am still in need to study them again, as at every stage we understand differently.


From there to here, a story evolves

 I begun to tell the story of how I changed profession late in life, 3 year ago, in the middle of the recession when too many were afraid to loose their job and find something new.

Each time, perhaps the "most important thing" can be not the same, for the same events, other parts of it came out. I begun speaking at that time of my life and relating how a book Hidden Identity, (with it's Hedonistic approach) helped me to find out what were my strongest points and what I really liked.

 In 2011 November, I told it at the Canal Cafe Theatre. The theme of the evening organized by Spark London, was "Mistaken identity", Spark published my tale with the title:

The possibilities are endless.

Observation: "cave" in French is "cellar" in English but I have mistaken it that day, my daughter lived in some kind of basement... not a real "cave" an old vine cellar in the middle of a garden. But it was really a trap door (with window on it) that was the only entrance and gave the only natural light.

But, my error just brought up more laughter from the audience...

And at the end of the evening, a young woman came to me, telling me how much my message meant to her, it was the encouragment she needed at that point of her life.

It changed, evolved, and I think, the change itself is interesting.

That was not the first time, it was perhaps the third time, as delivered it almost a year before in one of my Toastmasters club.

That story is very dear to me also as it was the first time I got so many laughter and someone told me "You are a natural" go learn standup comedy. Standup? What is that? The rest is history...

From this on, I told the story two more time correcting cave and changing a little, as I do not learn word by word. Now, I got a new view and assessment to that story and will try to tell it next week, with a new focus: Yes! I will do it. More, when I have done it.


Beginnings, comedy

My 1st standup comedy workshop in 2011 begun with a round robin, the others telling how they see me between others. I was stunned to hear how they see "old" how all the young men with me at the workshop perceived me!

At first, I tried to TELL them how I feel "There is a young kid inside me" showing them at my first 2' even a picture of me as 5 years old standing up on a cube. They stared at me with stunned eyes. Without even a small smile. I understood then what it meant "I died", in comedy terms.

To accept and change their perception, I learned to DEMONSTRATE instead of telling.
At Saint Patricks day the bus did not work I had to walk and my knee begun to hurt.
I decided also to use the language I just learned in the workshop (some of it at least):

"My name is Julie and I am 77
Standup comedy after 77 ?
I can barely stand on my feet!
What the fuck I am doing in this shit?"

Top this with dialogue told in the moment:

My daughter called this morning.
"Mamie, you can't use this language, not you!"
"What language?"
"Those 4 letter words."

Top top: after looking around.
"But she is not here."

Even using words I never used before the f.. S. word.

Many asked themselves sometimes : what am I doing here? So I did voice what they had in their head, and at the same time showed I do not take myself seriously.

Then added what happened indeed, at that time, as I send my daughter my text to correct my English. She called me indeed. All of us had occasions when they did things, after being sure, the one telling them not to do it was not there.

But if I used her call in my first public Standup, we had 120 participants, later on, I used the same as if it happened "this morning". Bringing stories in present is important and allowed even when you tell True Stories from your life, not only in Comedy.

1. Setup. Begin by acknowledging how the others SEE you. Fill in necessary information for the rest to be understood, no more. Instead of telling the truth: that you are a lot more complex and different then they think, pretend at the beginning you are as they imagine using the stereotype in their head.

2. Add to it first even a bit of exaggeration, letting them believe "yes, that is what I thought",
this is called a Misdirection.

3. Then, surprise them, not by telling but by showing: you are just like them. Punch line.

Top it with a second punchline that builds on what you just told: it makes gives your routine an impromptu feel. As if you just invented it in that moment, only for them, there.

Keep all in present as much as possible "in the moment". If needed change time to make it seem it just happened to you, even if it was true the first time told but repeated after a month or years.

Nowadays, it's enough for me to begin with:
"My name is Julie.
I am single (looking around)
Ready to mingle. (With open arms)"

"Never too late!"
Top top
"There is always yet another chance in life!"

For me this works, most of the time, because it seems funny to them for an old woman to declare herself "single" and "ready to" even if she does indeed live alone.

In a new toastmaster club I visit, I sometimes tell :

"Do you remember why you come to your first TM meeting?
Well, at age 44, three years after I become single again, I did go to my first club
To find a man."

"Still looking."

They see I am an old woman, mostly do not have to tell them any more my age.
And why should I tell them in fact I am now already 82, no more 77 as I was when I begun!
Well a few years here or there, is 'detail".

Of course, each has to find his/her beginning starting with others' perceptions, acknowledging the stereotype, embracing it and using it, before showing (not telling) that there is a lot more to us than they thought.


7' Gig at Comedy School as special guest

November 2013 after a "refreshment workshop" with the Comedy School they invited me to perform at the showcase of new Standup Comedy students.

I opened the show, alas I was allowed only seven minutes from ten prepared. But of course, one has to adapt each time.

This year I had my ten minutes at "Old folks jokes" but I do not have yet its video recording. And now, 10' also opening at Ivor Dembina's 'you should have listened to Ivor'. Went very well, made those present laugh a lot.

New tips to look for when you look at it the second time.

Listen to how I begin.
First recognising what everyone can see: I am old. (Later, that I am not English, that my mother language was Hungarian.)

It is good to recognise what they see and hear. Then of course comes the surprises. In my case proving that we old folks are "open minded", surprising those listening with 4 letter words.

Finally, "toping" by telling the tale about my daughter and she "not being there". That connects to all of us who ever did something because "he or she was not there".

"Toping" is adding to a punch line without necessity to introduce, it also gives it a more impromptu feeling. Like you just invented it, now for this audience. I top even more at the end.

Be aware that nor in Comedy or in Storytelling do you have to stick to the "exact truth" about time, names, durations, for example. It is very important to be "in the moment" - so my daughter really called me - but it was more then a year before (just before my first ever standup comedy performance), so what? I told it first the day it happened and then 77+ times as it was that morning.

It is not important when, and it make seem more "fresh".

And I still tell "I am 77" it seems a sexier year, easier to remember then 78 or 79 (or now, more).

Observe how I finish.
I segue with what come before, "I am a bit out of practice now, but" and 'top" again then give my most outrageous sentence of my performance. It work very well every time. Sometimes, I got even standing ovation for it. But then, I do not stop at that but top it and top it again, usually getting laughter after laughter for the end.

It is best to leave your best working part to the end, your second best at the beginning.

I found the sentence after six hours of workshop at Camden with Ivor Dembina, who probed deep into what is we do not tell usually because "that is what the audience is interested is enjoying best".  I hesitated for three month until I first dare to try it out. It does work each time.

Added to the routine (It grows with new frustrations)
There are some added parts that were used the first in this performance, from frustrations I got just then before I performed this, about my teeth.

I also added the routine about my eyes (is it in this yet?) Later, I found a better way to introduce my Kindle (not in this performance yet). It does get a huge laughter as I talk about "Size is import - well, sometimes" and let the audience think first of something else, "I did not say it" as just before it I added a part that is about a message I got on Facebook. (See my later gigs for that).

Observe how I go from one part to the other.
Just before I performed I was told that I have to do only 7 minutes not 10 as I was promised. I had to cut some parts. Because the routine has been made in Parts, I could leave out some. But is is more difficult then. Usually I put a word at the end of a routine to trigger in me and remind the next part.

All audience is not as receptive as this was. Sometimes a part works better or less depending whom listens. That is normal, most important is all love and enjoy most of it.


Merci ! For all of you, in French and English

Thanks ! For all who loved me

For all who had loved me
For a day or for years
All who had desired me, and I desired,
For years, month or a few hours 
Or imagining that he loved or wanted me
A day,  months,  or many years;
Or even for a wonderful night:

I have not forgotten
I have not regretted
I have not forgotten

Neither my years long teenage flame
Disappeared even before we touched;
Nor my first kisses on the street or a bench
In the almost closed park;
Or swimming midnight naked into the lake
And the tender chaste cuddling near a wood fire

I have not forgotten
I have not regretted
I have not forgotten.

Becoming woman at 25: it was not too late!
Our children were conceived with fervent kisses
I have not forgotten!

Deceptions, betrayal and sorrow followed,
Bitter ashes covered too often the great times
But I learned, even if later : one evening
Can make me happy for a whole year
I have not forgotten any of you !

Betrayed or neglected: I have not regretted.
I cried, then later told myself "it is I who imagined"
"It was me who lured myself he loved as I loved
That he wanted as I wanted and desired "

Yes, I desired, I loved
And even it not for all life
Was desired, was loved
I have not regretted
I have not forgotten

I loved some  and strongly desired others
I have loved and lived, and I do remember.
Thank you all for those moments, 
Those years  or moments of happiness:
I do not forget!

And here is the French original

A tous qui m'ont aimée ou désirée

Pour tous  qui m’ont aimée
Pour un jour ou des années
Pour tous qui m’ont désirée et j’ai désiré,
Ne serait-ce que des heures

Ou imaginant qu’il m’aimaient ou désiraient
Pendant des mois, des années; 
Ou une merveilleuse soirée.

Je n’ai pas oubliée
Je n’ai pas regrettée
Je n’ai pas oubliée!

Ni mon flamme d’adolescente
Disparue dans la fumée;
Ni mes premiers baisais
Dans le park presque fermée;
Ni la plongée deminuit nu dans le lac 
Ou la tendresse davant un feu de bois

Je n’ai pas oubliée
Je n’ai pas regrettée
Je ne vous ai oubliée!

Femme, tard dans la vie: jamais trop tard
Nos enfants conçus de nos fervents baisers
Je n’ai pas oubliée!

Deceptions , trahisons et blessures entassés
Cendres amères ont couvert nos bon moments

J’ai apprise alors, qu’une seule soirée
Peut apporter de la joie pour toute une année
Je n'ai pas oubliée!

Deçue ou délaissée, je n’ai pas regerttée
J’en ai pleurée,et puis dit “c’est toi qui a imaginée”
"C”est toi qui t’est leurrée qu’il t’aimais comme tu aimais
Qu’il te désirait comme tu le désirais"

J’ai désirée, j’ai aimée
Je n’ai pas regrettée
Je ne vous ai oubliée

J’ai aimée ou je vous ai fortement désirée: j’ai vécu
Merci pour ces moments, ces années de bonheur:
Je ne vous est oubilée!


Better laugh of whatever arrives in life

Some Selfies - yes, better laugh of all that arrives
15 auto-portraits from my album "some selfies" taken from 2004, when I become 70 years old through the years showing my "kid playing" side and daring to show different sides of myself.

First row
The first time I dared an auto-portrait playing with an old wig and dusty hat.
The first time I was happy how I looked with swimming pool hair in the wind.
The day I dared to tell "it is exactly 52 years that I..." dot dot dot.
The day I took the first photo of myself in the bain: the small camera could do it.
The bad hair day, last in the first row, is my most popular photo on Flickr: and at that time, I still did not believe I have funny bones! "Julie, what did you do?!!!"

Second row
My face in bubble bath and
the face preparing already stories in London,
I like showing an expression "I still hope",
followed by preparation of the story of my nose, that was not cut,
and laughing of how much the hairdresser did cut my hair a day.

The last row are disasters mostly. Better show and laugh of them.
Shaving? so what!
After cataract intervention.
In middle of Effedrine treatment of my all burned front.
When I lost my three front teeth.

"Loosing three front teeth? So cute! When one is 7. Not at 77."
This photo was taken to prove myself it is not a complete catastrophe!
So true. Now I tell myself "at least you do not have to walk on it".
And I have a denture instead them...

Last pic is prepared to go again to standup comedy, yes, I will go again and again, some time yet.

Looking back to what happened is easier then trembling "how it will go tomorrow". But of course, I also have to stop, and prepare, prepare. "Practice, practice practice, and never give up even after 70"


True Tales - Julie Kertesz, Manchester Town Hall

More audience, lots of energy, easier and not more difficult to perform,
to tell my true tale of when I was 10 years old and the war caught up with me.

There were almost 500 in the huge town hall in Manchester that day.
I had some difficulty to find a "good ending", a satisfying ending to a sad tale.
Of course, "I am here to tell the tale" was already great, but I found a more touching end.

One can tell the same tale so many ways! There are all "true" but how you tell the story counts.