Are We Having Fun Yet?
by Amy Hale
Remember your first days in radio? You were so excited every day. You couldn’t wait to get to the station, just like kids looking forward to the first day of summer vacation. Those were the days. Radio was magical. It was awesome. We were having fun.
Need some here at 4 AM? I’ll be here at 3:30 with doughnuts. Need me to stay late? How late? Should I just sleep here?
In those days you’d do anything and everything because you loved every part of it. They had to tell you to go home. You couldn’t wait to be on the air.
Fast forward a few years and things become a little more routine. I mean, it’s a job. A fun job. But a job. So, are you having fun on the air?
If not, improv has a remedy.
Improv Rule #1: Having Fun
all lists of Improv Rules include “Have Fun” as a primary rule. The definition then includes a snippet about how people can tell if you aren’t “into it”. It explains if you aren’t having fun, the audience isn’t having fun. And it’s true. If personalities aren’t having a good time, listeners can tell. If you’ve “checked out” or are exhausted because you stayed up too late the night before, the audience knows. They KNOW!
So how does improv help with having fun? Three key way
Be In The Moment
Every so often, things start to feel forced. There is no spontaneity. There’s no fun. You’ve been there, right?
Make sure the endorsement goes here. Don’t forget to mention the sponsor and their EXACT address. You went too long. Stop saying ummm…
It can be hard to be in the moment when you have a check list a mile long of things to do or not do.
Improv stresses a great technique that can help you in radio and in real life. It’s the art of active listening.
Most of us listen for a pause, then interject a funny idea. They don’t allow the conversation to breathe. But when you are actively listening, something magical happens!
Imagine you get into an argument. Two days later you come up with a killer come back. Are you going to call them then – two days after the fact – and say:
Remember when you told me I’m a terrible driver? Well, I just talked to a cop and he told me I did a great job parallel parking. Now what do you have to say?
It would be hard to take that comment seriously, wouldn’t it? Yet this is how personalities come off to listeners when we return to a conversation that has already taken place.
Active listening makes the show more engaging by naturally building rapport and trust with partners. It helps to actually hear what the other person is saying, not just what you think they will say or what you want to hear.
Fewer Words, More Emotion
As Gloria Estefan sang, “Words Get in the Way”. The chorus of the song goes like this:
There’s something I’ve been trying to say to you, but the words get in the way.
This is paramount in any form of public speaking. We do so much talking but are the words getting in the way of the emotion? Often, they are.
There is power in vocal inflection. A great storyteller uses vocal cues to demonstrate feeling without having to explain it. These emotional cues gives listeners more information than a description ever could. It’s the art of adding character to your voice.
It may sound weird, but think Jim Carrey. His movies wouldn’t be the same without his amazing and expressive vocal inflection.
Jeff Goldblum is another actor that uses this technique effectively. There are hours of Goldblum’s vocal expressions on the internet.
It’s much easier than you think and adds to performance.
Listen for times you could have used your voice to portray emotion. Study the way great performers like Steve Carrell, Will Ferrell, Danny McBride, Rob Riggle, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon and Kristen Wiig do it. They all use their voice to add emotion.
Ignore the Haters
We’re all attached to phones and have instant access to opinions at all times. And those complainers have loud voices. It’s hard enough to be in the moment. Why allow negative comments to bring down the mood in the studio?
Make a mistake? Get over it. Say the wrong thing? Oh, well. Worrying about being perceived as “bad” will prevent you from ever becoming good. It limits willingness to take risks. And without risks, there’s no growth.
In improv, the words “fail” and “failure” get kicked around a lot. Giving yourself permission to try and fail is paramount. It is much easier to live in the moment when you embrace failure as an option.
Remember the scene in “Keeping the Faith” when Ben Stiller gives guidance to a teenager preparing for his Bar Mitzvah? As the young man gets frustrated, Stiller’s character tells him to “love that you suck”.
Then he makes him sing it. It’s adorable.
Look, it’s not okay to be awful. But there will be days when the haters are in your head. It becomes a dark place full of critique. These are the days when you must ignore all the outside noise and just live in the moment.
Everyone has off days. There will be days when everything falls apart. Those are the days it’s even more important to follow these guidelines. Focus on having fun! When you have fun, the audience has fun.
The best compliment a personality can get from a listener is, “I want to be your friend. You just seem so fun.”
People are hungry for connection, something to take them away from their everyday routine. Listeners want fun, and they can feel it. They see through “fake emotion”.
You can be that something by making your radio show fun. Yes, there will be serious moments and sad stories.
Actress Isla Fischer summed this up nicely. She said,
An easy way to get people to like you is to make them laugh.
Want to have a Morning Show that people love to listen to? Make them laugh. Be in the moment. Use emotion. Ignore the haters. WIN!
Photo Credit: Freepik.com
Author: Amy Hale
Amy Hale’s life changed when her college theater professor told her she needed to move to Chicago and study improv. She did just that but ended up in Madison, WI after a job transfer. She started studying improv and found her “lobster”, live performance. (She married her other lobster, Tony.)
Amy eventually moved to Hot Springs, AR and started Hale Entertainment. She started writing live shows, commercials and plays for local businesses like Oaklawn Casino, Central Theater and Magic Springs Water & Theme Park. She acts and writes plays, sketches, commercials and films. Amy joined the crew at KLAZ in 2013. Amy currently hosts “Amy & Friends in the Morning on KLAZ”…but only because she can’t convince her boss to call it “One KLAZ-y Morning with Amy”.
When off the air, Amy teaches local acting and improv classes with her brother, Luke, who also fills in on KLAZ’s Morning Show. She is incredibly active in her community and soaks up all the awesome Hot Springs has to offer. While Amy’s childhood dream was to be on Saturday Night Live, she thinks she may have hit the jackpot as she is living her best life writing and performing live radio.