How To Stop Being Boring
by Fred McCausland
Nobody wants to be boring. We want to be exciting. Engaging. Fun. We want to be the life of the party that commands attention. But our lives are so boring. Nothing happens to us. Huh? There’s no such thing as a bad story. Only boring storytellers. So stop being boring.
Here’s a common conversation when preparing a radio show:
“What do you have?”
“What did you do yesterday?”
“Not much. Pretty boring day.”
Are you boring? Not much went on yesterday? Think again, or should I say, think differently.
When we prep our morning show, we affectionately refer to personal observations as “doorknobs”. We challenge one another: “Does anyone have a doorknob to share?”
Besides the fact that doorknob, is just fun to say, there is a reason we call it that.
We like to think that even if all we observed yesterday was a doorknob, we can create a topic from it and make it interesting.
A doorknob, in itself, can’t be boring on it’s own. That’s impossible.
Being boring is a choice. It depends on perspective, how we choose to see it.
How Improv Artists Stop Being Boring
Nothing is boring to a good improviser. They relish in the challenge of creating something out of nothing. That’s what we do in radio, too. Take nothing or very little, and create something from it. It’s like spinning straw into gold or putting lipstick on a pig.
In an improv class, our instructor called my buddy Randy to the stage for a scene. There were 8 in the class that day, including Randy. We all sat facing the stage.
Randy was given a scene to perform. His instructions:
Cross the street. Just get to the other side.
That was it. The scene will end when you make it to the other side of the street. Boring, right? Oh, and I should add, the scene had to last at least 10 minutes.
The scene started with Randy choosing to walk nervously toward the street, looking both ways, to show the audience immediately where he was.
He set the scene quickly, not unlike the 7 second rule in radio. Improv has the same approach when it comes to hooking the audience.
So there he was, 9 minutes and 53 seconds left.
Enlist Cast Members For Help
Randy’s a funny guy, so his choice to play a hobbling old man got some laughs. He kept things going by himself for awhile, but there’s nothing like enlisting the support of your fellow improvisers. That’s how you keep a scene (or story) fun and entertaining!
Everybody in the class (the team) eventually got involved in Randy’s journey from one side of the street to the other, running in and out of the scene, up and down from their chairs, often playing different characters. This gave Randy all the offers (response) he could accept, constantly raising the stakes.
Every time a new stimulus was applied, the energy changed. And Randy kept it moving forward, always keeping the goal of the scene in mind.
We created the craziest, most exciting trip across that boring street a person could ever have. He eventually made it across. And it ended up being closer to 15 minutes than 10.
Here are of the highlights of Randy’s journey:
-A car nearly ran him over.
-He helped a woman deliver a baby.
-A quick pit-stop to pee on the side of the road.
-Someone asked him to watch their dog.
-He was arrested for solicitation.
-Randy led the marching band in a parade on the very street he was trying to cross.
– And of course, the chicken appeared to cross the road.
Cross The Street: Stop Being Boring
A good improviser never just “crosses the street”, just like a great radio personality never just reads the PSA. They always find a way to make it interesting, engaging and entertaining.
It’s a process, but there’s a key: When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. You start to see things for more than they are. Be alert to the possibilities in everything.
Is it boring? Yes. But only if you choose to see it that way.
On Whose Line Is It Anyway, the cast played a game called Props. It features two players who each have a simple object. Let’s say it’s a doorknob, but it could be anything. The players then create scenes with the doorknob, but it’s never a doorknob. It’s anything but a doorknob. They choose to see the doorknob for what it’s not. It can be anything they want it to be. They are essentially making the doorknob more than what it is.
Stop Being Boring Tomorrow
It’s not that hard to apply to your show every day, and every break. The next time you have a PSA, an interview, a public appearance, a bit, a story or weather report, think like an improviser.
Look for ways it can be interesting and entertaining. Rather than writing it off as “boring”, see it in a different way. Get in that Always Say YES state of mind.
Every time I turn on the mic, no matter the topic, it’s like Randy crossing the street. We know we need to get to the other side, but until we do, it’s going to be so much more than just getting across (to the end of the break).
So, when you offer content from your life in a meeting, or on the air, and it seems as boring as a doorknob, stop. Take a moment and remind yourself that boring is a choice. Don’t make the decision to see it as boring.
What did you do yesterday? I’ll bet it wasn’t as boring as you think it was.
Author: Fred McCausland
After years of trying to carve out a living on stage, at 27, Freddy Mac decided it was time to shift his career path and ended up behind the microphone. He’s been hosting mornings in Fredericton, N.B. for 23 years now.
Prior to that shift, he was lucky enough to share the stage with some of the best improv comedians, and musical theater talent in the country.
Those experiences have proven to be invaluable when it comes to radio, and he’s looking forward to sharing what he’s learned.
He recently was married for the first time to his beautiful wife Natalie, and loves to hang out with the funniest two guys he knows. His son Jack, and dog, Mojo. If you can’t reach him, try the gym, or the golf course. If neither of those work, he’s probably taking a nap.