Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Go out big with your last impromptu speech

Two decades ago ago Jerry Seinfeld joked that:

“According to most studies, people’s number-one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. ‘Death’ is number two! Now, this means to the average person, if you have to go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

Last year I suggested it was time to bury that joke, but it keeps on being quoted, sometimes incorrectly. So, I suggest that it be replaced by another joke about public speaking and death that suggests how you should give your very last impromptu speech. That one appeared on page 120 of the late George Carlin’s 2002 book Napalm and Silly Putty:

“Now, you might be wondering why I would even suggest that someone can affect the manner and style of his death. Well, it’s because of a mysterious and little-known stage of dying, the two minute warning. Just as in football, two minutes before you die you receive an audible warning: ‘Two minutes! Get your sh*t together!‘ And the reason most people don’t know about this is because the only ones who hear it are dead two minutes later. They never get a chance to tell us.

But, such a warning does exist, and I suggest that when it comes, you use your two minutes to entertain and go out big. If nothing else, deliver a two-minute speech. Pick a subject you fell passionate about, and just start talking. Begin low-key, but, with mounting passion, build to a rousing climax. Finally, in the last few seconds, scream at those around you, ‘If these words are not the truth, may God strike me dead!‘ He will. Then simply slump forward and fall to the floor. Believe me, from that moment on, people will pay more attention to you.”  

You can watch a YouTube video of that comedy routine.