Communicating with comedy - featuring Do You Talk Funny author David Nihill on Profit. Power. Pursuit. with Tara Gentile

“In the realm of business speaking, in the realm of conference speaking, the standard is so low, it’s ridiculous.  So if you just literally have a couple of funny images, two memes, and a video, and one funny story, you’re already going to crush it compared to 80% of the speakers out there.” — David Nihill

Tara:  Welcome to Profit, Power, Pursuit.  I’m your host, Tara Gentile, and together with my friends at CreativeLive, we talk to powerhouse small business owners about the nitty-gritty details of running their businesses, making money, and pursuing what’s most important to them.  Each week, I deep dive with a thriving entrepreneur on topics like time management, team-building, marketing, business models, and mindset.  Our goal each week is to expose you to something new that you can immediately apply to growing your own business.

My guest this week is David Nihill.  David is the founder of Funny Bizz, a community, writer platform, and conference series helping content creators access top comedic writing talent.  He’s performed stand-up comedy at California’s leading clubs, including Cobs, the Comedy Store, the Improv, and the Punch Line, even though he strongly denies being a comedian, and is well aware most people don’t understand his accent.  He’s also the author of Do You Talk Funny, a book about incorporating humor into public speaking.  I wanted to find out more about how David turned a popular class on Udemy into a book.  We talk about why he started experimenting with comedy in the first place, the impact of student feedback on the development of his idea, and his favorite techniques for incorporating humor into any kind of business content.

David Nihill, welcome to Profit. Power. Pursuit.  Thank you so much for joining me today.

David:  Thank you.

Tara:  Absolutely.  So let’s start off by talking about your book, Do You Talk Funny, and its unusual starting point as a video course.  I love that you pointed this out to me, because I love the unusual genesis of products, services, and in this case, books.  So where did the idea for the video course come from initially?

David:  Yeah, it was funny, and I should probably warn your listeners out there, this is an Irish accent, it’s not some lunatic dialing in from a pub here sounding a bit confused and joining you happy people, but it was a little bit of an unusual idea.  One, to be honest, I really struggled with creating a product and then me trying to sell it and publicize it and reaching out to my friends and going, “Hey, I created a thing, and it sounds a bit nutty, it’s like around humor and business, and kind of public speaking,” and they’d be like, “Yeah, go back to getting your real job, would you, you lunatic, why did you leave in the first place?”  So I created … I put everything I’d learned over a year’s experiments, which involved me pretending to be a standup comedian to get over a fear of public speaking, which in itself, I know, does not sound like a good plan whatsoever, and it wasn’t, so obviously, I didn’t want to tell friends and family about that one. 

But I basically put everything I’d learned in a PowerPoint presentation, which became a Prezi presentation using their software, and I posted it on Udemy, and that way, at the time, Udemy were driving all traffic to people’s products on their behalf, so I didn’t have to tell anyone I even put it together.  I didn’t tell anyone I had it there.  I gave it away for free, initially, to get some good people on board and get some reaction to it, and then basically, I started selling it and getting feedback from the people who took it, and ultimately, that allowed me to test the concepts I had for a book on an audience that were actually paying to use it and interact with it and seemed to be benefiting from it, and I was kind of consciously able to iterate all the time, and get something where I’m like, okay, I like it, and people using it seem to like it, they’re willing to pay for it, and least out, when I was actually putting the book together, I kind had all the content laid out and tested already.  I mean, because originally, I hadn’t any background as a writer.  I don’t have much in the way of skills as a writer, and to add to that, I was dyslexic, which is not a winning combination for writing a book, and Dragon Dictate, my idea to dictate the book, didn’t seem to like Irish accents. So it was me, at home, screaming at the computer, going, “Goddamn, Dragon Dictate, I didn’t say that, what are you typing?”  So kind of the workaround I had to do was to put it together as a course, and then have someone actually transcribe the whole thing, and then that way, rather than starting looking at a blank page for a book, I was starting looking at a big pile of content, and it just made the whole process mentally a little bit easier.  Plus, it gave me a lot to show when I went to a publisher or I went to somebody with the idea.  I’m like here you go, I already have 7000 people enrolled in this, they seem to like it, maybe there’s a market for this.

Tara:  Brilliant.  Thank you so much for sharing that.  That’s awesome.  So you really started the video course with the book in mind, then?

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David:  Yeah, 100%.  I never wanted to put together a video course.  I am totally scared of being on camera in any way, which is pretty ironic, seeing CreativeLive twisted my arm, being like come into the studio, and I think nearly one of the only reasons of doing that is because of the version I made of myself with the video course is so cringeworthy, it’s only one step up from me at home in my underpants just screaming at people on the internet.  There’s some good content in there, but the delivery leaves a lot to be questioned, because I really hate being on camera.  Actually, it used to be me not on camera whatsoever.  It was just my voice over slides, and that was the original version of it, but yeah, at one stage, the other platform got onto me, and they’re like, “This looks like a homeless person made it.  You’re going to need to upgrade it a little bit if we’re going to keep selling it.”  So I kind of got used to the interaction with people, got used to the audience, got used to be able to get active feedback, because it’s quite a tough process when you write a book, because realistically, you’re not getting feedback from a large audience on the content you have in there and to see if it resonates with people, so yeah, I got used to using it, but the idea to do it only ever was to create a book.

Tara:  Got ya.  Okay, awesome.  So let’s back up, then, to you mentioned that you were pretending to be a standup comic to get over your fear of public speaking.  Can you talk a little bit more about that and how you started experimenting with comedy and kind of including that in your career as a whole?

David:  Yeah.  Definitely.  It does not sound like the best plan.  It was definitely not the best plan.  It was rather painful in moments, and with that, I’d always been afraid of public speaking, and unfortunately, a friend of mine suffered a severe spinal cord injury, and that kind of became the catalyst for all this, because I had suggested by way of a fundraiser, because his insurance had cut him off, to do a comedy show, because I just happened to know a comedian that was a touring headline comedian.  He’d agreed to do it, and all my American friends didn’t know what my friends back in Ireland knew very well, that I was absolutely scared the life out of me anything got to do with public speaking.  I’m terrible at it, and my nickname was actually Shaking Stevens, in university in Ireland, because when I’m handed a bit of paper, I just started shaking, and I couldn’t stop it, and some way, it translated to my hips, and then my hips would start shaking as well.  I looked like I was busting out some 80s dance moves involuntarily.  So as I tell, it’s something my American friends didn’t know, but to be honest, compared to what my friend was going through after his spinal cord injury, it was something like, well, I can’t describe this fear I have as crippling anymore, which I would have.  That does not seem appropriate in anyway, so I better just get over it, and I was a big fan of a lot of the great instructors that CreativeLive have on the platform, the likes of Tim Ferris, which are looking at breaking things down using an 80/20 principle to identify the things that kind of give you the most return on your time invested in learning it, and I figured, well, surely comedians are the true masters of public speaking, if we go by Malclom Gladwell’s, like, 10,000 hours to make a master rule, like, they seem to be on stage in the most frequently, more frequently than anybody else, and in the most challenging conditions.  So it was like, all right, I’m going to try and replicate some of this to get through this charity event, and because obviously, it’s meant to be a funny charity event, there’s some pressure, to some extent, to be funny hosting it, and I did.  It went really well, and I was like you know what, I’m going to keep this going for a whole year. 

So the pretending to be a comedian part very much came when these comedy shows started tagging me on Facebook, and they’re like, “Come see David Nihill do comedy in a coffee shop for two people.”  I’m like, oh my God, my family’s going to see this and wonder why I’m not in my corporate job anymore.  Not quite ready, so, and honestly, if you don’t have much of a track record in comedy, it’s kind of difficult to get booked, so I created a whole stage name, which I didn’t think was very original, but American people seemed to like it.  Irish Dave.  I have no idea why Irish Dave would be touring doing comedy in Ireland, because it wouldn’t be the most popular name with people over there by any means, but so he had his fake Twitter followers and his fake Facebook page and profile, and I basically used that to try and get booked as many places as I could, and I kept that going for a whole year, and the course basically became kind of everything I learned along the way that I think applied to the world of business.  I think for the most part, because if you look at all the leading TED talks at the moment, every single one of them are funny, and there seems to be a pressure there for modern-day speakers to be entertainers, and they seem to be very visibly using the techniques comedians were using, even though a lot of them didn’t seem to know it.  And I guess my argument was that knowing it can save you a lot of time and give you some results pretty quickly.

Tara:  Wow.  Wow.  Can you describe one of the techniques that you learned or that you used in those early days pretending to be a standup comic that then has kind of stuck with you and gotten you results, maybe even through today?

David:  Yeah, sure.  And you know, the thing I think I had most success with was avoiding that moment, say when you’re in work, and your boss calls you into the office, and they’re like, “Hey, come in here, I’ve got a joke for you,” and your brain is like oh my God, this is going to be terrible, I need to get away from this person.  Like they’ve kind of telegraphed their intention to try and be funny, and I think when you do that as a comedian or even in a business presentation in any way, when people can really sense it’s a joke, the anticipation and the flip of expectations, the surprise, all those elements, you’re greatly reducing the chances of success, and I think one of the key things I used was basically just to take all my own stories, and I began to catalog them.  So it’s kind of … comedians have one big advantage over the rest of the world on being funny.  Kind of like where we used to keep diaries as kids, maybe some of us did, or you keep a journal, and you go back and you look at the journal a few years later, and it’s like, “Oh, on Tuesday, I was emotionally distraught.  I had ice cream, and I don’t like myself.”  Okay, this isn’t very exciting or compelling reading, and you kind of stop doing it. 

What comedians will do is nearly keep a happy journal.  Essentially, a list of funny stories or observations they have about in the world, and they continuously will go back to that.  So what I did, essentially, was I listed out all the things I’d found funny, went my own exist, and to start, like all the stories I had from my life, experiences, and as a start, I didn’t have much, but as I actively kept doing this on a smartphone, and logging it every time I heard a funny story that I could relate to, every time I thought of something embarrassing that was happening, happened to me in my life.  Tragically, if something embarrassing happened … if something embarrassing happened to you, that’s funny to other people literally all the time, as painful as it might be for you.  So there’s always kind of humor in those moments.  Learning something new, learning a new language.  And I began to log all those stories, and I just identified the funny part of those stories.  So where do my friends and family normally laugh, and then I try to cut out as many words from the story as possible.  So I only basically kept in what was necessary, and then that basically became what I used in standup comedy, and what I’ve used to this very day, not only in comedy, but also in business presentation.  So short-form stories, true to my own experience, and going out of my way to make sure to keep the funny bit til as late in the story as humanly possible, and then that way, the nice thing is nobody knows you’re trying to be funny, you’re just telling a story, and if they don’t laugh at that story, well, your story’s still a lot better than the pie chart or the presentation that somebody else had them looking at.  And I think that’s something from the world of comedy that really resonates with people, because again, it relies on story, and that’s something we’re naturally receptive to listening to.

Tara:  Yeah, wow.  That was like two minutes of pure gold as far as I’m concerned.  That was so helpful.  I mean, I do a lot of public speaking as well, and I’m always at a loss when it comes to stories, and the idea of keeping a happy journal, and the idea of, you know, not telegraphing when you’re trying to be funny.  Like, all of that, to me, is just pure gold, so thank you for that.

David:  But even, the same applies with a story.  There’s not … like when you get up and you go, “You know what, I’m going to start with a story.  Here’s a story.”  Well, then you’ve basically said I’m going to tell you something that may or may not be relevant for three or four minutes, and if you switch off, maybe you won’t miss a whole lot, but it’s not central, and what you really want to do is get people on board with the story without them knowing they’re being drawn into the story, and again, the exact same thing works with telling a story in your presentation.  Don’t telegraph that you’re about to tell a story, just tell the story, and it tends to make a big difference.

Tara:  Wow.  And I’m assuming that that goes for any type of content that you’re creating online, too.  So blogs, podcasts, even Facebook updates.

David:  Honestly, anything, and when you sound it like a happy journal, it sounds like some hippie exercise that I just followed up with doing a load of stretching, yoga, and locking myself in a hot room in Lulu Lemon pants.  Not quite what I’m … I guess I have it called funny story file, and to me, it doesn’t sound strange that way, and every time I literally see something or think of something, I go in and add to it, and I do use that for anything I ever create content-wise.  So even when I finished the book and I took all this time to lay down everything I knew, then I was like, all right, I need to go in and put some elements of story in this, what bits are funny, what bits might resonate, what bits do my friends like, and the source I was going to was that funny story file, and it’s the same thing if I’m doing an interview, it’s the same thing if I’m giving a talk, it’s the same thing if I’m writing a blog post, it’s the same thing if I’m looking for something quirky in social media, so it’s … it’s just content that means something to us, because we already found it entertaining, and just finding a way to share that with people in the shortest, most effective form.

Tara:  Oh, you make it sound so easy.  Can we talk more about the book and about how you adapted the video course?  Can you describe the approach that you use for actually taking the video course and turning it from something that was multimedia into something that was written?  What did that process look like for you?

David:  Yeah, I mean, it was probably six months of tinkering back and forward and messing around with it and getting feedback from students who were taking the course and just to say hey, what resonated, what didn’t, and the nice thing was with the course I could actually see where the drop off points were.  Like, what was too long, what was too much, what was the most popular areas that I should expand on a bit, and then to be honest, the process of translating that to written form was quite straightforward, because I paid somebody to do it, and I think it only cost me $60 or $70 to have it transcribed, so now I was looking at a couple of hundred pages of content, and it was just a way of introducing each chapter with some form of story that was relevant to what I was talking about, and that … and that took a bit of time, but not as much.  The really core part of the work was in crafting content I felt that would resonate with people, and stupidly, actually …

So the book I’ve put out, I put out one self-published, and then I went back and I worked with a publisher the second time around, and the self-published one, believe it or not, on a book about humorous storytelling, I didn’t even put my own story in there.  So I never put anything about pretending to be a boy called Irish Dave, I didn’t really describe any of the nights I was involved or the things that happened because of it.  I just simply did it as a how to, and even though it was popular, it wasn’t as popular when I consciously went back in with the editor and we said, all right, how do I wrap this information within a story, how do I use some of the things I’m actually telling people to do, and how do I really put my thinking hat on and say all right, well, this needs to be funnier, it needs to have story on it, it needs to be more engaging, and it needs to be not just giving people straight up how-to content.  And I think that’s the mistake a lot of people make these days when they’re crafting content in general, that they pretty much just get everything, all right, it’s a brain dump, conscious brain dump, and then they shape it into a readable format, and they don’t really go back and take another look at it to say, okay, how can I make this more engaging or put some of my own personality into it or put some level of emotion into it that shows people what I was going through at that point, and so I made that mistake myself, and to be honest, it took me more than a year to correct that, waiting to get the published version out.  And it was something I had listened to John Acuff say consciously, it was a really … probably one of the funniest business speakers I’ve ever seen.  A really top author and writer as well, and one I’m sure your community is familiar with, but he’d always say when he writes, he consciously goes back in at stage three or four and tries to make it a bit more engaging or entertaining, and that probably took me more time on this than anything else, but it was certainly also one of the more painful mistakes I made on the project, and quite an ironic one seeing the book was about humor and story.  It was like oh no, a humor storybook with funny on the cover, and I didn’t even take the time to make it funny.  Worst plan ever.  So I went back and fixed that, thankfully.

Tara:  Yeah, I’m really glad that you’ve pointed out, too, that the making it funny seems to come later in the process for you.  Steps three or four, or you know, after you’ve kind of outlined and laid out what the content is really going to be, because I think that’s another kind of unnecessary pressure people put on themselves is oh, okay, I’m going to do a talk, I better make it funny, or you know, what you said about stories, too.  I’m doing a talk; I guess I gotta figure out what story I’m going to lead with.  Does it always come later in the process for you?

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David:  For writing, it very much can do.  I guess you have … say if you’re a comedian, or say if you’re a full-time professional comedic copywriter, and you’re starting something from scratch, you basically say, well, what do I want to say that’s your core starting point, what’s the opinion I want to get across, and then you basically try and find funny ways to say that, but you’re always starting with that core belief, that core point, or that core item you want to communicate, and then expanding on that and working with it to consciously make it funny.  Now, if you’re lucky enough, when you’re doing the talk and you have a couple of good stories already, I would just start with the good stories, and shape the talk around the stories, no matter what the story is.  If you’re like this story does not seem relevant or related to it, find a way to make that relevant or related.  Just tell the story, if you like telling it and it resonates with people, and then literally say, “I told you that story because … ” and just fill in the blank, and just find a way to transition that, because at the end of the day, if there’s no element in the story and the information you’re trying to communicate, it’s very hard for people to remember it, and that means it’s very hard for them to repeat it. 

In comedic terms, it’s nearly like going to see a really funny comedian for an hour, and then you’re dying to share it with your friends the next day, you’re like, oh man, this guy said, it was like a cat and a donkey and a grandmother and oh, you had to be there.  And like your explanation of their jokes makes no sense, because they didn’t give it in a structure, a story structure that your mind could actually remember it and process it, and that way, you’re not able to spread their message for them, which is, you know, if you’ve had a good, impactful talk, and you’ve delivered it, ideally, you want that talk to go far beyond just the people in the room in that moment, and the easiest way of doing that is forever basing it on a story.  So to answer your question, it can be both ways if you have stuff that’s already funny and great already, you can certainly start and build around that, and if you don’t, just get the core points you have across that you want to teach or communicate or you want to get out to your community, and then go back and take a bit of time and say, oh, how do I make this funny.  Like chat to your friends about it.  Just say, see if you have any stories.  Hopefully, you’ve started some form of funny story file, so you’re like, oh, I have a little great example here from this, I saw this article that I love.  So the funny story file doesn’t just have to be your own experiences.  It can be a book that you read that had something funny or quirky, or it can be a story somebody shared with you.  I mean, even the highest, best-selling books in the world, a lot of them will only sell around 15,000 copies on average to become a bestseller, so most people still haven’t even heard the coolest stories in the highest-selling books, so I mean, that’s all fair game as content for you to build in to try and enliven things a bit.

Tara:  Wow.  You are making this sound much easier than I expected it to be, so that’s pretty exciting.

David:  Thanks very much.  Well, it wasn’t easy, I tell you.

Tara:  Yeah.

David:  I was learning the hard way.  Learn in another way that doesn’t involve doing standup comedy.  Take the principles and don’t get up there with the drunk people.  I don’t want to make it sound too easy.  But to be honest, if a couple of quick improvements and a couple of quick things you do that comedians do very naturally apply to any form of content creation does, does make a big difference, and all of a sudden, especially, I mean, in the realm of business speaking, in the realm of conference speaking, the standard is so low, it’s ridiculous.  So if you just literally have a couple of funny images, two memes, and a video, and one funny story, you’re already going to crush it compared to 80% of the speakers out there.

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Tara:  So you’ve mentioned student feedback on that course a couple of times, and I want to come back to that, because I think this is something that’s … that’s really important in terms of developing a product, any kind of product, really.  Can you give an example of one piece of student feedback or something that you noticed in the way students were consuming the course that led to a specific change or a specific improvement of the book form of your message?

David:  Yeah.  So there was one thing in there that I described as briefly as I could, and I didn’t realize it took a little bit more explaining, and it was the one thing over everything that probably made the single biggest difference to me in the realm of public speaking, and it was learning a memorization technique that allowed me to turn basically my whole presentation into a bunch of small stories that I then placed in locations in a house, which sounds kind of crazy, but you basically, your mind works second best in stories and it works best in remembering geographic locations, so if you combine the two, you have something really powerful that allows you to take away the fear of going blank on stage, and that was something that I didn’t elaborate on enough, and with the feedback I was getting, most people were like this one thing is really cool.  I never heard of it, I know there’s books on it out there and stuff, but personally, I never use it, I never saw anybody use it, so when I was giving presentations, I was literally creating a mad, mildly fictional story with as much hilarity and nudity and celebrity presence as possible to help me remember it, because that’s the way the mind works, and I was literally, when I’m on stage giving a presentation, in my mind, I’m walking through my house, and I’m encountering a bunch of stories and characters that I’ve kind of fictionally placed there, and that way, if any moment, I’m trying to think back and go what’s the word here, what am I meant to say, I’m never asking myself that.  I’m asking myself where in the house am I?  Oh, I’m in the kitchen, and in the kitchen is Elvis, Tim Ferris, and Brittany Spears, they’re mildly naked, but they’re talking about celebrities and economic progression and any other topic that I might want them to be talking about in my mind, but it just reminds me to hit the key points, and that allowed me to free up my time a lot, and that level of interest came to me, or the level of need to explain that more, and it’s a big topic, so I could give you a lot more on it, obviously, but short form, that was the single biggest thing that made the biggest difference to me and seemed to make the biggest difference to the students, and I wouldn’t have been aware of that without the student feedback. 

Now, equally, some of the student feedback needs to be taken with a little pinch of salt, because somebody said, “Oh my God, I’m so disappointed with this course, I would have loved it only for it’s on public speaking.”  At this point, I had called it a public speaking course, the word public speaking was absolutely everywhere, and there was no way, or I don’t know what they … they might have been high as a kite when they were taking it, but I think 90% of the feedback that came in was really, really good and really, really constructive, and really, really helpful.  Even the negative feedback.  So if someone says something negative that at least has a level of logic to it somewhere, they’re probably correct in there in some form, and even though you might not like to read it, there’s probably something in there that allows you to improve the product you’re creating.

Tara:  Awesome.  Awesome.  So you also have a community and a conference that works to incorporate comedy into business as usual, which is called Funny Bizz.  Can you tell us a little bit about Funny Bizz?

David:  Yeah, sure.  Worst name ever, but I kind of like it, so I stuck with it.  But basically, as I was going around doing all the comedy experiments and shows, I was meeting all these comedians that had one thing in common.  Not all of them were getting famous for being funny, but they were all getting funnier along the way, and they were doing so primarily by improving one skill, and that was writing, and a lot of them had become really, really good copywriters, but they just didn’t know a way to get in touch with businesses that were looking for somebody to occasional enlighten or add some humor or up the engagement with the content they were creating.  So Funny Biz originally was very much a way to try and bring these people together and get them together with the business community that needed their skills, but also allow them to keep working on their passion, which was doing full-time comedy, and then out of that, we grew a conference, and we basically were trying to showcase everybody creating marketing content or promoting marketing content or advertising content that was humorous, and basically, how did you do it, how did you get approval to do such lunacy, because a lot of people say, oh, well, humor is risky, and then it was very much to say, well, how can the people in the room do it, too.  So yeah, the conference we had was very much to bring all those kind of changemakers together that very much believe that content could be funnier and more engaging.

Tara:  Nice.  Nice.  And kind of alongside that, you have a goal of abolishing boring content, which I love, because there’s so …

David:  Just a bit ambitious.

Tara:  Yeah, but there’s so much.  I mean, you could put a serious chink in that, I think.

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David:  I could, but I’d probably have to delete a lot of my own stuff as well.  Goddammit, mine’s boring, too, I tried not to make it that way, but I failed miserably.  But it’s just, it’s trying to give people the tools to look at content they’re creating and just kind of encourage them to put the … another side of their … another hat on, and too upright another part of the brain, and to just take that extra effort to go back and go all right, how do I enlighten this up a bit.  Like, where can I get some funny images, where can I work a couple of gifts into this, where can I do something that shows my personality and put a little funny story in there?  But just any way that enlightens it up, and I think to be honest, anybody who’s advertising on mediums like Facebook or Snapchat or using Twitter, they’re in all these places where people are going to consume entertainment, then there’s a level of pressure you feel to become the entertainment, and a lot of people just didn’t know how.  They wanted it, but they just didn’t know how, so we’ve been trying to give them the access to people that could at least say hey, here’s how I do it, here’s how I do it consistently, here’s the techniques you can use, and off you go.

Tara:  Yeah.  And you know, you said something about the conference and the boring content piece makes me think about it, too, which is that comedy, I think, for a lot of people can feel risky, especially if you’re a business owner and you know, maybe you’re afraid of offending someone.  Maybe you’re afraid of just even turning people off who maybe don’t have the same sense of humor as you, or who don’t see the same connections as you.  Is there any like advice that you can give us or tips that you personally use to make your content funny but not risky, or maybe it’s to get over the idea of risk in the first place when you’re making something more humorous?

David:  Yes, I think it’s the latter you said there.  You will see somebody using humor at the moment in America who you would say his position is probably the most serious maybe in the whole world as a leader.  He has more risk for using humor if it goes wrong than anybody else, and he has one of the highest pressure jobs in the world, and he is funny, and he is called President Obama, and everything he does is funny, and there’s no risk involved when he uses humor, because he’s working with people who know what they’re doing or he understands the techniques behind it or his speechwriters know that.  So if someone at the highest, highest levels in the world at the moment showing everybody that hey, humor is a medium that I need to use to reach people, and guess what, it hasn’t been risky when I’ve been using it, it’s been well-received and well thought out.  And I think if you focus on not trying to be the kind of making a joke with a target and a witty observation and you focus on the storytelling side that it translates.  It transcends cultures.  The storytelling aspect of it makes it unrisky.  So I think … I was telling a friend, actually, yesterday that I was fundraising for this charity event, which we continued to raise money for people with spinal cord injuries, and I’m dyslexic, so I was sending out emails forever asking people to donate and buy a ticket, and of course, as you do in business, you end these emails in any way, kind regards.  Well, of course, being dyslexic, I was mixing up the g and the t, and every one of my emails that went out ended with kind retards.

Tara:  Oh, no.

David:  Which oh, I nearly died when I saw that, and to make it worse, I was spelling my own name wrong half the time, so I was calling myself Davdi, and my Indian friends are like, “Goddammit, your name is now Davdi.  You will be Davdi to me forever.”  I was like no, no, it’s just a mistake, and it even got worse when I tried to be like office cool, and I dropped the kind part, and I was just basically writing retards at the end of all these emails.  So I was mortified.  Funny, because it’s a story at my expense, it’s personal to me, and it doesn’t carry that weight with it that oh, humor might go wrong, and I think if you stick to stories rather than opinions, you can recreate that safely in any form of content you like.

Tara:  Wow.  I have to say, Michael and I were just laughing our heads off at that story, too.

David:  Yeah, thanks very much.  Painful for me, funny for you.

Tara:  And that should be a takeaway for everyone here, too.  That’s awesome.  So you have a CreativeLive class coming up.  Can you tell us a little bit about what we can expect to learn there?

David:  I do, yeah.  I’m laying an egg about that one, because as I said, I don’t like to be on video, but at least I know this stuff sideways from teaching it to other people.  So part of me’s looking forward to it, and part of me probably won’t sleep between now and then, but I think it’s going to be on September 15th, and we’re going to be in studio, and I do have one really cool special guest with me, and we’re going to be tackling how to make things funny, how to add humor to all your public speaking, we’re going to be looking at a bunch of the world’s leading talks and breaking them down and teaching people comedic techniques and just train you how to boring things funnier, things that you didn’t think could be funny, to make them a bit more entertaining.  But yeah, should be fun.

Tara:  Awesome.  That sounds really, really great.  So what’s next for you and for your business?

David:  I’m going to try and … well, I’ve basically been testing behind the scenes on Funny Bizz to turn it into an actual marketplace where we’re not an agency type, so at the moment, I’m kind of the block on what’s funny and not, as we have someone sitting in the middle, and I’d really like just to put comedic copywriters in touch with businesses who need their skills.  So we’ve been working on growing that out, and we’ve done the conference now four times, so we’ll continue to do that.  It’s been super popular.  Next one’s in San Francisco next year, so I keep going with that and see how we go.  I won’t be using Dragon Dictate anymore to try and write books, I’ll tell you that for free, but yeah.  So I’ll be keeping busy.

Tara:  Awesome.  Well, that’s a great place to leave it.  David Nihill, thank you so much for joining me.  This has been a real pleasure and incredibly enlightening.

David:  Thank you very much.

Tara:  Find out more about David Nihill at or  You can also find David’s class on CreativeLive at

Next week, my guest is Melanie Duncan, a serial entrepreneur in a variety of industries from apparel to home goods to information marketing.  Melanie and I talk about the role of digital marketing in product-based businesses, how she manages working with her spouse, and the importance of company culture, whether your company is large or small.

CreativeLive is highly curated classes from the world’s top experts.  Watch free, live video classes every day from acclaimed instructors in photography, design, audio, craft, business, and personal development.  Stream it now at 

This has been Tara Gentile.  Discover how to accelerate your earning as a small business owner with my free class, Revenue Catalyst, at

That’s a wrap for this week’s episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit., A CreativeLive podcast.  Download more episodes of this podcast and subscribe on iTunes.  If you appreciate this kind of in-depth content, please leave us a review or share this podcast with a friend.  It means the world to us. 

Our theme song was written by Daniel Petersen, who also edited this episode.  Our audio engineer was Kellen Shimizu.  This episode was produced by Michael Karsh.  We add a new episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit. every week.  Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you love to listen to podcasts so you never miss an episode.

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