Obama violated stand-up comedy’s number one rule

Slide1.sssssJPGPundits, the press and even Joe Six-Pack himself all seem to agree on one thing today: Governor Mitt Romney cleaned President Obama's clock in last night's first debate.
As a result, say pundits, the press and even Joe Six-Pack, if the race wasn't a dead heat before, it sure is now.

I won't repeat what others have already said, but I will add my take as a trained, professional stand-up comedian who routinely rakes in as much as $30 or more per performance. Obama violated the number one rule of stand-up comedy performers in last night's debate: he didn't have fun.
I'm not suggesting he should have been wise-cracking or borrowing a page from the Steve Martin playbook and strutting around the University of Denver stage in a King Tut impersonation, but he didn't allow himself to be in the room or enjoy the moment (Indeed, he acted as if he was in the middle of a root canal procedure).

Being in the room and enjoying the moment enables one to better connect with the listener. And, trust me, audiences of all type, no matter how sophisticated or doltish, can read a presenter's non-verbals. They know if a performer, executive or president is in a good mood, feeling good about himself and in command of his material. Obama was none of those last night and, as a result, paid a heavy price.

I always dread the 30 seconds or so before I'm introduced to a packed house at the Broadway Comedy Club or, as is more often the case, about to perform in front of three, lost Belgian tourists sipping lager and sitting in the back row of The New York Comedy Club. But, as I've been trained by my professional comedy coach, Clayton Fletcher, I use those nerves to elevate my energy levels and feel really good about myself.  In fact, I've performed about 150 times now and, just before I reach the microphone, I repeat Clayton's advice to myself: “Steve, have fun.”

So, here's a note to the West Wing: hire Clayton Fletcher (www.claytonfletcher.com) before the second debate. The presidency you save may be your own.

4 thoughts on “Obama violated stand-up comedy’s number one rule

  1. Thanks for the note, Erin. I obviously share your POV. That said, watch for a completely different Obama in round two.

  2. This is a good point! Watching the debate was painful for Obama fans like me. He did look just miserable, and you could see that Romney actually ENJOYED the evening – and not just because he was doing a good job. He had the same attitude from the moment he stepped on stage. Nothing breathes confidence more than than the ability to show that you’re having fun at something.

  3. For whatever reason, Obama violated just about every debate rule known to mankind the first time around. That said, I do think he’ll recover and drub Romney the next time around. The latter’s flip-flop on the 47 percent statement is just the latest example of making things up as he goes along. Shame on Obama if he doesn’t hold his opponent accountable for such double-talk.

  4. I agree that Obama looked like he’d rather be anywhere else but there. I was also really surprised that he didn’t follow common debate orthodoxy these days and look directly down the camera and ‘speak to the nation’ as he gave his last message. Maybe he’s saving all the tricks for the last debate, but it seems he’ll now be playing catch up. Perhaps it doesn’t matter. In the UK our third party did very well in post debate opinion polls, largely because of their leader’s easy style and personal touch, but in the election they actually came out with fewer votes and MPs (although they did end up forming a coalition for the first time in sixty years so it wasn’t all bad for them).