How To Say What Nobody Wants To Say…

In People Skills
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In the year 2000, my freshman year of college, there was a special guest coming to campus to do a show. 

He was a comedian, the newsletters and flyers said, and based on a recent movie he’d done, his name was spreading quickly in pop culture.  

This comedian was going to perform standup during the campus “common hour,” between 12-1pm, when there were no classes on campus. 

I wasn’t into social activities during my freshman year of college. All I cared about was making the basketball team and then playing on that team. 

But, this comedian’s show was taking place in the only venue on the Penn State Abington campus large enough to hold all the people who would be coming to hear him: the gymnasium. 

That’s where I usually hung out or played pickup ball during common hour. I skipped the comedy show and hung out in the cafe that day instead. 

I still remember walking away from the gym that afternoon and seeing throngs of students streamed into the gym, all scrambling to grab a seat to see this comedian who had, just a year or two earlier, starred in a movie called Half Baked. 

His name was Dave Chappelle. 

Chappelle has a new special on Netflix called Sticks And Stones. 

In it, Chapelle tells jokes — which is what a comedian does — on hot-button topics that most people are afraid to speak on (we’ll get to why they’re afraid in a moment.) 

Donald Trump. 

Cancel Culture. 

Michael Jackson and R. Kelly’s sexual abuse accusations. 

The LGBTQ community as a whole. 

I found the new special hilarious. Laughed through the whole thing. And I, as I knew way back in 2000, am not even into stand up comedy. 

I’m also not into politics, don’t have kids (as a whole, it seems that parents were more bothered by the MJ / Kelly stories than anyone else), and am not LGBTQ. 

But I am Black. 

Dave and many, MANY other comedians have made a killing by playing on negative cultural stereotypes of Black folks. The biggest criticism of Chappelle’s eponymous Comedy Central show, the show that made Dave a household name, was his stereotyping of Blacks used for joke material. 

I never really got into Chappelle Show on Comedy Central. But I wasn’t offended by it, either. 

What’s interesting about Sticks And Stones is that many “professionals” and critics expressed outrage over Dave’s material, while the audience — people like me — loved it. 

In business, the consumers — not the critics — have final say. 

I think comedy has one central purpose: take the serious topics and situations that people are supposed to take seriously, and allow people to laugh at them. 

Laughter releases tension. If you’re in sales and you can make a person laugh, you make many more sales than when your prospect is serious. Laughter, just like crying, is a release.

When you tell a joke about a certain group — be it a racial or religious, sexual identification or whatever — and people laugh hard at the joke, here’s what you should know: the harder and longer they laugh, the longer they’ve been holding that in. 

The comedian’s joke is just our collective permission to release that tension. And the best comedians give the most permission to the most people. 

If you are or have a brand, ask yourself: what do I give people permission to do? 

What pent up energy does my message allow people to release? 

What is my audience thinking that they’re just waiting for someone to say out loud? 

The thing that no one is saying, the thing that you’re not “supposed” to say, are the exact words that will draw people to you.  

If you haven’t already, get my book The Mirror Of Motivation free right now so you can represent what your future audience is waiting for — which means you can help them release what they’ve been holding in all the time. 

Get The Mirror Of Motivation here: