October 20, 2008

The Bet

Can Marc Hogan, a man who’s never performed stand-up comedy before in his life have a successful show at the Edinburgh Festival – all to win a £1 bet?

My name is Marc Hogan and I have to admit, this wasn’t something I’d ever really given much thought too, I was happily being a corporate speaker and sales and communication skills trainer.  Plus I don’t like to think about scary things like dying infront of a baying comedy club crowd!

However, this all changed on 5 August 2008.

Jim Lawless (of Taming Tigers fame) and I were booked to present at the same corporate event.  I’d written some material for him over the past year and we had developed a friendly rivalry.  After the gig I’d gone back to Jim’s for a drink and a bite to eat.

If you haven’t heard of Jim, he is one of the UK’s leading speakers. His Taming Tigers model for business and personal achievement is how he went from a overweight smoker to a Jockey in 1 year.

Now I like Jim, but as with all these people who climb Everest, trek to the South Pole, or single handedly sail across the Atlantic blindfolded, they are all a bit mad.

We were sitting by his pool having a drink (why didn’t I stick to orange juice?) when Jim in his own inimitable way said;

“I liked your 7 Keys for Comunication Success at that presentation today, and you were quite funny.”

funny?” I thought to myself, “I think you’ll find Jim, I was very funny, and lest you forget, when the audiences handed in their feedback forms, out of the 6 speakers both you and I were joint first with exactly the same scores, and I didn’t have to fall off a horse once!”

“True, true, but making a business audience laugh is easy when you’re talking about presentation skills, they’re not expecting to laugh much, but a comedy audience, who are expecting to laugh, now that’s an entirely different proposition…”

At this point my bacardi breezer had begun to kick in and I found myself (now somewhat regretfully) saying:

“Actually I think you’re wrong the my keys can be applied to presenting and stand up comedy, you have to engage with the audience, be committed to your material and have great delivery”.

He had me, like some poor butterfly I had flown straight into his spider’s web.

“Prove it” he said.

“You what?”

“Prove it, prove to me that comedy is exactly like a business presentation”.

“What, you want me to do a open mic night at a comedy club, ok then…”

“No, No, No Marc,” he said. “That’s way too easy, any idiot can do 5 minutes at an open mic night, you’re a professional speaker you should do something much bigger than that”.

Then an evil glimmer flashed accross his eyes, “I know; you should be nominated for a comedy award at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival”.

“What, the Perrier?”

“Yeah,” his eyes glinting mischeviously.

“Are you mad? You want me to win the Perrier? Mate, you only rode a horse in a televised race, you didn’t win the bloody Grand National!”

“You got to aim high, do something that scares you!”

“Jim are you quoting your rules at me? For pities sake man, I’ve never even been to the Edinburgh Festival, let alone actually perform a comedy show there… I wouldn’t even know where to begin.”

“You said it was easy!”

“No I said they were similar …”

“No, come on Marc, stick your neck out the Festival is on at the moment…”

“Well there is no way I could do it then!” I said relieved.

“Alright. I give you a year. I bet you that you can’t run a sell out show at the Edinburgh Festival in 2009.”

My mouth went dry dry, and my heart started to beat quite a bit faster, but I wasn’t going to let the git have the last word.

“Done, how much?”

“A pound!”

“A pound!” I said “You’re the one who should be the comedian!”

“I learned to ride a horse for a pound”.

I took another swig of alcohol “Ohhh, alright then a pound it is.”

“Lets write it down then.”

I forgot he used to be a lawyer, so I picked up a pice of paper and wrote down:

“I, Marc Hogan being of sound body and mind agree to appear at the Edinburgh Festival in August 2009 as bet by Jim Lawless for the princely sum of £1.00 on 5 August 2008.”

And we both signed it.

Perhaps if I’d known the enormity of the task, I never would have signed it, but as I crawled into bed that night, I simply thought, “how hard can it be?”

As I was about to find out, it was going to be hard, very hard…

If you would like to find out more about Marc, or to book him for a speaking event please visit www.marchoganlive.com