A disaster for a funny speaker just might be funny.
I’ve had a lot of oddball things happen to me over the years, but this “disaster” is one I can quickly remember, even though it happened a few years ago. And yes, as a funny speaker I sometimes tell it on stage. For that’s one definition of comedy: tragedy plus time.
Virtually every man, at one time or another, has had a flash fear that they would be speaking in front of people, and realize that their fly was open. And, of course, it’s happened to many. One of my best friends, Fred McClure, actually sang the national anthem in the Houston Astrodome with his zipper down. Remember how the anthem begins, “Oh say, can you see”. 40,000 people could. (Sorry Fred, now a bunch more people know.) I wonder what the corresponding fear is for women, maybe tucking your skirt into your pantyhose?
Fortunately, it’s never happened to me (not the pantyhose thing, the fly thing). But I did come precariously close once.
I was working in Moline, Illinois (I know, I’m a bragger) and before I was about to be introduced to speak at this after-dinner event, I made the obligatory trip to the Men’s room. In the crowded shuffle of lines and sinks and paper towels, I somehow left the room with my fly down and returned to the banquet hall. When I approached the head table, the meeting planner noticed this major faux pas. As soon as I sat down next to him, he leaned to me and said, “can I ask a question”. I said “sure”.
He then quietly inquired, “is your fly open”.
Now I have to back up a little and tell you what we had been talking about before I went to the restroom. I was actually filling in for a friend who was sick and my air travel for this event had been made at the last minute, and was a bit tight. During the meal, my discussion with the meeting planner had been about the possibility of catching an earlier plane in the morning and getting to my next engagement with a little more time to spare. I had told him I was on “standby” for an earlier flight, and that I had been checking periodically to see if a seat had opened up on that flight. So…
When he said “is your FLY open”, I thought he said “is your FLIGHT open”.
The conversation went like this:
Is your fly open?
Sure is, and thanks for asking.
It’s normally open this time of the year.
During slow times or early in the morning, you can pretty much count on it being open.
It only took us a few seconds to figure out that we were on different topics, but before we did this meeting planner was seriously wondering what kind of funny speaker he had hired. He actually said to me one of the funniest things I had ever heard regarding this subject. He told me I needed to “bring my tray table to the upright and locked position”. I told him that’s a line a funny speaker can certainly use.
So I learned a couple of things that night.
Diction is important.
And the last item on my checklist before I take the microphone is, well, I think you know.
Mark Mayfield…A Funny Speaker with a Serious Message