One of the toughest questions that a funny speaker can be asked is, “what’s been your favorite gig?”
I generally say, “the last one that gave me a check”. HA! A funny speaker is supposed to answer funny, right? But with over forty years and thousands of audiences, I always thought it impossible to single out one event. I was wrong.
Here’s the background. I’ve come to know the neighbors across the street of my youngest daughter, Lindsay. My grandkids and their children play together, and both families are just great friends. I won’t go into great detail about describing those neighbors because all I have to do is say one thing and you’ll know the type of people they are. They have three little girls, one of whom has Down’s Syndrome, and they’re currently in the process of adopting a baby from China with Down’s. Now you know Ben and Nicole Wallace.
It’s an expensive project so Lindsay and Nicole decided they should try and raise some money to help offset the costs. What started out as gathering a few items for a silent auction, turned into a full-blown fundraiser. They enlisted my other daughter, Leah, to help and before you know it they had over 80 significant silent auction items and 10 premium live auction items. Game on.
Lindsay should be a professional fundraiser, because she knew all the nuances of this type of event having previously done it on a large scale with a church. They then asked me to emcee and be auctioneer. They thought my title “funny speaker” also meant “will do anything”. They also know I work cheap, so they offered food and cocktails. I’m in. Here’s another reason I’m in: I love auctions. It’s basically a contest, one that I refuse to lose. I’ve bought a lot of worthless junk because I got caught up in the rush of bidding. I once bought an accordion at a farm sale. In case you’re wondering, I don’t play accordion. But I was the high bidder and that’s all that mattered. By the way, know anybody that wants an accordion? Despite my fascination with auctioneering, I never learned how to babble and slur words, although some of my programs may sound like I learned.
In case my auctioneering failed, I decided to have some back up entertainment. I enlisted my good buddy and one of America’s best mentalists and illusionists, Devin Henderson, to perform (he killed by the way, an AMAZING act!). I also got Jeremiah Nichol, another great friend who is the best Deejay/Entertainer in Kansas City, to host the dance and party afterwards, and it’s now officially an event. And yes, these guys signed on for nothing. Just wanted to help out. I pick good friends.
The people there were off the charts. Incredibly giving, and an unbelievably fun crowd. I played a couple of “get to know Ben and Nicole” games, and then she set the table for the live auction with an incredible touching and heartfelt thank you to the 200 plus people in attendance. As I told you earlier, I’m not an auctioneer, but I do apparently have the ability to badger people. That apparently is an inherent trait of a funny speaker. It was so easy. In fact, another good friend told me they were bidding just to shut me up. It didn’t work. I’ve had stubborn audiences before. Just so you know, badgering people is a lot of fun, although that may depend on which end of the badgering you’re on. Let me summarize this: harassing those folks was worth it. We raised some serious dough, in fact over $20,000 and not one corporate dollar. All from middle class friends and family just wanting to be part of this great cause.
I don’t think I’ll add auctioneer to my title of funny speaker, but here’s one thing I learned that night. In a world full of chaos, that was a room full of humanity.
BEST. GIG. EVER.
Mark Mayfield…A Funny Speaker with a Serious Message