14 Mar Being Funny Is A Skill
Our first poster. Robin Gill hasn’t changed. Me and Jebb?… we’re the same too, right?
I’m going to go see my friend Jebb Fink at the Laugh Shop this weekend. Jebb is a comedian and, as some of you may remember, I worked with Jebb for eight years on a morning TV show in Calgary back when launching a TV Station was a big deal. (For all you kids out there, at TV Station is like a YouTube channel, except made out of bricks, expensive gear, and financial regret.) There was no one quicker, sharper and funnier on TV than Jebb was.
I’m excited to see him, because I don’t get to see him as much as I should these days. That said, Jebb is the kind of friend where when we do get see each other, it takes us half a second to get right back to where we left off.
Jebb and I learned the TV game together. We both had a little experience when we started, but it was him and me talking through the TV for eight years where I feel like I grew into what I do now. And a lot of it I learned from him.
So for you, here are Five Life Lessons I learned from my friend Jebb Fink.
Funny Takes Editing
If there is one line I’ve heard Jebb say a thousand times it’s, “I’m working on this joke…”
Back when I met him, I’d think, “How do you work on a joke? You say Knock Knock, the other person says who’s there, and away you go. What’s work about that?”
But he said that all the time, “I’m working on a joke…” Then, he’d tell me something funny.
Then a few days later, he’d say it again, but it was sharper, funnier.
Then a few days later, he said it again, and it was funnier.
That’s when I realized being funny is a skill. Jebb worked on it. But here’s the key: He worked on it in front of an audience. Not just mumbling it to a mirror or reading it on a computer screen. Want to know if you’re story/ presentation/ joke is any good? Do it in front of someone. Comedians know this better than anyone.
Sometimes we’re on the phone and after a few minutes of him talking and me chuckling I’d say, “Are you talking to me or just rehearsing?” He’d say, “What’s the difference?”
Jebb is the joke ninja.
Keep Your Feet Moving
Jebb is the ultimate entrepreneur. He’s an excellent cook, a comedian, and a business guy. Since I’ve known him – he’s done the morning show with me, the evening show as the weather guy, wrote and produced two national TV shows (winning a Gemini along the way), wrote and produced for Just For Laughs in Montreal, started a pasta company, started a sauce company, started Jebb’s Joint, and still does stand-up comedy.
And even through life’s challenges, I’ve never seen his feet stop. He’s always got something on the go. When I feel sorry for myself, I think of Jebb and I get the hell up and keep going.
Never Argue With A Comic
Comedians who are any good learn how to shut up hecklers. That part of their brain is a fine-tuned crushing machine. Key Fact: That part of their brain doesn’t turn off when they walk off stage. The amount of times I’d be at my computer at the TV station and watch news directors, news anchors, Big Toronto Mucky Mucks stumble away from a confrontation with Jebb after thinking they could take him on… don’t mess with a comic.
Never Use The Coat Check
Early on, I was at an event with Jebb when I watched him ball up his coat and stuff it under the stage. “Never use the coat check,” he said. Probably the one piece of advice I’ve used more than any other. You want Elvis to leave the building, not Elvis to be in the coat check line with a few hundred moderately drunk people trying to find their tags.
Love Your Kids
Jebb can be a crusty guy (see “Never Argue with a Comic”), but he always turned it off when his daughter Jess walked in the room. I didn’t have kids then, but when I first met Jess, she would have been John’s age now. And when John is at his most excited or distracted or rambunctious, I remember how Jebb lit up and warmed up when Jess was around. He is a teddy bear, and it was the best of him. I want to be that way with John and Tess.
And I can’t wait to see him on Friday.