Comedic Confidence: Elevate Your Public Speaking and Life Coaching Game with Humour

Aug 23 / Alfie Noakes

One of the many beauties of Open Mic comedy is that it hosts such a broad range of people; young and old, every gender, gay and straight, all ethnicities… Everyone is welcome.

The youngest act that ever performed in my room was seven. The oldest was 87.

I have rarely found many common denominators between the acts.

Probably the most common day job of an Open Mic Comedian would be that of a teacher. It makes sense. These are intelligent people who are used to speaking to a group and trying to hold their attention. Plus, they very often must bite their tongues in front of the kids.

Many teachers seem to need an outlet to address an alternative audience and get whatever is on their mind, shared with the world. Without the prospect of an inquiry and immediate unemployment.

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Obviously, the goal of performing Stand-Up comedy is to get laughs from the audience.

For some Open Mic acts this is the prime directive. The strategy is to get bigger laughs and move on to better gigs. Paid work.

It’s Comedy, Comedy, Comedy. Wonderful.

Many others perform as a hobby. Although they put the effort in, Stand-Up is not their guiding light. They enjoy hanging out with other funny people. Drinks before, during and after the show. Loving the jokes they hear, adoring the laughter they generate.

I believe that writing and performing comedy, riding the rollercoaster of Stand-Up, can be a remarkable catalyst for personal growth

Many times I have spoken with performers and learned about rather different motivations. Several drew my awareness to another range of notable benefits.

I began to think about these differing elements. I soon realized that many aspects fall into the domain of Public Speaking skills, or for someone being Life Coached.

Or, in fact, offer skills that a Life Coach may wish to have a handle on. So that they can, in turn, coach their clients with greater personal insight.

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When performing stand-up, I would say it’s pretty hack for an act to open with, “Welcome to my TED Talk”.

Equally unoriginal is for an act to disclose something personal to the crowd (the disclosure may or may not be true) and follow it up with, “I can’t afford a therapist. This is my therapy.”

Hack material is that which is over-used and well-worn. Classic examples in comedy history might be dissing airline food, the differences between men and women or struggles with internet dating.

It’s not that the material is necessarily bad. It’s more the case that with soooo many acts previously addressing these themes, it’s unlikely they’re going to find anything original. Hence, hack.

Hack jokes often address all-too-familiar experiences. I am not challenging the honesty, rather, a sense of originality.

For it is true that there is a lot of overlap between Stand-Up and a TED talk. After all, identifying how one thing is a bit like another thing is an absolute bedrock of Comedy.

Each laugh is a little bit of confidence to be absorbed. It can be just yummy to get a flow of laughter rolling

The Stand-Up and the TED speaker will feel some nerves before taking the stage. Both try and quickly engage their audience. Obtain some bond-generating laughs. Build trust by evoking common experiences. Share information in a truly entertaining fashion and aim to leave the stage on a high note.

“This is my therapy…” gag also works as a comparison to Stand-Up. That’s why the premise is so popular. Confessing apparent secrets, delivering awkward disclosures to a stranger(s) certainly overlaps offloading to a therapist.

Stand-Up can be deliciously fun practise for otherwise intimidating public speaking.

Yet simultaneously, performing comedy can encourage uptight individuals to open-up. Reveal more of themselves. Even if just a little. Offering a glance at unique and amusing “takes” on the world.

Diverse benefits, indeed.

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Life Coaching touches upon a remarkably diverse range of topics. For the Coaching can address matters of Career, Romance, Hard Times, Communication, Self Esteem and help to build a resilient Confidence. And more…


If one needs to speak publicly, then Open Mic can bring some unique practise sessions. Maybe the team at work needs a rallying call? Perhaps that conference offers a terrifying opportunity?

Such matters become so much easier/better, with the experience of performing some Stand-Up.

Further, if one has a job where generating original ideas, or making savvy observations, is part of the required skill set, well… “Hellooo Comedy”.

It’s often said that “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”.

One of the fastest ways to be liked, is to make people laugh. Build those skills to make many superior first impressions. Bolster friendships. Sharpen the Comedy skills and very often our interpersonal relationships enjoy a boost too.

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Scan through any dating site or app. Quite likely the number one thing that single people claim they are looking for in a partner is something like, “A good sense of humour” or “Someone to make me laugh”.

Most ordinary people are too scared to have a go at Stand-Up comedy. Those who do it are, often, a little more interesting to other people. Certainly, more jokes can spice up any social occasion. Stand-Up makes for an entertaining topic of conversation on a first date(s) and helpfully dodge some awkward silences. Just like Stand-Ups on stage. For Comedians also want to avoid awkward silences.

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Hard Times

The sad truth is that the world can be a gnarly place. Whether it be a divorce, illness, bereavement or any of the other awful things that we humans must endure. The truth is that comedy can help. Laughter has healing powers.

Often, in tough times, the instinct can be to withdraw from the world. Turn the phone off and stay in bed. I get it…

Very much depending on the nature of the performer, getting oneself out to the local open mic can be a salve.

Maybe your jokes will be a happy distraction about anything other than the prevailing problem?

Perhaps, after all, the concept within the aforementioned, “This is my therapy” notion rears its’ head again?

While performing any true skill, one must focus and strive for “The Zone”. 

Meaning that all other matters fade into the background. The task at hand is key. At least for a while. Performing requires personal attention to shift from the grim, to the right now.

Most of us have had the experience of knowing we should go to the gym and just not feeling it. Finally, through sheer will power, we drag ourselves there. Afterwards, grateful and glowing that we made the effort. For we feel so much better.

Getting to the club, seeing some friendly faces, laughing at the jokes from the other acts, basking in the laughs you generate… these can all provide respite from dark days.

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I am, ahem, confident of the fact that dealing with the world gets easier with boosted confidence.

Performing Stand-Up is scary. It really is. Meaning that those who get up and have a go have done something special just by the very fact of doing it.

I have long proclaimed that the first gig is not truly about getting laughs. It’s actually about passing the psychological Rubicon of just doing it.

Getting up and proving you have the stones.

That self-esteem just took a boost.

Experience breeds brilliance. Each gig improves the chances of success in getting laughs. Each laugh is a little bit of confidence to be absorbed. It can be just yummy to get a flow of laughs rolling.

I teach certain ways to manage nerves. To boost confidence. All skills for the stage and the broader world.

Consider this. How does fear feel in your body? How does excitement feel?

Not that much difference? Good!

Note: A bad gig can have a detrimental effect on confidence. That’s why the journey is a rollercoaster. “Millicans' Law” (google it)should help to mitigate this downside.

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This one should be self-evident. Whether at work or in private life, breakdowns in communication can bring all sorts of problems.

Good Comedians are great communicators. They paint pictures of scenes and scenarios. They observe and recant. Contemplate every word. Always mindful of the emotions they evoke in their audience. That kind of mindfulness can be applied in other areas of life.

I remind you, performing Comedy is a rollercoaster.

There are good gigs that are thrilling and liberating.

The bad gigs are painful, dispiriting and bloody awful. (Also, very good for building up some of that oh-so-helpful psychological armour.)

I believe that writing and performing comedy, riding the rollercoaster of Stand-Up, can be a remarkable catalyst for personal growth.

Creative expression is simply good for the soul. Colourful and cleansing.

Yes, the build-up to the gig can be stressful. Yet the sense of release and empowerment that can be delivered on-stage is quite the experience.

Be good to yourself. Just do it!

All photos courtesy of Steve Best at

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