Years ago, when I was the big
PC Computing columnist guy, I used to do little speeches
about the Internet and stuff. I also did a keynote or two,
(one with rob pike) and I stopped doing them because they
made me crazy. I didn't do them often enough to know what I
was doing, so I was always walking out on stage, without my
partner or my props and winging it. As far as Krasher could
find out, everyone that booked me was happy with what I did,
but the stress was too much.
There was a P&T gig that wanted me to do their keynote as
well, and it was a P&T thing so I said I'd do it and come up
with something. As soon as I said I would, a few other
companies wanted me and Krasher said I should take them
(after I do one of these keynotes they often book P&T later
and we like the corporate market). So, I said okay to a
couple of these. After I said okay, I got an idea (notice
it was AFTER I said okay). I would write a little speech
called "Why I'm Glad I didn't Learn Fire-Eating on the Web."
This would allow me to use some of the images and jokes from
"10 in 1" and close with some fire eating and some cheese
lighting the cigarette off my mouth. It seemed like it
would be easy. I also got the idea that "for 150 thousand
years the big human problem was too few Calories, for 50
years the American problem has been too many Calories, so we
have a lot to learn to fight against evolution." I do this
by talking about finding my BMI on the Web and exactly how
overweight I am. I then overextend the metaphor (which is
my favorite thing and I learned it from Teller), I say that
it's the same with information, for 150 thousand years - too
little and for a few years too much. It's a pretty great
little setup for jokes and information.
So, I did some searching on the Web for Fire-eating and
found a LOT of information on how to do it (even a site that
corrects the mistakes in our Broadway closer). I started to
write and then P&T were so busy with working on the Vegas
show, I did nothing else on it.
I had too much fun in NYC, and didn't do anything on it
there either. I got into FLA last night and the speech was
this morning at 9:30. I got into my room at about 9pm and
started working. I searched the Web about Fire-eating to
get inspired, I read all my notes. I was doing the speech
for Buick dealers and they had sent me a memo telling me the
bullet points they cared about. I always ignore those, but
this time I read them and they were great. They wanted me
to talk about the future and how Buick wouldn't cut out the
local dealers and direct sell on the Web. It was perfect.
The idea became "you and I are fire-eaters, we have to be
I did the speech in my room twice all the way through, but I
decided not to use my notes. I watched my watch and talked
for a half hour. I did it twice, had a sandwich, and went
to bed. I didn't sleep at all. I was so nervous. I was so
worried. I just lay in bed thinking about how early I had
to get up, and how I wouldn't be able to fill an hour.
I got into the gig at 7:30 and talked with the fire guy and
he was a nice grown up that made it very easy for me.
Krasher and I had breakfast and I was sick with nervousness
and lack of sleep. I went backstage and watched the other
speakers. Things got better. No matter how good they were,
they weren't eating fire.
It was a small crowd, maybe 100, just the best of the Buick
dealers. The cheese introduced me and I hit the stage in my
slightly loud sports coat with torches and fuel in my hand
and a lighter in my pocket. I was working off the top of my
head and they were supposed to give me prompter with 15, 10,
and 5. My plan was to light up at 5. They decided I was
"on a roll" and they didn't care how long I did. So, my
whole plan of where I would be at each of those points went
away. I looked at my watch and I was further in than I
thought and I was very happy. From there on, I knew I'd be
fine. All the padding was up front.
I got big laughs and they seemed to understand what I was
saying and it seemed interesting and not obvious. I really
felt good. A cheese came up and lit a cigarette and during
the applause at the end, I just drank water.
I guess I just killed. I felt great after the show. The
bookers said that they wanted to book the big P&T show again
and that was good news. They also had some stuff for me and
wanted to talk schedule with Krasher. I felt so good after
the gig. Krasher has a video of the gig and he'll get it
transcribed. I'll go through it and clean it up, and then
have them put it on prompter for the next one. I just
couldn't get the script right without an audience there (at
least without being willing to work). So, it was a great
gig. I loved it. It's nothing compared to the run of doing
a P&T show, but it's a fun thing to do. It's nice to wear
different clothes and work in that length, which is both
much longer and much shorter than I get to do anywhere else.
It was a good gig. Maybe I'll sell Pink Death on Ebay and
buy a Buick. It seems like nice guys sell them.