Recently for my online Story Telling class we had to do the following assignment worth 5% of our grade:
We said earlier that a "Strange Attractor" is something unique and compelling. Discuss what you feel is unique and compelling about yourself that would be an attractive asset to the entertainment industry and how you plan on marketing and/or highlighting that asset to prospective employers as you seek to begin or advance your career.
This was my response:
I feel that an attractive asset I have is a good sense of humor and an ability to make people laugh (I'm a hard worker too, but that's not the focus here). If you can get someone who doesn't like you to laugh, you're already winning them over. A good sense of humor also leads to a good sense of recovery in the sense that it's quite easy for me to laugh at myself or a mistake I've made. The world's a funny place, you just have to look at from the right angles.
Other attractive assets include but are not limited to:
-My apparently soft hair
Now this response got me a 100%, however this is how the teacher responded to it:
Not many industry professionals would care about your face and soft hair, would they? Humor is good in a movie but rarely on the mind of someone about to hire someone else in such a competitive industry. Time to get serious about how you are going to stand out amongst all the others that want to do the same thing (or close to it) as you in the entertainment industry.
As far as my grade is concerned I have no problems. But being someone who takes comedy seriously I felt a strong urge to address his response.
First allow me to address the question and expand my response. Essentially we’re asking, “What makes you stand out?” Now I don’t have some amazing life story of trials and hardship to fall back on, I wasn’t raised by bean farmers and then tried to make it in the big city. Let’s face the facts, everyone says they are dedicated and that they work hard, but if everyone says that it doesn’t really help you stand out now does it (no offence dedicated-hard-workers). And if these are in fact prospective employers then odds are they haven’t seen you work yet so they have no basis on how honest you are when it comes to working with someone.
So what’s something that helps you stand out? Well for me it’s humor; if you can get an honest laugh out of someone then they’re going to remember you. And that’s what this is about isn’t it?
Now lets think about this statement: “Time to get serious about how you are going to stand out amongst all the others that want to do the same thing (or close to it) as you in the entertainment industry.” Again, I’m entirely serious when I say people will remember you if you can make them laugh, especially if there are people who want to do what you can but other than working hard they just don’t stand out that much.
The plan isn’t to stand out by walking into an office and being a goofball. You can get people to laugh in a serious situation when given the opportunities and be taken seriously. Don’t believe me? Watch Conan O’Brien’s interview on 60 Minutes, he throws some jokes in from time to time, but he knows when to be serious. This isn’t like when Robin Williams goes on any talk show and starts joking about every possible thing.
A lot of times funny people will get a bad rep for not taking things seriously, which I mostly attribute to the “Class Clown” section of high school superlatives. Rarely is the Class Clown the funniest kid in school, but actually the most obnoxious student who’s not afraid to talk back to the teacher and get some cheap laughs as a result. (I never got Class Clown, but because of this realization I’m not bitter about it).
Continuing to dissect things backwards: “Humor is good in a movie but rarely on the mind of someone about to hire someone else in such a competitive industry.”
Well of course it’s not on their minds! Unless they’re hiring comedy writers it’s not hardly relevant. So again I stress, this isn’t rapid-fire comedy (Callback to the Robin Williams statement). This is something natural that just works its way into a conversation or interview. If you can get them to laugh, when you leave the room odds are they’ll be thinking, “I liked that guy.”
Now it’s time I called attention the Joke I intentionally inserted at the end of my statement:
“Other attractive assets include but are not limited to:
-My apparently soft hair”
Funny? Maybe. I thought it was to some degree, because really… what the hell is an “Attractive Asset?”
I didn’t open with this, nor did I insert it half way through, in fact with the exception of “(I'm a hard worker too, but that's not the focus here).” It’s the ONLY joke I made. Appropriately at the end after I had finished making all serious statements, (plus it seemed wrong to talk about a sense of humor and have nothing to prove its existence).
Here was the very first thing my teacher wrote in his response: “Not many industry professionals would care about your face and soft hair, would they?”
That’s right the first thing he brings up is the joke. And I’m 92% sure that no one’s dumb enough not to get that it was a joke. So here’s my argument, if I need to get serious, if humor is in no way going to help me get a job, why is my only joke in my response the element that sticks out above the rest?