Welcome! My guest today is David Nihill, the author of Do
You Talk Funny? When I read his book, I absolutely could not
put it down! David used to be terrified of public speaking, but he
conquered his own fears and launched into the field of stand-up
comedy. He now teaches others to do the same. The premise of his
book is that comedians are the ultimate public speaking masters and
we can learn from them.
- What prompted you to take up the challenge of
It started with a friend’s spinal cord injury, and I ended up
hosting a comedy show fundraiser. I feel that I was dragged kicking
and screaming into the world of public speaking as a stand-up
comic. I committed to a full year but then decided to keep
- What was it that stood out to you in applying comedy to
public speaking or everyday conversations?
Storytelling is the key, and it’s what stand-up comics do best.
They learn to tell stories about themselves that are short,
effective, with key pieces of information. Most comics keep a “fun
story file” with key bullet points on their phones. Don’t lead any
conversation with the “linked-in bio” because that’s just not
engaging conversation in any way.
- Does having world experiences lend to your content in
Yes! You can connect with people immediately and open up
conversations based on shared experiences of living or visiting the
same places in the world. People immediately identify with you if
they have a shared experience. It’s very hard to get people to
laugh unless they connect with you.
- How do you memorize the needed information in your
I don’t recommend trying to memorize them word for word. That
brings too much stress and sounds robotic and rehearsed. It’s hard
to be engaging when you are reciting. Remember that good content
trumps everything else. I memorize the first 30 seconds with key
bullet points and the conclusion; you should always leave room to
play around in the middle! I recommend the “Memory Palace”
technique which is outlined nicely in the book Moonwalking with
Einstein, by Joshua Foer.
- What is it about being funny that makes it so memorable
for your audience?
The most powerful thing you say will be right after something
funny because THAT is what your audience will remember. Humor grabs
attention, breaks down barriers, creates human connection, and
invites favorable reactions.
- Do you think someone will come across better if they
are innately funny, or does that matter?
It DOES matter. If you are funny already, just within your
personality, then it will be easier to learn to be really funny on
stage. Relatable material makes you more engaging. A good comedian
will use the same trigger words to tell stories and to make
conversational connections with people. Don’t try visibly to be
funny, but restructure your sentence to give the funny “key word”
at the end—like a punch line.
- In business writing or in emails, people don’t usually
write in a funny way; how can people get better at
You need for your personality to come through without being
overly opinionated. Learn to be fun and playful. Expose yourself
for people to react to some form of your story. I usually try to
include three things, but make the third one funny.
- Lightning Round Questions:
- What trophy do you want on your mantel? The World Cup of Rugby
for Ireland, and I want to be a player!
- What is your guilty pleasure? Chocolate!
- What are you currently reading? Originals by Adam
- What is your favorite productivity hack? Funny gift videos and
- What is your personal motto? “Life is either a daring adventure
or nothing at all.” –Helen Keller
- What would you do differently, if given the chance to start
over? “I would maybe become an entrepreneur earlier rather than
traveling so much in my younger years.”
- Connect with David: