Improv Your Speaking Business
Neil Mullarkey is a unique communication expert. With Mike Myers, he co-founded the Comedy Store Players, and still performs every Sunday with them in London. Neil was in a couple of Austin Powers movies. Nowadays he travels the world teaching improv and more to leaders and groups, as well as presentation skills His book, ‘Seven Steps to Improve your People Skills’ was published in 2017. And, yes, Mullarkey is his real name.
• What is improv?
• How can it help us in life and business?
• Why are some people scared of the idea of improv?
• What’s your favorite part of teaching the applications of improv?
Artificial Intelligence Generated Transcript
Below is a machine-generated transcript and therefore the transcript may contain errors.
What is improv?
James Taylor 0:00
I’m James Taylor and you’re listening to the SpeakersU podcast a show for aspiring and professional speakers. This episode is with my co-host, Maria Franzoni. Enjoy the episode. Well, we have a fantastic guest. Thinking about Glasgow think like great comedians. From there we have someone who’s kind of combined comedy communications. New malarkey is a very unique communications expert. with Mike Myers. He co-founded the Comedy Store players and still performs every Sunday with them in London. You might have actually recognized Neil, in a couple of the Austin Powers movies, I think he’s a prison scene. Nowadays. He travels the world teaching improv and more to leaders and groups as well as teaching presentation skills. His book seven steps to improve your people skills was published in 2017. And yes, malarkey is his real name. Please welcome to the show, Neil malarkey.
Maria Franzoni 1:00
Hello, I’m still dancing to the music, isn’t it? I saw your movie. I saw you good. But of course, you’re good at moving and improvising. Before we quiz you on all things improv. We can’t stop that. And this goes out to a lot of speakers. And when nosy speakers are nosy. We like to know and understand what another speaker’s business looks like. Neil, tell us what is your speaking business comprised of?
Neil Mullarkey 1:32
Well, it’s a good question. It’s what I asked sort of 20 years ago, when I started I asked various people, what do you do? How do you get more gigs. And lots of people were really helpful to me, Robin, Sega grand Davis and Umaru as well. But what I do is a variety of things, workshops, keynote speeches, and one on one coaching. So for example, this morning, I did a workshop, helping people with presentations. So these were students, actually postgraduate students, tomorrow, I’m coaching somebody in the city, an individual. And next week, I’m running a workshop. And that’s three hours 12 people at the Comedy Store, giving them some insight into improv, and some storytelling, personal impact kind of stuff. But the sort of stuff I do varies each week, but it goes from a keynote speech to hundreds of people 45 minutes, where I’ve got to be quite tight, three-hour workshop 12 people, where we just get to know one another, there are various things I have in mind, but we kind of let them grow and emerge based on what the audience gives one on one coaching, often presentation skills, sometimes executive presence, kind of working with what the individual gives me some of the feedback she or he has had from their peers, and direct reports and bosses, how do we make the impact we really want. So it’s all of it very gratifying. It’s obviously great to do for 500 people for a short time, but you don’t get to know them. I get flown to exciting places that all used to business who loves doesn’t love the business class. And then sometimes it’s just getting to know one person really well and working with her or him over a period of time. And just seeing growth. So for example, when somebody says, oh, people have been saying, you’ve seen to improve, and somebody said, oh, I’ve got my promotion now because of the time we spent together. So that’s the spectrum I have, which is from keynote to small group workshop to individual stuff, and writing articles as well, which I quite like
Maria Franzoni 3:30
fantastic. And could you also just clarify for us because we’re talking about improv we’ve got improv your speaking business or improvise, improvise nation. Could you give us a definition of improv?
Neil Mullarkey 3:44
Well, not everyone knows. Obviously, we know the word improvise. But I use the word improv because it’s a form of theater that we might know from Whose Line is anyway, or we might not a form of theatre that I do at the Comedy Store on a Sunday, the Comedy Store players, we ask the audience for suggestions. And that gives us the springboard to create scenes and stories. ensemble improv more than one person on stage quite often started with a social worker in the 1920s in Chicago, helping children who are a bit shy, maybe they weren’t native speakers, just to give them confidence. And it was her son, who then created Second City Theatre Company, the home of improv, if you like, which I’d heard of because people went to Saturday Night Live or my favorite movie, The Blues Brothers. And then I met Mike Meyers, who come from Second City, Canada. So improv is an ensemble improv type stuff where you make up the theater there and then, so I use it to help people with communication skills to feel more confident, good for negotiation, good for leadership, and so forth. For speakers. I think it’d be great if they could add the rigor of prep, have a really good tight script, with moments of what’s the audience giving me as well as those moments when you got to deal with the client. When you’re chatting to them, and they say a weird thing, or they say, Can you do this? And you think, actually, Yes, I can. Or you’ve got to have a deal with the client before the show. And you really don’t want to do small talk, I often, this is my tip, I say I’ll be, I’ll be in a terrible mood before a show. So I’ll have it in the in my room, but it may well be you’ve just got to have a bit of small talk. And that’s when a bit of improv comes in. And the basis of improvisation is really listening. That’s that’s what it’s about really.
Improv Your Speaking Business
James Taylor 5:30
Then you mentioned that Whose Line Is It? Anyway, that show I seem to remember that used to be Was it a Friday night in the UK channel for about 10pm, just before Roseanne, or just after Roseanne really used to? I was dating a girl at the time. And I was thinking, How quickly can I take a girl for a Friday night see a movie? How quickly can I get her packed off on a bus back home so I can get back and watch the show on TV? I remember watching it and at the time thinking I wasn’t thinking like what was learning from it. But years later becoming a speaker. Looking back of it, one of the things I did pick up from it, but this idea of improv was listening skills, deep listening and using that and and taking that which coming from music. Obviously improvisational jazz, there was kind of a there was a kind of, there was a connection there. So apart from maybe improving our listening skills, how else can improv help us in our life and our business?
Neil Mullarkey 6:29
Well, thank speakers could do really well, to listen to the previous speaker. Pick up threads that she may have said, listen to what’s going on in the seminar rooms, listen to what the audience gives you. It’s great to have a bit of interaction, ask a few questions to make it clear that tonight today this morning is unique to this audience. And really listening is about is that thing of Well, what’s being given me we talk about the offer? And how can I use the offer and the offer maybe a conversation, it could even be the mics going down or something wrong with a PowerPoint. I’ve seen speakers who literally stop PowerPoints down and they stop. I’ve seen speakers who say, Oh, the PowerPoints gone wrong or something’s not working, oh, it must have been my fault. It never blames the crew. never blame the crew always say, Oh, this has happened. It’s real. Let’s make the best of it. And the number of times people say to me in life, and certainly, speakers when things didn’t quite go as they should. But I listened to what was going on and said that’s going to be my springboard to move forward, I’m going to acknowledge I’ve got a shot, I’m going to acknowledge that the curtains are in the wrong place or something. Yet, if I can say I’m here, I’m dealing with this small hiccup, the audience will warm to me all the more. And actually, I will feel that I’ve made a connection. So it’s that listening to what’s going on not just the words, but sometimes the body language, and sometimes just the vibe in the company, what’s, how are people feeling? What’s the most important thing to them. And just a tiny thing, a previous speaker might have mentioned the car park, if you can throw in a bit about the car park your bit, you’ll look so much more alive.
James Taylor 8:11
So you’re almost kind of adding in there like we see some comedians do where we’ll kind of start with a phrase or catchline. And then they’ll gradually kind of I think I saw something the other day someone was talking about immigrants coming over here. And I can’t remember the name of a Manchester comedian. And he just took it to his absolute absurdity, about how stupid xenophobia and racism are. So you’re going to continually kind of adding to that as well. Something else I noticed with?
Neil Mullarkey 8:41
Can I just interrupt that was Stewart Lee Stewart, the stoolie comedy vehicle on the television, which Asian dub foundation took that material and sort of used it as the backdrop or the front drop to their exciting music?
James Taylor 8:56
So So as I was listening to watching him some of that, deliver that and that’s, for me, that doesn’t look like it’s improv. that other thing is worked out crafted stuff. So maybe we can attack because sometimes when you see great business people, you’re in a meeting with them, and it looks so natural. And I do wonder how much is this spirit mode? improvise, how much are these lines that they’ve kind of honed throughout their career? What do you do when you work with? Especially executives? How do you kind of help them maybe in creating some of these? I was gonna say canned lines, but lines that they know that they could use?
Neil Mullarkey 9:32
Yes, well, that’s a good point. Because stupidly and many stand-ups have honed it to a fine art form, even with the rhythms, everything so every night is going to be the same. He does it through a process of trying stuff out. And then eventually it’s set in stone. And then it becomes terrific. It’s no better or worse than in profit, it’s become something I would say that there are some good executives and speakers who’ve got some great lines. Why would you not use a great line? It may have come by chance it may have been honed through preparation and writing. So use it. Use it. The thing I told you a few minutes ago about Chicago, the 1920s. I’ve often said that I’ve said that either 10,000 times over the last 20 years. But each time I probably say it slightly differently. But I’m not going to stumble over my words, because that’s quite important that I get that out. Yeah. When you say to me, taps F, because it’s been sunny in Glasgow, I’m thinking that’s fine. I’ll use that. So you, it’s perfectly possible to have a dynamic where I’ve got some good lines, some good stories, especially as a chief executive or senior leader stories tell us about our world, our organization, our customer, our clients, our problems, our solutions, but also actually, what’s the client saying to me now? What are my people saying to me now, what’s the supplier saying to me now? Am I working with what’s being given to me? So these are kind of opposing dynamics, which is I’ve got some great material. I use that every time versus Am I truly at the moment. And just to digress for a moment, except it’s not a digression. The biggest impact I’ve had on LinkedIn, I had 15,000 views was a piece I did about winging it. And improv. winging, it sounds like I’m just gliding over and basking it, it’s the opposite wing, it comes from the theater, the old days, we had wings at the side of the stage, the actor had failed to remember to learn to memorize his or her lines. So they’re learning in them in the wings from where they go to the wings. So what’s my next line? So they’re in a state of confusion and panic because all they’re thinking is, I don’t know the line, I must get it right. improv is the exact opposite. There is no line. There are no is there is no script. I’ve got to be Listen, I’ve got to work with what’s really in front of me. And I’ve got to say something that I haven’t said before. And so people often get confused because improv is, you know, I’ve got to make the best of a bad job. Now improv is often spotting opportunities all look, something happened that I didn’t expect, can I find a way to include that in the conversation? Can I find a way to spot that changing consumer behavior to create a new product or service? So these are sort of two different mindsets.
James Taylor 12:23
So it’s something I noticed that great improv comedians seem to have. And also jazz musicians about music, they seem to have this as well. There, there’s that part of the brain, which would normally say to most people don’t do that. Don’t say that don’t play that. They’re able to switch it off almost randomly. And I don’t know, I don’t know what the sciences, you’ll know, kind of the sciences behind that. But I often find myself in situations where I can have either think of something funny to say, but I kind of hold back I reserve, or even worse, it takes a little while should come comes out. And it’s like two days late. I wish I’d said that. So what’s going on there with those great improvisers, those great improv comedians, what are they able to do, then what can we learn from that speak?
Neil Mullarkey 13:08
Well, they’re truly in the moment. And in fact, they did MRI scans of jazz musicians. So they’re in the fair with a keyboard improvising, jazz, or whatever. And they found the two bits of the brain that shut down were exactly what you said is I care what people think. And I know what I’m going to say. So you’re in a zone. And you open up the creativity of that. And of course, apply that to business and you have moments of, oops, I said something I shouldn’t have done. And so you might have to filter, you might have to censor, but when you’re on the improv stage, it’s allowed. If you’ve ever seen in an improv show that the Comedy Store plays, we end up in all sorts of pickles. Somebody was your daughter, and oh, no, you’re having an affair with her. Oh, no, with your chicken. We’re running off into the sunset together, things we wouldn’t have chosen to do. But the on its nose, because you’re in the zone of improv where censorship is loosened? It’s okay. And I admit, I’m always looking to improvise. And there are times when I think I oops, I shouldn’t have said that. It was in front of me. And as a speaker, I probably shouldn’t. And so, on the other hand, that’s one out of 50. And the other 49 have been pretty good. And that’s what people often remember. Because, oh, you said, Dave, and how did you know Dave had a Ferrari? How did you realize that Sheila was exactly the right person to choose and say that about I didn’t, I just was in the zone. And when I’m speaking, I have to be in a slightly different zone from doing comedy. Yeah, because I’m at the Comedy Store Players. There are six of us. I don’t know I’m in Flash rather than a hard drive. So I will remember what I’ve said that evening. That’s all great scene in the laundrette, not long dread because I had to empty my mind about other stuff when you’re doing on your speech. Yeah, it’s hard. As I say, time sometimes I make mistakes. Yeah, I’ve kind of got to know what I’ve got to say roughly. And I do have a keynote. And I know how often I’m giving a keynote about improv, bizarrely. So I’ve got to say, Why improv for this company at this time? Well, it means we’re going to be better collaborators, we’re going to work better across teams, we’re going to be more nimble with our customers. Those are the kind of messages where improv has a direct impact or leadership improv? Are you open to your team’s ideas? Are you listening to what’s going on? around you, rather than just commanding people? Or are you open to the idea of a leader asking questions rather than telling everyone the answers? At so I’ve got some milestones and guide rails to follow. But within that, I can work with what the audience gives me. So these are, these are slightly different things. And as I said, I do get confused sometimes on the Comedy Store stage, I can say anything. And it’s okay because it’s allowed in that forum, a business speech slightly different.
Maria Franzoni 16:11
I can see that there’s a speaker and if anybody listens to this and knows who it is, please tell me because you refer to the fact cuz I know the story. But I don’t know who said this. And he referred to the fact that if there’s a problem or a mistake, you want to use some improv, and a speaker fell off the stage still holding his microphone. And apparently, he was lying on the floor. And he said all night now take questions from the floor. Just a genius piece of improv. He was fine of I don’t remember who that was. If anybody knows, please tell me because I’d love to know that to know. And to know the full story around that. Well, it’s
Neil Mullarkey 16:44
it’s, it’s perfect. Sounds like Jeff birch, actually, but it sounds like somebody who says something has happened. How can I use it rather than quickly getting up and say, we’re okay, which would be fine? Yeah. questions from the floor even better.
James Taylor 16:57
I’m James Taylor, keynote speaker, and speaking business coach, and this is the SpeakersU podcast. If you enjoy listening to conversations that will help you launch and grow your speaking business fast new thought possible, then you’ve come to the right place. Each week we discuss marketing strategy, sales techniques, as well as ideas to increase the profitability of your speaking business and develop your craft. You’ll find show notes for today’s episode, as well as free speaker business training at speakers u.com. This week’s episode is sponsored by SpeakersU the online community for international speakers, SpeakersU helped you launch, grow and monetize your speaking business faster than you thought possible. If you want to share your message as a highly paid speaker, then SpeakersU will teach you how just go to SpeakersU.com, to access their free speaker business training.
Maria Franzoni 17:44
We see my problem is Neal that when I make a mistake, and I make a lot of mistakes when I’m using virtual presenting, and the technology doesn’t work, and the other day I’ve had music playing and I was the only one who could hear it and I’m dancing away and the audience is smiling. And then I’m thinking Oh, they loved the music and the smiling because they can’t hear anything. And there’s only me dancing right? Now what happens is my natural reaction is to get embarrassed and to be a bit scared of them improvising. And so I then sort of I do that piece where you said the PowerPoint goes wrong, and you shut up? How do I get over that fear and that embarrassment? How do I put myself in the mindset of saying, right? Let me use this.
Neil Mullarkey 18:27
Well, I may have to get delve deep into your psychology, we deeply Freudian them or as to why we feel we have to fear failure. On the other hand, I was giving a workshop the other day on how to do virtual communication. And afterward, they said you realize your camera was off for the last 15 minutes. And I had no idea. And I’m thinking why didn’t they tell me because I could have said Look at me, I’m an idiot. So Maria, when something goes wrong, you’ve got to hope somebody tells you. And then when it happens, you go, Oh, no Silly me. And sort of making it a thing. You know, role model mistakes. say, look, I made a mistake. What a fool I was. Or actually, Could somebody tell me how next time I’ll know how to improve that. So I because I’m from the world of comedy, it’s sort of okay to make mistakes and acknowledge them and be transparent. I can see there are times when you don’t want to do that. Nevertheless, if a thing has happened, and we all experienced that, we saw it, use it. So if what you want the release to people to tell you lucky I could recover from I think as I said, by the way, that wasn’t a clever psychological game. When I had my camera off for 15 minutes. It was just stupidity. Or it was teaming. Teams don’t like a Mac. My Mac goes very, very hot after 40 minutes on teams. And if I press anything, the whole thing just comes to put but zoom. It’s okay and the stream yard we love. So I think, first of all, acknowledge it. acknowledge it. brief. And you could say a clever line. Like, I’ll take questions from the floor. But sometimes the gods of improv don’t grant us such witticisms. They might just say, Oh, did I leave the music on? Yes. Oh, dear. Oh, well, in that case, let’s have some more. Well, that’s there’s always music in my life. So almost just say the thing that’s happened and say that’s a good thing. Because I don’t know if you know much about improv. I know you do. Maria, and James, but we kind of say yes, and yes, it’s happened. And I’m gonna acknowledge it and use it. Yes, I’m Yes, ending the situation, the word the comment, acknowledge. And if they say in Hollywood, in terms of scriptwriting, and Mike Myers, my old friend passes on to me, he said, If you can’t fix it, then to feature it. So Quentin Tarantino, his first movie, didn’t have much money. So fit, he made it all in one location, Reservoir Dogs, instead of saying, I wish I had a million locations, he says it’s going to be one location, and that will become sort of the story. So that’s, that’s it. If it’s happened, let’s acknowledge it. We can move on just say sorry, or oops, or even say I meant to do that.
Maria Franzoni 21:16
I just recorded the old problem you have with virtual it’s recorded for posterity.
Neil Mullarkey 21:22
Well, luckily, you can edit it, can’t you? Or sometimes, we all love the bloopers. We love bloopers more than when it goes right. And, and the blooper works when the person comes out of it. feeling okay. We don’t want to see somebody hurt themselves after falling, sliding on the banana skin. This is the truth of comedy is if somebody gets up and dust themselves off and looks around and says nobody noticed, did they? That’s funny. If they don’t get up and they’re bleeding after the banana skin, we’re worried for them. It becomes a tragedy. So comedy is not just the thing, it’s how we treat the thing.
Maria Franzoni 22:01
I love that. And James Actually, that’s given us an idea or given me an idea for a future show. We’re going to have to do some bloopers because that will be so well. There’s
James Taylor 22:07
there’s a lot of material, a
Maria Franzoni 22:10
A lot of raw material. We have got a lot. Yes. There’s been some great ones and cutting people off and all sorts of things. Yeah. James, have you got another question for Yeah, I
James Taylor 22:20
was just saying. Yeah, yeah, I was just thinking just something you were saying earlier there about when you’re on stage as a doing improv, you’re in this kind of flow. You’re, you’re using things, you’re just kind of don’t know, what’s the word is everything else is gone. You’re just kind of in that place doing that. Yes. And as a result of that, the bit of the brain says, to say that that’s kind of like switched off or quiet and down for a while. Yeah. And so I’m, you don’t necessarily have to say who or what I I’m interested to know, when you then transition this into a corporate environment, where there are risk assessments, and there’s an insult, you know, in some culture, that kind of canceled culture that’s kind of going on, people are very worried about what is said. I’m wondering how you communicate this idea. So for corporates, and even for speakers themselves to be able to use this without overly offending is like this. Because of a lot of time in Edinburgh for the Edinburgh. Yeah. And there’s a wonderful Edinburgh expression, which is called flighting, which is the ritual abuse of your opponent using verbal violence. So it’s like someone like that great character from what was the Malcolm Tucker character from the comedian, like, it’s really hard. It’s punchy, but it’s really funny. So when it comes into the corporate environment, you have to put that corporate head-on, how do you give them some guardrails? Well, actually,
Neil Mullarkey 23:55
a lot of those are internalized. So as you can tell, I’m a fairly reasonable, polite chap, so I’m not gonna do something that’s racist, sexist. It’s just that’s where my guardrails are. When I’m on the stage at the Comedy Store, you know, at some point, you might say you, you look a bit old, and then you realize, Oh, no, that I was talking about something else. And it turns out, it’s not a good idea. That’s sort of that’s not around with an improv thing. With improv. I’m saying, Listen, and use what’s there. I’ve never really worried too much about how we apply the skills of improv because what you’re sort of saying is the ad-lib stand up having a go at the other person, which is so far removed from the sort of stuff I’m talking about, which is the process of are you valuing the contribution such that not you want to offend them, but you’re listening to what they’re saying and understanding your filters and the filters won’t be the ones about racism, sex, and offending people, but It’s not possible that idea we couldn’t sell that. I couldn’t create that. I’m not, I’m not good enough to be a leader. Those are the things I want the people to lose the censorship from. And that’s where I, much as I don’t like the word motivational speaker, but that’s what I am. I’m trying to inspire people to say, you know what, if you worked as a team, you achieve great things as an individual. If you said that problem, that mistake, that hump in the road is an opportunity to lift off. That’s the improv mindset. So whilst, as I say, occasionally approaching it that way does end in a moment of oops, did I say that? Most of it, it’s, the one is going, Oh, How refreshing somebody is prepared to slightly, say, what couldn’t be said. Slightly send up some of the company cultures, but also say, Look, I know this is what I love most is working with somebody, getting somebody out from the audience. And she and I, he and I, we do a scene together. And we, we do a great scene together. And I’m not the star. It’s her. It’s him. The quieter person, the younger person, the person who wouldn’t imagine they get on stage. But if we just play Yes And together, if I can help her guide the situation, and then you can just literally see the body opens up that creativity and you say, look at that, how that person handled that moment, because we were listening, and yes, ending and they were able to do this in this stressful moment. What else could they do if they had that openness of heart and mind with real listening? Normal law? How?
James Taylor 26:39
Sorry, they would you say new malarkey, the Yoda of improv?
Maria Franzoni 26:47
You’re that guy? I just had a bonkers idea, James. So we’re in a stressful situation. We are streaming live to an audience of I don’t know how many are out there but communicate with us. Should we try this problem? Three of us. We could wave three by five Maria
Neil Mullarkey 27:07
James sometimes no sleep is the best are some of my colleagues in the candy store players. Well, what we could do is with three of us just we could do little one word, Proverbs. Okay, so I’ll be number one, then James and Maria. Okay, so just say you’re number one. Okay. All right. Perfect. Now with a bit of energy. One, two. All right. Great. So we might need something from the chat but I put in the chat put in an object or anything like that you’d like if nobody’s in the chat, we’ll just do it. So a one-word proverb so one word at a time, it might be three words, it might be longer it might be four or five whatever I said something like never eats cheese or always buy terps I didn’t even know that is. So here we go. Just little Proverbs. And we part of the game is also not just saying the word but then deciding Oh, it’s finished now. So here we go. Let’s start with a little proverb which starts with always give fish fingers to the people who can eat them. Then we go, what we do is we do the fingers. We got our deep wisdom, the wisdom, okay, so we crowdsource, always give fish fingers to people who can eat them. Ask the cross. Thank you for the fish fingers. Oh, thank you. By the way, fish fingers are one word. We know this now. So, Mr. Frost. I know how lovely Have you hit Alister frost. So let’s, let’s start with another one. A one-word proverb. Could be short. Could belong. We’ll see. Never go to the park. Deep wisdom to wisdom. Never go to the park. You see, Park is full of danger. Fresh air dog poo. Who knows? Deep Western area. Let’s start with another one. I’ll go if we ever see icicles in the light. Oh, dark matter. We will die. And our deep wisdom. There we go. If we ever see icicles, see part of it is finishing as well. If we ever see our part of the icicles in the light or dark matter, we will die. Okay, so that’s a good warning as well, isn’t it? Okay, this time? We could aim for a short one. But this time, James, you’re going to start we’re going in the same order. Off you go. James any word, Link? And listen, deep wisdom. There we go. Luckily, Lincoln, listen, are the titles of two chapters in my book. People skills are available on Amazon. We didn’t we
James Taylor 29:48
didn’t set that up at all. What you just did there was isn’t such a technique that Nobel Prize winners use is called that it’s kind of linked to this. There was a great poet German poet called Heta Mullah. And she uses a called random words. And I think David Bailey took that same technique used to cut out words, in newspapers leave them in the bottom was drawn when he was writing a song, if you stuck on something, he would pull a word out of the drawing that would kind of push him on to something as well. So,
Neil Mullarkey 30:20
so much, Roald Dahl had no book by his bed. And he would often put an idea or a sentence or a thought or an image and use it years later. So that’s again, one of my tips is always written stuff down, especially nighttime when you’re half-awake. Something may occur, but you can see, our brain isn’t completely random. We’re always trying to make sense, you know, for example, Maria, or, James, who did you think should eat fish fingers or not? These fissuring
James Taylor 30:47
Oh, and the Mr. birdeye, with a guy that
Neil Mullarkey 30:51
you had an image. That’s the thing, our brain isn’t completely random that we’re always thinking, maybe one or two, three steps ahead. And the improv mindset says, Don’t think ahead, because your captain Birdseye may get in the way of my whatever it is, I had in mind, the Ferrari or something. So just that thing of openness of being aware that your brain is thinking ahead. And at that moment, when it thinks three steps ahead, it’s missed something quite interesting that your compadre might have given you.
Maria Franzoni 31:17
I know that I know that. Anyway, but I don’t want to take too much of your time. And I want to get on to your You said you’re not a motivational speaker. But you’re an alternative. And you have an alter ego who is and tell us a bit about l vo and what he’s up to at the moment.
Neil Mullarkey 31:34
Elbow like Jayla, you can see how it’s spelled. His name is L Vaughn Spencer but he adopted the JLo thing L dash vo having done a lot of corporate gigs workshops and keynotes, I realized there were a lot of charlatans in this world. And so as therapy for myself, in a way, I looked into the dark side of my psyche, can I put into account all the things I do not say but borrow from people I’ve met who were also may not be entirely trustworthy, and I created the character and here’s his book. His book is called Don’t be DD be succeeding. And I do him as cabaret. I do him as keynote sometimes when they want comedy when they want the chief executive gently to be sent up or whatever. And at the end of the day, where they’ve had some seriously heavy stuff I come along, just take the Mickey out of it. But he’s kind of the Alan Partridge of motivational gurus that the pub landlord if you like his sort of mouthing deep philosophy that turns out to be nonsense. I do. cabaret gigs. I’m doing his full-length show at the Comedy Store on the fourth of October. It’s called Don’t be needy be succeeding. More firstname.lastname@example.org. And for that full link to show this I have a full costume. I’ve just been checking the trousers this morning. Sadly, lockdown bellies got in the way. So I have to be let out a bit.
Maria Franzoni 32:55
Yes, I know that lockdown belly, that’s
James Taylor 32:56
not really you might have to grow your hair a little bit. I think Eric has a little bit more in the
Neil Mullarkey 33:02
hair department as well. He has a ponytail, which apologies to anyone listening. But I thought what’s a shorthand to show you’re a bit of a tub and a ponytail. Was it in a way because it kind of says I’m trying to hang on to a youth that’s gone? As it was so ponytail also gets me in the zone Curiously, I have this Susan the printer, then I can be him. You can see I’m a reasonable kind of guy when I’m me, I can’t do that stuff. So in fact, on loose ends once on the radio, I had to do it with an old costume on the radio. So you have a ponytail and a little goatee just to show that he’s completely different from me. And not to confuse the two brands.
Maria Franzoni 33:42
And a mustard suit as well, the mustard symbol again.
Neil Mullarkey 33:46
I bought a suit in the 90s that was all big shoulders. And it was terracotta. And I use I wish I weren’t so much I had to go and buy another one. I find it impossible to buy a suit that was anything other than black or blue. So I had one made I said to the lady, said can you make it look a bit like a cowboy? You know, that sort of feel that maybe doc Helen holiday might have worn or something, and she’s done it brilliantly. So it’s handmade and people want to know we’ve got a whole hold of it. And, you know, if you’ve got a few 100 quid to spare, you can get one handmade if you know, but it’s impossible to get hold of us. It’s sort of saffron if you like with a bit of sort of cowboy intonations.
James Taylor 34:31
This house is required viewing if you are a speaker because it is like glogg comedy is very close to the truth of the word of seeing some speakers and you will recognize maybe speakers that you’ve shared stages with like, Oh yeah, I’ve seen that with that one as well. And one of the nice, the nice things that you I think you should maybe do with this character going is a great character is I can imagine you could do a whole social media influencer thing I hope, tick-tock series, but don’t let on this is a conversation because I think you’re gonna get a lot of people will be sharing it as real knowledge.
Neil Mullarkey 35:14
Well, that sometimes happens after the show people come up and why is he calling you Neil? Well, that’s because my name is Neil. That’s why I take off the bone until the end just to shake people. occasion people don’t realize it’s a joke even though I think it’s clear that it’s a joke but I got this chief executive to introduce it saying this man changed my life. Without him, I’ve been nothing. I have done a few videos actually about working from home remote working because he’s the gangster motivator. So he’s the man who puts the emote into the remote. Let’s Are you a slave to the algorithm. I got lots of sort of motivational raps about working from home. They’re available. I’ve just put some on LinkedIn, but on youtube.com slash is succeeding. So as I was sitting at home and did quite a few gigs for people, where they said, this is our executive team. Can you make a rap about them about he’s he broke his leg skiing, he’s keen on rugby, she likes flowers, or whatever. And so I managed to write a few motivational raps. So yes, I probably should put them on Tick Tock without any sense of irony. Fantastic.
Maria Franzoni 36:21
So let’s just remind people, so fourth of October at the Comedy Store, we’ve got elbow Spencer, and every Sunday we have the Comedy Store players are back.
Neil Mullarkey 36:31
That’s why every Sunday we do improv 730 finished by 930. So if you are needing to get a train back then it should be okay. But that show is my lifeline. I’d be doing nearly 36 years we’ve been going for such a long time. We have wonderful guests, from the world of theater and comedy. And it’s like Whose Line is anyway, if you’ve never seen his line, it’s just imagined James a young lad, ditching his date, running home to watch Clive Anderson and Ryan stars and Greg Cruz. Josey. Lawrence, the wonderful Joseph Lawrence is one of the comedy star players doing improv, and it’s timeless comedy. It’s silly. It’s not satire. We don’t do jokes about Donald Trump. It’s just funny sketches that come out of our strange lateral thinking.
Maria Franzoni 37:17
Lovely. And can you leave us with a tool or a tip for our viewers and listeners?
Neil Mullarkey 37:23
Well, it feels like I should say, listen and link, given that we did it, but that is it. That’s Yes. And says, am I listening to what she’s saying? Or am I listening through a filter of my thoughts? Am I working with what my customer my audience, my partner is saying? Or am I filtering it? Am I preparing my response before they finished? So I’m an Am I taking on board? Do they think differently? Can I use something of what they gave me an offer? Do we call it? Am I using the offer? Am I accepting what they’re saying? and using that somehow to respond that so we are co-creating something that maybe neither of us expected? But both of us share responsibility for?
Maria Franzoni 38:06
Lovely, how lovely What a lovely way to end the show. Anything else you want to share? James apart from thanking Neil has been amazing.
James Taylor 38:14
No Africa as it goes on to the various social places and things I would love. If you could just share if people want to book you maybe for one of the workshops you mentioned, maybe it’s a company to bring you in or to keynote or you mentioned you to do one-on-one coaching as well. where’s the best place for them to go and find out about that?
Neil Mullarkey 38:31
Well, Neil malarkey.com that’s difficult spells, malarkey is my real name. Or they can go to improve your business.com improv as we have spoken. You’re well in fact, I can see improv your speaking business but improv your biz, all one word, you are the whole pronoun, improve your biz.com. But hopefully, you’re spread this. I’m available on LinkedIn on Instagram, on Twitter. And I’d love to hear from people even if you disagree with me. Or you’ve read a book that I should read and pretend that I thought of it myself.
James Taylor 39:01
You can subscribe to the SpeakersU podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts while you’re there. leave us a review. I appreciate it. I’m James Taylor, and you’ve been listening to the SpeakersU podcast.