District 41 Toastmasters

A Journey to Humor and Courage

The month was October of this year, and in our club, an exciting Standup Comedy Contest was underway—a first-of-a-kind event that caught my attention. A few years ago, I participated in a comedy contest that didn’t go as planned, leaving me somewhat apprehensive about this new opportunity. Nevertheless, I decided to embrace the challenge, recognizing the value of incorporating humor into my speeches. After all, the most effective learning often occurs when infused with enjoyment.

Acknowledging the importance of injecting more fun into my speeches and Toastmasters of the Day (TMOD) sessions, I committed to preparing for this standup contest. Crafting three to four jokes that I believed would elicit laughter, I also shared a humorous story from a time when my fondness for alcohol led to an amusing incident. Several years ago, during a staff get-together at a nearby hotel, I overindulged to the point where my colleagues had to carry me to a taxi. The next morning, I awoke with my car keys but no recollection of where my car was—an anecdote that added an extra layer of amusement.

As the day approached to deliver my standup comic skit, I decided to enhance the performance by incorporating a prop—a vodka bottle. I’ve always believed that props add a dynamic element to a speech, earning extra points with the audience. I took the stage as the fifth performer and, to my delight, the skit went well, eliciting plenty of laughter. This success significantly boosted my confidence in the realm of standup comedy.

I am firm in my belief that humor serves as an excellent vehicle for conveying messages to an audience. Timing a serious message after a humorous moment in a speech ensures maximum audience engagement and receptiveness.

Contests, such as this standup comedy competition, play a crucial role in fostering a healthy competitive environment within a team. They inspire each member to bring their best, contributing to individual and collective growth. Despite not securing the first-place position in this contest, the experience served as a powerful motivator for me to participate in more contests. Looking ahead, I have set my sights on the upcoming international speech contest next year.

Participation in contests, I’ve come to realize, is an ongoing learning journey. To foster personal growth, it’s imperative to stretch our capabilities. I firmly believe that we all possess limitless potential; it’s just a matter of not imposing unnecessary limitations on ourselves. It’s akin to driving with the handbrake on—if we release those self-imposed constraints, we can accelerate toward our dreams and achieve things we once only imagined.

A quote by Isabelle Lafleche recently caught my attention, urging us to recognize that “Your passion is waiting for your courage to catch up.” This powerful statement shifted my mindset. It made me reflect on the fact that while we all harbor passions, it often requires courage to propel them forward. By embracing contests and taking on new challenges, we can develop the courage needed to elevate our passions to new heights.

Anurag Yadav