Truss Me, we know what we’re doing...
Many years ago we did a show for Landmark Trucking, or so we thought. One thing we pride ourselves in, is to customize the show for the client. Great comedy relates to the audience. The best way to relate to the audience is the make the show about them. Back then, we didn’t have any formal questionnaire or way of gathering info. We simply kept the industry in mind when getting suggestions from the audience or creating characters.
Such was the case with Landmark Trucking. The majority of the questions we asked to gather suggestions for our improv were trucking related. Like, “Where’s the worst place to have your truck break down?”, or, “What’s a unique way to keep yourself awake on a long haul?”. Many of our characters and scenes centered on trucking. The show was going well, but not great. We were definitely getting laughs, but there wasn’t that obvious connection with the audience and uncontrollable laughter that we were used to.
About halfway through the show, Andrew was having trouble getting info for yet another trucking related question. So he asked, “what’s the deal, aren’t you all truckers?” To which the crowd shouted “NO!”
“Then how many of you DO drive a truck.”
From a crowd of over 100, about 3 people raised their hand. So Andrew says, “In a company called Landmark Trucking there are only three truck drivers?” Someone yelled back, It’s NOT Landmark Trucking, it’s Landmark Trusses! We’re not truckers, we build trusses!” Apparently, when we booked the show the actual name of the company was lost in translation. Minor detail.
We were stunned into silence while the crowd enjoyed the biggest laugh of the night. We owned our mistake, laughed at ourselves, and shifted gears to continue the show for Landmark Trusses. The second half of the show was fantastic. Funny thing is, getting caught in our ignorance and owning it actually worked to create that missing bond with the audience in this situation.
#1 - Get to know your client before stepping on stage. Following that show we came up with our “Corporate Cheat Sheet”, a brief questionnaire that gives us info on our valued client’s company, culture and characters. We ask to have the cheat sheet back at least two weeks prior to the show, and take time studying it. We’re proud to say we’ve never performed for the “wrong” company since! We are also able to customize the show better than ever before. Thank you Landmark Trucking…I mean Trusses.
#2 - Own your mistakes. So often fear keeps us from owning our failures. Fear that others will think less of us when they discover our faults. Fear that we'll lose friends, respect, credibility, etc. In our experience, both on and off the stage, vulnerability is a strength. More often, others will become better friends, give you more respect, and you'll build more credibility when you have the courage to own your failures and more forward.