Comfortably Vulnerable

Gary Gulman

Gary Gulman shows us that the safest place to aim any joke is at yourself. No one is offended this way, and if you show that you are okay throughout the telling of the embarrassing story or joke, the audience will love it. Let’s focus in on the first minute of this video (although nobody is going to stop you from watching the rest!)…

What Gary does perfectly throughout this set is that he shows nonverbally he is okay with what he is saying. He’s constantly smiling along with the audience’s laughter. Even while talking about something as shaming and confining as strict definitions of masculinity. You can talk about any painful subject in your own life as long as the audience clearly knows that you are okay with what you are saying. If your lip quivers or you look deeply upset, the audience/listener will shift from laughter to empathy (because they are nice!). However, this shift to worrying about you will derail the positive, motivating energy you want to create. So instead, smile, stand confidently, laugh along with them. Show any way you can that you enjoy telling this story, and that you’re okay with what you’re saying.

To apply this: What’s a story or moment you can share that you’ve done the work to be okay with, and find meaning in? (Examples: Pain, Awkwardness, Foot in Mouth, Embarrassment, Failure, Suffering, Comedy is Tragedy Plus Time.) And when you share it, how can you show nonverbally that you are okay with this story so the audience can enjoy it?