Jan. 24, 2013, Vol. 11, Issue 2
Women love to laugh. I knew that. You knew that. Last year, Zonya Foco, RD, CSP, health and nutrition speaker, was surprised to find herself billed as a comedian in our client’s marketing materials for their women’s heart health event. She’s always brought her bright sense of humor and knack for demonstrating the craziness of some of our eating habits, to the stage, but she’d never thought of herself as a comedian. When we asked the client about it, they replied that from her videos, they thought she was a comedian and that that would draw a crowd. It did. The event sold out.
So the lesson is obvious: If you’re looking for a way to draw a crowd to your women’s event, hire a speaker who will bring out the hoots and hollers. But don’t stop there; let them know in all of your marketing that they’re going to have a good time. Women are hungry for entertainment that speaks to them, makes them feel understood, and inspires them to feel good about themselves.
I’m always on the lookout for really funny women speakers, especially for Girl’s Night Out events, where sponsors primarily want the audience to have a good time. Last year I was sifting through some disappointing videos looking for female comedians for a client that I’ve worked with year after year, when a bright light showed up – Kat Simmons. She was different. She was more than a one-night stand or a quick round of clever jokes. Her humor had depth and touched me as woman — and she was hilarious.
The proof is in the pudding. When I booked her the first time for a Girl’s Night Out, this was the response I received from the meeting planner:
“We are receiving nothing but rave reviews and I can personally vouch for the fact that she was HYSTERICAL!! The audience loved her – and she had so much energy!”
I Love to Laugh
“I love to laugh — that is how I got into comedy,” Kat told me.
“When I was a little girl, I provided the comedic relief in my home — a place that was filled with dysfunction and anger. I learned that people could not yell while they are laughing. I was fascinated by the power and feeling of having had a good laugh.”
“I was also attracted to the stage, although I was too scared to try out for anything; I was in high school, and I thought that was for all those other people. Newly married right out of college, I moved to a ranch in the middle of nowhere to help make my husband’s dreams a reality. In the second year of our marriage, I finally got up the nerve to mention auditioning for a play. My husband’s response was, ‘Do you really think that would be good for our marriage?’ It wasn’t funny when I conceded, and I ended up feeling controlled and stuck. The next year I got a divorce, which, was not good for our marriage either.
“I got the lead in the very next play, and that was my entry into the arts.
“I found I loved the stage — the smell of the wood floors, the lights, the creak of the curtains, the relationship with the audience — everything about it. I felt at home when I was onstage, and for the first time in my life, I felt like I was in my own skin.”
A few years later, while watching a one act play in Las Vegas, Kat had a spiritual experience after which, palms sweating, heart pounding, and with tears in her eyes, she turned to her friend and said, ‘This is not just a hobby for me, this is what I am supposed to do.’”
And although she had not yet discovered stand-up comedy, she noticed that she always got the funny parts in the plays she tried out for. On a dare, she entered a stand-up comedy contest at Lake Tahoe two months after that profound experience. She had not planned on doing stand-up but found that she was a natural, and she loved it.
After her performance at the comedy competition, a couple who were seasoned in the business called her over and asked her how long she had been doing stand-up comedy. She replied, “about ten minuets.” They told her, “Don’t ever stop. You could be the next Carol Burnett,” which really reached her, since she had been raised on a steady diet of the Carol Burnett Show. They gave her a list of contact numbers to call with their recommendation and blessing.
With that list in her purse and $300 in her pocket, she made a gutsy move to L.A., where she spent the next six years, building her career. Then after a second marriage in 1990, when motherhood called her, she went back to a small town outside of Lake Tahoe where she could live in an environmentally friendly place and raise her family.
Since stand-up comedy was no longer a viable ambition there, she built another career producing shows. All the while, she felt the tug of her true calling: changing lives through laughter. She knew there had to be a way to do what she loved in a place she loved as well. She also began teaching comedy and public speaking workshops, and loved empowering people by helping them find their authentic voices.
“At the beginning of my career, I had studied Norman Cousins and his work, and I had developed tremendous wonder and respect for the healing power of laughter. It became clear to me early on, that I would do more than club comedy. I knew when I was ten years old, that I was going to do something that made a difference. I was not sure exactly what, but I saw myself helping other people feel good about themselves. Performing, producing and teaching comedy allowed me to stay home with my kids, but I knew there was deeper work to do.
“I could see there was more to this business than empty laughter. I wanted people to have the fullness of the experience. I wanted to inspire, motivate and laugh people into feeling better about themselves, their relationships, and the world in general. I wanted to lift people up, and take them to places that other comics could not. I did not want them to laugh from dark places, but from the light, while harming no one in the process.
“So, I began to see myself as an “inspirational humorist,” otherwise known in medical terms as a Psychoneuroimmunologist. I like that.
What an honor to be able to literally change people’s chemistry by just being myself and being authentic. I started 26 years ago, and I know the best is yet to come.”
To see how good she is, go to my site and look at her first video. You will see the women in her audience laughing so hard they can barely stand to cheer her. Finally, they seem to be saying, someone recognizes me, knows what it’s really like – and deeply appreciates it. To bring Kat’s bright light to your event, learn more about her on our website, or give me a call at 503-699-5031 to check her availability.
Until next time, make sure you get some hearty laughs in every day — it’s good for your health. Actually, I’ve got a DVD here of a whole Kat Simmons show, and I think I’ll just go watch that and grab some laughs for myself. Take care of yourself for your well being and those you love.
For Your Well Being is published bi-weekly. We bring you insider speaker reports, exclusive stories about special events around the country, meeting planner tips, and fun stuff from the worlds of health and well being. Be well and be in the know!
The Speak Well Being Group is a specialized speakers bureau, focusing on speakers for hospital-sponsored community events, healthcare organizations, conferences and women’s groups. Our speakers are hand-selected. They are not only experts in their fields, they know how to connect with women and give them life-changing information served on a silver platter of joy, camaraderie, with a side of sauce (spicy, of course).
Finding the perfect keynote speaker for your special event or conference is my personal passion, not just once, but year after year. It brings me endless joy to know that your audience was delighted and moved by the speaker we selected together. I’m committed to making the process easy, pleasant and fun.