Last weekend, I watched St. Vincent a movie starring Bill Murray and it reminded me of a Presentation Zen post about Bill Murray on Storytelling which featured an interview he did on Howard Stern. Yesterday, I listened to the roughly hour long interview on Soundcloud. A small portion of the interview is on Storytelling. The main reason for the interview is to promote his movie St. Vincent and the rest of the interview deals with a number of things that have happened in Bill’s career. It’s a great interview for anyone who’s a fan of his work and Stern asks a few questions that only he could get away with asking.
There were three key pieces of advice about creating your art.
1) Get good at telling stories.
Stern asked the question, “How do you know you’re funny?” Bill replied, “you have to get good at telling stories.” Bill goes on to say that one of the keys to a good story is if you can make people laugh by just telling them about your day and the things that happened to you. That’s true, the funniest jokes or stories are when the person isn’t trying to hard to be funny. You never want to look like you’re forcing it.
How can you learn to tell good stories?
It’s not something you’re born with. Murray says, “You have to hear stories and you have to live stories.” You need to have experiences, meet new people, try new things, watch interactions, and observe them. How do people talk, walk, and interact with others? That’s what you need to observe. Then you can start telling good stories.
2) The more relaxed you are the better you are.
Stern brought up that one of the best things about Bill Murray is how relaxed he seems on stage. Stern goes on to say that he thinks Robert Downey Jr is such a great actor because he seems so relaxed in front of an audience. This lead Stern to ask Murray if he ever gets nervous about those first sketches on Saturday Night Live. Murray said he wasn’t because he had learned how to do it. It being performing in front of a crowd through his many performances as a member of Second City and the National Lampoons Radio Show. He’d already put in the required amount of time which allowed him to look so relaxed while performing. Murray also admitted that what Stern said about being relaxed on stage was true and that, “the more relaxed you are the better you are.”
I love that line. For the past two years, I’ve been working on my public speaking as a member of Toastmasters and being in a relaxed start makes all the difference. If i don’t put in enough preparation and practice I always tense up which makes my speech much less effective.
3) Don’t read reviews
Murray said that he doesn’t read reviews because he knows that they get under his skin and change the way he performs. He also said that if you read them if will destroy your craft.
Maybe some people are different but I completely agree with him. It’s the main reason I don’t have comments on this blog. This blog is about working on my writing and to figure things out. I don’t want to deal with negative comments that could distract me from doing what’s important and that’s writing.