Who needs a laugh? 2021, right!!?!?!
That's exactly why The Chad & Cheese invited the folks at Watercooler Comedy to come on the show for a chat. The organization, headed by Clevelander David Horning, helps corporate teams use humor to overcome stress, adapt to uncertainty, boost creativity and engagement, and have fun doing it.
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INTRO (1m 1s):
Hide your kids! Lock the doors! You're listening to HR’s most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheeseman are here to punch the recruiting industry, right where it hurts! Complete with breaking news, brash opinion and loads of snark, buckle up boys and girls, it's time for the Chad and Cheese podcast.
Joel (1m 20s):
Oh yeah. Who's ready to laugh. What's up everybody as always. This is the Chad and Cheese podcast. I'm your cohost Joel Cheeseman joined as always by my fearless companion Chad Sowash. Chad how're you?
Chad (1m 37s):
I can't get fucking Dream Academy out of my head.
Joel (1m 41s):
And, and we are honored to welcome leadership, speaker, comedian, social media icon, YouTube star, David Horning to the show. David welcome.
David (1m 54s):
Social media icon with 250 Twitter followers. That's what I'm talking about.
Chad (1m 59s):
And that's what I'm talking about. That's because you're selective. I appreciate that. There are way too many bots out there. And most of those comedy bots there for shit, dude.
David (2m 9s):
Taking everybody else's jokes, taking the general jokes.
Joel (2m 12s):
Chad (2m 13s):
Russian joke taken comedy bots. God damn that's. Yeah. Anyway, so David, let's go give us a little Twitter bio. I mean, we've already said a lot about you already, but give us a little Twitter, Twitter bio.
Joel (2m 26s):
We've raised the bar pretty high.
David (2m 30s):
Now I help leaders adapt to change, manage stress, engage their teams by using humor effectively in the workplace. So I'm a comedian, humor consultant, I do a podcast and I'm a leadership speaker. So I speak on leadership.
Joel (2m 45s):
You haven't been doing this long though, dude. It's been like, it's like 2018. What did you do beforehand? And why did you, or how did you get pushed into this segment? How did you get into this path?
David (2m 57s):
I wallowed in a of lot of bombing and failed attempts at speaking. I got into the speaking industry after doing comedy. I started in comedy in 2012 and then I moved to Ohio cause I was like, Oh, I can help people learn how to laugh rather than just making them laugh.
Joel (3m 16s):
We're in Ohio.
David (3m 17s):
Chad (3m 17s):
Yeah. They need it in Ohio dude. That fucking place needs comedy more than any place needs comedy.
Joel (3m 24s):
East side or West side?
David (3m 25s):
Joel (3m 26s):
Oh gee. Yeah. You have until that.
David (3m 30s):
You got that Eastside?
Joel (3m 32s):
Yeah, Eastside University Heights. Yes.
David (3m 35s):
Did you go to Case or?
Joel (3m 36s):
No, I moved there as a young professional. Lived there for 10 years. Still have still have quite the affinity for the mistake on the Lake and still root for the Browns, which has actually paid off this year.
Chad (3m 47s):
He was a young professional. He was bum living out of a cardboard box. Come on.
David (3m 53s):
Oh, that was your place. It's been designated a historical landmark here.
Chad (3m 56s):
There it is there. Good job. Good job.
Joel (3m 58s):
I was living with bone thugs and harmony. All right.
Chad (4m 1s):
So anyway, back to my question, Jesus, how did you get into this? And, and then how did Water Cooler spring up out of this?
David (4m 9s):
Yeah, so I, so when I first started speaking, I did a lot just like, Oh, happiness. You know, you can make your team's happy and you can be happy and that's such a broad, just so I had a lot of roadblocks there and I did characters when I first started, which was as awkward and miserable as it sounds.
Chad (4m 26s):
David (4m 27s):
No I I didn't quite get that far.
Chad (4m 29s):
David (4m 30s):
Didn't quite get that far. But like for example, I had a bit where I was as detective, that like in the message was personal accountability. And I would also, his name was detective Dick Ransom and he always traced like every, every case that he was tasked, he would trace the evidence back to himself and he would like turn in his gun and his badge and then I closed the bit by saying we've all got a little Dick inside of us.
Chad (4m 57s):
Yeah. Dick Ransom. Yeah. No, that goes well with a corporate crew.
Joel (5m 3s):
Yeah. And how'd you get into HR, were you a Dilbert fan? How did that come about?
David (5m 8s):
So I, I requested to speak at a couple Sherm chapters. And then I realized the lack of humor in the workplace, especially in HR. So I decided, Oh, there's a need here. And I can take what I'm good at, which is not characters, but actually, you know, making insights and observations and kind of making connections with that, between that, and more ideal workplace behaviors, which include using humor and a water-cooler Carl comedy started because of that. Because if, if you know, I can come in with comedians and turn your workplace into a comedy club and create an experience for your team and have where they're laughing together, you know, that's an instant trust building exercise.
David (5m 50s):
That's an instant bonding experience. And the raise the spirits and kind of gets rid of that boss and employee mentality. If you're laughing together with your, with your managers. You're not boss employee anymore, you're just two people who think the same thing as funny. And that's a subconscious shift that I think we can all benefit from.
Joel (6m 7s):
So what does a client usually look like? Are these bigger companies, smaller companies, are these banks, are these tech firms, like what is sort of the normal company that wants to have a good laugh look like?
Chad (6m 18s):
David (6m 19s):
Right? Yeah. Those are the best. Now the I've worked with some credit unions. I've worked with like midsize companies. I'm looking to expand into the larger corporations and really, really having an impact on a culture. Especially nowadays, you know, we need to laugh and having that be part of the workplace, day-to-day actually boosts creativity and the ability to adapt quickly to change.
Joel (6m 46s):
So the obvious question in the world of COVID, what is your comedy look like now? What is the medium by which you are telling jokes to companies? Obviously I would assume it has turned your sort of world upside down, talk about that.
David (7m 1s):
Yeah, absolutely. Especially when this first started, I lost a bunch of live speaking gigs and I was, you know, I kinda got down on myself because of it. I was like, what am I going to do? But then, Oh, virtual, you know, the fact that the world technologically was heading in this direction anyway. So I leaned into it and I kind of shifted the whole presentation of using humor at work to not only that, but using humor to find creative ways to solve problems, to create a culture of creativity. Even over Zoom, you know, there are organizations that do kind of fun exercises over Zoom and play games and stuff to bond and to remind one another, that we're all human. And that's kind of what I focus my program on is, is being vulnerable, especially leaders who are so quick to, you know, put on that facade, like, Oh, I'm never wrong.
David (7m 52s):
You know, I have all the answers. No, that's, you're just like each one of us, we're all going through this thing. It's okay to say, I don't know. And to say, you know, we'll get through this together.
Chad (8m 3s):
So in a time like this, you just gotta step back and ask yourself, what would Dick do? So you've got like 10 comics at least on the website. How do you find the comics? Are they friends? Do you hang out like and do comedy together? How do you even, how does this, this band of Merry men and women actually grow?
David (8m 23s):
The comics that I work with are all based out of Cleveland, except Raj just moved down to Bentonville Arkansas. Oh, random. But yeah, I know, right. He was like, I want to be close to Walmart, but you know, you'll find comedians are always looking for work, especially paid work and corporate gigs pay very well. But you know, it's an opportunity. I just asked. It's that's as simple as that, you know, I used to book shows locally here in Cleveland, we did a rooftop comedy show. I did a like, I'm really into food. So we would do, I am a foodie and I heard you guys talking about Pappy.
David (9m 6s):
I used to work at a restaurant that was chef-driven any other chef had won a James Beard award. And so we put on a comedy show where we would bring in five other comics and have a course that was based off of some of their content, some of their jokes to pair with the jokes and then a cocktail to pair with the food. So we would do. Yeah. So I, I would, I'm all about getting opportunities to comedians and you know, anything to, to allow them the chance to make more people laugh and to get to know who they are. Cause there's a lot of really funny local comics and, you know, nowadays with Spotify and Pandora and, you know, Sirius already, but, you know, that's kind of expanded and YouTube and podcasts, comedy comedians have at an opportunity to really lean into this disruption and use it.
Chad (9m 54s):
Does this allow you to expand now because Covid means, you know, we're doing things different. Obviously you've had to take this online as opposed to live, but the beautiful thing is going online means you can find talent anywhere. Are you looking to do that at all? Or are you just going to try to keep it close? Because when everything opens back up, you want to have a tight band that can do things in Cleveland.
David (10m 18s):
I'm leaning into the fact that I can connect with anybody from anywhere. This is really allowed us to do that. I have a podcast where we bring in comics to talk about, you know, different topics that can be considered taboo or offensive or too far. And we dive into the psychology of how they made that topic, funny to prove that anybody can laugh at it. And so I've been able to connect with comics from New York and LA and Toronto and Chicago and Houston, just all over the place. And we can just have this conversation across time and space. I was actually just in Connecticut, virtually. I just gave a presentation right before this.
David (10m 58s):
So it gives me an opportunity to connect with more audience members and more comedians.
Chad (11m 2s):
Well, that podcast, just so everybody knows, it's called You Can't Laugh At That. So check it out.
David (11m 8s):
Yeah. Not safe for work, for sure.
Chad (11m 10s):
After listening to this podcast, they're fine with that.
Joel (11m 12s):
What type of comedy do companies want? I assume all these different comedians have sort of different angles or things that they want to talk about will accompany say, Hey, you know, we want to talk about the, we'll talk about like stay away from politics or do we want to embrace politics? I assume companies don't. Is it keep it safe? No, none of this naughty talk, talk about how, what a difficult process and what what's sort of funny. What is in demand with corporate America now in terms of getting our people to laugh.
Chad (11m 44s):
Joel said naughty talk.
David (11m 46s):
Yeah. That's real. That's real sexy. Is that, are you married? Yeah. Let's get naughty baby. Was this Austin Powers?
Joel (11m 58s):
Easy there? David horny. I've heard the bit.
David (12m 0s):
Oh, you have? Yeah.
Joel (12m 2s):
I did some research on YouTube.
David (12m 4s):
I appreciate you, and you still had me on, that's a leap of faith.
Joel (12m 8s):
Well Chad had already booked you.
David (12m 10s):
You like, you can unbook. I have been unbooked from presentations based off of my content, so.
Joel (12m 15s):
That's not how we roll.
David (12m 16s):
Yeah, I appreciate that. Yeah. That's when I realized HR needed to laugh more when I got unbooked from an HR conference, but I figured, these companies they're, it varies. I've had companies, you know, I always make sure to ask if there's anything that's off limits. Some will say, you know, everything's on the table, we're here to have fun. I always host the show and I bring in two other comics. And when I host, I always make sure to write content based around their company, kind of poke fun at them, poke fun at their leadership. There was a chemical company out of Ohio that I did presentation for late last year or a presentation, a show for late last year.
Joel (12m 52s):
It sounds like a party.
David (12m 53s):
Yeah. They were mostly Ukrainian. And so that I didn't realize that coming in because they didn't, they didn't put that on their websites. They're like, Hey, a bunch of Ukrainians came together and did this. So, but I spent the first five minutes kind of roasting the CEO and the founder of the company. And they really dug that. And then I allow the comics to kind of do their thing. I'll let them know if there's any material restrictions. And that's why I give companies if they wanted to choose the comics that give them free reign to do that. And that's why I kind of have those profiles up on the website. Otherwise I'll pick them.
Chad (13m 25s):
It's like a menu.
David (13m 26s):
Joel (13m 27s):
Do you I guess everyone has their own style, but do you typically just sit there in front of the computer? Do you point the computer at like a microphone and stand, do standup comedy? Like from a distance? How does, I guess visualize this for me.
David (13m 41s):
Yeah. I mean, I just stand in front of a blank white wall, so it looks like I'm in an asylum and my padded cell and I just, you know, I have the Zoom thing pulled up the Brady Bunch, the Hollywood squares. Yeah. Visual.
Joel (13m 56s):
And you can't, can you hear them laugh? Do you have them un-muted so you can at least get feedback or is it sort of talking to a blank?
David (14m 2s):
For the most part? It's talking into a blank because yeah. Every once in a while somebody will be un-muted and a dog will bark and I'll draw attention to that.
Joel (14m 11s):
So is it safe to assume you, you would prefer the face-to-face in public and as soon as the pandemic ends, you'll go back to that. Or do you think this is such an opportunity that you'll continue to do Zoom corporate gigs in a world on a worldwide or at least national basis?
David (14m 27s):
Absolutely. If I have the opportunity to be in Seattle physically and give a presentation in Miami later that day, I'm going to take that. Absolutely. I'm going to lean into this. Not like resisting innovation and resisting what's going on right now is ridiculous to me, you know, you just got to lean into it and say, you know, this is an opportunity. Which is how I look at anything bad that happens. So I could be in front of this computer and, you know, be doing these presentations and then go live and find out that none of my new material's funny, but people keep booking me. So.
Chad (14m 58s):
Do you have times when you actually you're asked and there's a request that comes in and a company says, Hey, we want you to do something for us. And you do a little research on that company. And you're like, yeah, I don't want to do this for you. Has that happened? Or was it like starving comic time? You're going to take whatever the fuck comes to you.
David (15m 17s):
I'd had somebody reach out and say, Hey, we want to make our employees more compliant. What, you know, what presentation do you have for that? And I was like, no, yeah, that's not me.
Chad (15m 28s):
David (15m 28s):
You're, you know, we're, we're not a fit here. You know, you go on a date with somebody and you can tell within the first few minutes, whether it's going to be, you know, a good experience or not, that was a Tinder conversation that I swiped left on.
Joel (15m 38s):
So I don't know a lot about comedy, but I do know that when you guys test out new stuff, it's usually in front of a live audience, maybe a small audience, and you get an idea of what's going to, what's going to hit and what isn't. When you can't do shows anymore, how do you test new material to see that it's going to work with a bigger audience? Do comedians, just get together on Zoom and run some stuff by each other. How does, how does it work these days?
David (16m 3s):
One way that, I've done, that I kind of used the podcast too. A lot of things come up in conversation. And if you know that for laughing together, something that I said, then I, you know, make sure to go back and write that down and kind of expand on it later. I've been doing on my Facebook, just posting for the last three weeks, but I called the loneliest open mic where I'm in my house alone. And I'm just turn on a camera. And I, I riff on topics that I want to talk about for a half hour without stopping myself. And then I turn the camera off and kind of piece together a video. And then I determine what's going to stay in based off of, you know, Facebook reactions, likes, shares, comments, things like that.
Chad (16m 41s):
What's your Twitter handle? Because I've got, I got to watch this.
David (16m 45s):
Yeah. That's not on Twitter yet. I've been, yeah, it's on Facebook. It's on my Facebook, but my Twitter handle is the David Horning.
Joel (16m 52s):
Talk about comedy these days. I know, you know, Chappelle and some others have talked about cancel culture, being afraid to say too much. And I imagine in a corporate environment, you're really boxed in with what you can can talk about, or am I wrong about that? What's the current state of the world and the corporate culture, particularly with comedy.
David (17m 14s):
Yes and no, you're boxed in. I mean, obviously it's good to have guidelines. It's good to know where the guardrails are, but you can operate anywhere within that creative space. You know, if you just have a blank canvas, it's almost overwhelming. You know, if you sit down and you're like, I can write about anything, go. That's almost harmful to the creative process. Whereas if, you know, say I'm speaking to a credit union, you know, and they said, avoid politics. All right, that gives me something to work with. I think I would cancel culture. I think to me, that's an opportunity to be a better writer. You know, you have to, you have to know your audience and that's first and foremost. And you know, people look at comedy and from the outsider's perspective, it's just people being funny on stage.
David (17m 54s):
But the point of comedy is to create a connection with the audience. So to me, when I write a joke or when I do a joke on stage, is because I had the idea, it made me laugh, and I want to share that moment of discovery with the audience.
Joel (18m 8s):
I'm curious, what would a company typically pay for you and your team to come in a, do they usually just get a couple people? Like, how does that usually work? What kind of timeframe do you perform under?
Chad (18m 21s):
Well, excellent. David, we'll go ahead and tell our audience where they can actually find you and book new one and also go to this comedian menu you have out there and pick from that, for their next corporate gigs that are happening.
David (18m 38s):
For sure. I'm at watercoolercomedy.org and you can contact me through the booking page. I do, you know, free a half-hour consultation. So kind of figure out where your pain points are and if we're a good fit, because not all workplaces are a good fit, you know, you've got an authoritarian boss and you have, you know, you have a lot of curmudgeons that you work with or the culture isn't there to support humor in the workplace. That's fine. You know, we can all use humor in our own individual way to kind of get us through there. So yeah, you can go to the watercoolercomedy.org and go to the booking page for that go into the programs page. There's the comedians menu there as well. And follow me on social media, @theDavidHorning on Instagram and Twitter, I'm on LinkedIn.
David (19m 21s):
So if you want to connect, have any questions, anything like that, find me there. And my blog is DavidHorning.wordpress.com.
Chad (19m 30s):
You're everywhere, man.
David (19m 31s):
I'm putting out the content. I watched a lot of Gary V at the beginning of the quarantine.
Joel (19m 38s):
Dig it, dude. Chad,
Chad (19m 40s):
Joel (19m 40s):
OUTRO (20m 3s):
Thank you for listening to podcasts with Chad and Cheese. Brilliant! They talk about recruiting. They talk about technology, but most of all, they talk about nothing. Anyhoo, be sure to subscribe today on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, or wherever you listen to your podcasts. We out.