Less is More

There’s a rush you get as a comedian when you’re on-stage performing and, at the same time, thinking about the material you’re going to do later in your act. It’s amazing! Now, I realize it’s not uncommon for people to be able to talk and think at the same time. Being able to stand up in front of an audience and juggle these two with no one else being the wiser is another story. It’s a special skill that is developed and perfected over time. I remember becoming aware of my talent for doing so early in my career as a Headliner at comedy clubs, and it reminds me of a magical moment of awareness I had as a parent.

When you’re in the spotlight speaking to your children (your audience) about something you have strong opinions on (your material), there’s this incredible moment you have when you realize that all of the well-thought out words and ideas that are coming out of your mouth, sound to your children like: “Blah biddy blah, blah, blah.” To be in the moment – talking AND realizing just how much you’re blathering on is a spectacularly sobering moment as a parent. The rolling back, glossy-eyed blank stares of those for whom you’re performing confirm that they are oblivious to your cognizance of how ridiculous you sound. This is a highly valuable tool when you’re raising children.

I remember becoming giddy with awareness of this early in my career as a father, and figure it must be EXACTLY how Charlie Brown’s teacher feels.

You can, however, make your parenting performances critically acclaimed by yourself and audiences alike. In a “Family Meeting” or parenting lecture, even the most sound arguments and reasoning will be lost on your would-be-listeners if the content is longer than, say, 140 characters. This is not a reflection of the social media sensibilities of the younger generation, or their attention deficit. It’s simply that in the instant we become, or know we are soon to become, a parent we suddenly believe we’ve acquired the knowledge and insights beyond that of, or are, in fact, the sacred embodiment of Dr. Spock, Heidi Murkoff, and Mike and Carol Brady. As a result, we are inclined to share this intel liberally with our kin, and in unsolicited preaching to other parents and daytime talk show hosts. In a sliver of time, we lose sight of the fact that with some things, (such as the number of words spewed while performing the act of dispensing parental wisdom), less is more; much less; as in- almost none.

A single word or phrase will do the trick in conveying the most complex and essential intelligence to a child on how to be a functioning human person. This is because your kids are the masters of receiving and transmitting interpersonal communications in extremely short bursts. That’s why they win International Texting Competitions and “grunt” from their bedroom when you call them for dinner. Someday, they too will transform into verbose Ma and Pa Ingalls’, Lorelai Gilmores, and Peter Griffins. Now is the best time to capitalize on their breviloquence.

Fortunately for you, I have created my world-renowned series, Translating Teen To English. In this episode, you will see just how much you can say in a single word, “Whatever!”.

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