“I wanna tell you a story” was a phrase used by Max Bygraves, an English comedian, singer, stage performer and sometimes actor. Max had his own TV shows when I was growing up as a wee boy in Glenrothes, Scotland and I also remember him on a very successful TV programme called Family Fortunes as well. He would always start a comedic section of any TV show with his well know catchphrase. It was almost like he was inviting you to sit down with him in a familiar place to listen to a bedtime story, it really was that familiar. As a result he tended to get his audience's attention and thus people became accustomed to knowing exactly when to listen.
“It’s the way I tell ‘em!” was another catchphrase I remember from my dim distant youth that was used by the larger than life Northern Irish comedian Frank Carson. He would tell very short punchy jokes and add his catchphrase to the end of the punch line to reinforce that fact that he had finished telling his story and it was now time to laugh and appreciate his joke or series of jokes. Frank would use his catchphrase as, I suppose, a call to action in that the audience had become so accustomed to him rolling out this phrase that they were almost conditioned to laugh at the catchphrase rather than the punch line of his jokes.
There was something about the need for comedians to attach themselves to a catchphrase during the heady days of variety TV that blanketed our screens during the 1970’s and 1980’s. Perhaps it was a way for the many comedians to distinguish themselves from other comedians or was it just another way of them selling you their own USP (unique selling point or ultimate selling proposition).
This tradition continued throughout the early nineties. But as programmes and audiences matured and changed we have seen a move away from catchphrases altogether and we now have comedians who are simply brilliant at telling funny stories. And it is the way that they can tell these funny stories that allow our modern day comedians to fill venues that accommodate 10,000 to 15,000 seat arenas around the world.
To play to such large audiences and yet make each and every audience member feel that the comedian is literally in their living room, speaking to them in an extremely intimate way, is testament to the skill of the individual and their storytelling prowess of our most successful comedians that tour Ireland and the UK.
People like Billy Connolly, Lee Evans, Michael McIntyre, Brendan O’Carroll, Brendan Grace, Bill Murray and his Pub Landlord, to name but a few, are some of the very best storytellers around – fact.
But can our businesses learn from these comedic storytellers? Yes of course businesses can. In fact I would go much further and say that if a business is not telling its own story, through its staff members, then a business is not operating correctly and that business will find it very hard to survive and prosper.
Like a modern day storyteller your businesses' promoters must be delivering every single message with honesty, integrity, passion, openness, enthusiasm and most important of all a SMILE.
This mantra can also be replicated by villages, towns, cities and regions and over the last two or three weeks it would appear that Waterford has a better story to tell than most. What with TF Meagher the creator of the Irish Tricolour, the first Tricolour being raised at 33 The Mall and with Luke Wadding “inventing” St. Patrick’s Day.
To make Waterford appeal to a much wider audience maybe we just need a better catchphrase!