Seven people were on stage being an expert on surfing and answering questions from the audience. They were answering questions by speaking one word at a time. These were people who had never improvised before and they were in front of about 150 people
Someone in the audience asked. “Where’s a good place to surf?”
The sentence came to the last person in line. All the pressure was on; we needed a punch line, something that would pay off everything that came before.
In one of the most memorable moments of my On Your Feet career, the guy filled in the last word in a way that was met with huge applause and riotous laughter. What was it that was so satisfying to the audience?
I don’t exaggerate when I tell you the audience was ecstatic about this last word.
It is the one moment that for me speaks most clearly to the idea that we should be obvious. That the clever answer is very rarely the one that is most satisfying. If he had said “jaguar” or “asteroid” or “Jupiter” or any other interesting noun, we would have left feeling unfulfilled.
This phenomenon of audiences reacting with glee to what is obvious has been repeated over and over for us in the last decade. I continue to find it remarkable and look for it constantly. My colleague Shelley and I did a TEDx talk exploring this idea and you can check it out below.
Next time you are in a meeting or in a conversation and something obvious pops into your head and you think to yourself, “Oh, that is way too simple and obvious of an idea; That is way too boring,” I would suggest you say it, rather than pass it by.
Your obvious, simple, right-in-front-of-you word might be just what the story needs.