Not until someone recently asked me: “How do you do it?” did I realize the truth.
The question was triggered by a rapid-fire brainstormed comedy explosion to assist this friend in a speech she needed to deliver.
When I pressed her for her meaning, she replied that she wished to know where that ‘style’ came from: quick to the punch comedy, desire to help others and animated delivery.
“Very simple” was my answer, “I am a HUGE fan of the TV show M*A*S*H”.
There it is…the answer. Cue the theme music!
When I was 5-6-7 years old, it was a monstrous task to stay awake until 9pm on Monday nights to watch M*A*S*H on Channel 7 with my Dad. Come to think of it, I still have a tough time staying up that late!
The character of Hawkeye Pierce, with Alan Alda breathing life into the words of the script, actually served to hard-wire my young mind. He was quick to the punch with a comedic comeback, he always reached out to help the underdog, he questioned authority at every turn (when the authority demanded respect it had not earned) and he brought a warm spirit to a place of drudgery and despair.
I saw that and wanted to be just like Hawkeye Pierce.
Two Christmases ago, in the DVD racks of Best Buy, I discovered the first three seasons of M*A*S*H and bought them for my Dad. It took only 5 minutes of the first one being played for me to get a shock…it had happened!
Throughout my decade-long radio career (’92-’02), I did my best to bring the best characteristics of Hawkeye Pierce to life. I loved to go to bat for the underdogs, did my best to keep spirits high, and I had my fair share (and more) of mocking and infuriating a few pompous ‘leaders’ who assumed their positions were somewhere in the heavens above me.
Over the last few years, as I have built my career as a professional speaker and author, that style has returned once again…and I love it.
It is an absolute joy to do my best to pick up the spirits of those around me, to pack as many laughs as I can throughout each day, and to reach into places of pain and despair to deliver a message of warmth and hope to those who need it most.
I hope and pray that I am doing Hawkeye Pierce justice.
So, who were your television heroes and role models? Which characters had a hand in forming your style, your heart, your soul?
Are you as inquisitive as Columbo, or as obnoxious as Al Bundy?
Are you one of the fun-loving ladies from ‘Sex and the City’?
Does ‘Glee’ inspire the song and dance in you?
Who helped hard-wire your life?
UPDATE: Just over a year ago I wrote a letter to Alan Alda, sharing my thoughts and thanking him for his devotion to this character. It felt great to do this. Two weeks later, that feeling became elation when I received a beautiful note from him in return, thank ME for taking the time to pen such a heartfelt message. While I prefer to keep his exact words private, they reside on my file cabinet where I can be encouraged by them daily.
Several people who’ve seen it say “That’s so cool, you’re lucky!”
I am not lucky. I am fortunate to have made a choice and gotten off my butt to do something about it.
Why? Because that is what all the experts told me I had to do if I wanted to get something accomplished.
You can do it too…and it doesn’t make you lucky.
It makes you successful.