At various points in my marketing career, I've been told "You shouldn't be in marketing, you should do stand-up". I should have taken it as a compliment. My conditional response to crisis situations is a clear head and a strong dose of humor -- how else to diffuse the stress?
But I believe stand-up is much harder than marketing. You're lone and vulnerable, developing new material on the fly and trying it out in front of a tough crowd. Serious stuff. Marketing and Stand-Up do have commonalities -- coming up with original material, reading the crowd, engaging them with your story... So perhaps the unsolicited career advice I received wasn't such a stretch.
So how to learn from stand-up without the stress? Listen to this CD:
Terry Gross is one of my favorite radio personalities. Perhaps it's her steady, open-minded, compassion that comes through over the airwaves, but she sounds like she could be anybody's, (or everybody's) best friend. Fresh Air Laughs includes her interviews with Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, Henny Youngman, Phyllis Diller, Bob Newhart and others. It's a great study in toughness and creativity under pressure, and although it has its share of chuckles, you're more likely to walk away with inspiration than a stitch in your side...