Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Ukuleles, YouTube exposure & what Jim Krenn has to do with any of it

My attempts to post YouTube videos of two recent talks were frustrating and ultimately bungled. And that’s a pity because they were tour de forces.

I was funny. I was extemporaneous. I was poignant.

I played the ukelele!

That last part’s untrue. I don’t even own a ukulele.

But that’s what it says there on the introduction (I wrote it) for the YouTube video I posted after the very successful talk at the Greensburg Hempfield Area Library where I sold 172 books to 25 people.

And that is the truth. One woman bought 150 copies for her WVU student group. She was so impressed with my talk she said she wants to have me come to speak to the group and is buying books for each of them in advance.

Another attendee said she’s going to propose I address a state educational convention in Hershey. I love Hershey.

Both parts of that one are true, too. It really happened and I do indeed love Hershey.

Three days later at a talk to a Greensburg civic group a woman was so moved she she said she was going to suggest I be the convention speaker for this summer’s University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg graduates.

True. True. True. As confounding as it is to believe.

See, I’m getting this talking to people about me and my book thingie nailed. It’s just there’s, so far, scant video proof of the fact.

That’s because I don’t have this filming myself thingie nailed down at all.

Ensuring you’re properly filming yourself when you address a group of any size is a tricky business.
First of all, there’s that inherent nervousness about public speaking. Giving a compelling talk is, of course, foremost in your mind so there’s hundreds of thoughts going through your mind before you’re introduced.

Like any public speaker, I’m asking myself if all my anecdotes are crisp and ready for instant recall? Is the progression well-structured? Will I remember to recollect the nifty conclusion?

But as I’m kind of new at this, I’m also consumed with tangential questions such as: Is my fly down? Are there any boogers dangling from my nose? Did I make sure I removed all the “Hi! My Name is Idiot!” signs my daughters taped to me on my way out the door when they pretended they were hugging me?

Now, on top of all those true essentials, I have to remember to adjust the little video camera I’ve set up nearby. I’m reluctant to ask a stranger to do any of this because it’ll feel like a lot of pressure and they’ll be upset if they make a mistake. So I do it myself.

At the library, it looked like it went perfectly. I was in focus, centered and the sound was crisp.

Then I discovered the damn thing cut off after just 30 minutes into what was an hour-long discourse. It was still charged. It must have just needed a little siesta -- and I’m sympathetic to that mindset. Or maybe it’s bestowed with a new smart function where it determines just how much time each speaker deserves and decided 30 minutes was plenty for me.

I was fine with that, too. I thought 30 minutes was plenty to post.

Apparently, YouTube disagreed. It said I could only post 10 minutes. Has this happened to anyone else?

If YouTube was running my blog, this story would have ended 250 words ago.

That’s where the ukulele comes in.

If it was only going to post 10 slim minutes, I figured I’d need to give viewers some explanation about why it cut out and what they missed.

So in the explanatory cutline I put, “Video concludes just before I started playing the ukulele!”

I figured if any ukulele-loving strangers were looking to book a speaker I’d have that going for me and then when they ask where the hell’s the ukulele I could just say my wife backed over it in the driveway.

On purpose.

None of this happened three days later at the tidy 30-minute talk to the Greensburg civic group. It went really well and would have been a great example of my public speaking, this time to 50 people.

Only one problem:

I forgot to hit record!

I vowed the next time I had a high-profile gig I’d hire a professional to do the recording.

And that’s what I did Sunday night.

I had a sound man, a producer, a videographer and a production assistant.

Well, they weren’t mine.

They were Jimmy Krenn’s!

Yes, the great Jimmy Krenn asked me to be on his “No Restrictions” podcast Sunday night. Krenn’s been Pittsburgh’s most popular entertainer for the past 25 years, 24 of them as a co-host of the WDVE-FM 102.5 Morning Show, a remarkable run that ended last year.

He’s now keeping busy doing concerts, speaking and this podcast that already has nearly 100,000 subscribers. It’s mostly Krenn and top local comics so I was hugely flattered when he invited me, a writer, to crash the party.

Of course, I shouldn’t have been surprised. He’s always been supportive and encouraging of me from 1992-2001 when I was a regular ‘DVE guest.

I swear, my wife won’t recognize me from his introduction. It sounded like he’s inducting me into some Hall of Fame for lazy, shiftless writers. He gushed and gushed. It went on so long I became concerned I could only ruin his great impression by opening my mouth.

My fears were misplaced. It couldn’t have gone better.

It could give me, my book and this blog huge boosts. Krenn has a large and loyal audience and he sounded very persuasive when he says everyone should buy my book.

Look for it Thursday on “No Restrictions.

It’s all true, too. This could be huge.

I just can’t right now prove any of it even happened.

I took my camera to have a picture taken of me and Jimmy in the studio after the show.

The camera malfunctioned.

That’s true, too.

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