Climbing Mt. Cleverest with Ben Kronberg!

Ben Kronberg Last Comic Standing Pitch Lab

Ben and I have been friends for over 12 years now, but I’ve been his fan longer than that.

When you hear Ben’s jokes, it’s obvious his genius comes from the unique way he perceives the world. What makes him truly special though, is how he uses silence to build an almost unbearable tension in the room. Tension that begs to be released by a punchline only Ben can deliver.

If you don’t know him, Ben is a New York based stand-up comedian who headlines all over the world. You’ve probably seen him tell jokes on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Late Night With Seth Meyers, John Oliver’s NY Stand-Up Show or his very own Half Hour Comedy Special on Comedy Central.

Pitch Lab caught up with Ben to ask him a few questions about his worst experience on stage, how he deals with “butterflies” before a set and why you should join his workshop at The Commons on June 5th.

 

Who is your all-time favorite comedian?

Troy Baxley. A local Denver comedian who was one of the first stand ups I ever saw live. Even though he was never "famous" he made such an important impact on the comedy scene in Denver and whenever I mention his name on the road, people who have seen or heard of him get really excited.

He had such a presence and flow that I could listen to him tell the same jokes over and over and never get tired of watching him work his magic. I conjure him on stage whenever I feel I have nowhere to go.  He gives me strength like a deity in desert. 

 

What’s the worst experience you’ve ever had on stage?

I love the stage cuz it gives me all of the experiences in concentrated form:  confidence, fear, curiosity, regret, happiness, anger...its life. Worst experiences are a value of "I hope this never happens again" but I feel that you have to be open to the worst to experience the best.

If you leave the house anything can happen, and no matter what happens you have to make the best of it.  That said, one time early on I had maraschino cherries thrown at me by an audience member. It stained my favorite thrift store Jacket, but then that stain became a story and a badge of courage.

Ben Slinging One-Liners On Comedy Central!

Ben Slinging One-Liners On Comedy Central!

What’s the most nervous you’ve ever been in anticipation for a set?

Anytime I go up in Denver I can get nervous. It's where I started and I feel the most potential inescapable judgment there.  

I was also pretty nervous before my Comedy Central Half Hour cuz I was getting paid the most money I've ever been paid for a show. I looked at my hair a lot and shadow boxed backstage...JK.  

 

What’s the website you'd most likely get busted looking at while in the green room?

My ex-girlfriend's Instagram via Google cuz I blocked her after she broke up with me.

 

What would your last meal be?

Lasagna. It makes you tired. I would sleep through the execution. 

 

What is the best piece of comedy advice you've ever been given?

If the joke doesn't work, you're telling it wrong.

 

The first time you coached at Pitch Lab were you surprised how well stand-up comedy techniques translated to presentations in the workplace?

I wasn't surprised cuz the idea is really great and the applications of stand up are self evident in that way.  As soon as you explained the idea I was on board and I am a tough sell when it comes to ideas that aren't mine:) I can't wait to see where Pitch Lab goes.  The potential is endless for this type thing. 

 

Why should folks sign up for your Pitch Lab workshop at the Commons on June 5th?

It's a no-brainier.  No matter what you do professionally you will gain from taking part in Pitch Lab.  No matter what stage of the pitching process you are currently in: beginner to seasoned pitch-er, this workshop will absolutely help move you in the right direction no regardless your end goal.  

8 Hard-Hitting Questions for Pitch Lab Improv Coaches, RJ Owen & Joel Lutz!

Pitch Lab's Favorite improv comedy coaches: Joel Lutz & RJ Owen

Pitch Lab's Favorite improv comedy coaches: Joel Lutz & RJ Owen

There's no getting around it. We live in an unscripted world. If you mean to make an impression, you have to be able to think on your feet, hurl yourself into the moment and improvise. And like a great improv troupe, successful businesses must rely on similar tools to succeed.

We caught up with Pitch Lab’s own RJ Owen and Joel Lutz to ask them 8 important questions about their origin story, Dad jokes, and why you should sign up for their upcoming improv comedy workshop at General Assembly on June 26th! 

 

How did the two of you meet?

RJ: Joel and I were introduced when a pal of ours started a little breakfast club. We had a lot of similar interests and enjoyed riffing on each other’s jokes in conversation. Later when Jay and I put together the initial concept for Pitch Lab, I knew Joel would bring a lot of expertise from his perspective as an improv coach. It’s been great to collaborate with him.

Joel: What RJ said, except I had to beg him to be included in Pitch Lab.

 

What’s your favorite Dad joke?

RJ: Why did the chicken cross the road?  (Why?)

To get to the ugly guy's house.

????

Knock knock (Who's there?)

It's the chicken!!

 

If you could turn any activity into an Olympic sport, what would you have a good chance at winning a gold medal for?

RJ: Lawn mowing. I’ve perfected flipping the mower around as I run across my yard, plus I train at high altitude!

Joel: Telling people why something won’t work. No problem goes unnoticed!

 

What is the next thing on your bucket list?

RJ: I’ve always wanted my bucket list to be achievable so it’s a literal list of buckets. I’ve recently built out my collection of Home Depot orange buckets. The 1997 HD orange is a must-have for any serious bucketeer. I’m hoping to pick up a classic 1930s tin pale at Bucketcon this summer.

Joel:  Paying off school loans... I'm right on track!

 

What is the best piece of comedy advice you’ve ever received?

RJ: “Stop trying to be funny and just listen to me,” (from Joel)

Joel:  You aren’t as good as you think you are.

 

If you were a hoarder, what would you hoard?

RJ: Bucket lists! (see what I did there? in the biz, that's what we call a "callback"

Joel: Better jokes for this interview?

 

How has improv helped you in your career?

RJ: I use improv skills every day. Improv’s focus on collaboration and building on each other’s ideas with principles like “Yes, And” are absolutely essential for getting the most out of anything we do collaboratively, and as a designer a lot of my creative ideas come this way.

Treating our team like an improv ensemble cast - where everyone wins or loses based on the success of the team and not any individual - also helps make our team a healthy place where everyone has a say and brings all of their creative energy to the table.

Lastly, we’re presenting to clients all the time. We use skills similar to improv comedians to connect with our “audience” and adjust our material on the fly to respond to their feedback or reactions.

Joel: Improv has helped reshape almost every part of my life. I have learned that how I react on stage to a suggestion or what another actor is offering, is very similar to how I respond in real life to challenges and obstacles.  

One of the best places I’ve found in life, is when I’m open to new opportunities and in a position to act so that I can capitalize on them in a meaningful way.  I believe improv can be a vehicle to incorporate these values/traits into one’s own life.

 

Why should I sign up for your improv workshop at General Assembly on Tuesday, June 26th? 

RJ: You’re going to learn how to explore new creative ideas and unlock innovation (as buzz-wordy as that sounds) and you’re going to do it through a crazy fun improv workshop. Even really good professional development events are rarely as enjoyable as this one will be - don’t miss it!

Joel: If you sign up RJ will guarantee you a new job, and a Tesla! It’s pretty amazing!

Register now for Pitch Lab: How To Use Improv Comedy As A Tool For Innovation! (sorry, Tesla not included)

NO CAPTION NECESSARY.

NO CAPTION NECESSARY.

TEDx Speaker Finds His Purpose Through Storytelling

Giuseppe Pizano Changing Sight TEDx

Giuseppe Pizano: From Being Homeless & Living Under the Bleachers to Fighting for Underprivileged Kids Everywhere

We first met Giuseppe Pizano at a Pitch Lab team building workshop for Genesis Contractor Solutions. But that’s not where this story begins.

Abandoned by his mother and left homeless at the age of 14, Giuseppe overcame incredible odds and is now an accomplished speaker and champion for homeless children.

He shares his story in “Changing Sight,” a TEDx he hopes will help people see things differently.

We caught up with Giuseppe to talk about the power of vulnerability, dealing with stage fright and helping homeless youth: 

How nervous were you before your TEDx, and how did you deal with stage fright? 

I was extremely nervous before my TEDx talk, but I dealt with it by listening to other motivational speakers on YouTube to pump me up mentally. Then I did a ton of push-ups right before I went on stage. =)

Tell me a bit about how you prepared for your TEDx “Changing Sight.” How much did you practice leading up to the talk?

I have told my story so many times that I pretty much already knew what I had to say. I didn’t write out an entire script word for word. I wrote specific bullet points on note cards and began rehearsing every day for about 2-3 weeks leading up to the talk.

Giuseppe's backpack TEDx

I love the creative decision to tell parts of your story through your best friend, your backpack. How did you get the idea?

I got the inspiration to speak through the eyes of my backpack from my adopted parents, almost at the last minute, two weeks prior to my talk.

What was the main catalyst for deciding to tell your story in such a public way? Have you always known you were going to help others, or did a specific moment motivate you?

I didn’t know until about my sophomore year in college that I wanted to help others. It wasn’t until I realized how much of a story I had that I began to slowly visit high schools to talk to other underprivileged kids about the things I went through and how I was able to come out of my situation. The feeling I had after one girl came to me and told me that I was an inspiration to her surpassed any sort of gratitude that I had ever felt. It was that gratifying feeling that made me find love in what I was doing. I finally found my purpose.

How has being on stage as both a TEDx speaker and a model helped you most in your role as Business Development Manager at Genesis?

I think both speaking on stage and modeling have helped me in my job with Genesis by giving me a level of confidence and authenticity to talk to almost anyone without being scared or caring about what other people think of me.

How has opening up in such a vulnerable way and telling your amazing story helped you be more authentic at work?

Being vulnerable is often looked at as something negative, but if you know how to use your vulnerability in the right way, it can be the most powerful tool you have. Especially in the sense of being authentic. That’s all anyone wants.

We were thrilled to hear you call Pitch Lab one of the best interactive workshops you’ve ever attended. What made the experience most valuable for you?

I really enjoyed that Pitch Lab was able to make a bunch of our most introverted employees a little more comfortable interacting. It truly turned the workshop into an uplifting session rather than making it into just another meeting of death by PowerPoint.

Giuseppe Pizano TEDx Changing Sight

What’s next in your quest to provide kids with a best friend in their backpacks, and the ability to know that they have a chance in life?

My next step is to get my idea for a backpack that is sturdy yet practical for homeless youth across the country in the right hands to make this a reality. And hopefully being able to talk to hundreds of more people across the country, maybe even the world.

At the end of your talk, you quoted a staggering 1.6M kids living on the street today. What can we do to help right now?

Anyone can help by visiting their nearest homeless youth shelter and volunteering. You will never understand how impactful it is to build a simple relationship with one of these kids. That’s speaking from personal experience.

Pitch Lab's Origin Story!

Pitch Lab B2B Revenue Executive Experience

How to “Own” a Room and Increase Your Presentation Skills

Big thanks to Chad Sanderson for inviting Pitch Lab onto the B2B Revenue Executive Experience Podcast. 

Being at the intersection of sales + comedy helped me see the benefits that an “open mic” environment provides to professionals who want to improve their presentation skills.

If you're in sales or part of a client facing team, you are the differentiator to buyers in today's competitive marketplace. Here's an excerpt from the interview: 

"After several years as a regular in Denver’s stand-up comedy scene, Jay Mays noticed something remarkable was happening. He was becoming better at sales. The connection between public speaking and sales may seem obvious, but Mays wondered why there weren’t more opportunities for salespeople to practice their presentation skills publicly.

"That idea was brought to life as Pitch Lab in 2016. With Denver’s burgeoning entrepreneurial scene, Mays noticed that the only pitching practice many entrepreneurs had received was in front of actual investors. “That’s not the right time,” Mays said.

“I always thought that the idea of an open mic – that comedians were always out there, once, two, three times a night hitting these mics, whether there’s an audience or not to hone their skills, to practice their material, just to get up there and work that muscle was always so fascinating.”"

Click here to read the full article via Brian Fey @ Value Prime Solutions

Jay Mays JD Lopez Left Hand Right Brain Podcast

Left Hand Right Brain 140: Pitch Lab w/ Jay Mays

And thank you to JD Lopez for inviting me as a guest on his Westword-winning Left Hand Right Brain podcast! 

JD is one of the hardest working comics in Denver. He's a writer, producer and genuinely hilarious guy who represented Team Comedian during Denver Startup Week's Battle of the Startups: "Entrepreneurs vs. Comedians!"

I had a blast reliving my glory days as one of the biggest names in Denver Unpaid Comedy as well as telling the origin stories of Pitch Lab & Have-Nots Comedy.

Click here to listen to the full Left Hand Right Brain interview

At the end of the podcast JD asked me if I was an artist. I struggled with the question. I didn't feel authentic saying yes, but aren't we all artists to some degree? Even if I'm not an artist in the traditional sense (painting watercolors on a canvas in front of a serene mountain creek) I am a creator. We are all creators. 

Pitch Lab creates experiences to help professionals like you be more confident and engaging speakers.

Want to learn more? Join us at our next public workshop, or contact me directly to chat! 

How These Companies Used Storytelling to Succeed

Tim Shisler leading "Storytelling for Startups" @ The Commons on Champa

Tim Shisler leading "Storytelling for Startups" @ The Commons on Champa

The companies that succeed in storytelling are the same companies that succeed in sales and growth. The following three stories capture the audience, paint a story, and tie in the product pitch seamlessly. As you go to pitch your product or new service line, take some pointers from the videos below. 

Dollar Shave Club

The market for razor blades was over saturated at best, but Dollar Shave Club was able to break through the noise by using comedy and storytelling in their initial commercial. 

This simple but entertaining video only cost $4,500 but was able to build their business into a multi-million dollar empire. 

Poo Purri

Poo Purri's video is carefully crafted with storytelling in mind. Notice that they don't mention the product in the first full minute. Instead, they paint a clear picture of the problem, using humor to keep the audience engaged. 

Tesla

Elon Musk's pitch captures audience members and got the web buzzing after his Tesla Powerwall performance. His flow of presentation is carefully crafted, starting with the problem and urgency, before moving onto the possibilities-- before explaining how Tesla will get there. 

The three above videos are examples of companies using storytelling to gain awareness and trust. If you'd like to improve your storytelling for the betterment of your company, contact Pitch Lab. We host public and private events that can transform your pitches and speaking projects into compelling stories. 

Make A Good Decision For Once At Your Office Holiday Party!

spike the punch Pitch Lab Corporate Event

The holidays are full of cheer, let them be full of laughs too.

Make a good decision for once at your office holiday party and host a Pitch Lab comedy workshop!

Did you know humor is a key to success at work?

"Organizations are tapping into the humor advantage. Companies such as Zappos and Southwest Airlines use comedy + a fun culture to attract & retain employees.”
-- Abraham Lincoln

 

Find Out How Pitch Lab Has Helped:

Americorp Improv Comedy Workshop Pitch Lab

Americorps

Improv Comedy Workshop

Volume Nine Pitch Lab workshop

Volume Nine

Engaging Speaker Workshop

Moore Communications Group Pitch Lab Workshop

Moore Communications Group

Sales Pitch Workshop

Colorado Academy REDI Lab Pitch Lab

Colorado Academy

Public Speaking Workshop

 

Want To Learn More?

If you're interested, contact us and we'll set up a 15 minute phone call to find out if a Pitch Lab team building workshop is a good fit for your company.

Thanks & Happy Holidays from all of us at Pitch Lab!