Folks, I’ve been speaking and performing for a long time. A very long time. Guess what: I actually:

1. Am not burnt out.

2. Still have family members that talk to me.

3. Still have that vest (I think – – or is that what I saw the kids lining the doghouse with?).

4. Still have my dignity. A little. Ok, not much.

5. I’m still learning. 

See, my first full-time performing gig involved the Colorado Renaissance Festival. I was fresh-faced, on-stage, making people laugh and getting PAID! I made a whopping $30 bucks a day, plus tips, which mostly totaled to about $35/day. (OK, I didn’t say I was good, just that I got paid). Although I didn’t get rich, it was an awesome learning experience.   Although working at the Renaissance Festival was often hard on my self confidence, (I considered quitting about 5 times a day) but with hindsight it was a killer experience every speaker or entertainer should have.  (Though for your sake I hope you don’t have to wear the vest.)

The festival attracted people from all over Colorado, of course, but also from places all over the country. Being on stage and in front of audiences at a young age allowed me to really, really hone my craft in those early years, and it has paid off. A lot of times, when we’re young we don’t realize that what we do then can affect us 10 to 20 years down the line.  I was performing and doing what I LOVE(D) to do and making money at it. (Barely…. can you say, “Brad lived with his parents!“)  And doesn’t it look like I’m having a great time?

It was a tough job — 6 shows a day in 95 degree heat for the TOUGHEST audience Colorado had to offer. I was horrible, but luckily, despite all the evidence to the contrary, I didn’t understand how truly horrible I was.  I can tell you this:  there are techniques I use in my current comedy and humor that I KNOW were influenced by those early years working outside.

The best part of this job was that it provided instant feedback:  the amount of tip money in our hat was evidence enough of our success — or in my case, failure.   I knew the instant I looked in my hat after my comedy and magic show and saw 59¢ and a piece of gum that I wasn’t getting the big tips that good performers earned.  I new I sucked.  I knew that I had to improve fast.  (Because that gum just wasn’t that filling.)  Again, I knew I was weaker than the other performers, but luckily I just thought I needed to get a bit better.  I don’t think my ego could have taken the real truth that I was absolutely horrible.  But I did know I was bad.   And that (limited) self knowledge and a desire to get better created a pretty steep learning curve.

I see WAY too many speakers, comedians and magicians who would never last in an environment like that because they have no idea about how weak their product is;  they don’t know how much they suck.  One show at the Renaissance Festival where 1/2 of your audience leaves and the other 1/2 gives you a 25¢ would give them the slap in the face they deserve.

Let’s admit it:  most audiences today are formal enough that it feels awkward getting up as a group and leaving shouting, “You stink.”   They stay in the audience whether or not the speaker is mediocre.   Even in a comedy club, the audience will put up with some pretty poor comedy.  That’s why that Renaissance Festival  job was so great for me;  it was great precisely because it was so hard and because it created that instant and negative feedback.

After performing and speaking for twenty years some of what I do feels pretty easy and natural.   I’d love to tell you that my current ease with audiences is a natural extension of my “gifts.”   Ha! It isn’t.  It’s the product of a gazillion shows, a shocking number of were horrible failures, hundreds of embarrassing on stage disasters, and well… twenty years of getting it right.  

My point:  If you want to be a motivational speaker, remember to give yourself time to develop, and find a place where you can develop your material safely.   And if you are looking to hire a motivational speaker, make sure your speaker has years and years and years of experience under his … er … vest.

What was your first job? Has it helped you in the profession you’re in today? Do you have an ugly vest in your closet too?  Share your stories!


Are you looking for a comedian speaker for your event?  Pick somebody with years of experience.  Pick me.  Contact my office here.

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Don’t have one? Don’t even know what it is?

Humor Quotient is the amount of humor that you have in your business, personal life and all other areas that is directly related to your ability to find humor in most all things. In other words, it is a factor of how much “funny” there is in your day and how that funny helps you work, live and cope effectively. Like I said, Humor Quotient.

To assess your Humor Quotient, you must first decide what make you laugh. For instance, the lame joke from the internet or your boss’s toupee?  Also, the cafeteria’s “Mystery Meat” may make you chuckle inside but the office jokester makes you want to poke a pencil in your thigh.

Everyone is different and different things make people laugh. A lot of times, when I do seminars, there will be maybe one or two people who at first don’t “get it” and those are the ones that make me try extra hard to get their lips to curl. I realize that their HQ may be high or need adjusting, but usually I’m able to find it and make knee-slappers out of them. Yeah buddy, I aim to please.


If you are a person or you work with a person who is hard to get to smile or laugh, learn them first. In office settings, we’re told to be serious, somber and focused on the task at hand. Yes, those things are important, but it’s also important to have a work environment where you can enjoy and have fun, if only a little. It helps productivity immensely and does wonders for the work environment. And usually, the person who is hard to crack ends up actually enjoying themselves.

And in extreme cases, they may just need a little extra adjusting. In that case, I usually have my assistant, Guido, take them out back and give them a *little* adjustment just so they don’t interfere too much with my presentation. Like I said, I aim to please. You WILL be happy when I’m done, got it?

Are you easy or difficult to loosen up? What would you say your Humor Quotient is? High? Low? In Between?

Scared of Guido, are you? Don’t worry. He won’t bother you unless you give him a reason…


Brad Montgomery

The military Uncle Sam that is!

I’m not gonna get into whether or not the current war is a great idea or not. But, one thing is certain: our men and women in the military are worthy of the utmost respect. They sacrifice a lot for their families — and us — and place themselves (often) in harm’s way for our country’s freedom. In a time of economic disparity and political uncertainties for our military, I cannot think of an audience who needs a bit of a “humor reminder” more than military audiences.

Here’s a photo of me working on stage in front of an Air Force audience doing an audience participation bit with an officer. We all really had a lot of fun doing this interactive session and I hope to be able to join them another time to help lighten things up again.

I’ve spoken to several military audiences— and I love them. I’ve been able to share humor with them, understand their lives a little better and become educated as well. These folks work hard at a job that couldn’t be more serious. You might think that military audiences are harder for humorists like me. Not so. They are actually one of my most favorite audiences to speak to. They are appreciative and responsive. And best of all, they need what I have to offer. (And don’t we all feel good when what we do is not only appreciated but needed?)

Have you ever had to address a difficult audience? How did you do it? Or, have you ever been the difficult audience? What did you think of the speaker?

Can you guess what my least favorite audience is? Comment away!