Value and the Art of Storytelling
What makes something valuable? Is it the material it’s made of? Is it the circumstances? Just like a viral video, what makes it worth something, what gives it a life of its own. Rebecca Black for instance, if you haven’t heard of her get out from under your rock and click this link. Friday has been viewed by Five and a half million people, yes I said million. She has since parlayed this into some sort of career. Good for her. I think the whole thing is a train wreck but if you can make some quick scratch from listing the days of the week in a video while being auto-tuned until you sound like a fax machine, more power to you. And by linking to her in my blog I am just making it worse, wow, the power of the internet. I’m supposed to be a guardian of good taste not your provider of talentless teenagers. But again, what is the value?
I was listening to a podcast my buddy just turned me on to called The Nerdist by Chris Hardwick (Son of the famous bowling Billy Hardwick) it is an interview style podcast with famous guests, really good, check it out. Anyway one of his guests was Penn Gillette from the famous duo Penn & Teller (episode 130). Penn tells a story, coincidentally enough about bowling. He tells it way better than I could here so listen to the podcast, there are other stories too that are just as funny but I will give it a try. Penn and his buddy had gone bowling, his friend is a jock and was bowling a really good game, the game of his life, he was close to bowling 300, a perfect game. If it happens once in a lifetime you are very lucky or very good. Penn’s friend was about to bowl his last frame. The tension was mounting and a crowd had gathered to watch him achieve a pinnacle in his athletic career (sorry about the “pin”nacle pun I couldn’t resist). All the pins are set up, he winds up to throw his last strike and on his backswing, Penn yells out “HEY!!” His friend misses all the pins except one, not even a gutter ball, one pin. Perfect game ruined. Penn’s friend then turns around and they lock eyes, he walks over to Penn, the crowd is expecting something to happen, a throw down if you will. Penn does something strange he puts his hands behind his back. His buddy comes up to him, grabs his balls with one hand and with his other hand punches him hard in the solar plexus. Penn passes out for about ten seconds. As he comes to the crowd was all around him.
So this is what I took away from that story, number one it’s funny as hell and the way he tells it is great, Penn is a consummate entertainer, but I also realized that it had gained value over the years like Apple stock or a nice wine. Let me explain, if Penn’s friend would have bowled the perfect game he could have told that story at a party and people would be impressed said the polite “Way to go.” or “Nice.” and the conversation would then move onto something else. But because of Penn’s actions long ago at a time when the event was paramount, he added value to the event by diffusing it or maybe infusing it with drama. His buddy also realizing this, evened the score right there, putting a nice ending on an already good story. Or maybe they’re just a couple of assholes. But no matter how you look at it this is a story that you can tell at a party and like the Faberge Shampoo commercials, they’ll tell two friends and they’ll tell two friends and so on, and so on, and then some hack will blog about it.
So if you want to add value to something think about what made it valuable in the first place and through that out the window, cause I have no idea how some of these things go viral. I think the art of storytelling is being slowly and painfully killed by viral video. Video killed the radio star and now the storyteller, man that video is a prick. So moving forward try to tell a story, pass on the good ones, share them with friends and stop watching viral videos, except the one with the cat that’s scared by thunder, that’s too freaking funny.