Saturday, October 8, 2016

Interview with “The Nation’s Misleading Expert,” By Harry Freedman Pt. 2


                                   Harry
Tell me about your first comedy show. What was that like?

                                   Harry
I was 26 and living in South Florida where I was working various jobs including managing editor for a humor magazine, reporting for a weekly Miami Beach newspaper, and copywriting. There was no real comedy scene then, so I started watching some local comedians who worked the bars. Then I saw an ad for a new comedy club at a hotel in Hollywood Florida. I passed the audition and the first night I was on last in front of an audience of 250 people and blew the room the away.

                                   Harry
Wow. How’d you do that?

                                   Harry
The audience watched 7 comedians hit and miss all night. I was so nervous I literally went onstage shaking.

                                   Harry
How is that a good thing?
                                   Harry
Everyone started laughing as soon as they saw me. I didn’t try to hide my nerves and I caught them off guard by having material that went with my character.

                                   Harry
What character is that?

                                   Harry
I created a character called Meekoman, which is the opposite of a Macho Man. I had jokes to match:  “From now on, everywhere there’s a macho man, there’s going to be a meekoman…at a safe distance.” I even opened my jacket to reveal an actual Meekoman T-shirt, which wasn’t for sale, but all you had to do was “just go up to any Meekoman and rip it off his back, he won’t fight you.”

                                   Harry
Very clever.

                                   Harry
Thanks. I had a magical first show. As I started getting laughs, the audience saw that I a plan. So I started getting more confidence and my delivery became more powerful, but in a vulnerable way. I ended up getting 5 ovations in 12 minutes.

                                   Harry
That’s incredible. What happened after that?

                                   Harry
The next 3 months I had good nights and bad nights. Then I entered a talent contest at a bar and found the magic again. Even better - I won $50.

                                   Harry
What then?
                                   Harry
Well, I basically spent the next 5 years performing as many nights as I could, everywhere I could. I also moved back to NY.

                                   Harry
What kept you going?

                                   Harry
First, there’s nothing like getting a laugh from a crowd with your own material. And 2 things helped me early in my career. Joan Rivers caught my act at a small comedy club across the street from where she was performing in the big room. She invited me to her dressing room before her next 2 shows and dispensed advice about show business and complimented me on my act. It was an almost out of body experience.
                                   Harry
And the second?
             Harry
About the same time, a then unknown, but well respected Jerry Seinfeld came up to me and said, “You’re a very good writer,” and added, “I don’t say that to everyone.”  Those 2 things helped me get through some of the ups and downs that every young comic has, because comedy can be very tough in the beginning.

                 Harry
How so?

                 Harry
Well, one time I got booked to do 4 college gigs in 5 days around the country. The first day, we took 3 planes over 15 hours, had 10 minutes to shower, no food, and performed for several thousand-college kids at a stadium. Somehow, our adrenaline took over and we all had terrific shows. That was a great learning experience, because I discovered I could go into a strange situation completely exhausted and still knock it out of the park.   
                            
                                   Harry
Well, that doesn’t sound so bad.
                            
                                   Harry
Yeah, well when we got back, we all learned another lesson. The booking agent took 6 months to pay and only then after several lawsuits. Unfortunately, the lower levels of the comedy business are very much like boxing. You don’t need a license to be an agent.
                            
                                   Harry
I’m curious, who are some of the comics you’ve worked with?

                                   Harry
I spent many years in New York City at clubs like Catch A Rising Star, The Improv, Carolines, The Comedy Cellar, and The Comic Strip. Bill Maher used to put me up at Catch when he was one of their emcees, and between NY and the road, I’ve shared the stage with Louis CK, Jerry Seinfeld, Eddie Murphy, Drew Carey, Tim Allen, Andrew Dice Clay, Paul Reiser, Dennis Leary, Daryl Hammond, Joy Behar, and many more. I also became good friends with Ray Romano and Richard Jeni. I still open for Ray sometimes and used to open for Richard Jeni before his passing.

Harry Freedman is a corporate put-on comedian, emcee, Fake Toaster, and creates hilarious onsite corporate video interview shorts.

He also creates “The Ultimate Tribute Video” (This is your life movie - as produced by a professional comedian) for Honorariums and special occasions. 

Website: www.Hfreedman.com

Agent Friendly Corporate Comedy Website:                   www. Harryfreedman.net
The Ultimate Tribute Video: https://youtu.be/yOP7cofTyqM


Tuesday, June 28, 2016


An Interview with Harry Freedman, “The Nation’s Misleading Expert” 
                 by Harry Freedman.
Harry                      
So, let’s Get Down To Business. What do you mean by the phrase “The Nation’s Misleading Expert?” 

Harry
I do corporate comedy put-ons. I get introduced at events as an actual industry expert and fool everyone into believing I’m real, even as I get them laughing.

Harry
Why do people hire you? What’s the benefit to them?

Harry
At most conferences, audiences begin to glaze over from all the serious content. When I’m introduced, they think they’re getting more of the same. But when I’m finished, clients tell me, they’re refreshed, reenergized, and that it’s one of the best team-building activities they’ve ever had.      

Harry
Can you name of the companies you’ve entertained? 
Harry                                                     
Coca Cola, Dell, Met Life, AT&T, IBM, P&G, Merck, AmEx, and hundreds more. I’ve portrayed anything from a national health care advisor to a cyber-security expert.
Harry                                                     
What makes you such a hot shot at these put-ons?
Harry
I wouldn’t use the words hot shot, but I do a ton of research about every group and customize like crazy.
                                            
Harry
Give me an example.
                              
Harry
I did a speech for Certainteed, which originally began as a French company making guillotines during the Revolution, so I said I how much I admired them because, “One way or another, your company has been beheading people for over 200 years.”

Harry
Tell me some of your career highlights?
Harry                                                        
I would say the biggest was getting the cover of the business section of The New York Times, on a 4th of July Sunday edition, as well as a full page profile, an honor usually reserved for billionaire business leaders. I also open for Ray Romano.
Harry
Oh, so it’s who you know then, huh?
Harry
Doesn’t hurt. But you still have to deliver the goods. In the course of my career, I’ve literally performed above the NY Stock Exchange and below Carnegie Hall, so I’ve been on top of the financial world and the bottom of the show business world.
Harry                                                
One last thing. You have any testimonials from any of these so-called clients you like to brag about?
Harry                                                
Yeah, here’s two. There’s a lot more where these came from.
Harry                                               
Pretty full of yourself, huh? Oh, actually, these aren’t bad.
--------------
Harry, we really appreciated the time you took in customizing your material. Your delivery was tasteful, thoughtful and really funny. You were also an absolute pleasure to work with. 
Denis Hickey - GE Corporate HR Director.

Mr. Freedman was, to put it simply, hilarious. I consider that if people start crying with laughter, the comedian is at the highest skill level. Not only is Mr. Freedman a master at his craft, but we loved working with him. I give Mr. Freedman my highest recommendation.             
David W. Grounds, Day Chair, Arizona YPO Chapter

Harry Freedman is a corporate put-on comedian, emcee, and creates hilarious onsite video interview shorts. He also makes “The Ultimate Tribute Video” (It's like This is your life as produced by a professional comedian) for Honorariums and other special occasions.  

Agent Friendly Corporate Comedy Website: Harryfreedman.net
The Ultimate Tribute Video: https://youtu.be/yOP7cofTyqM

Monday, February 17, 2014

HELP YOUR SPEAKERS SUCCEED AT YOUR EVENT (A guide for meeting planners and event producers)


Harry Freedman – “The Nation’s Misleading Expert”  
          A 25 Year Veteran At The Podium.

If you hire speakers for your corporate events, you know that choosing the right one for your audience is just the first step.
In order to ensure that your guest speaker(s) have the best chance to succeed, there are number of issues you might want to consider.

CONNECT YOUR SPEAKER & CLIENT BEFORE THE EVENT
First, once you’ve hired your speaker, or even before, it’s a good idea to have them talk with the client so they are both on the same page.

Some speakers customize more then others. If you hire a prominent celebrity or high-level politician, you are more likely to get their canned speech rather then one that is more tailored. There is not anything necessarily wrong with that, but you should of course know that going in and try to get as much information about their content ahead of time as possible.

If you hire a consultant on the other hand, you might expect that they will do more homework to learn about your business and develop specific ideas.

As a Corporate Put-on Comedian, I very much customize my speeches so I always talk to the client to get as much information about the company or group as I can. I also prescreen my material to make sure the client is comfortable with all my content when I am done writing.

LOGISTICS
One of the most important things to help your speaker give a great performance is to get them to the destination early enough so they are rested and refreshed by the time they go on. Otherwise, you run the risk of them being worn out from the day’s travel, and not as sharp. 

If possible, depending on the distance and location, I always try to get there the night before. Not only does this help me get a good night’s sleep, but it also eliminates any worry for the client about any possible travel delays, whether from weather or traffic, particularly these days on the GW Bridge. In addition, I find it useful to watch some of the other meetings to get a flavor of their topics and a feel for the audience.

AV AND ROOM SET UP
Any speaker worth their salt will usually want to check the room and AV ahead of time, especially if they have power point or video as part of their presentation. I sometimes create videos for my performances and glitches are common when we first try them out. It also helps to adjust all the volume controls before the speech, whether it’s for a video, podium mic, or wireless lav. I always go over everything beforehand, and I also like to get on the stage or at the podium to get a feel for the space ahead of time.

Make sure you have a good sound system and fresh batteries in the wireless microphone. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had the wireless die on me, so I also try to make sure that there’s always a backup.

In terms of the room set-up, I find auditorium style is always the best. This way, you have the maximum amount of people close together without any dead space if the room is filled. If it is not, try to get the audience to sit up front and create a more unified situation. 

A good rule of thumb is that the closer the audience is to the speaker and one another, the greater the reaction and attention.
Sometimes, I’m asked to speak after dinner or lunch and the audience is at round tables. In that situation, I will try my best to get the tables moved up and near one another, so again, I have the best chance for a greater reaction.

The worst thing you can do to a speaker in terms of room set-up is to have them too far away from the audience or have dead space in the front of the room. I’ve spoken at events that had a dance floor in the middle that literally divided the audience into separate parts that were much less cohesive, and as a result, less reactive.

Another key factor in the room set-up is the lighting. It’s best if the speaker and podium are well lit, and the audience is dim but not completely dark. This helps us remain the focus of their full attention since we’re the brightest thing in the room, but also lets us see the audience reaction, which helps us adjust as we’re going along.

Sometimes, I’m in a situation where there is no spotlight or special lighting, but only the hotel track lighting. This usually crosses the entire room and doesn’t allow different levels of brightness for the audience and speaker. In that case, I usually set everything somewhere in the middle, so even though I may not be as bright as I’d like, I keep the audience from having too much glare on them as well.

Above all, if you have the event at a breakfast, lunch or dinner, make sure that everyone is done eating and the wait-staff has cleared the dishes and stops moving. It’s a simple thing. If people are chewing and clanking dishes, they’re going to be distracted from the presentation and also create additional noise.

These are just a few tips that I’ve learned from my experiences performing as a corporate speaker. I hope you find these tips useful and if I can answer any questions, please contact me at Surfcomic@aol.com or check out my website at www.Hfreedman.com 

Harry Freedman – The Nation’s Misleading Expert – specializing in Customized Corporate Comedy Put-Ons and Standup Comedy.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

These Facebook Tips Can Double Your Income in the Meeting Industry in just 3 Weeks.

The secret ways you can turn facebook into a cash cow.


Harry Freedman
The Nation's Misleading Expert
Lying For Laughs For Over 25 Years!

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Best Gift You can give someone is a movie about their life. Here’s how to Make one.

How to create a “This Is Your Life Movie” that knocks everyone’s socks off!

One of the greatest gifts you can give for someone’s birthday, retirement, honorarium, wedding, anniversary, mitzvah, or any other special occasion, is to create a video that tells their life story, that gets played at their event or party.

This is something I do professionally (www.TheUltimateTributeVideo.com) and I’ve developed some tips to help guide you to create an actual short documentary style movie that captures an individual’s essence and personality, in a way that’s highly entertaining.

In my opinion, it’s basically the most personal thing you can do to show someone how much you care. And if you do it right, it’ll be so warm, touching, and funny, it’ll blow everyone away.
So if you’re with me so far and ready to try something great, here goes.

GET THE PHOTOS AND STORIES
First, ask the individual’s friends and family for photos. If they’re digitized, that’s easier, but since many people still have old photo albums, put the best photos under a good light, and digitize them with your own camera.  

Next, ask for anecdotes and get the individual’s life story. Where were they born? Where did they grow up? What were they like as a kid? What were their interests? Who were their friends? I try to get everything about their lives as if I’m doing a research paper.

If the video is going to be a surprise, make sure to do this in secret. If the individual is in on it ahead of time, then use them as a primary resource without hesitation.
After the initial interviews, go home and input the photos into your computer. Make sure you have backups of both your photos and video footage on a separate hard drive as you put together your project.

SCRIPT THEIR LIFESTORY AND WRITE NARRATION.
Write a narrative script about the individual’s life in chronogical order and record your voice-overs. It could start with something like, “He was born in Brooklyn and grew up in a rough neighborhood, so he had to be tough to survive.” Then describe how his upbringing affected his personality.
After you put in the narration, mix, match, and shorten the appropriate photos for each narrative to help tell the story. Sometimes I also add photos from the web, such as a map of their hometown to bring in an extra element.

WRITE QUESTIONS FOR THE VIDEO INTERVIEWS
Once you’ve scripted their life, and have a rough draft, prepare for the live interviews with their friends and family. It’s best to try to gather everyone at the same place and schedule them every 20 or 30 minutes, individually or in small groups.

ADD HUMOR
Think of questions before-hand that will elicit interesting anecdotes as well as possible humor. I usually go in with about a page or two of notes based on their previous information, to get the highlights of the honoree’s life. I also coach my interviewees to bring out some humor.
When I interviewed the workers of one honoree who owned a window washing business for example, I had them describe how their boss, “wouldn’t do second floor windows because he was afraid of heights.” This was so obviously untrue, that it brought down the house with laughter.

DO THE BEST YOU CAN WITH VIDEO AND SOUND QUALITY
There are whole books devoted to video, sound, and lights, so I won’t get into too much detail, but the better you’re able to frame your shots, control the audio, and have adequate lighting, the better the finished product will look and sound. I personally use a 3 chip high def camera, professional lighting and a shotgun microphone. There are people far more expert about this subject then myself, but since this video will not only be for the party, but also for posterity, try to do the best you can.

DURING THE INTERVIEWS - GO WITH THE FLOW
Use the questions as a guide, but if someone goes off into a unexpected direction, be prepared to ask follow ups. You never know what people are going to bring up, but the more you get on film, the more you have to work with when you’re editing. On the other hand, if someone goes off on a tangent that seems less promising, try to swing back to your other questions. 

VIDEO EDITING
Once you’ve got your footage, input everything into your computer and start editing. Again, make sure you have backups on a separate hard drive. Begin by separating the material that has a chance of being used from the stuff that’s not as interesting. This is probably the most tedious part of the whole job, but when you’re done, you should have the best footage ready to play with.
Next, go back to your script and add your voice over narration to the photos. Figure out what should go where based on the chronological timeline and match them up to accentuate the story.

ADD TITLES FOR YOUR CATEGORIES
I usually use categories like Early Childhood, Family Life, Career, Hobbies, Eccentricities, and Prepare Your Hankies for starters. Add as many or as few as you want depending on your subject’s life and interests.

ADD HUMOR
This is also a good place to add a little humor. For example, I’ll show a series of actual photos of the individual and their friends and family, and then mix in a picture of Brad Pitt or even a Kardashian. The juxtaposition of these completely unrelated and unexpected celebrity shots usually get a good laugh.

I also added a joke for one family that lived on an estate when their daughters were young, by showing a picture of the estate, and stating, “So Erin and Lauren grew up thinking they were rich.”

As you’re editing, feel free to experiment by creating extra files so you’re previous version is always safe. This way, you can always go back if you don’t like your newest changes.

ALTERNATE THE NARRATION PHOTO FOOTAGE WITH THE INTERVIEWS
Once you’ve got several blocks of narration with the appropriate photos, it’s time to add the interviews into their logical categories to create a blend.

TITLES, MUSIC AND SPECIAL EFFECTS
When I’m done putting together the whole thing, I go back and add titles and music. You definitely want opening and closing titles, but I find titles are also a great way to add information throughout the video, as well as an easy way to score some more jokes. I also use Garage-band to add music underneath the opening and closing titles, as well as anywhere else that I think it might be of help.

If you have extra time and want to add some more pizzaz, play around with special effects. Often when someone talks for a long time, I’ll fast forward their speech to show how long they were talking and then slow it down again for added humor. Of course, I always make sure that that person can take a joke.

Another time, I shot video for a bat mitzvah girl who was a karate expert and used special effects showing her breaking boards and chopping watermelons to make a humorous infomercial which I called, “The Julia Chopper.”

CUT THE FAT
After it’s all done, I go back and cut out the fat. I show it to my wife and some friends and usually edit it down to 10-15 minutes. There’s no rule that says it has to be that length, but unless you’re a master, you’re more likely to leave in stuff that isn’t needed and slow things down. Keep the best.

KEEP EVERYTHING TASTEFUL
Remember, these events are usually for business or family functions, so unless you’re making a video for a bachelor party, try to keep everything in PG.

PLAYING THE VIDEO AT THE EVENT
I’m going to assume that either you or someone else will be able to secure a movie screen, sound equipment, and video projector. Hopefully, this is all done professionally and all you have to do is bring a dvd (plus backups), laptop, or Ipad, and you don’t have to worry. Either way, talk to whoever is in charge ahead of time and get there early enough to make sure everything works. Technical difficulties with video happen frequently, so be prepared to take a few minutes extra to figure it all out.

BEST TIME FOR THE VIDEO TO BE PLAYED
The best time to play your tribute video is right after the toasts, because everyone is usually focused and attentive and your movie becomes the icing on the cake.
I personally like to introduce the video’s I’ve made, to set it up so that everyone knows it’s going to be a little different and to ensure it has their full attention.

With that in mind, I also ask everyone to turn off their cellphones and make sure the waitstaff holds off on serving food or collecting dishes. I can tell you from personal experience that there is nothing worse then watching your audience get distracted by clanking glasses and crashing dishes, so talk to the party planner or matre’di to make sure they’re all on the same page.

If all goes well, you can create a video that’s not only  charming but even electric. If you get the right balance of warmth, humor, and detail, it can be an homage to the guest of honor that will not only be loved when it’s played at the party, but will be an amazing keepsake for them and their family for the rest of their lives. 
Yes, it takes a lot of work and care. But when you see the reactions on everyone’s faces, you’ll know it was well worth the time.
And that’s a gift worth giving.

Harry Freedman is the creator of The Ultimate Tribute Video,   a customized humorous biographical “this is your life” style movie about someone’s life for any important landmark occasion.

Harry is also a professional comedian who frequently opens for Ray Romano, and has been profiled in the NY Times for his Corporate Comedy Put-ons for Fortune 1000 companies, in which he’s introduced as a fake expert at conventions and proceeds to veer off into customized humor. For more information, check out: www.Hfreedman.com

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at Harry@hfreedman.com or call at 516-922-6831.