In a serious world, Dale Irvin likes to find the funny moments. In fact, Dale is so talented at turning ordinary situations into knee-slapping laughter that he does this for a living.
He’s a Professional Summarizer.
Dale goes to meetings, conferences, and events–listens to every word spoken, and then presents to the audience with a funny, custom-made commentary that is sure to get the audience laughing. Even at themselves.
For years, Dale worked in advertising and had a job with regular (for the most part) hours. For fun, he took a class at Second City in Chicago and decided to start a career in comedy. He made the rounds at cheesy bars during open mic nights and honed his craft.
Then he was fired from his day job. It was time to figure out if he could make a living with comedy. He spent five years on cruise ships, entertaining audiences through calm and rough seas.
“In my early days of comedy there were lots of times when the audience didn’t think things were funny–there were some nights when I bombed–but I never wanted to give up, I just wanted to do better next time,” Dale said. “The thing with comedy–it’s hit or miss. You try to have more hits than miss and sometimes you read the audience wrong. It’s never fun when they don’t laugh–when the audience thinks they are getting someone funny and it doesn’t happen–you have to be ready for that and prepare yourself. Just remember, you will get over it.”
Dale shifted his direction to speaking at corporate gigs once he discovered he could earn more as a professional speaker. “The first real speech, I remember it well,” Dale recalled. “I knew how to perform on the stage, I knew how to be funny , it was just a different audience–suits and ties instead of jeans and t-shirts–and most of them were not drunk, so that was different.”
Dale took on more and more corporate gigs and became a member of the National Speaker Association. During a winter workshop in 1992, Dale became the emcee for a talent show. In an impromptu move, he started summarizing the events and the audience responded with great laughter. The National Speaker Association asked him to summarize the summer convention. What started out as improv comedy turned into a yearly event. In 1995, he was inducted into the Speaker Hall of Fame.
By word of mouth, Dale’s reputation grew. He was doing as many as 200 gigs a year, customizing and improvising each presentation with almost no preparation time. Three years ago, he cut back on the number of speaking engagements and penned several books. Every week, he hosts Friday Funnies, a weekly show on YouTube, summarizing the news and entertaining people from his studio at home.
“You’re never too old to get into this business, people close to retirement can do this,” Dale said. “It’s very fulfilling. People always ask me where to find work; my first piece of advice: get good at your speech, good at what you’re saying to people, and jobs will come. Start at the Kiwanis or Rotary club and once you get good, everything will work out. Talk as often as you can, in front of whatever audience you can, until you are perfect–then you can go out and charge people money.”
And for fun, Dale often jumps on one of his two Harley Davidson motorcycles and goes for a ride. One of his most memorable trips was along Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica with 400 other riders–10 days of sun, stories, and yes, laughter.
Karen Putz is an author, speaker, and Passion Mentor who helps others unwrap their passions at any age. For fun, she walks on water with the assistance of a rope, boat, and driver. Connect with Karen via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and her website: Ageless Passions.