“I run out of things to say…”

Tongue Tied

I get this a lot from students…

“I don’t know what to say!”


Let me unpack that curt reply. When guys approaching say “I ran out of things to say” what they mean is that they can’t think of anything to say. What’s the difference? That’s right. “Think”.

Let me unpack that. What they really mean is that they have run out of formulating a thought, putting it into words, filtering those words to make them come across better, reediting in their head, testing it out once more in their heads, then saying it. This takes time. Too long. It results in being “tongue-tied” or “going blank” where the conscious mind can’t work fast enough to keep up with those excessive demands, so gives up. Why does it give up? Because we’re not evolved to handle this.

Students often say to me: “how do you come up with that stuff? I could never be that quick witted” when they hear me in set. What they imagine goes on in my head is the conscious process described above, at lightning speed. I’m not that clever – no one is – that’s processing power for computers, not brains. It’s not possible for anyone to do that that quickly!

So why am I so damned quick?

Let’s review the process described above (1) and suggest an alternative (2):

1. Consciously think of something -> Put it into words -> Filter those words to make it sound better -> Do another re-edit in your head -> Test it out by saying it in your head -> Say the words

Here’s my process:

2. Open mouth -> Words come out of subconscious

You can see the difference in speed. The second is often called a “stream of consciousness”. I like to think of it more as a stream of consciousness by the subconscious mind. Yes, this means I come out with some whacky-ass shit. This is why improvising comedians are so damned quick – they’ve learned to trust what comes out of their mouth and not filter, edit or sensor anything (n.b. I’m talking about improv comedians, not stand-up comedians who have filing cabinets of material in their head to whip out at a moment’s notice).

The thing is, we are all born with this ability, but as we grow up we are taught to filter what we say so we can “fit in” and please the people around us – starting with our parents – who won’t just let us be (because their parents didn’t let them be), then peers, teachers, bosses etc etc.  Listen to the stuff young kids come out with – they even make TV shows about it (Kidz say the darndest things, dun-they?) .

Humans are innately creative. That’s just the nature of our beings. It’s these big brains what got us to this point of evolution (combined with opposable thumbs) that make us the creative brilliants we are. The sun is still there, people, it’s just that we’ve all stuffed a woolly loaf of cumulus in the way. To get the sun shine back, blow away the clouds.

You see, with process 2, you literally never ever ever ever run out of things to say. Ever. You can literally talk until you pass out from exhaustion. You don’t “think” of things to say, you just “say”.

The other word for this is: IMAGINATION. Imagination contains infinity. It can go forever.

Albert Einstein

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

 — Albert Einstein

So that’s why I wrote earlier:

“I don’t know what to say!”


 — Me, earlier 

So, here’s an exercise. Pick a topic, preferably from random. Click “random” on Wikipedia, or open the dictionary at a random page and choose a random word. You don’t have to know anything about it. Just let the mind create! Just look at the words and then talk. Don’t sensor anything, no matter what gibberish comes out. Record it and when you feel it coming to a comfortable close, hit stop and listen back!

Let’s try it out. I’ll go first, I’ve just hit “random” on Wikipedia.


Ok, here I go – exercise time. No need to look up what it means. This works better with talking because you don’t have to wait for your hands to catch up with your mouth but, oh well.

Xuanwei sounds like a Chinese word but it’s actually from Essex and is a corruption of Shane’s Way – Shane was a well known local rapscallion who had a penchant for butterfly collecting – not the kind you see in fields but the ones pressed into books. If you want to make a good butterfly pressing you need war and peace or the complete works of Shakespeare. Thomas Hardy will not do because it contains too many vowels, and vowels are too soft for the butterfly. Rhythm doesn’t contain any vowels because it’s racist – that doesn’t mean it likes races, but that it likes racing with all nations of the world, something which Shane’s way just wouldn’t allow, because he was as fucking anti-Chinese as they come. And they come a lot, especially when aroused by the gentle caressing flap of the wing of a butterfly.

So that’s just me writing what comes into my mind and NOT EDITING! It’s actually quite coherent, and things link up, because I’m well practiced in letting my mind do what it wants – there’s not too much cloud in front of my sun. It also contains sexual stuff, which is half force of habit and half because I’m a saucy devil. See how everything linked up? Well my conscious mind didn’t plan that – there’s no way it can do it that quickly – my subconscious mind spewed out. The subconscious mind is quick – lightning quick, and so is yours!

So do the exercise loads of times. Then get a mate, and have him pick a random word or topic, and then you just spew forth (it’s essentially like the radio comedy programme just a minute). The purpose of this is to let go – let go of your analyzing, thinking, judging mind and allow flow to happen.

After you’ve had fun doing this a few times with a friend, have fun going and doing it in set. You will say weird stuff. Good. It’s effortless, and with time you will come out with tantalizing, creative, engaging, individual, different (ALWAYS BE DIFFERENT!) bundles of delight without any effort at all!

Let me know how you get on, and subscribe to my fucking blog already

Love ya x


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