We’re so excited to find out Andrew Linderman’s storytelling secrets on Tuesday, July 8th when he will be teaching a class at Makeshift Society Brooklyn. Tickets available here. In anticipation of that, we caught up with Andrew to peek inside his story-filled head.
Makeshift: Is there a specific memory you could share of when you realized you had natural storytelling ability?
Andrew: The memory that pops out is the first time I had to tell a story in front of an audience. It was the third week of Margo Leitman’s storytelling class at the Upright Citizens Brigade in Chelsea. At that point, my only real performance experience, apart from a Dr. Seuss play in middle school, was a stand up set I had done at a bar that had gone pretty badly. Badly, as in, I got no laughs until the very end, when I thanked the audience for being both polite and respectful. That got a few chuckles.
So, standing in front of the class, I was starting to have a melt down when I remembered getting fired from my first job out of college after my boss discovered that I had been applying for other jobs on company time. I told the story in the hope that everyone would find it hilarious. One person laughed.
As I was dragging my feet towards the door at the end of class, one of my classmates pulled me aside and said: “That was really good. It was honest and personal and very relatable.” I didn’t know what to say, so I thanked him and went home. The message didn’t really register until I had to tell the same story again in front of the class a few weeks later. I got a bit flustered in the middle of the story, but powered through it. I still didn’t get a lot of laughs, but I took my time and got a lot of positive feedback at the end.
Makeshift: What are some surefire ways to lose the attention of your audience?
Andrew: There are two big ones. The first way to lose an audience is when you don’t deliver what you promise. Put it this way: if you go to a rock concert and the band comes up on stage and announces that they’re going to do a post-Modern version of Hamlet, you’ll be pissed. Even if you like post-Modernism and Hamlet. It’s important to meet people’s expectations before you can exceed them.
The second big way to lose an audience is to talk over them. An audience is there to listen to you, so take your time with your story. I’ve seen too many people race through their stories or pitches, only for the audience to end up confused or frustrated. Be patient with yourself and your audience will be patient with you.
Makeshift: How do you think Brooklyn and the people of Brooklyn have helped to shape how you tell a story?
Andrew: Brooklyn is a place that is both self-consciously hip and innovative while remaining un-self-consciously rooted in tradition. This set of contradictions suits me well. My mom is from Midwood and I used to visit my grandmother in Brooklyn long before it was “cool”, so I always felt the pull of Brooklyn traditions like folding my pizza and swearing at cabs (not all cabs, just some). People in Brooklyn tend to be honest, so if they don’t like something they’ll let you know right away. It’s a good way to develop a healthy respect for your audience, which is something that’s helped me in all facets of life.
As an instructor and entrepreneur, Brooklyn has been very good to me. I got my start teaching at the Brooklyn Brainery and would not be where I am without their help. They continue to give me the time and space to experiment, which is really wonderful. Brooklyn people also value and reward hard work, which is great for someone looking to grow a small business. The openness of the business climate has helped me sustain my oddball enterprise. My approach is a bit unconventional, but I’ve found that people here are really receptive to quirky things. I mean, we invented the Cragel after all.
Overall, Brooklyn is an amazing place to live and work. Apart from the weather, the high rent, the constant noise, the dirty subways, and the rats. And the double wide strollers. But you’ve heard all that before. To me, it feels like home.
To learn more about Andrew, be sure to snag tickets to his class in July!