That is a gift. And I’ll tell you why.
I had always wanted to go to a comedy show. But I could never go because they could not provide an interpreter or a captioner. If I went to a comedy show without an interpreter, I’d miss all the jokes.
So I had given up on the idea of ever attending a comedy show.
All but forgotten.
Out of sight, out of mind.
Until this young woman suggested an idea.
We were at a chapter meeting of the Hearing Loss Association of America, a non-profit advocacy organization that served local deaf communities all over the U.S. I was a newsletter editor and board member at the time.
She said, “why don’t we set up a group event at the comedy club with a captioner? We can pool our money to pay the captioner.”
I was in a rush, carrying a pile of books and papers, and my iPhone was vibrating insistently in my pocket.
“Sure, I’ll think about it,” I said hurriedly.
I must have been a little dismissive, judging from the crestfallen look on her face.
But, a little while later, the wheels that hadn’t turned in my head for years, began turning again.
Then it hit me.
What a great idea this was!
This could be a once in a lifetime opportunity for many deaf and hard-of-hearing people, myself included.
At the next board meeting, I lobbied for a group event at a local comedy club.
After some hand-wringing over our tiny budget, I was given the green light to organize one. I asked a local comedy club if I could host a group event with a batch of discounted tickets.
They said yes.
So I planned to sell about 25 tickets.
The Strangest Place to Become a Copywriter
I wrote my first ad: a simple flyer.
Three weeks before the event, I blasted it through the email newsletter. I trumpeted it on Facebook.
Almost instantly, my inbox began blowing up.
Email after email, each asking for a seat at the event. Any time I finished replying to one email, two more would pop into my inbox.
I started worrying about selling too many tickets. I asked the club how much space they had and if they could hold more seats for us. They reassured me they’d have plenty of space.
I sold four times more tickets than I expected to sell.
The comedy club actually increased their maximum capacity by making the stage smaller and adding more chairs. Despite their best efforts, the comedy club had to turn a few people away because it still was over capacity.
The whole room was in deep guttural laughter for two hours straight.
A projector was mounted on the wall behind the stage. Words scrolled on the projector as the captioner furiously typed on the keyboard, barely keeping up with the show’s rapid-fire pace.
After the show, an elderly woman, exhausted from laughing, came up to me in tears. She thanked me profusely for the once-in-a-lifetime experience, saying she had never been to a comedy show before in her life.
She squeezed her arms around me in a heartfelt hug.
I would be lying if I said my own eyes didn’t get misty. It was only then I realized how much impact two hours of laughter had on many people’s lives, including my own.
How Did I Sell So Many Tickets?
I was utterly shocked how well my flyer did.
To me, it seemed nothing special. Less than 250 words. I was straightforward in my writing without trying to get cute or clever with words.
Some people at the comedy club suggested I should become a copywriter.
I was perplexed at such a suggestion. I was a software developer… not a writer.
Still, I couldn’t resist thinking about it.
To satisfy my curiosity, I read books from the greatest copywriters to ever walk this planet: Joseph Sugarman, David Ogilvy, and Gary Halbert to name a few.
A funny thing happened as I read these books.
I started to understand why my comedy show copy worked so well:
I intimately understood the target market, genuinely felt their pain, and gave them a unique opportunity to fill their unmet need. Top that off with a sense of urgency and —
BOOM! Off the tickets went.
But, I still haven’t answered my own question:
Why Do I See My Deafness as a Gift?
Being deaf is a strength when writing copy.
Noise does not pollute my mind.
I turn off my hearing aids.
Complete and total silence.
I become focused enough to block everything else out and produce my very best writing.
When I work on a project, it has my undivided attention.
It is the only thing on my mind at that moment. I put full focus, unshakeable commitment, and meticulous effort into the work I do, and it shows.
My surroundings could be burning down in a fire, and I’d still be focused on what I’m doing.
OK, I’m probably exaggerating a little… at least I hope so, for my own sake!