February 26, 2006

Impromptu Speaking

If you are a reader of my blog you will know that I am doing speech team this year. Well, another tournament has come and gone, and although sock monkeys did not fair as well as I would have hoped (4th place) I have some interesting and entertaining stories from another event that I participated in. My coach signed me up for impromptu speaking, senior division (the most experienced division). I have given a total of 1 impromptu speech in my entire life, and that was on the first day of speech class. So, needless to say, I was a little nervous/concerned.

You enter a room in which you are alone with a judge (unless there is somebody there that wants to listen to you, which is rare). The judge gives you a piece of paper with three topics on it. At this particular tournament all the topics were quotes. You have 30 seconds to read the topics, pick a topic, and think of a speech to give. You then proceed to give the paper back to the judge and deliver a 5 minute speech to the judge.

Strangely enough, there was somebody present to watch each of my impromptu speeches.

  • SPEECH 1 was my worst because I had never done impromptu before. My topic was "dying on your feet is better than living on your knees". Now, avoiding the obviously sexual approach I could have taken with this quote, and not wanting to be philosophical, I went for a strict interpretation. My judge was fresh out of high school so I knew he'd appreciate it the humor. I spoke for five minutes about how shoes were more cost-effective, efficient, and stylish than knee-pads. The random guy in the room and the judge both thought it was hysterical, but the organization was terrible because I ran out of ideas really quickly. Whenever I thought of something I said it, whether or not it was organizationally correct. At one point I even got on my knees and held a mock-debate. Yeah, it wasn't pretty, the word "floundering" comes to mind. Anywho, I finished the speech and left. I didn't get my score or rank until later, but I'll show it to you now just so that you don't have to wait:

    Yep, that would be first place in that round. Terrible organization and frantic speaking earned me 1st place and 25 speaker points. Speaker points tell you how well you spoke, kinda obvious, but I felt like telling you anyways. Either the college guy just liked me, or everybody else was REALLY terrible at impromptu speaking. But yeah, I guess it didn't go as terribly as I thought it had.

SPEECH 2 was an actual attempt at a good impromptu speech. No trying to be funny, nothing weird, just trying to give an impromptu speech. There were three people watching this time, all friends of another of the speakers. My topic, another quote, was something like "I began just by writing poetry. I didn't know I'd grow up to be a poet". Terrible quote, not a lot to work off of, but I did my best. This speech was boring and not really part of why I wrote this blog entry, so I'll be brief. I spoke about how young children are influenced without their knowledge, and often grow up to hold professions that had something to do with what they acted like as a child. My 3 examples were athletes, firefighters, and social workers. I felt like I did well, my organization was sound and my examples all made sense, and my speaking was fluid. All in all, a boring speech but a well done speech. Here's my ballot:

  • SPEECH 3 is the reason for this blog. By the time this speech rolled around I was feeling more comfortable with the whole impromptu thing. A friend of mine watched me this time. My friend was sitting on one side of the room, the judge on the other. Of the three quotes I picked a quote by Yoda: Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. I figured I could make this fairly fun. I started with a standard intro, about 20 seconds long, that talked about how emotions dictate peoples' lives and actions. Now it was time for my main points. Here's what I said (not word for word because I didn't actually record it, but here's a very accurate script):

Fear is an emotion that everybody has experienced and an emotion that I am experiencing right now. I've never given an impromptu speech before, this is my first tournament with impromptu, and I'm in freaking Senior Division?!?!? (yes, I said freaking) This fear, this overwhelming fear is leading me to anger. Anger, not only that I'm here, but towards my coach, because I mean COME ON! What was he thinking?! I've never done this before! It makes me want to go up to him and yell [I raise my fist to the sky and scream as loud as I can] "Mr. Curry! What is wrong with you?!?! I HATE YOU!" This hate towards my coach is derived from the anger I began with. Hate also manifests in other ways. For instance, not only do I hate my coach, but I hate you, the judge, for just sitting there and staring at me. You think you're so special, being able to rank me, but you know that you'd rather be at home eating ice cream! This hate leads me to suffering, suffering in the realization that I just told you that I hated you, and that I stereotyped you as a fat lazy judge who is bad at his job and would rather be at home eating ice cream!

This ranting and raving continued for quite a while. It was a nice release of any tension or nerves I had built up. I'd have to say though, the greatest part of all of it was that no matter what I did it always supported one of my points. Here's a list of things that I said that I used to support my main points of my speech.

  1. [after I slur my speech and mess up a bunch of words] I am angry that I messed up my words, leading to the suffering knowing that I will be marked down for it!
  2. [after realizing that I skipped straight from anger to suffering, forgetting hate] And now I am afraid of what you will do to me because I have forgotten what the quote actually was. That fear leads me through this vicious cycle again!

I'm doing pretty well at this point, my friend is about to wet himself he's laughing so hard and the judge just keeps shaking his head laughing. I was about ready to roll into my conclusion when, to my horror, the judge held up two fingers. I had two minutes left to speak! I'd already said everything, and I was just rambling going back through all my points again and again. So, what did I do? "It is absolutely impossible to describe the suffering I am going through right now, because you just had to hold two fingers up and make me realize that I have nothing else to say, so I'm just going to rehash everything over again! Just so that YOU can share in on the suffering!" Cue gasp of air taken by my friend amid fits of laughter. So, yeah, I rehashed all my points and eventually made it to the end. I finished off my speech and just kinda stood there. I turned to pick up the paper I had the quote on and handed it back to the judge without actually looking at him. I just left the room in shock. I got outside, so did my friend, the door closed behind us, and then I freaked. OMG! What did I just DO!?!?? I'm insane! Friend laughs. OMG! Friend laughs. Other speakers waiting in the hall kinda just look at me, one asks if I'm all right. OMG! I just kinda started laughing nervously, explained that I'd just spent the last five minutes yelling and telling the judge he was fat and stupid, and that I had to go now. We left, I was still kinda numb. Here's the ballot from THAT speech:

Yes, that's right, I got FIRST FREAKING PLACE!!!!! Full speaker points, 1st place! If you look at the bottom left corner of the ballot you can see where the judge wrote down the topic of my speech, just so you know that I'm not lying to ya! WOOT! I was very excited about this ballot, but remember, I didn't see this until the tournament was over. Until then, I had no idea how well I did.

That was the end of impromptuing in normal competition. After three speeches they announce the people who broke into finals. To my amazement, after two crazy speeches and 1 normal speech, I had actually made it to finals! I grabbed somebody from my school to come watch my finals performance so that in case I did anything crazy again I would have a witness.

  • FINALS SPEECH was also an interesting experience. By this time I had realized that being a goofball paid off. I went into my final round and this time there were 3 judges and my one friend. The judges require some description. One appeared to be a college guy, looked cool enough, I knew I could get a few jokes out there and that he would appreciate them. Another was a middle-aged woman, I knew she'd be kinda hard to please, but not too bad. The third was, to be honest, a hard-a**. I went he never looked up when I went in, he was very strict about timing and topics, and he spoke down to me. He, I could tell, was going to be VERY hard to please. So, the mindset I put myself into was I'm only going to be able to please the college guy, the other two are kinda lost causes. I'm not going to win with one vote, so I might as just pull another Yoda and go down having fun! I got my topic, which was "Sometimes it is safer for a man to lie than to be honest". Cue hilarity. I spoke about ex-wives, bosses, and in-laws. My ex-wife story was, in a nutshell:

You've just gone through a nasty divorce settlement, and you WON! You took her house, her car, her clothes, her shoes, her BABIES, and everything! Now, she lives in a cardboard house in NE Salem begging for garbage. The next week, to add insult to injury, you walk by her on the street with your hot new blond girlfriend. Your ex-wife staggers up to you, begging for a popcan, and notices the blond bombshell. "Who is she?" your ex asks. Now, this is when you kindly tell your wife that this poor women was lost and you were just helping her find the UGM. If you don't say this, your ex will probably shank you, stab you with a piece of glass, you with whatever other CRAP (yes, I said crap) she has in that grocery cart next to her cardboard house. No, lying is safer.

This is pretty much how the rest of the speech was like. The boss part of the speech was about getting caught smoking pot in the lounge and the inlaws one was about not telling your inlaws that you have wild-animal sex with their daughter (yes, I said wild-animal sex). Again, I finished this speech up and was just stunned. What had I done?!?!? I had said crap, shank, pot, wild-animal sex, was I insane? The only reassurance I had was that my friend gave me a thumbs up, and that all the judges (including the one with the stick up his butt) had laughed or smiled through the entire speech. There were a couple of raised eye-brows, but that's to be expected. Anyways, I finished, and then sat and listened to the other speakers. When everybody had finished I left. I only ended up with two of the ballots from the final round so I don't know how I did on the third. I've only put one of the ballots on this blog (unless you count the picture of all the ballots, it's on there). Here. . . is that ballot:

FIRST PLACE!!!! Woot!1! If you read closely you'll see a line concerning my wild-animal sex line. Yes, I was telling the truth. Now, my final score for the entire tournament is based off of all three judges, so if this judge is the only one that liked me then I could still come in last place. Want to know what happened at the awards ceremony?


So, for awards, all the people in my impromptu round went on stage. There were 6 of us. They announced the 3 people that didn't place. I wasn't one of them, so I knew that I had gotten at least 3rd place and there were 20 people that had originally set out to compete. They called third place. It wasn't me. They called second place. It wasn't me. They called first place. It was me! I accepted it graciously, and just kept thinking "wow, insane"


So that's the story. I've never done impromptu, made a fool of myself, had a ton of fun, and got 1st place in senior division. My coach couldn't stop laughing! He said that I could insult him in every speech I gave from now on. It was a good experience. I recommend impromptu speaking, but only if you have fun. Here's one final picture of my ballots, including the one I didn't show from the final round. Thanks for reading, I know it was wrong, but I hope it was entertaining!!1!1 If there is any doubt to any of this, remember, there were witnesses in each round, and witnesses that go to my school in my two crazy rounds, so I can produce people to vouch for me!