I've kind of had this notion floating around in my head for a while now. Because I grew up close to Chicago, I have a love of comedy thanks to Second City. In fact, on of my favorite things to do is to watch live comedy shows. Comedy Central used to have much more stand up programs, and now it seems like they are few and far between.
It may not seem like the 2 are remotely similar, but allow me to explain.
Before I get into it, remember that this is merely my personal experience and general impression of the sex educator community. My involvement in the community is far from normal, and I am not intending to speak for anyone else.
One of my most frequent workshops is called "The Physiology of Sexual Pleasure & Sex Toys (aka Oh Yeah! Right There!"
Even though all of my workshops are custom tailored to what the organizer requests, I tend to utilize a lot of the same material. For this particular workshop I talk pretty extensively about pleasure anatomy and how sex toys can be used to enhance solo or partnered sex.
It is not uncommon for me to present this particular workshop on any given Tuesday and basically nail it. The audience is highly engaged, acts appropriately, and many participants hang around after my presentation to talk with me. I can give almost the exact same workshop (and many times for the same organization) a few days later and personally feel like I sucked as a sex educator. Keep in mind that I am talking about the exact same concepts, bring the exact same sex toys, and structure my presentation the exact same way as the one a few days prior. What makes me feel like a failure or that I bombed that workshop is a total lack of audience participation, participants shouting out really inappropriate things while I'm presenting, and basically asking me questions about my personal sexual life that fall into the "douche bag" category. Examples of this would be: "You much have a huge vagina don't you?!" or "Man, you really like to talk about sex, you must be pretty slutty."
I've been presenting sexuality workshops for almost 10 years. This sort of thing doesn't happen all that often...seriously, thank god for that...but when it does, it has made me question and basically ruminate over what I did wrong.
Here is what I have come to understand about being a sexuality speaker:
- You are NEVER going to make every single participant and organizer happy. The most I can attempt is getting the majority of the audience on board. Most of the time I tend to have more than a few very active and participatory audience members who are absolutely interested in what I have to say.
- I have to surrender to the reality that not all my workshops are going to be home runs. I might be feeling under the weather, I might have forgotten particular sex toys or part of my agenda at home, the room might be less than optimal, some participants may fall asleep, etc.
- My goal is that participants either remember or learn only 1 new thing after attending my presentation. While I would love to have participants remember a whole lot more, I know that I tend to provide A LOT of information in a short amount of time. If they only remember one of my sayings like "the anus is a hungry orifice (think of the game hungry hungry hippo)", "orgasm and ejaculation are not the same thing", "lube is your friend", "women and men have the same amount of erectile tissue", or "if you stick something up your butt that doesn't have a base or a flange, and it passes the point of no return, no amount of wishing, praying, or straining is going to make it come back down--this is time for a visit to the ER"
- I don't need to re-work my entire presentation if one workshop happens to fall flat. My content is solid, good, and accurate. I've either mis-judged the audience, spoke to an audience that was expecting something different, or simply presented in front of an audience that is non participatory.
Here are some of my observations:
- Like certain comics, certain sex educators appeal to a specific demographic
- Like comics, some sex educators are worried that others will use (which is really just a euphemism for steal) their content
- Like comics, some sex educators are jealous or envious of what others have going on
- Like comics, some sex educators question why certain people who are new to the scene have found success without necessarily "paying their dues"
- Like comics, some sex educators travel very far and often on their own dime to get work
- Like comics, many sex educators get paid a ridiculously low salary
- Like some comics, some sex educators are great in front of a crowd, but are actually very shy and find it more difficult to connect with people on a one on one basis
Again, what I have written above is directly related to my experiences. I do not wish to speak for anyone else. It is completely possible that someone reading this will think I'm full of shit because they have had a much different experience.
My final parallel between comics and sex educators is this: We are both doing work because we wish to bring more laughter, pleasure, and fun into peoples lives.