In Chapter 14 of 18 in his 2011 Capture Your Flag interview with host Erik Michielsen, standup comedian Matt Ruby answers "What Have You Learned About Making Better Individual Connections in Crowded Rooms?" Ruby learns how and when to share something personal to create a more universal element to reach his audience. Even if sharing something is not a direct match with the audience, by letting his guard down, he finds common ground with individuals in the audience.
Erik: What have you learned about making better individual connections in crowded rooms? Matt: It’s tough. When you're performing standup, a lot of times the audience is like a single organism, you know, like it’s made up of individuals like – I mean, it’s an interesting thing too ‘cause I think an audience a lot of times can be made up of individual morons, but together they’re really smart. Erik: Ah, the crowd. Matt: Yeah, I mean, each one of those individuals like you might be able to fool individually but as an entity like, they’re on to you. Like, when you're full of shit, like the crowd knows it, they can sense it. And there’s something that they get this hive mind together that’s impressive. So, I mean I think, as far as individual – You know, like something I’ve been thinking about like, if it is something that’s really personal, it’s a strange thing where if it’s the more personal it is to you in a way that you are genuinely like obsessed about something or blown away or is having an impact on your life. The more universal it is, you know, lately I’ve been talking about some of my physical issues. So, like I’ve got this skin condition called urticaria. I get foot cramps sometimes, and I grind my teeth. And these are things that like, I doubt anyone else in the audience has all three. Most, even one of those things, usually. But when I'm talking about those things it’s an interesting – I can feel like there’s a connection. First of all, you’re letting your guard down. You're not trying to be the cool guy on stage. You're like, listen, here’s what’s wrong with me and so that’s one way of forging a connection. And then also, yeah, it’s just like, you know what, people don’t have that thing but they’ve got some other thing like that thing that they know how they think of – you know, just that – and it’s not something that you get a lot of in life, you know. Everyone’s walking around, you know, trying to cover-up their flaws all the time. So, sometimes if you can just sort of be open and honest about stuff like that. You really can connect to almost anyone ‘cause they’re gonna be like, oh, yeah, I don’t know that thing but I have this other thing so I know where you’re coming from.