Playing to the Back of the Room

Playing to the Back of the Room

As comedians, we sometimes play to the ‘back of the room’. You’re on the road with two other comedians and you’ve heard each other’s sets three or four times already, so you start yelling out ‘requests’ from the back of the room during a late Saturday night show. Obviously, nothing to throw your friend off, but maybe a request or tag (additional joke) to an already established bit.  Even though comedians usually know their material inside out, it’s kind of fun to hear a fellow comedian laugh or say something out loud about one of your punchlines. It’s considered a compliment coming from one of your colleagues whose writing you respect.

Comedians feed off of good spontaneity vs. bad spontaneity (i.e. a heckler who needs to be thrown out).  A little spontaneity every now and then is good for the soul. That’s why I became intrigued when I heard this story about Martin Luther King Jr.

Apparently, Dr. King had a favorite opening act on his speaking tours- the renowned gospel singer, Mahalia Jackson. Mahalia could inspire a crowd like no one else before she brought Dr. King on stage. While she performed, Dr. King would sometimes shout out a request for a song that he knew Mahalia would sing. Likewise, Mahalia felt equally as comfortable calling out a word or phrase that would inspire Dr. King to talk about a particular topic. Even though they both knew their material, there was that extra boost of inspiration to play to ‘the back of the room’.

One such moment happened on August 28, 1963 at the historic march on Washington.

Dr. King was supposed to give a speech about freedom, in front of an audience of 250,000 people on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. He had worked on it all night.

He had his notes on the podium. However, during one of his pauses, his ‘opening act’ felt comfortable enough to prompt her friend to talk about a theme (or, as comics say, a bit) she knew that she had heard him talk about before. Mahalia whispered, “Tell them about the dream, Martin.”

As old film footage shows, Dr. King put his prepared notes aside and then delivered one of the most iconic speeches of all time. Of course, Dr. King was prepared, but perhaps a little message from a respected colleague gave him the challenge and inspiration to be spontaneous and to play to the back of the room. As a result, Dr. King delivered his famous words that ultimately helped bring to action the Civil Rights Movement.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed — we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.”

Quotes taken from Dr. King’s I Have A Dream speech.

Until next time folks, take care of each other, love,




February Newsletter: Keynotes, Comedy and Fundraisers!

‘The quieter you become, the more you can hear.’ Baba Ram Dass




It was wonderful sharing my keynotes and comedy with many meaningful groups recently including:


The United Way York Region 
Port Hope and District Chamber of Commerce 


The Food Industry Credit Bureau



I also spoke at the beautiful Sanderson Centre in Brantford. I know my late, great friend, Gord Paynter, a proud citizen of Brantford  was w/ me in spirit. 



Ever have one of those days? This goat is thinking, ‘ Damn, I wore the wrong shoes for this.’



Second City





I have two fantastic groups of students this season at Second City. Their graduation performances will take place February 15th and February 21st at Absolute Comedy Club in Toronto. It’s open to the public so come on down. Drop me a line if you would like some more info. 


Feb 21st -The Best Gala



I’m honoured to be hosting the Best Gala Feb 21st at the Ajax Convention Centre for The Charles H. Best Diabetes Centre.
For more information please check out my interview with Board Chair Serge Babin.



Feb 26th- Project Beam On Gala


Feb 26th, I will taking part in an amazing fundraiser to help people with cancer. It’s called the Project Beam On Gala.
For more information please check out my interview with organizer Rose A Weinberg.


‘Dogs do speak… but only to those who know how to listen.’ Orhan Pamuk



As I mention in my keynote, ‘Relieving Stress with Humour’, animals are an amazing way to relieve stress.  I look forward to hosting a wonderful event Mar 7th 2015 for Speaking of Dogs who says, “Our main goal is to end cruelty, abandonment, mistreatment, and homelessness of man’s best friend.’




‘From the Stage to the Page – Life Lessons From Four Funny Ladies’  is an excellent source for fun and practical stress busting tips for work and at home.
Don’t just take my word for it. Look what the following people have to say.


"From the Stage to the Page"


“We all need to love, laugh, and be happy…this book shows you how to make a life filled with glee.”
Mark Victor Hansen Co-creator, Chicken Soup for the Soul series and The One Minute Millionaire: The Enlightened Way to Wealth


“Just what the doctor ordered, a chance to laugh, and learn how to handle stress. An enjoyable read that will delight and entertain you.”
Robert G. Allan, Author of 5 NY Times Bestsellers, including The One Minute Millionaire: The Enlightened Way to Wealth


“Sure comedy can be dark, angry and bitter. But it can also be positive, insightful and uplifting. These ladies prove that, over and over and over again. “
Brent Butt (Comedian/Creator/ Executive Producer, Corner Gas, Hiccups)



Click here to order your copy.


Until next month folks- laugh long and prosper folks and remember, you can reach me anytime at . You can also hear me everyday at 455pm EST on  

Joan Rivers

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Joan Rivers with Judy.

Her style wasn’t for everyone but Joan was always the first person to poke fun at herself. SHE had her own best put downs.

“The fashion magazines are suggesting that women wear clothes that are ‘age appropriate.’ For me that would be a shroud.”
“My face has been tucked in more times than a bedsheet at the Holiday Inn.”

Thanks for making me nearly pee my pants Joan Rivers!!
– Judy Croon[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

'Judy's 1 minute Shelf Help pick for August'

August Newsletter: ‘Judy’s 1 minute Shelf Help pick for August’

Hi folks,
I honestly didn’t think that this month’s  ‘1 minute Shelf Help’ pick was going to create so much controversy but it did! Whatever your beliefs are, I think it’s a thoughtful read, nonetheless. Enjoy!
Watch the Video
Proof Of Heaven – A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander, M.D
One of the ingredients from my workshop Relieving Stress with Humour is healthy mental activity.
Some of my favorite shelf help books offer me great insight everyday.
Like Proof Of Heaven — A neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander.
Now I’m not going to get all Jesus takes the wheel on you….
I don’t know what your personal beliefs are but this book makes a convincing case that there is an afterlife.
Neurosurgeon Eben Alexander took a 7 day journey while he was in a coma from meningitis.
Alexander had his doubts about the afterlife prior. Well not anymore.
So what’s it like?
Alexander says  the afterlife is so much more vivid that earth, the colours, the textures…
He said experiencing the afterlife as a human is like experiencing a human life as a chimpanzee  and then having to go back and tell the other chimps what life is like as a human. It’s almost as if he said he didn’t have the tools to do it.
The great big message
He said the greatest message from the afterlife is this though ….everything boils down to one big message…….love.. pure unconditional love.
Eben says the afterlife is tangible and attainable — if we just allow ourselves to believe in it.
Alexander says there are three big messages from the afterlife;
you are loved and cherished dearly forever, you have nothing to fear and there is nothing you can do wrong. Love..unconditional love…is truly the answer.
The devil made me do it
But what about evil…and the devil and fire and brimstone and all those scary thing?
Alexander yes, there is evil ..but it is so small and insignificant compared to the superpower of love.
Evil stands out like a sore thumb when it comes to the overwhelming strength of compassion and acceptance and love.
Proof of Heaven- A neurosurgeon’s journey into the afterlife by Eben Alexander is truly a great shelf help read.
My interview with Joan Rivers- Happy 80th birthday Joan!!

My interview with Joan Rivers- Happy 80th birthday Joan!!

I was fortunate enough to interview Joan Rivers a few years back at Roy Thomson Hall. She was amazing.
Quick as a whip, self deprecating and a blast to chat with.
Happy Birthday Joan. Can’t believe you’re 80! Keep making us laugh!
Here was our interview:
Speaking in front of 2700 people at Roy Thomson Hall and 7 things that I learned interviewing Joan Rivers

by  on MAY 18, 2011
I was fortunate enough to open for Joan Rivers at Roy Thomson Hall this week. Before the show, I met her backstage.
She was actually pretty quiet, nervous probably. It’s amazing to see that even after doing comedy for 40+ years, those pre-show nerves never quite leave you. I was a bit nervous too and I was only doing a fraction of the time she was doing off the top of the show. I would interview her on stage after her act for half an hour in front of more than 2000 people and that’s what I was more pre-occupied with.
Everybody asks me what Joan Rivers looks like close up. Well yes, she looks like she’s had work. A lot of work but she would be the first person to tell you that.  She’s also seventy-eight years old!
So I went on first. The audience was great. They were in a fabulous mood.
Whereas most comics want you to introduce them with 80 credits, Joan Rivers who has 8000 credits basically says, ‘ Aw heck, just bring me up.’
Joan Rivers took the stage and the audience loved her. She was up there for fifty minutes. It was an assortment of signature machine- gun- one -liners combined with some very funny and very sad stories about her life (most of which are covered in her edgy documentary A Piece of Work. I highly recommend that you see it.)
If you think for one second that Joan Rivers wants you to feel sorry for her, think again. No way. She reminds me of one of those army commanders leaning over a soldier who is crumpled on the ground with dirt caked on his face. ‘Get up! Get up! What are you?’
After Joan finished her set, I joined her on stage and we talked for thirty minutes. I had nothing to worry about. She was warm, humble, engaging and hilarious.
So here are 7 things that I learned about Joan Rivers:
1)  Joan Rivers is a friend of  Camilla and Charles- she has a crush on Charles. She says he’s funny, charming and still holds a door open for a lady. Joan says if she could have actively pursued Charles back in the day, Camilla wouldn’t have stood a chance!
2) Joan sleeps about 5 to 6 hours a night. She doesn’t really have any hobbies. Her work is her hobby and she loves it.
3)  I asked Joan what’s the first thing that she bought  when she knew she  ‘made it.’ That was  after her debut on the Tonight Show when Johnny Carson looked over at her  and said, ‘ You’re going to be a big star.’
She said she bought herself a mink.
4) I asked Joan why did she thought Johnny Carson was so mad at her for not taking The Tonight Show gig after he retired? ( Carson had selected Joan Rivers but she turned it down because Fox offered her her own Late Night Show for FIFTEEN times the amount that NBC was going to pay her. NBC figured that you would just be GRATEFUL to work at their network!)
Joan said when she called Johnny and told him that she was taking the Fox gig,  he slammed the phone down on her. She called him again and he slammed the down the phone again. In fact, Carson never spoke to her after that. When Joan’s husband, Edgar committed suicide, Johnny didn’t contact her. When Johnny’s own son died in a car accident, Joan sent Johnny flowers. Carson didn’t respond.  Joan said Carson probably wouldn’t have treated her that way if she were a man. She said she thought Carson was  mad because she represented yet another woman leaving him.
5) Aside from now being blackballed from NBC, Joan’s show on Fox continued to have major problems. Joan’s husband Edgar did not see eye to eye with network mogul Rupert Murdoch. They continued to fight and Fox eventually told Joan that she would have to fire her husband. When Joan refused, Fox fired them both.As she reveals in the documentary and on stage, the failure was too big for Edgar. He committed suicide. Joan said she wasn’t home, when someone called the house with the news about Edgar. They told Melissa, her daughter and asked her to pass the news onto Joan.
6)  I asked her who was the craziest celebrity she ever interviewed on the red carpet?  She said he wasn’t crazy but he was probably one of the nastiest- Russell Crowe.
7)  I asked her what Donald Trump was really like.  She says he’s very professional and turned up on the set many times  of Celebrity Apprentice  at 7 am. She also thinks he would make a great president…eeek. And we’re done.
Seriously, it was a terrific evening and I hope that we can do it again. She hates to hear this but Joan Rivers is a  pioneer and a trailblazer for female comics. As stated in ‘ A Piece of Work’, Rivers says that Phyllis Diller was doing comedy until she was 92. Joan Rivers hopes to beat that record.
You just never know. While most of us were still waking up and getting out of bed,Joan Rivers was already heading to the airport to catch a flight to Vancouver for her next show.


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