On commonalities, communities, and edamame

About two and a half years ago I did what every entrepreneur does when taking a break in-between companies … I took a stand-up comedy class.

After years of giving speeches at tech conferences, finance conferences, and staffing conferences where people were evidently laughing at my jokes … I thought I was actually funny.

Turns out comedy is harder than I thought. Yup … really hard.

So I decided to take a class where I wouldn’t know any of the students (easier to fail in front of a bunch of strangers) so I took an artsy class deep in the San Francisco’s Mission District. Sure enough, I knew no one. In fact, of the 12 students, only one other was in technology and one didn’t even use email.

For the class we had to write jokes and perform them. I wrote a long punchy shtick about edamame. I love the name edamame … I think it sounds really funny. Just say it five times in wacky voices … edamame, edamame, edamammeh … you just can’t help but laugh.

But my class did not find it very funny. In fact, pretty much no one laughed (I think one person actually laughed at me). So after the shtick was done I asked the class why I bombed so hard and … and …

No one in the class had ever heard of “edamame”

Now before I took the class I would have never guessed that someone living in San Francisco could not know what edamame is. My guess is that 96% of my friends and family not only know of edamame but they’ve tried the tasty beans and salt. Mmmmm.

But we all live in our own self-made bubble. It is actually not that odd at all that people don’t know what edamame is. Actually, as I sit here and type this, even my Microsoft spell-checker doesn’t know “edamame.” So the crazy engineers at MSFT might not get my jokes either (though I bet they at least order the seaweed salad).

So now you know why all jokes are about relationships, sex, and going to the bathroom. Because these are commonalities that bind us all. We all go through that (unless we’re experiencing extreme constipation).

It is very tough to bring a community together. We see that on the Internet (where communities are often very narrow … like Dogster (people who have dogs and really love dogs). And most diverse communities, like MySpace, are about sex and relationships.

So I sit here … pondering … munching some very tasty edamame

6 thoughts on “On commonalities, communities, and edamame

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