Think back to your elementary school days. The teacher’s just called on you to read aloud in front of the class. Your palms start to sweat, your breath gets tight and your knees tingle. You open your mouth, but nothing comes out. Not one word. You push your tongue to make a sound, but it just catches in the back of your throat for what seems like hours and all you can think is “Don’t F*%# up.”
That was comedian Ben Gleib’s childhood.
Ben grew up with a severe speech impediment that left him mostly quiet or sputtering in his developing years. If the best comedy comes from the everyday observations, it may in part explain why Ben’s so good at what he does now. No matter how hard he tried, he’d lock up without warning and without resolution at the worst times: talking to a girl, called on in class, in the car with friends.
“How could it possibly be, that I have all these funny thoughts in my head and… And I can’t talk?! What kind of a cruel irony is that?”
Ben’s come a long way since his speechless school days. Most weeknights you can find him hosting his own TV show, “Idiotest” on GSN (The Game Show Network). Ben’s made an impressive career out of speaking; with his comedy landing him on NBC, HBO, Chelsea Lately, blockbuster movies like Ice Age and—most recently —his one hour comedy special “Neurotic Gangster” on Showtime.
So, what gives? How did he go from speechless to Showtime? Well, he just shifted his perspective. Simple as that.
Ben shared his own favorite quotes to summarize. It was from Kenyon Martin during the NBA playoffs. He was asked, “How do you perform so well under pressure?” and Kenyon replied, “It’s easy, don’t let the moment be bigger than what you’re trying to accomplish.”
It’s amazing what we unleash when we tilt the way we look at the world ever so slightly. Ben’s stuttering issue basically vanished after he realized the key was not to let the pressure overcome him.
Take a moment and ponder the magnitude of the universe. At the end of the day, we’re all made of dust and that presentation or job interview that gets your heart racing is just as small.