Affirming our Normalcy
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Mr. Keller, I'm trying find ways to bring normal back into the conversation. Because I don't feel like anything's ever gonna be normal again. Alex Trebek passed away in this last year, the last episode that he taped before he passed away, aired last week and I read a great article about the one thing that Alex Trebek did the best on Jeopardy was make his quirky contestants seem normal. They're probably nerds, if they were on the show, they don't they have their quirky traits. And he somehow normalized them. This from a quote from sociologist Harvey Sachs, we are all constantly scanning situations for ways to affirm our normal See, what you look for is to see how in any scene, you can be made an ordinary scene because this is what society rewards so people would come on Jeopardy and they'd say something like, teachers have trouble saying my name in school. I'm a right hander who does crosswords with my left hand. And Alex would be like, he wouldn't like make point that out, he'd somehow make a left turn and normalize these people. How do you normalize people in conversations when you meet them? Or waiting on a zoom call? Are you a good normalizer?
I like to think that I am everyone, Wanda, it's so uncomfortable to be able to sit there. And I actually, sometimes I've been like, on conference calls or waiting in zoom meetings for someone else to show up. And I envy the person that can just sit there and not feel uncomfortable. Sometimes I'm like, how long can I go without saying something? Because this person obviously won't. And it doesn't last very long. And I'll try to ask him a small talk question.
I love the standoff. Every once in a while, I'll get a bug up my butt. But you know what? I'm not gonna do it.
Yeah, I mean, I guess one of the things that I hear or I guess I'm curious about is that like, don't fall into small talk. What's the point of having a small talk, if you're going to talk at all, like, try to have something more substantial? And it's like, easy to go back to your normal seat, but but it doesn't really accomplish anything. Like if you have to have a difficult conversation with someone, you're going to start off with something light, and then you're going to get into it, but like, maybe you should just get into it.
Well, that's good. I like that you kind of push back on that I I tend to agree with you. Like, what's the point of life if all you're doing is talking about the weather? That just doesn't do anything, right?
I mean, but I feel like that's the The weather is the kind of connect like, okay, we're human, we're talking about the weather. And then as you said, we can kind of deep dive into the deeper conversation. To me, it feels like the small talk weather, or I guess weather is the only one that doesn't have any landmines. It's like you never know what someone else's thoughts are gonna be, especially with like conference calls or for work. You can't say, Hey, did you see the presidential debate last night? What did you think about this one comment? Like that's a very different conversation. Or Gavin Newsome. Is there going to recall him? What do you think about that is a much more loaded question then. Hey, it's supposed to be 72 and sunny in Los Angeles tomorrow. Traffic traffic's the other one.
So but you're right there. There's just so many more landmines. Like To be honest, you can even talk about the pandemic, right? Because then you get into mass and people like, well, I don't, I think it's society. They're trying to brainwash us. And there is masto. Doing good. Like, you can't even talk about that anymore.
Yeah, I guess it's just landmine avoidance, kind of back to the Jeopardy concept. And everyone wanting to remain normal. I talked about how improv helps your life just in general. But there was there is a couple examples that we found in this series of 26 or seasons, however long Jeopardy was, he was interviewing this girl one time, and he said, Oh, I see in your car that you swam from New Hampshire to Vermont and back. And she's like, that's right. Well, it's not it's not that good. And she downplays it. And then they talk about Ken Jennings did how 72 episodes, and he had to like, make up stuff after a while. And one of them was, I see here that you like playing food. He's like, yeah, it's a fun treat. And just saying yes to it makes him seem more interesting. So even if it's not necessarily true, just like going down a road. It's a more interesting conversation to hear him say, Yes, I like playing food, then. No, I didn't really do something impressive. I think people's default is to kind of downplay stuff.
No. Which is exactly. improv rule number one, right? Yes. And like you on stage, you know, this way better than me, but you build on what a person is saying as opposed to immediately rebut the point they're trying to make
Yeah. Because if you shut something down immediately, there's no way nowhere the conversation can go like, you don't literally have to say the word Yes. You can say no and kind of take what they're saying and build on top of it. But if you're like, Oh, I see you swim from New Hampshire to Vermont and back like, well, it's not impressive. It's like that you don't go anywhere.
I understand the idea of this article normality, because they also mentioned that if you're someone driving home from work, and you're you get home from work, and your partner says, How was the drive home? or How was work? And you say, Well, you know, I was looking at the side of the freeway, and I saw five different shades of green grass. Like that's just so innocuous and weird, as opposed to the connective idea of like, man, my boss really wrote me again, about something I we can all connect to a bad boss story. But we can't connect to the five shades of green grass.
Yeah, I guess I taught kind of a big game about this normalcy, but I fall into it. I remember one time, when the very first networking event I went to out of college, I was like, I want to fit in, I want to be normal. I mean, construction was like, generally the what I was doing, people were 20 years older than me pretty much across the board. And I went to this networking thing. And I was like, practicing, grab my card, shake a hand. And like, I was just trying to pass out business cards. And that's what I thought was normal. It ended up being worse, I think maybe,
you know, but normal is what makes society go right. I mean, there's the Dennis Rodman 's of the world that have nose rings in has an extravagant life. But if we're all not connected to some bit of normal, society doesn't work.
That's true. I think you just have to find the balance, know who you are, and know what you want.
Yeah, and I would just say, I, I'm, like, have a master's degree in normal, because I'm a middle kid. Because I mean, truly like a middle. I say this all the time. It's definitely a big square. Like being a middle kid in a family means you got to make everybody get along. Like you got to be the connective tissue. Because older brothers do their thing and younger siblings do their poor me. And so the middle guys always like, Hey, remember that time we were swimming? Like you're just trying to always make things normal.
I agree that you always make things normal. But I can think of a couple anomalies. I'd like you to explain, like, right now you have Platinum hair. you'd normally grow a mustache, which is a mustache or on Christmas, but like, I don't think you're doing that because that's who you are. I
think you're kind of maybe but is that your way of stepping out of normalcy? In the weirdness. There's normal because like, that's the easy thing to talk about is my yellow hair. You know, you run into somebody you're like, Oh, yeah. Right. I mean, the weird part is the easy part. Talk about Yeah,
I mean, you're not gonna walk up to Mark Mark Zuckerberg and be like, Hey, I like your gray shirt. But you might walk up this, you might walk up to Lady Gaga and say, hey, you're wearing a snake on your head.
Right? Yeah, totally. That's it. Well, if
you want to wrestle a snake with Larry, please reach out. You can find us at reposting podcasts on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. I'm Andrew Keller for Lady Gaga Sam. Thanks for stopping by.