Eyes On The Prize: How Best To Avoid Distractions

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Many years ago a head injury caused neurological damage to my right arm, costing me my ability to juggle. This would have been hilarious to me, too, were I not a professional juggler at the time. Instead, I became preoccupied with regaining my lost ability.

Years passed with no progress. I tried everything: doctors, strength training, a makeshift rubber sling. Toward the end I was attempting to juggle by simultaneously pinching a throw pillow under my armpit.

It was then that my friend stepped in.

An accomplished performer and also a trained pilot, my friend printed out for me the transcript of the last conversation between the doomed pilot and co-pilot of Eastern Airlines flight 401. Like me with my arm issue, these pilots had allowed themselves to become distracted with something which ultimately had no bearing on their objective (the bulb of the landing-gear indicator had burned out).

If the pilots had focused on the task at hand – landing the aircraft safely – they would have noticed that the autopilot had been disengaged and that the plane was losing altitude.

My friend had taught me a profound lesson which has served well me ever since: by thinking of myself as a juggler, I had lost sight of the fact that I still had every tool necessary to do my real job, which is to entertain.

Similarly, if Smith Corona had realized in the 1980s that it was in the word processing business rather than the typewriter business, they may not be making thermal barcode labels today.

It was this realization that allowed me to greatly expand my skill set to include stand-up comedy, catching olives on toothpicks and even slow-motion juggling with plastic grocery sacks, to name three things which turned out to be more hilarious than anything I had dreamt up before my injury.

Sometimes keeping your eyes on the prize is simple. Shooting out a flaming candle with a gun at night is impressive to the layman, but an experienced shooter knows it’s actually quite easy because the flame is the only thing there is to see.

Oftentimes, however, distractions abound. And the best way to ignore them is by focusing on your objective. This sounds axiomatic, but too often we fixate on distractions in our attempts to avoid them. During an emergency landing it’s tempting for a pilot to focus on the myriad things she must avoid: water, telephone wires, mountains, other planes. But experienced pilots are always focused on one thing: the runway.

What is your runway? Focus on it incessantly and don’t let distractions like fear of failure cause you to come up short.

Do you have thoughts on avoiding distractions and achieving goals? Leave the in the comment section below.

Return to daviDDeeble.com or watch me kick a coin into my eye socket.

Four Ways To Botch An Entertainer’s Introduction

The best introduction I ever received was at the Comedy & Magic Club in Hermosa Beach, California. The comedian who gave it was a big fan of my work and his enthusiasm was hilariously over-the-top yet unmistakably authentic: “Your next performer is unbelievable! How can I describe what he does? There’s no word for it! You just have to see it! You’ve never seen anything like it! I just have to bring him out so you can see for yourself! Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to David Deeble!”

He had the audience laughing during the introduction in such a way that suggested they were thinking one thing: I have to see who he’s talking about.

While no entertainer should expect to be introduced each time with such unbridled enthusiasm, this anecdote does provide some clues ensure that you don’t inadvertently place the evening’s entertainment behind the 8 ball before it’s even begun.

Below are a two of the best ways for emcees, event planners and entertainers to make an entertainer’s introduction an energy-depleting momentum-killer.



Simple, straightforward introductions are for celebrities whose accomplishments are well-known, not for you! I like to think of my introduction as indistinguishable from my resumé: “Tell them I’ve performed on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Last Comic Standing and America’s Got Talent – in that order. Then say I appear regularly at the Magic Castle in Hollywood – don’t forget the in Hollywood part – and that I’ve opened up for Ray Romano and Kevin James. Then tell them I specialize in performing at private functions and corporate events. Then tell them my website – www.daviddeeble.com – that’s two d’s, understand? – and conclude with ‘Please welcome the comedy of David Deeble!’ But with feeling, okay?”



This is a corollary of the above. Sure, memorizing a lengthy, in-depth bio and relating it to the audience with unmistakeable zeal is difficult, but don’t forget your place. After all, you’re dealing with an entertainer and showing deference should be your highest priority. Whatever you do, suppress the courage and commonsense to say “I want to give you the best introduction possible. I suggest we shorten this introduction and make up for the missing credits by bringing you onstage with lots of energy and enthusiasm”.


By all means, take the wind out of the show’s sails! Performers tend to rise to the occasion when their name is followed by applause, so why not begin by stating the name of the entertainer followed seamlessly by the rest of the introduction? Better yet, conclude the introduction by omitting the performer’s name and let the introduction just kind of trail off. Here’s how you would put me behind the 8 ball: “David Deeble is a comedy juggler. Let’s give him nice welcome.


If you are a personal fan the work of the entertainer you are introducing, why on earth would you want to let the audience in on it? All it does is give the entertainer one of the best imprimaturs there is: a testimonial. Your introduction should say, in effect: “I don’t know who this gal is and the fact that I’m introducing her does not imply an endorsement on my part. I have been tasked with introducing her to you and that is all. Anyway, here she is.”

An introduction can set the stage for a fantastic evening of entertainment or leave the audience wondering if now would be a good time to sneak in a smoke. If you have any thoughts on what makes or breaks an entertainer’s introduction, leave your comments below.