Just Say Yes

Just Say Yes

From Chicken Soup for the Woman's Soul

Just Say Yes

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.

Helen Keller

I’m a standup comic. I was working at a radio station in New York, doing the weather as this character called June East (Mae West’s long-lost sister). One day, a woman from The Daily Ne w s called and said she wanted to do an article on me. When she had finished interviewing me for the article, she asked, “What are you planning to do next?”

Well, at the time, there was absolutely nothing I was planning on doing next, so I asked her what she meant, stalling for time. She said she really wanted to follow my career. Here was a woman from The Daily Ne w s telling me she was interested in me! So I thought I’d better tell her something. What came out was, “I’m thinking about breaking the Guinness Book of World Records for Fastest-Talking Female.”

The newspaper article came out the next day, and the writer had included my parting remarks about trying to break the world’s Fastest-Talking Female record. At about 5:00 P.M. that afternoon, I got a call from Larry King Live asking me to go on the show. They wanted me to try to break the record, and they told me they would pick me up at 8:00—because they wanted me to do it that night!

Now, I had never heard of Larry King Live, and when I heard the woman say she was from the Manhattan Channel, I thought, Hmmm, that’s a porn channel, right? But she patiently assured me that it was a national television show and that this was a one-time offer and opportunity— it was either that night or not at all.

I stared at the phone. I had a gig that night in New Jersey, but it wasn’t hard to figure out which of the two engagements I’d prefer to do. I had to find a replacement for my 7:00 show, and I started calling every comic I knew. By the grace of God, I finally found one who would fill in for me, and five minutes before the deadline, I told Larry King Live I could make it.

Then I sat down to figure out what on earth I was going to do on the show. I called Guinness to find out how to break a fast-talking record. They told me I would have to recite something from either Shakespeare or the Bible.

Suddenly I started saying the ninety-first Psalm, a prayer of protection my mother had taught me. Shakespeare and I had never really gotten along, so I figured the Bible was my only hope. I began practicing and practicing, over and over again. I was both nervous and excited at the same time.

At 8:00, the limousine picked me up. I practiced the whole way there, and by the time I reached the New York studio, I was tongue-tied. I asked the woman in charge, “What if I don’t break the record?”

“Larry doesn’t care if you break it or not,” she said. “He just cares that you try it on his show first.” So I asked myself, What’s the worst that can happen? I’ll look like a fool on national television!A minor thing, I told myself, thinking I could live through that. And what if I broke the record?

So I decided just to give it my best shot, and I did. I broke the record, becoming the World’s Fastest-Talking Female by speaking 585 words in one minute in front of a national television audience. (I broke it again two years later, with 603 words in a minute.) My career took off.

People often ask me how I did that. Or how I’ve managed to do many of the things I’ve done, like lecturing for the first time, or going on stage for the first time, or bungee jumping for the first time. I tell them I live my life by this simple philosophy: I always say yes first; then I ask, Now, what do I have to do to accomplish that?

Then I ask myself, What is the worst thing that can happen if I don’t succeed? The answer is, I simply don’t succeed! And what’s the best thing that can happen? I succeed!

What more can life ask of you? Be yourself, and have a good time!

Fran Capo

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