Swinging…and Trying to Keep It In Bounds



A couple weeks ago, I emceed a golf tournament that benefited the Alzheimer’s Association. I was enlisted at the 11th hour, but very happy to contribute my time (and what I hope are bona fide speaking skills) to such a worthy cause.


Along with the enlistment came two invitations. The first was a no-brainer; I would join the gang—most of whom paid pretty good money—for lunch and dinner. The second invitation should have been a no-brainer.


I was offered the opportunity to enjoy a round of golf for free—as part of a foursome—and duff away on a beautiful course. This would, no doubt, be one of the two nicest courses I have ever divoted upon, but I had not played so much as pitch-and-putt or the driving range in about five years.



With a heavy heart, I declined the offer, deciding that any humor I provided would be from the microphone—not from the tee box, fairway, putting green or woods. I’m a decent athlete, but blessed and cursed with a very competitive side when playing sports. When it comes to golf, I have never had the game to match my competitive instincts.


Still, I was psyched for the event. I was honored to help a good cause, and excited about both the rush that comes from public speaking and the potential exposure it would give to my career as a speaker. For a latent extrovert like me, it’s great fun to stand before a crowd, mic in hand, and provide some form of entertainment.


I don’t do magic, only juggle at a rudimentary level, and you don’t want me singing for too long; the type of entertainment I provide is limited. Having said that, I love ad-libbing, getting the crowd involved, playing off of other people’s comments—these are all things I’ve done hundreds of times.


I researched some facts about Alzheimer’s Disease. In truth, having worked with senior citizens, and having seen my own beloved father’s recent and eventual losing battle with dementia, I probably should have been more aware of some of these sobering, terrifying numbers.


But, back to the lighter side, please. At the 12th hour, the afternoon before the event, I received the agenda for the dinner banquet. “Matt Goldberg to introduce himself, and provide 8-10 minutes of comedy.”


I'm to do what?!…I am a humorist, and I’ve done stand-up, but it’s not what I really do too often. I certainly did not have a golf routine teed up (sorry), and I did not want to do any bits about Alzheimer’s. It’s too frightening and pervasive a disease, and many people who are really a part of the Association’s great work would be there. I wanted to keep my comments in bounds, if not always down the middle of the fairway.


Years ago, I heard a comedian asked if it’s okay to joke about AIDS. I forget the comedian’s name and his exact words, but here was the gist: You can’t joke about AIDS, itself, but you can joke about certain aspects that surround it, such as ignorance, fear and the clueless actions and inaction of politicians.


I agree with him, but I wasn’t acquainted enough to go there, either. I did craft what felt like a ten-minute routine, mostly from golf humor.


With some trepidation, I took the risk of ribbing one of the participants, who was a famous, retired pro hockey player about never having to buy a meal at a local restaurant since he scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal for the Flyers in 1975.  I noted that the now-overweight former star was always gracious enough to accept all offers.


The line went over pretty well, even if I had the added surprise that the former Flyer played golf at the tourney, but did not stay for the dinner. Perhaps, his absence was good for my health.


Otherwise, I started with some self-deprecating bits about my own play and sense of golf decorum, and then put my own spin on golfers’ abilities to lie, cheat, curse, and stretch the truth while playing a round. I worked in some famous quotes, adapted others, found a new angle on Tiger Woods, and generally got a very warm reception with lots of laughter…I tried to live up to my motto of inspiring laughs, smiles and just enough wisdom.


As if I were playing a round of golf, some lines may have been hooked and others may have been sliced, but I generally avoided the woods and the traps. I do wonder if one of my bits was a little out-of-bounds.


Midway through the routine, I drove my routine here:

…Speaking of “four”, I had the pleasure of following some of the foursomes around on the course today. To some groups, it was, apparently, quite a religious experience out there. I have never heard God’s name mentioned so often,.. usually followed by a word that started with “D.”

It was also quite an educational experience for me. Today, I learned that Jesus had a middle name…not sure the exact spelling of it, but it has seven letters, and starts with the letter “F.”


Out of bounds?


You make the call. In my mind, and at the last moment, I put together (and then delivered) a very good routine for a lot of wonderful people who were contributing their time and money for an exceptionally worthy cause. Not sure if I was over par, although I don’t think I was sub-par.


All in all, it was about par for the course for the Tip of the Goldberg. 


For more information about Alzheimer’s Disease, please go to the Alzheimer's Association page.



For more information, about my public speaking, please stay here or turn left for Matt Goldberg's speaking page.


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