Today, Norm Goldman, Editor of Sketchandtravel & Bookpleasures is delighted to have as a guest, Fran Capo.
Fran is quite a “cool person,” as she is an eight-time author, humorist, voiceover artist, comedienne, adventurer, actress, freelance writer and keynote motivational speaker. She also holds the Guinness Book Worlds Record for the Fastest Talking Female.
Recently, Fran accomplished another amazing feat as the first and only author to ever do a book signing on the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa with the release of her book “Adrenaline Adventures: Dream it, Read it, Do it!”
Good day Fran and thank you for agreeing to participate in our interview for Sketchandtravel.com and Bookpleasures.com.
Could you tell our audience something about yourself and how you became involved in your various occupations?
Sure Norm, first let me say its great to be here, and I thank you for having me on as a guest.
Since you mentioned a bunch of the things I did up front, I guess I’ll start with how I became a stand up comic, as this was my first entry into the entertainment world.
In school I was known for my sense of humor and some of my classmates suggested a career as a stand-up comic. This had me thinking as to how life would be as a stand-up comic, and I started to watch comics on TV, comedy clubs, listening to comedy albums, etc. I said to myself, I could do this. I asked God to give me the right sign if I should do comedy.
Two occurrences happened that were my go ahead signs. One, when someone turned around in a movie lineup and complimented me on my sense of humor, after hearing me crack jokes to my friends. He suggested I audition for the Comic Strip. Another happened at a car convention, where a fortune- teller analyzed my handwriting and told me I had a good sense of humor and use it to make money.
I eventually did audition at a club called Creighton and Gray’s Comedy Room that was very near my home, with material given to me by my friend Barry, who was in my acting class at the time. This was my first success as a stand up comedienne and I received a standing ovation as well as $10. I was a mini-local celebrity, with rave press reviews. I spent the next 15 years of my career figuring out ways to get in print, on radio and television.
What is this about- the holding of the “Guinness Book Worlds Record for the Fastest Talking Female?”
Well the stand-up comedy gig lead to my fast-talking by accident. My philosophy is just always say yes and figure it out after how I am going to do something.
My stand up landed me a job doing weather and traffic at a radio station WBLS-FM in New York. I was doing it as this comedy character June East (Mae West’s long-lost sister). One day, Dinah Prince, a reporter from the Daily News 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?
Next? Well at the time there was 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 News 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 the Fastest Talking Female.” The newspaper article came out the next day, and she included my parting remarks about trying to break the world’s Fastest-Talking Female record. At about 5:00 P.M. that afternoon, I received a call from CNN asking me to go on the Larry King Live Show. They wanted me to try to break the record. They told me they would send a limo to pick me up at 8:00. That was only three hours. Talk about pressure!
I had never heard of Larry King Live, and when I heard the woman say she was from a Manhattan Channel, I thought, “Hmmm that’s a porn channel, right?” She patiently assured me that it was a respectable national television show and that this was a one-time offer and opportunity – it was either that night or not at all.
I managed to find a replacement for a gig I had in New Jersey. I next sat down to figure out what on earth I was going to do on the show. I called Guinness to find out what the rules were 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 for protection that my mom had taught me. Shakespeare and I had never really gotten along, so I figured the Bible was my only hope. I practiced over and over again, timing myself with a stop- watch to see how fast I could do it. I was both nervous and excited at the same time.
At 8:00, the limousine picked me up. I practiced the entire way there, and by the time I reached the New York studio I felt as if my tongue was going to fall off. I asked the producer, “What happens if I don’t break the record?’ She replied, “Larry doesn’t care if you break it or not. He just cares that you try it on his show first.” So I asked myself, What’s the worst thing that can happen? I’d look like a fool on national television! A minor thing, I could live through that. Then I asked myself , And what happens if I break the record?” Now that would be great.
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 at the Guinness Museum in Vegas with 603 words per minute.) My career took off.
Why did you want to have a book signing on Mount Kilimanjaro, and could you describe to us a little about your experience, particularly your voyage up to its summit, and how did you plan for it? Were you ever afraid?
Again, it goes back to my basic philosophy’s…of seize the day…and just going after things with a passion. I was actually researching a chapter in my book Adrenaline Adventures: Dream it, Read it, Do it. I read that an 83- year old women climbed Kilimanjaro. So I figured if she could do it, so could I.
I enlisted my son, Spencer into the effort, contacted a top outfit, CorbetBishopsafaris.com in Africa (the same guy that lead the IMAX movie team up the mountain.)
Then I figured if I was going to train, climb and do this feat, I might as well make it memorable at the top. So I decided to do a book signing up there, I managed to get two sponsors, my publisher Authorhouse and Snickers Marathon Energy Bars.
It took us 7 days to summit, going through 5 climate zones. The night of summit we were woken up at 11 PM, it was unseasonably cold. Minus 15 degrees and 45 mph winds, our camelbacks froze, and you felt like sleeping while standing up.
It took us 18 hours to get up over and down to camp. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done (and this is coming from someone who has run the marathon, flown combat aircraft, rode a bike non stop for 100 miles, driven race car, dove with sharks etc…(all of which are talked about in Adrenaline Adventures of course.)
But after Spencer and I climbed it was such a feeling of accomplishment. Plus I had wanted to do it now, since global warming will melt the ice caps by 2015 if not sooner.
The picture of me doing the book signing circulated around the world, and it led to Brian Day O’Conner (Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Conner’s son) contacting me.
I am now raising sponsorship money to go down in a two-person submersible to the Titanic with Mr. O’Conner. My publisher, Authorhouse, Ripley’s Believe it or Not (Planet Eccentric) and GoldenPalace.com the #1 online casino, so far have jumped on board as sponsors. (You can read all about it on my website under sponsorship.)
While down there I am going to be doing a memorial service for the titanic passengers, saying a non-denominational maritime prayer direct from a Navy Chaplain. Did I mention I am also an ordained minister? Yup, became one so I could do this the right way.
Which one of your occupations do you find the most enjoyable and why?
Wow, that’s a hard one, because I really enjoy all that I do. I love making people laugh, so stand up feels great. I hopefully make people forget their problems at least for that night.
I love inspiring people, so I get a real kick out of doing my keynote motivational talk for people called, “Dare to Do it!” Especially when they come up to me and hug me, or when I get an email that they went out and did something they’ve always wanted to do because they, “Dared to do it.”
I love doing my adventures, because it challenges me personally and makes life exciting.
I love writing, so nine books later it feels awesome to see my books in store windows, on websites, and especially when I catch someone reading it on the bus or subway.
I just love communicating with people. As long as I am making them laugh or inspiring them, I’m happy.
Please tell us something about your most recent book Hopeville: the City of Light.
The Hopeville book, came to me in a strange way, just like the comedy did. It’s a story about four people that on the same night pray for light in the world, because they are discouraged. An angel of light appears to each of them and tells them a secret of how to change their town. Each of them does it in his/her own way…and finally after the people see the light, the town is forever changed. It’s a book of hope, light and following your dreams. But like I said the book came to me in a very strange way.
Could you tell our audience about some of your other travel adventures? Which one up to now has been the most exciting, and why?
Well, I’ve done 50 different adventures, ranging from mild to wild; I mentioned some before but others like flying a helicopter, doing the luge, the polar bear plunge, rock repelling, biking down a volcano, going in a deprivation tank etc.
They all give you an adrenaline rush in a different way. Mind you, I’m usually scared when I do all of them…its just that I have a philosophy of “FEAR NOTHING, but if you do, do it anyway.” See all of us have fear, the key is some of us let it paralyse us, while others use it as the spark for the engine. As far as hardest it was definitely climbing Kilimanjaro. As far as a rush; my four favorites Skydiving, driving racecars, cavern diving and snorkeling with manatees. Okay who am I kidding, I really love them all, except maybe the glass blowing…I wasn’t too thrilled with that. But my fiancée loved it…so everybody’s different.
The cool thing about the book though is it has adventures that you can’t find in other travel books. Plus it has 50 motivational quotes, 50 funny adventure stories, and 50 “Adventure at a glance” pages that tell you all the details so you can do the adventure if you are so inspired.
Could you tell us how you go about marketing your books?
Fran: I do many things. First, realize that writing the book is usually the easiest part. Getting people to know about it is the real challenge. And the key is YOU as the writer needs to do most of the legwork.
· Okay, so I send out galley copies to newspapers before the book comes out.
· I send press releases to radio stations, mag. Etc. Using my hook as a fast talker to catch their attention.
· I set up some kind of publicity event so that my book stands out.
· I have a bookstore on my website.
· I carry a box of books in my car at all times. I once sold a book on top of the Sydney Bridge in Australia, thus getting the phrase from my fiancée, “No one’s safe.”
· I set up book signings. · I contact local media.
· I mention the books at all my speaking engagements and comedy gigs.
· I do interviews like this to let people know about my books · I link with other sites that have readers that may be interested in my books.
· I offer my books to charity’s for fundraising events.
Has the Internet boosted your career and if so, how?
Absolutely. I’d say 90% of my speaking engagements come to me from my website. Usually people will be searching comedian, fast talker, or motivational speaker and my name pops up.
Also, I notice when I do radio shows and mention the website I get a lot of requests that way as well. I think it is essential for every business person these days to have a easily navigatable website.
How do you want the world to remember Fran Capo? (I know you are not leaving us just now!)
She lived life the way she wanted to…with love, with laughter, with passion and never took no for an answer. She used up all God gave her, and tried to inspire people to do the same.
Is there anything else you care to add that we have not covered?
Yes, remember-Live everyday as if it’s your last, and one day you’ll be right.
And of course what kind of marketing author would I be if I did not mention the following: I have a newsletter that keeps people updated on the Capo happenings, simply called, CAPO UPDATES. Anyone interested can go to my website and ask to be on the list.
And of course if you would like to be part of the world record event at the titanic…the sponsorship information is available at my website. Thanks so much Norm, I hope your readers enjoy the interview.