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TED@NYC

Jill Shargaa: Please, please, people. Let's put the 'awe' back in 'awesome'

July 9, 2014

Which of the following is awesome: your lunch or the Great Pyramid of Giza? Comedian Jill Shargaa sounds a hilarious call for us to save the word "awesome" for things that truly inspire awe.

Jill Shargaa - Comedian + Designer
Jill Shargaa is a woman of multiple talents. A seasoned comedian, she founded the all-female comedy revue, Evening of Estrogen. She is also an illustrator and designer who brings a pulp sensibility to her work. Full bio

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Double-click the English subtitles below to play the video.
How many times have you used
the word "awesome" today?
00:13
Once? Twice? Seventeen times?
00:16
Do you remember what you were describing
00:20
when you used the word?
00:21
No, I didn't think so, because
it's come down to this, people:
00:23
You're using the word incorrectly,
00:26
and tonight I hope to show you
00:28
how to put the "awe" back in "awesome."
00:30
Recently, I was dining at an outdoor cafe,
00:33
and the server came up to our table,
00:36
and asked us if we had dined there before,
00:38
and I said, "Yes, yes, we have."
00:39
And she said, "Awesome."
00:41
And I thought, "Really?
00:44
Awesome or just merely good
00:46
that we decided to visit your restaurant again?"
00:49
The other day, one of my coworkers asked me
00:54
if I could save that file as a PDF,
00:56
and I said, "Well, of course," and he said, "Awesome."
00:58
Seriously, can saving anything as a PDF
01:02
be awesome?
01:08
Sadly, the frequent overuse of the word "awesome"
01:11
has now replaced words like "great" and "thank you."
01:14
So Webster's dictionary defines the word "awesome"
01:19
as fear mingled with admiration or reverence,
01:23
a feeling produced by something majestic.
01:27
Now, with that in mind,
01:31
was your Quiznos sandwich awesome?
01:32
How about that parking space? Was that awesome?
01:36
Or that game the other day? Was that awesome?
01:38
The answer is no, no and no.
01:41
A sandwich can be delicious,
01:43
that parking space can be nearby,
01:45
and that game can be a blowout,
01:47
but not everything can be awesome.
01:50
(Laughter)
01:54
So when you use the word "awesome"
01:56
to describe the most mundane of things,
01:57
you're taking away the very power of the word.
02:00
This author says, "Snowy days
02:03
or finding money in your pants is awesome."
02:06
(Laughter)
02:10
Um, no, it is not,
02:11
and we need to raise the bar for this poor schmuck.
(Laughter)
02:13
So in other words, if you have
everything, you value nothing.
02:19
It's a lot like drinking from a firehose
02:23
like this jackass right here.
02:25
There's no dynamic, there's no highs or lows,
02:29
if everything is awesome.
02:32
Ladies and gentlemen, here are 10 things
02:34
that are truly awesome.
02:36
Imagine, if you will, having to schlep
02:38
everything on your back.
02:40
Wouldn't this be easier for me
02:42
if I could roll this home?
02:44
Yes, so I think I'll invent the wheel.
02:46
The wheel, ladies and gentlemen.
02:48
Is the wheel awesome? Say it with me.
02:51
Yes, the wheel is awesome!
02:54
The Great Pyramids were the tallest
02:57
man-made structure in the world
02:59
for 4,000 years.
03:01
Pharaoh had his slaves move millions of blocks
03:03
just to this site to erect a big freaking headstone.
03:07
Were the Great Pyramids awesome?
03:11
Yes, the pyramids were awesome.
03:12
The Grand Canyon. Come on.
03:15
It's almost 80 million years old.
03:17
Is the Grand Canyon awesome?
03:20
Yes, the Grand Canyon is.
03:22
Louis Daguerre invented photography in 1829,
03:23
and earlier today,
03:28
when you whipped out your smartphone
03:29
and you took a shot of your awesome sandwich,
03:31
and you know who you are —
03:34
(Laughter) —
03:36
wasn't that easier than exposing the image
03:38
to copper plates coated with iodized silver?
03:40
I mean, come on. Is photography awesome?
03:43
Yes, photography is awesome.
03:45
D-Day, June 6, 1944,
03:47
the Allied invasion of Normandy,
03:49
the largest amphibious invasion in world history.
03:52
Was D-Day awesome? Yes, it was awesome.
03:56
Did you eat food today? Did you eat?
03:59
Then you can thank the honeybee, that's the one,
04:01
because if crops aren't pollinated, we can't grow food,
04:04
and then we're all going to die.
04:07
It's just like that.
04:09
But it's not like a flower can just get up
04:10
and have sex with another flower,
04:12
although that would be awesome.
04:15
(Laughter)
04:17
Bees are awesome. Are you kidding me?
04:20
Landing on the moon! Come on!
04:23
Apollo 11. Are you kidding me?
04:27
Sixty-six years after the Wright Brothers
04:30
took off from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina,
04:32
Neil Armstrong was 240,000 miles away.
04:35
That's like from here to the moon.
04:38
(Laughter)
04:40
That's one small step for a man,
04:43
one giant leap for awesome!
04:45
You're damn right, it was.
04:48
Woodstock, 1969: Rolling Stone Magazine said
04:50
this changed the history of rock and roll.
04:53
Tickets were only 24 dollars back then.
04:57
You can't even buy a freaking t-shirt for that now.
04:59
Jimi Hendrix's version of "The Star-Spangled Banner"
05:03
was the most iconic.
05:06
Was Woodstock awesome? Yes, it was awesome.
05:08
Sharks! They're at the top of the food chain.
05:11
Sharks have multiple rows of teeth
05:13
that grow in their jaw
05:16
and they move forward like a conveyor belt.
05:17
Some sharks can lose 30,000 teeth in their lifetime.
05:21
Does awesome inspire fear?
05:24
Oh, hell yeah, sharks are awesome!
05:27
The Internet was born in 1982
05:31
and it instantly took over global communication,
05:33
and later tonight, when all these PowerPoints
05:37
are uplifted to the Internet
05:39
so that a guy in Siberia can get drunk
05:41
and watch this crap,
05:44
the Internet is awesome.
05:47
And finally, finally some of you can't wait
05:50
to come up and tell me how
awesome my PowerPoint was.
05:52
I will save you the time.
05:55
It was not awesome, but it was true,
05:57
and I hope it was entertaining,
06:00
and out of all the audiences I've ever had,
06:02
y'all are the most recent. Thank you and good night.
06:05
(Applause)
06:08

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Jill Shargaa - Comedian + Designer
Jill Shargaa is a woman of multiple talents. A seasoned comedian, she founded the all-female comedy revue, Evening of Estrogen. She is also an illustrator and designer who brings a pulp sensibility to her work.

Why you should listen

Jill Shargaa’s comedy career took off in 1979, when she sold a one-liner to Joan Rivers for $9. She’s been making audiences laugh ever since, first as a member of the sketch comedy troupe The Funny Farm in Orlando, Florida, next on the ABC television show America’s Funniest People (she came in third), and now with her all-female comedy revue, Evening of Estrogen.

Jill is also the founder of Shargaa Illustration and Design, and has done work for Universal Studios Creative Resources and Walt Disney Imagineering. Half illustrator and half designer, she favors concepts that, go figure, raise a chuckle.

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