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Syler Makes Them Laugh

Tuesday, The Early Show starts a special series in which each of the anchors gets the opportunity to do something he or she has always wanted to do.

Since Rene Syler loves to make people laugh, she thought she'd give stand-up comedy a try.

Recently, with a little help from some top comediennes and an extra dose of courage, her comic dream came true.

Looking at the mirror in her office, Syler was busy practicing her jokes:

"What did the hotdog say when he crossed the finish line? I'm the weiner!"

She was working up the courage to face an audience at the Stand-Up New York Comedy Club.

She says, "I kind of just have a wacky sort of sense of humor. It's one thing to crack one-liners and it's a whole other thing to do a two or three minute set on stage. But I thought about it some more and I really feel like everybody needs a creative outlet. And for 41 years, I've been searching for mine. And you know, it'd be neat if this was it."

First she set out to seek professional help from Judy Gold.

Her first tip? "There are certain things you have to adhere to, to be a stand-up comic," Gold explains. "You want your audience to trust you, so you can't be all glam. Don't wear some sexy outfit. Because the guys are going to be like panting and the women are going to be like, 'Ooh I hate her, I'm going to the bathroom!'"

Tongue in cheek, Syler notes, "But I thought maybe if I wasn't funny I could take my clothes off."

Gold replies, "That's a great idea. And that way, people really respect you, too."

Next in line to offer advice was Lynne Koplitz. She says, "When you come on stage, you want to get a laugh right away. But if you don't have an outline, it can be scary because you have nowhere to fall back when all that laughter recedes. Everyone's like, 'Entertain us news lady.'"

Ellen Cleghorne adds, "Flourish darling. You have to flourish. You have to bring attitude. You know what I'm saying? You have to find your voice, the voice that's you."

It might seem that it would take a while to do that, but Cleghorne tells Syler, "No, it's a two-day course!"

Knowing Syler has one shot at performing and just two weeks to put it together, Cleghorne advises, "What you could do is stand on the subway with a cup. And tell your jokes over and over again at every stop, like when people get off and then start again."

Armed with advice from the pros, Syler moved on to comedy tip No. 2: Practice makes perfect. Telling jokes to co-workers, she says, "Let me know what you think of these jokes: What do Alexander the Great and Winnie the Pooh have in common? They both have the same middle name!"

Unfortunately, she has to explain the joke. "Get it? Winnie THE Pooh, Alexander THE Great." Still, she only gets blank stares.

Syler notes, "My biggest fear is cracking a joke and having no one laugh and just thinking oh gosh, where do we go from here? But I figure if I can come up with three good jokes, I'll be OK. Three good jokes and an open bar I think is really all I need."

Comedy tip No. 3: Think funny.

Ready to go to the comedy club, she reassures herself, "I have nothing to lose. This is shoot for the stars time," Syler says.

And all the prep work paid off. Syler got laughs from one joke about Katie Couric not having to supplement her income doing stand-up.

Syler notes, "If I say something funny and people laugh and I'm not talking about this like (makes the sound of giggles). I'm talking about the open mouth. I can see all the fillings. There's (mimics hearty laughing), then you know you've hit a home run."

Another joke she used talks about the letters she gets from viewers. Ones such as: "Dear Miss Syler, how are you. I just want to say The Early Show is my only source of news and information. I just want you to know how much I respect and admire the job that you do. Clearly someone who's mistakenly locked up. P.S. Could you find it in your heart to send me a dozen autographed pairs of panties - Harry Smith's panties."

Looking back at her comedy routine, she says, "I have no regrets. I did everything I wanted to do. And this is one of them."

Syler notes she had a very supportive crowd. There were lots of friends and family in the audience.

"I overcame my fears and had a blast. I even might do it again sometime," she says.

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