Melissa Haynes, author: Learning to Play with a Lion's testicles.

My Proof:

Comments: 112 • Responses: 44  • Date: 

Samok156 karma

OMG! how did that make you feel? Did you learn anything from this?

mjh2017144 karma

At first I was dying of humiliation, even though he was just making fun of the title. But then I realized it was just another sign that I had achieved my very overdue life long dream to write. Lesson to me was victory doesn't hinge on outcome, victory comes the moment we have the courage to have the courage, to show up and do the things we've always dreamed of doing. :-)

isherflaflippeflanye21 karma

You sound like my therapist. She told me that creatively, I shouldn't focus so much on the outcome or product, or reactions, if I want to explore something I should just do it. I would read your book. Fuck J fallon

mjh201736 karma

It's really true. When we focus on outcome we can become frozen or unauthentic. When we can let go of expectations and fear of judgement, failure, (or even success!), etc then we're truly free to be creative, to be inspired, to be in the flow of things. I haven't mastered how to do that but I do know how it feels to be laughed at in front of millions and know that it can actually be a good thing. If we can look at it, like, yeah, those are my lion's testicles Jimmy Fallon's playing with up there, LOL, it means I did it, I finished something, in this case it was the book that took 25 years to write. I'm working on book two right now and when I get stuck, I just think OK, if I don't keep going, five years from now will I regret giving up? Yep. So keep going. :-)

A7Xtrememe2 karma

The movie industry should take this advice

mjh20173 karma

Are you a screenwriter?

A7Xtrememe2 karma


mjh20174 karma

Me neither :-)

mjh20171 karma

Thank you for contributing to the conversation, this was a lot of fun!

Ipswitch3544 karma

Did this ultimately lead to more exposure and therefore more sales? How does the book's success compare from before and after?

mjh201766 karma

There was more temporary exposure for sure. I really find it an honor that he had my book on his show, and it was a great lesson and one I can talk about (even was the core message of a recent TED talk I gave: have the courage to have the courage to chase your dreams regardless of outcome). A lot of people asked me how I didn't jump off a bridge after being a laughing stock but it all depends on how you look at it. I was temporarily humiliated but then happy about it. I emailed him asking if he would have me on his show too, you know, to play pin the testicles on the lion or at least have a dance-off but he never got back to me. :-)

Samok112 karma

Can you please post a link to your TED talk. I'm dying to watch it. Would be brilliant if Jimmy Fallon saw your TEDx talk. :-)

TokiStark-18 karma

I actually made it past you saying "uncapable". However, you lost me at ghosts

mjh201719 karma

LOL I have sloppy vowels. But I appreciate your feedback. Thank you!

Samok17 karma

Not easy to speak in front of 3,000 people and expect perfection, especially when you're baring your soul...

mjh20171 karma

Very true and thank you for your compassion.

C_IsForCookie2 karma

Like you and others said, he's just a guy with an opinion, so it's not the end of the world. But if he's going to put you at the top of a list like that and you reach out to him, I think the least he could do is send you a response, even if it's "no". :-/

I haven't found him entertaining since SNL but this is the first time I've thought less of him. I know he's busy but I'm sure they read your email, and that's what he has a staff for.

mjh20173 karma

Well who knows, maybe he'll invite me on for a dance-off one day after all, and when he does I'll be ready... Thank you for joining in on the conversation, it's been really cool and fun to meet everyone on here and have these great and meaningful conversations.

The_Jizzbot25 karma


mjh201718 karma

Hmmm, good question. I guess the latter especially if we said they were 100 (mice) testicle sized lions ;-)

cubnole18 karma

Well now I want to spend my money on your book.

Did you expect a backfire like this when you found out about his list?

mjh201738 karma

Hi There. No, I didn't actually. Many people said, well hopefully no one was watching (yeah, only 3,000,000 people)! But I'm glad it happened, it was a huge lesson to me. You see, we all have ghosts, (fears), some are universal some are unique to us. I wrote my first 'book' when I was six and was laughed at and quickly tore it up promising myself I would never be so stupid to put myself out there again even though I always wanted to write. So you can imagine when 25 years later I finally overcame that 'ghost' of public humiliation and wrote a book, how it now felt to have a few million people laughing at my book (title). I had to either let the ghost put the shackles back on me and feel like a laughing stock or say, nope, this is actually very cool because Fallon just gave me the opportunity to kick this ghost's @ss once and for all. We can all overcome our ghosts that hold us back. We just have to have the courage to have the courage. :-)

LateralLimey16 karma

3 million people watching. That is a lot of publicity, and you might benefit from it. Well actually you have, as I now have the book in my Amazon basket.

mjh20178 karma

Lots of great lessons for sure. Things are only as good or as bad as we think they are. :-) And I'm a huge Jimmy Falllon fan so was very pleased to see him playing with my book.

25eagles7 karma

You should be thanking god for the publicity, it's a superb thing to happen.

mjh201710 karma

I am! I am a huge Jimmy Fallon fan, so it was awesome! Many people say, yeah but #1 on a Do NOT read list? Doesn't matter, it's all in fun and truly an honor.

3urritos16 karma

fallon kind of sucks.

whats your book actually about?

mjh201746 karma

The title is a SA expression that means, Have the courage to have the courage. Or, Have the courage to overcome your fears. The book is about volunteering in Africa and overcoming a lot of fears, mainly death and guilt and how to overcome the guilt when losing a loved one. The animals I went to 'save' ended up 'saving' me.

3urritos10 karma

did you lose someone? thats sad.

mjh201730 karma

Yes, both of my parents quite quickly and suddenly from cancer. Loss is inevitable but sometimes we don't always know how to handle it. They both died with a lot of things they still wanted to do and I had always wanted to volunteer with animals in Africa so their passing was the impetus for me to stop putting it off and just do it. And it was the very thing that helped me come to grips with it all. Sometimes we need to get outside of ourselves to find our way back. :-)

Samok11 karma

Cool... So you're saying that "playing with a lion's testicles" means "have the courage to have the courage." I can't think of anything scarier than playing with a lion's testicles. Do people actually do this?

mjh20177 karma

I haven't ever actually met anyone who has played with a lion's testicles (maybe because there are no survivors), but it's a funny saying, isn't it? We see examples of people 'playing' every day. Courageous souls who inspire the rest of us to grab life by the, berries. Wonder Woman is a recent example. Robert McKee (a Story prof and genius) said this about Wonder Woman, which calls on the theme of courage as well, ‘Always bear in mind that Action writers never intend for fictional violence to be taken as a literal model for behavior. Rather, they use it as a metaphor for the courageous strength we all need to face life.'

markercore3 karma

That is a fantastic quote.

mjh20173 karma

Yes! He also says, 'Stories are metaphors for real life', which adds even greater understanding to the above.

Samok11 karma

So true. That must be why Wonder Woman resonates with so many people, especially with females.

mjh20172 karma

With respects to Wonder Woman, I think you're right, McKee followed up the above comment re: Wonder Woman by saying, 'For that reason, society has generally accepted the role of Action tales in the lives of boys. On the other hand, if our sorry society is to progress, we must empower women as an equal, hopefully greater, force for moral good.' Not to say we don't already, I think there are lots of great examples but Wonder Woman is a classic.

Samok113 karma

Did you have any weirdos approach you thinking it was part of some kinky sex thing?

mjh201711 karma


mjh20176 karma

There has been the odd person who has reached out on LinkedIn or email asking if I would like to play with theirs but I politely declined. However, I did say I knew a lion in Africa I could introduce them to. :-)

Samok13 karma

I bet that shut up the person in a big hurry. LOL.

mjh20173 karma

Well, I didn't hear back from him.

usunkmybattleship1313 karma

Will you contact Fallon's people about coming on as a guest and defending your book?

You're well spoken and gorgeous. Jimmy compulsively mouths his guest speaking parts.

I think a humours skit called, "playing with Jimmie's testicles" is in order. It consist of you asking Jimmy questions testing his knowledge of popular literature. Easy questions. But if he's wrong, electrodes on the seat of his chair, shock his testies. After answering every question correctly and sparing his balls, you ask a question about your book.

palms sweaty mom's spaghetti

mjh20172 karma

haha! That is very funny!

mjh20172 karma

I like that artist too. This was the song I had blasting through my headphones backstage just before the talk, trying to silence the stage the same artist. Helped me find my 'testicles' before speaking in front of 2600 people :-O Good reminder that we've all walked the same roads at one point or another. May not be identical but the feelings we felt were. I'm not afraid (I'm not afraid) To take a stand (to take a stand) Everybody (everybody) Come take my hand (come take my hand) We'll walk this road together, through the storm Whatever weather, cold or warm Just letting you know that you're not alone Holler if you feel like you've been down the same road (same road)

mjh20171 karma

Thank you for contributing to this conversation, it was a lot of fun!

usunkmybattleship131 karma

Hey, thank you for doing this AMA! What do I got to do to get a signed copy?

Best wishes!

Also, What are you working on next?

mjh20171 karma

If you email me through my website ( with your mailing address, I will be pleased to send you one this summer. Thank you and may you continue to 'play with a lions testicles'! ;-)

mjh201712 karma

Ever had fear of rejection or public humiliation or dreamed of seeing your book on Jimmy Fallon's Do Not Read list? My book, Learning to Play with a Lion's Testicles was #1 on Jimmy Fallon's Do Not Read list, so I have experience with all of the above. Ask me anything!

report-zyther646 karma

What is your favourite dinosaur?

mjh20174 karma

Brontosaurus - hands down! And yours?

TomWaters9 karma

Nobody tell her... she's already had a rough week!

TomWaters0 karma

Oh man, what a plot twist!

mjh20172 karma

Haha! Awesome! The brontosaurus lives on (kind of?).

mjh20171 karma

Tell me what? :-)

report-zyther641 karma

Mine is the eoraptor.

mjh20173 karma

I had to look that one up. Looks like a relative of T-Rex. I've always wondered why their arms were so short.

isherflaflippeflanye5 karma

I can't stand Jimmy Fallon. Did he even read your book, or was it just that he thought the title would get him ratings?

Also, what is your favorite pizza topping?

mjh201710 karma

He was just making fun of the title, I hope... Banana peppers - the spicier the better! How about you?

isherflaflippeflanye5 karma

I love banana peppers on pizza! But my favorite combo is jalapenos, bacon and pineapple. Spicy, salty, and sweet.

mjh20174 karma

That sounds really good!

Samok14 karma

Do you have any regrets with the title? To be honest, I think it's absolutely brilliant even though you may have been embarrassed.

mjh201714 karma

Oh no, I LOVE the title! Wouldn't change it for the world. It encompasses the message of the book and it's fun and I just love it. And, hey, that little book made it onto the Late Night show, not many people can say that! :-) Ellen had it on her show a few months later, she was intrigued by the title too.

chumchilla2 karma

I know nothing about Jimmy Fallon. Why would he put your book on a do not read list? Personal vendetta? Did you turn him down for a date?

mjh201711 karma

He's a comedian. At the time was the host of Late Night. Very talented, funny guy. He has this list and the segment starts with a jingle, do not waste your money on these books... He was just making fun of the title (I hope!), but at first I wanted to hide as I was a bit of a laughing stock. Lesson I took away was that victory doesn't hinge on outcome, victory comes when we are willing to show up and pursue our dreams regardless of outcome.

Bernies_Lakehouse2 karma

Have you reached out to the show? Given what a good sport you are being about the joke and doing this AMA, I think it would be hilarious for you to go on the show and actually promote the book.

mjh20176 karma

I did! But never heard back from them. He typically just has celebrities on his show, and I'm not (except maybe to my dog :-)). It's a great conversation starter in those awkward silent moments at cocktail parties.

Bernies_Lakehouse2 karma

So what are you up to now? Do you plan on writing any other books about your experiences in the future?

mjh20172 karma

I'm writing fiction now. And the occasional speech. On Amazon in the reviews section some very creative people have come up with great sequel titles. But no sequels to this book. I did write a speech about the experience. And did that recently as as TEDx talk. How about you? Do you like to write as well?

hudnix2 karma

Your story about the six-year-old you reminds me quite a bit of my own daughter. Very creative and talented. Also wants to be a writer, and started on a story at about that age. Also often unintentionally very funny, and quite mortified when we would laugh at her serious work, or something she said.

She is now a teenager, and has updated her story several times into more sophisticated versions. She understands now that when we laugh we are not mocking her, but I can tell it still irritates her when she is not trying to be funny.

Is there something we can do to help her be more comfortable with being humorous, or with adding bits of humor to serious content, as you did in that talk?

mjh20172 karma

You sound like a great parent who wants to help their child find their creative expression. Your daughter has her own unique style, and her own creative style. With freedom she can find her wings and her style will no doubt be expanding and changing over time. I think the best thing we can do for our kids and even each other is just radical acceptance to be who we are. Humor is a good thing, helps people to digest serious content and offers 'comic relief', but it's not for everyone. It took me a few decades to be OK with people laughing at something I created, but for young people that's not always easy, especially if they're not intending to be humorous.

TiePoh1 karma

I'm sorry, I'm at work and can't watch a video at the moment; but what was the title? And as an actual question, it seems like that was the point that was made fun of - how was the book itself?

mjh20173 karma

Oh yes, you are very right! He was making fun of the title, which is, 'Learning to Play with a Lions Testicles'. It's an actual South African expression that means, have the courage to have the courage. Or, have the courage to take chances. It is a funny title! And great expression :-)

TiePoh2 karma

I like "Grab a lion by the balls" a bit better. Very interesting though

mjh20172 karma

That works too!

DLCss1 karma

If you could have Jimmy Fallon include 1 statement to convince viewers that your book was truly worth reading and important, what would it be?

And for the record, I'm not saying your book isn't worth reading, I just mean that Jimmy would include a statement to put the book and its title into correct context.

mjh20172 karma

This is an excellent question, thank you for this! It was a real honor to see my book there, and I know it was all in good fun and nothing personal. But this is a good question, so how about: 'Post-show I was supposed to meet my buddy, JT for some Go-Bro dancing but I started reading this book and couldn't put it down, so I never made it.'

DLCss1 karma

Haha that is pretty accurate to his character. Best of luck again on your book!

mjh20172 karma

Thank you and thank you for the great question! Truly!

Somnu1 karma

What is this book about, and what makes it so bad?

mjh20172 karma

Hi Somnu, Jimmy Fallon was just making fun of the title (I hope!). The title is a South African expression that means, Have the courage to have the courage. Or, Have the courage to overcome your fears. The book is about volunteering in Africa and overcoming a lot of fears, mainly death and guilt and how to overcome the guilt when losing a loved one. The animals I went to 'save' ended up 'saving' me.

Somnu1 karma

Thank you for your answer. I didn't realize the title was a South African expression. I get it now and that makes it so much cooler, since it's something particular to the African culture, and the proud beasts that roam their lands.

mjh20171 karma