Observational Humor — Case Study #147

July 15th, 2016

Here is another Observational Humor monologue presented at the end of a meeting.

THE SETUP What happened or what was said during the meeting before the monologue was delivered.

1. A member said that speaking at a Toastmasters Club is not about perfection, it’s about growth.

2. Jesse Oakley, a well-known, popular Toastmaster arrived at the meeting 20 minutes late. He is Jesse Oakley the third and tags iii onto his name (Jessie Oakley eye eye eye)

3.  I evaluated Stan’s speech.

4. Stan works out at the gym and has huge muscles. He was wearing a tight fitting muscle shirt.

5. A speaker was introduced as Mr Dependability

6. Bobby commented that President Obama was ranking high in popularity at the end of his term. He noted that as his term ended for club President, he was also expecting to be popular.

7. Bill Parker said he felt like he was being forced to ride in the back of the bus.

8. Bobby said that he likes Bill, because when Bill says something, he means it.

9. Bill and Sherri attend the meeting with Sheri’s Mother, Georgia.

THE MONOLOGUE

Mr Toastmaster.   Fellow Toastmasters. And the Late Jesse Oakley, iii

(I used the formal opening often used by Toastmasters, a triplet ending with Jesse’s name. I have used the “Late” gag before, but not with this group. Good response.)

And now it’s time for perfection.

(Self-Aggrandizement works well in moderation and if the audience knows you well)

I enjoyed evaluating Stan’s speech tonight. We have something in common. We both are wearing muscle shirts. And one of us has muscles.

(Self deprecation. Big laugh.)

I’ve never been called Mr Dependability. Although I was once voted to be Miss Congeniality.

(Self deprecation. Absurdity. Good response.)

This club is known for its large number of dependable members. The majority of its members wear depends.

(Absurdity. Funny connection)

Bobby is one of my few friends who have the popularity of Donald Trump.

(Bobby is a universally well-liked guy. The absurd switch to Trump received a good laugh.)

I was excited when Bill said that he liked me. Because I knew that tonight he meant it.

(Combined two observations from the meeting.)

Bill said that felt that he was riding in the back of the bus tonight. That’s why his nickname is Rosa Parker.

(The line occurred to me because of the similarity of his last name, Parker, to Rosa Parks.)

Bill and Sherri Parker Attend Toasmasters meetings with Sherri’s Mother, Georgia. When a club is fortunate to have them as guests it’s like giving a three-for-one coupon.

(Two-fer coupons are common and popular in Las Vegas.)

Many of you probably don’t realize that Georgia is in the witness protection program where her last name is Hippie. Depending on how well you know her, you can refer to her as Georgia or as Mrs Hippie (Mississippi). ii ii

(I’ve known Georgia for over ten years and the connection between Georgia and Mississippi had never occurred to me until that night. It also allowed me to bookend the monologue, opening with iii and closing with ii ii. A strong closing.)

Observational Humor — Case study #146

July 10th, 2016

OBSERVATIONAL HUMOR – CASE STUDY #146

Here’s another Observational Humor monologue delivered at the end of a meeing. I wrote the jokes as the meeting unfolded.

THE SET-UP (What happened and what was said during the meeting before the monologue was delivered.)

  1. A speaker quoted a Bible verse.
  2. A speaker wrote a book with the title: Why Not Today?
  3. A speaker said she speaks on organizing for dis-organized people.
  4. A speaker said, “You’re a great audience, and I don’t say that to every audience.”
  5. A speaker said that he had a part-time job not related to speaking.
  6. Speaker said his alarm goes off at 5:00 am, seven days a week.
  7. I was using a walker.
  8. A speaker listed what women find attractive in a man.
  9. David, the man in charge of our audio equipment, had started growing a goatee.
  10. A speaker shared tips about being successful in the speaking business.
  11. – Not marketing is being invisible.
  12. – Experienced speakers aren’t cheap and cheap speakers aren’t experienced.

THE MONOLOGUE

The Bible refers to the quick and the dead. I am neither.

(Self-deprecation.)

I speak on procrastination. I have a book titled “Why Not Tomorrow?”

(Instead off curing it, I was supposedly encouraging it.)

I do humor for people who don’t like laughing.

(A call-back substituting my theme, humor.)

As a group you have the best sense of humor. And I don’t say that to every group.

(Another call-back again substituting a humor theme.)

I’m now working nights at Madam Tsuaads Wax Museum. I’m performing as a sculpture of Mr Rogers. Tourists say I’m almost life like.

(A call-back on a part-time job and self-deprecation.)

Every day my alarm goes off at 5:00…pm…after my afternoon nap.

(Self-deprecation by flipping am to pm.)

Women like men who are funny. Women like men who are tall. Women like men who use walkers. I made that up.

(Rule of three and self-deprecation.)

I’m pleased to see that David received his Abraham Lincoln starter kit.

(David is a young person and “starter kit” was a funny and appropriate description.)

We have a special guest today. Would you please stand, Hillary Clinton.

(Politics was big in the news and a member looks like Hillary.)

To wrap things up: Two tips to help you understand the speaking business: 

Not being funny is being invisible.

Know that funny speeches aren’t cheap…and cheap speeches aren’t funny.

(Twisting previous advice and again dropping in the humor theme.)

Getting Older

June 25th, 2016

Tonight we went to Green Valley Ranch and saw a Beatles Tribute show.  Free tickets.  It was only one hour, but excellent. The audience was a bunch of old folks.  Correction…they were mostly my age.  The Beatles made their debut on The Ed Sullivan Show nearly 53 years ago.  So you can do the math.   Just when you weren’t thinking about your age, an old fogey shows up in your mirror.  But I hope to keep getting older for a long time.  It’s not a bad gig.  Every day is a bonus.

Observational Humor — Case Study #145

June 21st, 2016

Here is another observational Humor monologue written for presentation at the end of a meeting.

THE SET-UP (What happened and what was said during the meeting before the monologue was presented):

  1. Bryant Pergerson is a perfect person to introduce a speaker. He is positive, enthusiastic, and builds the interest of the audience to want to hear the program.
  2. Bryant critiqued a speaker who opened his speech with Mr Toastmaster and fellow Toastmasters, to say instead: Mr Toastmaster and anybody who has ever been face-to-face with a 1500 pound bull.
  3. It was suggested to a speaker that he open his speech using a less aggressive stance.
  4. It was suggested to a speaker that his speaking style was a bit stiff.
  5. As Darren LaCroix prepared to present his program he casually visited with members of the audience, He recalled a program where he suggested to a woman in the front row to show some movement because she looked like a painting.
  6. Two speakers spoke before my program was introduced,
  7. During the earlier part of the program, late arriving people were seated during a break in the program.
  8. Kip Mecham was the skilled tech guru who kept the video connections running smoothly.
  9. Darren talked about the differences between humor and comedy.

THE MONOLOGUE

I’m done. I just came to hear Bryant’s introduction.

(An unexpected opening implying that the only reason I came was to be introduced by Bryant.)

Mr Toastmaster and everyone who has ever told a joke to a 1500 pound bull.

(Twisted a critique comment to blend in the humor theme.)

I’m sitting down so I don’t look aggressive.

(Having some fun with an earlier suggestion.)

If I look a bit stiff that means that you have a good video camera because it’s capturing the real me.

(Self-Deprecation.)

I’ll move so Darren won’t think I’m a painting.

(A call back and self-deprecation.)

This is an exciting day for me. For years my friends have always said, Kinde you’re pretty good, but you’ll never have Eric Culverson and Darren Lacroix as your warm up acts.

(A stock opening line which permits you to recognize the other speakers.)

It’s now time to seat the late people.

(A call back. Absurdity, there were no late comers near the end of the program.)

I want to recognize our tech guru Kip Mecham. Something you may not know is that his name is not really Kip. Kip is an acronym for Killer Internet Presentations. Let’s give a big thank you and a round of applause to Kip.

(Good humor allowing me to recognize our tech expert,)

During this program, we’re going to be talking about the difference between Humor and Comedy. The difference is that Humor starts with an H and Comedy starts with a C.

(Absurd but funny.)

POST SCRIPT

This was an unusual monologue. It was never presented to a live audience. Well that’s not that’s totally right or wrong. It was written to be presented alone in my office, but to an audience which was 1000 miles away watching the monologue on a TV screen. But that’s not the way it turned out. Due to a last-minute medical emergency, my part of the program was postponed.   The paramedics came and the person having the seizure is thankfully fine. And we correctly decided that it was best to reschedule my closing-part of that day’s program to next month. So the truth is, the monologue was never presented, except in my head…and now, in print to you. Although my humor workshop will be slipped to next month, the monologue will not. It was timely and relevant only for the end of the program on that specific day. However, I am confident that it was a good monologue and chosen to share it with you in my blog.

Borrowing Humor

June 12th, 2016

Patricia Fripp had a fall earlier this year, landing on her face. Ouch. She split her lip and went to the emergency room for stitches. In typical Fripp The-Show-Must-Go-On style, she preseted a webinar a few days later. When there is a program on the calendar, the Pro shows up ready to perform.

If I had a mishap and it was still obvious that I had an accident (crutches, a sling, stitches) here’s an opening line that I might be tempted to use:

“To paraphrase Phyllis Diller…I have a public service announcement. In the book, 50 Shades of Gray, there is a typo on page 137…but it was worth it.”

Here are some thoughts on using an opening line from another source:
– The joke is borrowed from Phyllis Diller, via Gene Perret, multiple Emmy-Award-winning comedy writer.
– My edited joke gives Diller credit.
– The punch line is implied.
– It is adapted, Diller had a broken arm.
– It’s updated, forty-some years ago the joke referred to the book, The Joy of Sex.
– And it includes a topper.

– When would “borrowing” a joke be acceptable, and when might it get you in trouble? Sometimes we might be tempted to substitute “steal” for the word “borrow.” But for now we will just use the word BORROW.

– If someone were to borrow humor that you had written, how would you like for them to handle it? Then drop yourself into the process of borrowing someone else’s creative work.

– Using someone else’s creativity as inspiration for your presentation is a short-cut to humor. But the pro is more likely to write his or her own jokes.

– Updating or adapting a joke may seem to make the joke yours and to give you permission, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes that green light is an illusion.

– Repeating a joke to friends in a social situation is not likely to be a problem.

– Where you may get into trouble is when you put a borrowed joke into a platform presentation. Giving credit for a joke might be sufficient, especially for one-time use, relating the joke to something fresh that just happened. But it becomes questionable if it becomes a regular part of a professional talk. Making money from someone else’s intellectual property may be crossing the line.

– If you’ve adapted a joke, changed it to bring it up to date, it is still a good idea to give credit to the original source. The act of rewriting a joke doesn’t automatically make it YOUR joke.

– When using humor for gain, as a professional who is paid to speak, is when you start dancing on thin ice. Whether a joke is adapted, adopted, or source-cited, giving credit is likely the right thing to do. The safe thing to do. Maybe even the legal thing to do.

– If you stray into the gray areas, err on the side of caution.

– As with “fair use” considerations in the copyright world, the amount of humor you borrow affects the acceptability of your use of someone else’s material. Using a two-page humorous story comes close to borrowing a signature story, and credited or not most likely falls in the unacceptable category of use. On the other hand, a two or three line joke, with proper credit given, is likely to fall in the range of acceptable behavior.

– What if other people are borrowing YOUR humor? Allowing your
humor to be used by others, unchallenged by you, may place your
material into a free-for-all category. Humor which is freely and
frequently used by many people can become part of the common domain and available for all to use.

– If someone is using YOUR humor, resolve it first with the offending party. In most cases, the offending party will do what is right. A couple of examples from my experience. About twenty years ago, a professional humorist borrowed a humorous story from my newsletter and published it in his newsletter with no credit. It was about a half-page, word-for-word lifting of my writing. I decided to write him a letter commenting on another part of his newsletter, just to let him know that I was reading his material. The problem never appeared again. Another example, an entire article, word-for-word, was published on someone’s web site, specifically naming someone else as the author. I contacted the editor of the website. It turned out to be an honest mistake and he changed the credit line immediately. People usually want to and will do the right thing.

– If you need to or want to use someone else’s material, sometimes it’s as simple as asking permission. Permission may come free, just ask. Sometimes it comes with a small fee.

– It’s not likely you’ll run into a lawsuit for misuse of material. But if
you are on the offending side of the behavior, the issue could land on the desk of an ethics committee. It could give you bad word-of-mouth. It could affect your reputation. And if you’re on the receiving end of a lawsuit, it’s probably from someone who has deeper pockets than you. Not good.

– If you are the offended party, when you raised the issue with the
offending party, what did they say? That’s the first step. Don’t start
with a letter from your attorney, file a law suit, or make a complaint with an ethics committee. When you talk with the offending party, most of the time they will make it right.

– All things considered, if I had a recent mishap which was obvious to the audience, I would be comfortable using the adapted joke giving Phyllis Diller credit. But my first choice is not to have an accident.

– When appropriate, see an attorney. The opinions expressed in this article are based on my experience and are not a substitute for qualified legal advice.

Memorizing a Speech

March 24th, 2016

I’m memorizing the flow of my current contest speech. I’m giving it tonight, and may use notes because of the major rewrite I just completed.  I mainly want to test the new material. I spent about five hours working on the speech last night and today. My technique is to set the whole speech in visual memory. That’s visually story-boarding the whole speech with a picture or image, opening each segment of the speech. The image shoud link to the previous image and also the next image.

For example, there is a section where I use a plumber as a methaphor for a doctor’s visit. So I when I get to that part of the speech I jog my memory with a visualization of a toilet. The next part of the speech refers to the year 1817. So I visualize the toilet again, this time I picture the year 1817 coming out of the toilet. Yes, it’s an odd picture. But for memorization, crazy is good. When I practice a speech, sometimes I just run thru the visual pictures. It’s quick to do and locks the flow of the speech together.

This is similar to a technique of using parts of your home as a
memorization jog. You first set up the flow of the house.
1. Living rom
2. Kitchen
3. Dining room
4. Hallway
5. Bathroom
6. Bedroom
7. Garage
Then you create a picture for each part of your speech. If the first part of your speech is about your father, you create the image of your father and put that image in the living room.

Your next story might be about a magic show. Link your picture of a magic show to the Dining Room. Then when you’re giving the speech, to get started you know you need to visit the Living Room to begin your talk: “Living room–oh, yes I was going to start by introducing my Dad.” After you tell the Dad story, you know you next must visit the Dining Room:”Oh yeah, my next part of the speech is about my Dad’s magic show.” You have just visited the Dining Room where your Dad was performing a magic show.

I’ve been working on my flow by creating linkable pictures to keep my sequence of stories on track. I’m not linking them to the geography of a house. I link one picture to the next, to the next, to the next. That works well for me, and when I’ve done it right, I can drop myself into a speech and know exactly where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m going.

Manuscripting a speech word for word, is normally a bad technique. You force yourself to remember the sequence of words. You become a slave to the words. When you miss a word or a line, it can throw you totally off track.

Normally when I’m reaching the end of one of my speech segments or the end of one of my stories, I can see the picture coming into view leading me into the next part of the speech. The pictures keep pulling my speech forward by dropping one visual image after another into my mind.

Sometimes I create an idea outline, listing the order of my stories. I
don’t normally intend for this to be a memorization tool, but sometimes it turns out that I can see a mental picture of this idea outline. And it becomes a memorization tool without the intent. Sometimes your memorization technique just falls into place without design.

So that was my chore for today, to shapen my pictures, and nail down the structure of my talk.

New Joke Contest — Book and Movie Titles

March 1st, 2016

New Joke Contest — Book and Movie Titles

Your challenge for this contest is to link a book or movie title to a business or product.  Your challenge is to create you own titles to submit.  If you find a source of jokes along this theme, you can use it for inspiration.  But directly lifting the lines from somewhere on the internet will not make you a better humor writer.

A good creative technique is to look for a list of book or movie titles and work backward from that list.  Or you could start with a business or product category, and work forward to finding a book or movie title to go with it.

And remember that good humor writing is a numbers game.  The more lines you write, the better your chance of uncovering a gem.  Do you think you can write ten lines?  Then do it.  After you write ten line, I’ll bet you can do 30.  And then 50.  One of our readers submitted over 200 entries one month.  His best lines were really good.

Here are three examples of lines that would work:

A mono-chromatic paint store — 50 Shades of Grey

A children’s pizza arcade in a mobile RV — Who Moved My Chuck E Cheese

A designer $100 fastener for pants. The longer you wear it the newer it looks:  Benjamin Buttons.

Submit by March 15, 2016, by sending your entries to HumorPowerTips@HumorPower.com

You may submit as many lines as you wish, but the  first three entries on your list will be considered for first, second, and third place.  This is an important part of the creative process…Being able to judge and rank the quality of your own writing.  The best writers are able to write not just what is funny to them, but what is funny to someone else.  Your entries will have to be funny to a panel of real people, and your challenge is to figure out what will be funny to them.

Happy writing.  I look forward to the laughs.

Observational Humor — Case Study #144

February 18th, 2016

Here is another monologue presented at the end of a meeting. The jokes were the result of paying attention to what was happening during the meeting and then looking for connections which were humorous and not expected by the audience.

THE SET-UP (What happened and what was said during the meeting before the monologue was delivered.)

1. A speaker quoted a bible verse.

2. A speaker was wearing a shirt with a slogan on it: Why not today?

3. The meeting was held in a church which had the slogan: “Church for people who don’t like church.

4. A speaker said to the audience, “You’re the best audience I’ve had in a long time…and I don’t say that to every audience. Well, maybe I do.”

5. I have joked in the past that the only celebrity I look like is Mr
Rogers.

6. A speaker said that his alarm wakes him up every morning at 5:00 am.

7. I was using a walker.

8. One of the members attending the meeting looked like Hillary
Clinton.

9. A speaker said, “If you don’t market yourself you become invisible.”

10. A speaker said, “Get a coach. A good coach isn’t cheap, but is a
good investment.”

THE MONOLOGUE

The bible refers to the quick and the dead. I am neither.
(Self deprecation. I often joke about being slow.)

I speak on procrastination. I have a book titled “Why Not Tomorrow?”
(A call back with a twist. It was set up nicely during the self
introductions when the man wearing the Why-not-today shirt
commented on his shirt.)

I do humor for people who don’t like laughter.
(Twisting the theme of the church to relate it to what I do, in a joking way. It could be received as an absurd statement or it could be implying that people don’t laugh at my jokes, self-deprecation.)

As a group you have the best sense of humor. And I don’t say that to every group.
(A call back.)

I’m now working nights at Madam Tsuaad’s Wax Museum. I’m performing as a sculpture of Mr Rogers. Tourists say I’m almost life like.
(Self-deprecation about my low-energy style.)

Every day my alarm goes off at 5…pm…after my afternoon nap.
(Switching am for pm.)

Women like men who are funny. Women like men who are tall. Women like men who use walkers. I made that up.
(Making fun of my walker, something obvious.)

We have a special guest today. Would you please stand, Hillary Clinton.
(I like to recognize people in the audience without coordinating with
them. In this case, I was taken by surprise when the look-alike had left the meeting early.)

To wrap things up: Two tips to help you understand the speaking business:
(Bringing closure to the monologue.)

Not being funny is being invisible.
(Twisting an earlier phrase to tie it into my humor theme.)

Know that funny speeches aren’t cheap…and cheap speeches aren’t funny.
(Another example of twisting words to fit my theme.)

Observational Humor — Case Study #143

February 5th, 2016

Here is another Observational Humor monologue which was presented at the end of a meeting. I observed what was said and what happened during the meeting, and at the end of the meeting I presented humorous observations. We will look at the set-ups, the jokes, and what made the jokes work.

THE SET-UPS (What happened and what was said during the meeting.)

1. In a speech about writing a winning Tall Tale speech, we were told to open with a catchy statement and also to know our closing perfectly.

2. Our Toastmaster was introduced as a District contest winner and an expert in vocal variety.

3. A speaker told us that vocal variety will bring your characters to life.

4. The word of the day was Iota.

5. Bill, a former club member, arrived a half hour late.

6. A speaker talked about four personality styles represented on a
matrix by four symbols.

7. She said that the circle represented water.

8. A speaker told us to increase credibility by citing our sources.

9. She suggested that it was not good to cite Wikipedia as a source.

10. She said that her husband was “a hard circle” in the matrix.

11. She used a repetitive phrase in her speech, “Are you sure?”

12. A speaker’s speech title was: “What in the World Was I Thinking?”

13. A speaker talked about sky diving while “strapped to a guy.”

14. I was wearing a sweater embroidered with the logo of The National Speakers Association.

THE MONOLOGUE

“And that’s how I jumped over the moon!”

(Good response. Strong laugh.)

I have the last line memorized.

(Good laugh. Nice topper.)

Our General Evaluator is a two-time District winner in Evaluation.
He is a two-time District winner in Tall Tales.
He is a four-time District winner in Humorous Speaking.
But he has never won the International Speaking Contest at the District level.
We apologize for not bringing you a winner.
(Funny because of the truth. Often we tend to remember the negative
things in life.)

I am an expert in Vocal Variety.
I bring my characters to life.
(Self-deprecation. I am not known for my vocal variety.)

I was in a college fraternity, Iota Delta Kapa
(Playing with the word IOTA.)

I’d like to welcome the late Bill Lusk.
(A recycled line which I had used before. Always gets a good laugh.)

Tonight, we’ll talk about the four styles of humor.
The wiggly line represents those who crash and burn.
The triangle represents those who use the rule of three.
The circle represents water, those who wet their pants.
And the square represents those who pun.
(The call back of symbols got good laughs.)
My source for that information is Wickipedia.
What in the World Was I Thinking.

Melanie you said that your husband Jim was a hard circle.
Are you sure?
(The call back of the HARD CIRCLE comment would only work with a follow-on punchline. “Are you sure?” A good laugh.)

After my speech tonight, I thought that Iota have practiced more.
(Playing with the word of the day and sound-alikes (I oughta). Looking for something that almost sounds like the word of the day is usually good for a laugh.)

Next time I give a contest speech I’m going to be strapped to a guy
(Absurdity. Paints a silly picture.)

I was wearing this sweater while playing Black Jack this week. A guy at the other end of the table commented: “You’re wearing a National Speakers Association sweater  but you never speak.” My simple reply: “I only speak when I’m paid.”

(Something that really happened. A funny observation.)

Risk and Reward in Performance

January 13th, 2016

Memorable moments are often a result of preparation, confidence, and taking a risk. In this video clip, Johnny Carson takes a chance by bringing audience member David Tolley on stage to play the piano. Having had a cancellation of a scheduled pianist, The Tonight Show decided to bring up an audience volunteer who said he played the piano. And play he did. Carson introduced him saying, “You know this is not set up, because obviously David would not dress this way if he knew he was going to be on a big television show in front of a national audience.” David was wearing a Nike t-shirt, blue jeans with holes, and sandals. He was a hit. The audience enjoys and appreciates taking a risk, especially when it is successful. David was later scheduled for a repeat engagement on the show.  Prepare for opportunity, have confidence, take a risk.