Joke Contest Results — Sounds Like

July 27th, 2015

It’s time for the results of our July joke contest.

The feedback from our readers was that it was one of our most difficult contests.

The theme of the contest was:  Sounds Like

New contests are announced on the first of the month.

Look for the next contest on August 1, 2015

Here are the top entries.


The sound of my son’s set of drums falling over a cliff:  Bah dump bump.

Marty Bernstein, Oak Park, Illinios


The sound of cashing my paycheck:  Clinkety clink.

Sandy Kampner, Evergreen Park, Illinois


A costume malfunction on TV: Sounds like a million eyebrows raising in unison.

Gerald Fleishmann, Fountain Valley, California

HONORABLE MENTION (in random order)

Upon encountering a snake under my house…the sound I make exiting: Thump, thump, thump, thump.

My first expression upon falling into an open septic tank: Oh crap…

Siblings: Stop touching me! Poke, poke, poke.

Reporting from California, the sound of rain: Oops…forgot what it sounds like!

The sound after my wife’s big announcement:  You’re WHAT!

The sound of me after a weekend bender: I know I work around here somewhere.

Sound of my teen learning to drive: Screech screech screech BUMP.

The sound of going on the wagon: Glug, glug, as you pour your best booze down the drain.

The sound after hearing Honey I’m pregnant:  A pregnant pause.

The sound of mowing a lawn that hasn’t been mowed lately:  Where’s Fluffy?

Love at first sight. That sound you hear is common sense leaving your body.

As I get out of bed in the morning, my back snaps, crackles, and pops.  Sounds like what I’m having for breakfast.

The hushed buzzing sound in the air are all the secrets from people who promised they’d keep it a secret.

That rumbling sound underground is all our ancestors turning over in their graves.

The gymnast’s son checking out his dad’s bed. Sproing, sproing, sproing.

The silence sounds of a wise husband even though he is right.

The sound of my palm hitting my forehead when after ten minutes I finally find my sunglasses on top of my head: Thwack!

Huckabee trashing Jeb: Bushwhack.

Operating Sonar while playing a college drinking game: Ping-pong.

Shooting the hair that covers your forehead: Bang-bang.

American Pharoah declining to run at Saratoga:  Neigh.

Hillary taking the tough questions: The Sounds of Silence.

Hillary opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP): Flip-flop.

Smoking pot while operating Sonar: Ping-bong.

The sound of my brain writing jokes: ha, ha ha, eh, ugh, oh no! hee hee, hahahahaha…yeah, that one!

Top Ten List

July 22nd, 2015

I miss David Letterman and his Top Ten Lists. If he were still making his nightly appearances, we would probably see something funnier than this:

Ten Things We’re Waiting for Trump to Say

“I didn’t say anything about John McCain. The creature on my head is a ventriloquist.”

“What I said was that McCain liked to serve greek sandwiches and that doesn’t make him a Gyro.”

“I called John McCain to tell him I was joking. He said that he prefers
jokes that weren’t shot down.”

“I may not have been in the military, but I have experience in combat.
Rosie scratched me with her fingernails and I pulled some of her hair

“I admit, I shot myself in he foot. I’m hoping that makes me a hero.
That was a joke. The hero part was just a joke.”

“I’d consider being a Vice Presidential nominee in 2016, if Palin doesn’t
take the slot.”

“I auditioned for Last Comic Standing. At the end of the pilot episode
the producer said: You’re Fired!”

“I had a humor writer on my staff. I’ve revised the job description to
include the word FUNNY.”

“My first choice for running mate would be Rosie…if only she’d kiss my
ring…which I carry in my back pocket.”

“I am the professional wrestler of politics.”

“They’re making a documentary about my campaign. Mission
Impossible…Trump for President. Should you accept this mission, your
party will self-destruct in 60 seconds.”

Political Humor

July 19th, 2015

Trump in the spotlight. His statement about McCain: “He was a hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

Trump’s problems were
- that he let his feud with McCain get the best of him,
- that he was trying too hard to be funny,
- that he was speaking before thinking,
- that he was ignoring the fact that when you get shot down, it’s less a case of wrong-place at the wrong-time, and it’s more a case of having volunteered to be in a place of danger.
- that he shot himself in the foot, which does not make him a hero.

Advice to politicians:
- Think before you speak.
- Don’t be a humor terrorist. Bombing will get you nowhere.
- Avoid the humor penalty box. Issuing an apology one hour later is not good politics.
- When you’re rich and famous, your opponents will be waiting in line to attack you.
- The harder you try to be funny, the less funny you’ll be. That’s a rule of the improv stage.
- Unless you have the gift of instantaneous humor, plan your spontaneous humor remarks in advance, written by a staff of humor experts more talented than you. Late-night talk-show hosts don’t wing it when giving their monologues. They are among the most talented humor experts in the country, and they rely on a team of professional writers to make them look good.
- Look for opportunities to poke fun at yoursself. Self-deprecating humor rarely needs an apology. Reagan had a reputation for good humor. Many of his memorable lines were self-deprecating. In a debate with Mondale he made fun of his age: “I will not make age an issue in this campaign. I will not exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.” When he was shot, his words to Nancy at the hotpital were: “Honey I fogot to duck.” Jokingly taking responsibility for getting hit. And to the doctors: “I hope you are all Republicans.” One of the most powerful leaders in the world, joking that the doctors had the power.
- Winging it may be fun and exciting, but it’s probably not the path to the White House.

PowerHouse Pros Roast

July 15th, 2015

Our PowerHouse Pros Toastmasters Roast was about two weeks ago. The edited video is now ready! Special thanks to Philip Dahlheimer for his video expertise in shooting and editing the program. The final edited program  runs one hour.   So bring you popcorn.

Carolyn Pelletier was a wonderful Roast Master. And our Roasters hit the mark: George Gilbert, Bill Parker, Melanie Hope, Ryan Mulligan, Jens Norgaard, Karen Lewison, Bobby Williams, Al Jensen, Beverly Rideout, Greg Bruce, Linda Evans, and Scott Pritchard.  It’s an honor to have such a great group of friends.   Thank you for a fun and memorable evening.

Click here to watch the Roast.

10 Ways to Know You Are Old

July 7th, 2015

My Mother’s birthday was last month.   She will be 90.  She is a healthy and active 90.  It was a nice celebration and  a family gathering.  We scheduled entertainment for the party.  I opened with some humor, including a Top-Ten list.


10.  You know you are old…when the Pope is closer to your son’s age than he is to yours.

9.  You know you are old…when people who are in their 70s today are too young to recognize the names of movie stars, singers and comics who were popular when you were in high school.

8.  You know you are old…when you carry two gallons of water from the car into the house and it pulls the wrinkles out of your face.

7.  You know you are old…when people who were in their early 60s when you were born…are people who were alive the day Lincoln was assassinated.

6.  You know you are old…when your children are no longer considered middle-aged.

5. You know you are old…when you no longer gossip about your friend’s secrets, because you can’t remember them.

4.  You know you are old…when you refuse to use a cane because it will make you look old.

3.  Your know you are old…when your elderly son drives over to your house to tell you that YOU shouldn’t be driving.

2.  You’re know you are old…when they recall your La-Z-Boy chair so they can relable it a La-Z-Girl.

And the number one way you know you’re old…is when you HATE walking into your office because you can’t remember WHY you walked into your office.


Here are five lines I did not use.  There are some good lines here, but I tried to put lines in the top-ten list that had the greatest ring of truth.  Comic license would allow us to stretch the truth, but I lean toward sticking close to the truth when using customized material.

A.  You know you are old…when signing for a 30-year mortgage is considered a scam. (She has not signed a 30-year mortgage.)

B.  You know you are old…when you love cooking with wine and you don’t even need a glass. (She is not a drinker.  A fairly generic line, not exactly in line with a list of aging jokes.)

C  You know you are old…when people no longer think of you as a hypochondriac. (This one came close to making the top ten. She has never been considered a hypochondriac, but has been a “health nut” for decades.)

D.  You know you’re old…when your sons frequently talk about constipation, Medicare and other people’s operations.  (This is a good line. I have joked with friends about talking health issues more as we age.  A younger brother has had a hip replacement, and I need one.)

E.  You know you’re old…when you look up old in the dictionary and see your picture.  (Cliché.  An old joke.)

New Joke Contest — Sounds Like

June 30th, 2015

The theme for he July Joke Contest is “Sounds Like…” It looks a bit like an Onomatopoeia exercise. Look for desciptive words that sound like what they describe. You can take some liberties with that formula to make a joke work. Here are eight examples:

- The sound at the end of a Ponzie scam: Clink-clink-clink.

- The sound of a lemon car trying to start: Errrrr, clunk, errrrr, clunk, errrrr.

- The sound of a beer bottle chilling in the freezer too long: Ka-Boom with a silencer.

- A burglar breaking into a home: Ka-Boom without a silencer… followed by “STOP or I’ll shoot.”

- Peace in the Middle East: Followed by the sound of skeptical  disbelief.

- After singing Happy Birthday to a 100-year old: “What did you say?”

- The sound in a gambling casino. Hard to describe, but it sounds like people kissing their money goodbye.

It’s time for you to go to work. Grab pen and paper and start your humor synapses firing. Write as many lines as you can. Then submit your best three lines for top-three recognition. Additional lines submitted will be eligible for Honorable Mention.

Send your entries to not later than July 15, 2015.

The Power of the Right Word

June 25th, 2015

The Power of the Right Word

When writing a joke, the right word can add more punch. Mark Twain said that the difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.

Descriptive words. Look for colorful words. Don’t use limp modifiers.  The word VERY is such a modifier. I visited the home where I was raised. Compared to the home in my memory, the actual home was very big. Or maybe instead it was huge. Or maybe, compared to the family home in my imagination, it was palatial. Very is a very limp modifier.  Very big is a yawn generator. Huge is a step in the right direction, but it is a generic size description. Palatial is descriptive and related to home size. We’re getting warm.

Made-up words.
A beater. This is a common word for a beat up old car.
A bomb. This was a term for our family 1953 Pontiac as it slowly turned
from a stylish new car into an embarrassing beater.

Funny words. Referring to marijuana as a drug is a rather bland
description. Cannabis has a K sound and may be a bit funnier. Weed is
funnier. Mary Jane, a little more color. Pot has more POP to it.
Another word, calliope is funnier than organ. And the word captures some of the whimsical qualities of the instrument.
Lake Superior is not as funny as Lake Erie; which is not as funny as
Lake Wobegon; which is not as funny as Lake Titicaca. Some words
just sound funny.

K sounds.
Bing hit in the face with a cream cake is funnier than with an apple pie.
Kinky, is a funny sounding word with a double K.
Macaroon. A K sound buried in the middle gives is a humorous ring.
Cotton Candy, corn dog, funnel cake, are great words for a circus midway, with the K sounds adding some snap. Cotton Candy plays with alliteration.
Kiwi if funnier than orange.
Kinde is funnier than Smith.

Hard sounds are similar to K sounding words.
Jitterbug is funnier than Waltz.
Toyota is funnier than Ford.

Words funny for associations.
Ballet is not funny for the way it sounds, but for tights and tutus we
associate with it.

Crack sounds like the sound it describes, and a bonus, it has a strong K sound.
Whack. You could hit someone on the head but it’s funnier to whack them on the noggin.

So give some thought to the words you use. The right word can kick up the humor value in your jokes and stories.

Contest Results — Rich/Poor

June 21st, 2015

It’s time for the results of our June Joke Contest. The theme is “You Know You’re Rich When…” And “You Know You’re Poor When…”

New Joke Contests are announced on the first of the month.

Look for July’s contest on July 1, 2015.

And here are the top lines:


You know you’re poor when you put your shoes on the wrong feet so they wear down more evenly.

Kaye Newton, Raymond Terrace, NSW, Australia


You know you’re rich when you need no keys.

Marty Bernstein, Oak Park, Ilinois


You know you’re rich when you only eat meals that no one can pronounce.

Tom Nee, Oak Lawn, Illin

HONORABLE MENTION (In random order.)

- You know you’re rich when every Casino Host in Las Vegas knows you by your first name.

- You know you’re poor when every Casino Host in Las Vegas knows you by your first name.

- You know you’re rich when you send your valet to Mars to see if you would like it there.

- You know you’re rich when you hire ten manicurists, one for each finger.

- You know you’re poor when you recycle dental floss.

- You know you’re rich when your other Gulfstream is in the shop.

- You know you’re rich when your address has a street but no number.

- You know you’re rich when you have His and Hers Bentleys…and you’re single.

- You know you’re rich when the golf clubs you buy involve real estate.

- You know you’re rich when “down on your luck” means you just lost $50,000 playing blackjack.

- You know you’re poor when the only way you’ll see foreign countries is by watching the Travel Channel at a Best Buy store.

- You know you’re rich when your bank balance is higher on return from an around the world holiday, and you’ve collected enough air points to go around again.

- You know you’re rich when you have to drop the zeros and use b or t next to your asset balances.

Observational Humor — Case Study ##137 (Video)

June 13th, 2015

Bala, one of our readers, has regularly been doing his own Observational Humor monologues at the end of his Toastmasters meetings in the Netherlands. He has a humor Blog, The Indian Humor Blog, whch is published in the Netherlands. Don’t confuse that with the Netherlands Humor Blog which is published in India.

He recently published his first Observational Humor Video Blog.
Although the video picture and sound are not perfect, and he faces the
challenge of performing the monologue for a small Toastmaster
audience, he is doing a great job and has posted many monologues over the past year. Way to go, Bala.

A couple of suggestions I gave to Bala are to experiment with moving a bit to the right or left to see if you can reduce the back light glare problem. Sometimes a small move, while not eliminating the problem completely, reduces the glare.

And also, I suggested he obtain a wireless microphone which feeds directly into the video camera. Click on this video of one of my recent blog posts to see the difference a direct microphone makes. At the start of the video the MC does not have a mic sending his voice directly to the camera. When I step on stage, his voice is picked up on my lapel mic which is fed directly into the video camera. The difference in sound quality is big.

Here are a couple of my favorite lines, and a couple of suggestions. My
comments should make sense if you visit Bala’s video blog. His blog
post gives context to the jokes. It solves the classic problem of “you had to be there.”

- The line, “Touches my shoulder.” One of my favorite lines. Very nice.

- The line for “4 speeches 4 evaluations.” Excellent.

- On the line, “Eindhoven was 22 percent. It dropped when I moved in.”
My preference is to use an implied punchline. Rather than stating it
directly, I’d say: “It dropped in 2013. I’m not able to analyze why it
dropped in that year because that’s when I moved here.” (pause) It
makes the punchline more complicated to understand, but with an
intelligent audience, which we do have, it makes it a stronger joke.

- On the line, “She has not put on make up.” I might follow with:
“I knew I was going to be the video-master so fortunately, before I
arrived, I was able to put on my makeup.”

Great job Bala. Keep up the good work. It only gets easier.

Humor and the Truth

June 7th, 2015
Truth and humor are a strange mix.
One of the rules of improv is to BE TRUTHFUL.  Often, trying too hard to be funny doesn’t serve you well.  Life is funny enough.
Most jokes, even ones that aren’t true, have a ring of truth in them.
“Here lies W. C. Fields.  I would rather be living in Philadelphia.”   How true.  Wouldn’t we all.   Not that there is anything inherently funny about living in Philadelphia, it’s just that the truth is funny.  We would rather be in Philly than six feet under.

Comic license allows us to stretch the truth, to embellish.

It’s one of the times when it’s ok to lie, just for the sake of the joke and being funny.  When one goes for exaggeration in the extreme, or absurdity, it’s an acceptable lie for the sake of the laugh.  And it’s normally understood by the speaker and the listener that it is not the truth.


When you are just joking and departing from the truth, it can create miscommunication and it may require an apology or the explanation that you were “just kidding.”
Getting a laugh can be a balancing act which requires finding the right mix of truth and embellishment.