Observational Humor — Case Study #140

October 8th, 2015

Here is another Observational Humor monologue which was presented at the end of a Toastmasters meeting. First you’ll be able to read the set-up for each joke. Then I’ll share the joke. Next I’ll briefly comment on what made the joke work. Although the examples of Observational Humor are in the context of a Toastmasters meeting, the skills apply just the same to any meeting you might be attending. It’s a useful skill to develop. When you can drop in an observational line into any presentation it makes the content of your whole talk feel fresh and original.

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

1. At the start of the meeting, the Sgt At Arms announced directions for
finding the rest rooms. “Exit the meeting room and turn right, turn
right, turn left, turn right and turn left.”

2. The emcee joked that “there will be no flash photography during the
meeting. In other words there will be no flashing.”

3. A speaker said that while he was on a picnic he tripped over an ant.

4. Bobby told a story of meeting a young man who was homeless and
had no job.

5. A speaker told of someone who retired in middle-age, and then went back to work when they got older.

6. Bill Brown, a club member, was attending the meeting.

7. Bill Lusk told us he collects Porsches.

8. We had several guests, and a larger number of members. The
average age of our members was much higher than the average age of our guests.

9. We had a near-record amount of rain fall the day of the meeting.

10. A member was assigned an impromptu speech topic on why the
average family has 2.5 children


At the beginning of the meeting, you were given confusing directions to the rest rooms. The simple directions are, if you aren’t in a room with a toilet, keep looking.
(The vague directions to the rest rooms was partly done for the sake of the humor. It got a laugh, and provided a good set up for my joke.)

I also wanted to correct the instructions at the start of the meeting. It’s OK to flash me.
(Good call back using the double meaning of the word FLASH.)

This past weekend we had a family reunion in a park. I wasn’t watching where I was going and I tripped over my uncle. No…that’s not right…I tripped over an Aunt.
(Good joke using a sound-alike word ANT/AUNT.)

Bobby, the young man who you met was just ahead of his time. He
retired first and was planning on working later.
(The joke links the job-less man with the mention of retiring early.)

If Bill Brown married Vanna White and they had a daughter…she would be Betty Beige.
(Playing with names. Look for names that have double meanings as
names and noun/verb/adjective.)

And I discovered one more thing I have in common with Bill Lusk. I also have a porch.  (Again I was playing with a sound-alike word Porsche/Porch.)

It’s wonderful to have so many guests tonight. I’m sure that those of you attending for the first time have noticed that when you join
Toastmasters…you get old.
(Self-deprecation or group-deprecation.)

We had a record rainfall yesterday. Someone started building an Arc in the parking lot. Fortunately we had half men and half women at the meeting, so it would be easy to re-populate the earth.
(Links the heavy rain with the Arc and couples, two-by-two. And this
joke also sets up the next joke.)

Then Philip arrived late and we had an odd number of people. That’s OK. We would be able to have a half child.
(This could be considered a topper, where the previous joke serves as a set up for the joke that follows. Call back to the half-a-child. Good
response made it a nice closer.)

One Person’s Joke is Another Person’s Serious Comment

October 1st, 2015

A Facebook scam has resurfaced which convinces people to paste text onto their Facebook wall thinking that it will protect them from from those who would mis-use their personal data. My response is usually to write a humorous parody or spoof of the scam. I did that recently posting a piece using, and mis-using, many legal terms to poke fun at the original scam. Here is the post:


As of today at 15:45, Coordinated Universal Time, my privacy will neither be an accessory nor an accomplice for ad hoc admissibility of the aforementioned arraignment. Accordingly, the absolute discharge of encumbrances by all and sundry sisters of the covenant shall apply. Ad hoc trustees shall be subject to arrest or arrested development, in perpetuity, or until the age of consent or the age of Aquarius, whichever comes first, except after C. Bona fide causation suggests that the plaintiff’s briefs be examined in chambers for intestate malfeasance. To avoid malicious prosecution for manslaughter, or womanslaughter, subject to insidious caveat emptor warrants, be acquitted accordingly. With regard to my profile or other personal information, this admonition remains in effect four score and a fortnight. Amen.


When I saw the scam posting several weeks ago, I got the idea to write a spoof. The original scam posting was written so as to look authoritative and credible. It dropped the right words. It touched the fear button. It wasn’t funny. Yet it made you wonder: Why would someone be inclined to follow the recommended steps in he scam?

I started thinking that I could write my own parody of the original scam text. I decided that my structure would be Legaleze-Gibberish. I started by building a list of legal terms. I had a list of terms more than twice what I actually used. Then I started writing sentences which almost sounded like they made semse, but they didn’t. The key to doing that was to honor the type of word I was using (noun, verb, adjective) but to make no connection with the word’s meaning. If read with conviction, it sounds like it means something even though it doesn’t. As I wrote, I strayed from legal words when I saw other connections. For example:
- Sisters of the covenant
- Arrest or arrested development
- Age of Aquarius
- Except after C
- Womanslaughter
- Briefs be examined
- Four score and a fortnight
- Amen. On a whim I closed the piece with AMEN. Nonsensical.


My post strikes most people in one of two ways. Either they are totally confused. Or they think I am brilliant. Their responses are neither good nor bad, right nor wrong…they’re just different. People who are good friends, who are intelligent people, and who have a sense of humor, can see life differently from me. They laugh at different things and see an alternate version of the world. The things that make them laugh may be connections that don’t strike me as funny. We’re entitled to our differences. How boring the world would be if we were all identical. One person could look at a Facebook posting, think it’s funny, and wonder how anybody could possibly think it was a serious post. At the same time, another person could look at it as a serious attempt to share necessary information which couldn’t possibly strike anyone as funny.

Add to the mix, even when I see something which strikes me as funny, you probably won’t see me laughing. I appreciate humor but rarely laugh. That may send mixed signals to people, making them believe that I’m serious when in fact I’m making a joke or internally processing some humor.

Humor is not a one-size-fits-all skill that we’re born with, nor a talent that we learn. It’s a gift that allows us to see relationships in different ways. If someone you know says something which confuses you…If they’re joking but you think they’re serious, or if you think they’re serious but they’re joking, both are form of mis-communication. Say something, and you can both learn from the experience. No kidding. What are your thoughts on this subject? Leave your thoughts in the comments section of this post.

New Joke Contest — Expanded Books

October 1st, 2015

Our contest for October will be to expand our top-three book titles from last month’s contest.  The winning titles were:

Ninety Days to a Better Three Months
by Sandy Kampner

How To Fix Your Roof Using The Tree That Fell On It
by Cindy Tebo

Meatloaf Slicing To Wow Your Friends
by Marty Bernstein

Your challenge this month will be to create chapter headings for the
books. Here are some examples:

Ninety Days to a Better Three Months
Chapter One — The Grief Process. Saying Good Bye to the Previous
Three Months

How To Fix Your Roof Using The Tree That Fell On It
Chapter Three — Was it the Family Tree?

Meatloaf Slicing To Wow Your Friends
Chapter Fifty Eight — Selecting the Perfect Wine

You can submit multiple entries, but your first line submitted for each
book title will be the one judged for our Top-Three winning submissions.

Start thinking and writing. We look forward to receiving your entries
by October 15, 2015, sent to HumorPowerTips@HumorPower.com

Joke Contest Results — Simple or Complex

September 28th, 2015

Here are the September Joke Contest results. The theme is to create book titles which feature very simple or very complex subjects.  New joke contests are announced on the first of the month.

Our next contest will be announced on October 1.

Here are the top lines for this month’s contest selected by our panel of six judges (speakers and improv players).


Ninety Days to a Better Three Months
Sandy Kampner, Evergreen Park, Illinois


How To Fix Your Roof Using The Tree That Fell On It
Cindy Tebo, St Louis, Missouri


Meatloaf Slicing To Wow Your Friends
Marty Bernstein, Oak Park, Illinois

HONORABLE MENTION (in random order)

- Ventriloquism for Dummies
- Puppetry for Dummies
- Melon Balling Made Easy
- Why 2 1/2 Inch Toothpicks are Better Than 2 3/4 Inch Toothpicks
- Square or Round and How to Choose

- Memory Foam Mattresses and Impressions They Have Made
- Why, When and How to Trim Nose and Ear Hair
- How To Find the How To Books You Are Really Looking For
- 101 Delicious Recipes Using Office Supplies
- Find Your Perfect Mate in Sixty-three Easy Steps

- Who Knew There Are So Many Ways to Fold Napkins
- How to Never Again Be Caught Without Your Crayons
- Dill Pickles and Chewing Gum for Fun and Profit
- Las Vegas on 25 Cents Per Day
- Live Like a King on Your Own Charity Donations

- Smothering With An Air-Tight Alibi
- Separate Siamese Twins While Participating in a Presidential Debate
- Your Guide to Proper Shoelace Length
- How to Play Tic-Tac-Toe By Yourself
- The beginners guide to cutting paper in half

- No friends? Clone yourself
- How to can without canning using Tupperware
- Don’t be a baby; teaching kids to walk in three months
- How to peel off peel off stickers
- Eating for beginners

- Yes, you Can walk and talk at the same time
- Tupperware: the 12th wonder of the world
- Learn to hum along to pop songs when you don’t know the words
- Zipper in front: the pants primer
- Sorting socks the RIGHT way

- Jet engine repair for beginners
- The alphabet A to Z
- Twist off caps got you down? Learn the secret
- Nuclear reactors for kids
- How to get paid to laugh at comedy clubs

- Rebuild a Peterbilt tractor in your spare time for under $5000
- Keep Your Mouth Shut: The weight loss guide
- How to Write How to Books for Those Who Cannot Read
- How to Become Super Sensitive So All speech Offends You
- Training your cat to recite the Gettysburg Address

- Naming Your Doberman Pinschers Timex and Rolex so you can
Introduce them as Your Watchdogs
- Why Pluto has Been Abused by Scientists and Will it Come Back to
Bite Them
- An In Depth Analysis of the Evaluation Process of Awarding Humor
Power Joke Contest Winners (submitted for both simple and complex
caegories of jokes)
- How I Dramatically Improved My Life Watching Paint Dry and
Grass Grow
- Explaining the American Political System in 116 Steps–A Short Ten
Year Program

Teamwork In The Music Industry — Part Two

September 22nd, 2015

Teamwork in the Music Industry–Part Two. Featuring Jorma Kaukonen, lead guitarist for the Jefferson Airplane, with Terry Wall.  In this interview, they talk about:

- Teamwork
- Micro Management
- Dreams and Creativity
- Dealing with Slackers.

Click here to read Part Two of this three-part series.


Observational Humor — Case Study #139

September 13th, 2015

Here are jokes used at an NSA Las Vegas chapter meeting. We’ll look at the set up.  And then look at the jokes and examine why they were funny.

THE SET-UP (What happened and what was said during the meeting, before the jokes were delivered.

1. A presenter told us about a speaker’s ineffective video demo which opened with the speaker high-fiving the audience.   She said she did not recommend it as an  opening.

2. An audience member, during self-introductions, said she was
performing in her own one-woman show.

3. The President said that this year’s board was the best board ever.
Member RJ was present and we served on the board together ten years ago.

4. A speaker said that clients hire speakers for the useable content not
just to be entertained.

5. To qualify as a paid speaker, it was suggested that instead of speaking for a free dinner, pay for your dinner and invoice the client $50 for the speech.

6. Guest presenter, Terry Paulson said that he was the only Clinical Psychologist speaker who was funny.

7. A speaker said that when he says something to an audience, and they laugh, it’s a joke.

8. A speaker said that he got married 5 days before the meeting. And he said his new wife wouldn’t give him permission to speak.


(Walking to the speakers platform, I high-fived several of the members of the audience.)
I’m recording a video demo.

(I thought just the act of high-fiving would be sufficient to get a laugh.  But I was wrong. The laugh came after the demo-video comment, which I added, but which was not on the script. I needed the line to make the joke work.)

I moved to Las Vegas 15 years ago and opened my one-woman show.
( a call back with an absurdity trigger.)

Ten years ago I was on the same chapter board as RJ DiDonato. We are one of the boards that made it possible for the current board to be the best ever.
(A recycled joke from about a year ago. Excellent response.)

I’m a humorist. I have no content.
(A call back. Self-deprecation.)

Next week I’m speaking in Pahrump. They told me that their audience loves humor and likes to laugh. I told them to tell the audience not to laugh and to just pay me $50.
(A call back, slightly twisted.)

I’m going to become clinical psychologist. Then I’ll be one of only two clinical psychologists who are funny.
(The trigger is extrapolation. One plus one takes us into the future as

The truth is, I don’t do humor. I just say things. If you laugh it’s
humor. If you don’t laugh, it’s motivation.
(A call back with a twist.)

I’ve lived in Las Vegas for 15 years. During that time, many people have said, “Kinde, your are so quiet, you rarely speak. I want you to know that, as of five days ago, you’re going to be hearing more from me.  Because Marvelous Mark married my Ex.
(This implies that my Ex was not allowing me to speak, and that it was
now Mark’s problem and not mine.)

New Contest — Complex or Insignificant

September 1st, 2015

The time for September’s joke contest has arrived.

Here is the Theme for this month’s joke contest:  How-To Book Titles — The Complex or The Insignificant. 

Your challenge is to create a book title for an imaginary How-To book on the subject of something big and complex or something small and insignificant.

Here are three complex subjects and three insignificant ones.

How to visit Mars and Safely Return On a Fixed Income.
Mastering The Do-It-Yourself Kidney Transplant.
A Seven Figure Bank Account Without Working or Saving.

Rain Watching For Fun and Profit.
They Laughed Until I Changed a Roll of Toilet Paper.
How To Remove a Soda Straw’s Protective Sleeve.

Start your humor engines. Write as many book titles as you can and
then submit the best ones to HumorPowerTips@HumorPower.com.
Your first three submissions should be your best lines. The will be
reviewed by the panel of judges for the Top Three recognition.
Submissions after your first three will be eligible for honorable mention.
Make your submissions by September 15, 2015.

Joke Contest Results — The Big But

August 31st, 2015

It’s time for the results of the August joke contest.

The theme of the contest is THE BIG BUT.

The challenge to the write is to write a line where the word BUT changes the meaning of the end of the sentence in a funny way.

Joke contests are announced on the first of the month.

The next joke contest will be announced tomorrow.


She looked like a keeper, but needed a finder.
Cindy Tebo, St Louis, Missouri


The restaurant sign said “all you can eat” but I had to stop after fifteen plates.
Sandy Kampner, Evergreen Park, Illinios


The doctor is on time today, but he will see you as soon as possible.
David Novick, Dayton, Ohio

HONORABLE MENTION (in random order)

The Caesar Salad looked like a picture from a gourmet magazine, but
tasted like a magazine too.

Our plane arrived in Tokyo 8 hours late, but our luggage arrived right
on time, in Dublin.

I was going to write a comprehensive book of jokes but I found out that every joke has already been written.

I took a picture of my grandson’s giant Lego castle but he knocked it
down before I could post the photo on line.

I thought that my boss was giving me a thumbs up, but it wasn’t his

The sign said Take One but I paid anyway in case someone was

The traffic light said Turn on Red but I waited because I just don’t trust
traffic lights.

My mechanic fixed my window washer but now the rest of the car
doesn’t work.

I couldn’t believe that I won the lottery but when I looked closely I

The realtor showed three houses to the young professional couple…but all three were within the couple’s price range.

The mechanic spent an hour working on the engine…but he said he made all of the necessary repairs.

He pleaded innocent to all of the charges…but he had a watertight alibi.

He said he only had a few drinks at the party…but he assured us that he would be OK to drive.

She followed her original plan of training for the marathon…but she is
sure she will be able to finish.

His account of the fishing trip was exaggerated…but at times he
stretched the truth

He said the tightness in his pitching arm was minimal…but he assured
the manager that he would be able to pitch tomorrow.

She thought she was a good driver but the grass had no lines.

She thought she was a good doctor but she needed patients.

The bus came in on time, but Sue missed it because it was always late.

A politician’s pre-election promise is a joke, but it takes a humourist to
execute it.

Yeah right is a double positive, but when spoken backflips to a negative, right?

Lessons from a Pro

August 29th, 2015

Interview with a Rock Icon: Teamwork in the Music Industry.  A three-part article by Terry Wall, featuring wisdom from Jorma Kaukonen, best known as lead guitarist for the Jefferson Airplane.

The article/interview will provide food-for-thought. It will stimulate your thinking in new ways and refresh what you already know.

Even phrases which you might have already heard can stimulate your
thinking. For example, Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance,
a saying which I know from the military training world, is sage advice
for speakers, musicians, and business leaders. And gets me thinking of
the flip side of the statement: Proper Preparation Promotes Polished
Performance. While saying the same thing, it approaches the advice
from another angle, stimulating your creativity and thinking. And it
reminds me that that I’m not at peace with a presentation or program
until I’m fully prepared. Dreaming about not being prepared for an
event is a nightmare.

One of my favorite quotes from the interview is: “It’s what I don’t do
that’s more important than what I do.” This is the profound message
that power often comes from “what you don’t do.” For example, the
improv principle “Yes And” is a creative stepping-stone for a team. The
power of the Yes-And technique is what you DON’T do. You don’t deny
other people’s ideas. You don’t block their suggestions. You don’t stop
the creative process by sticking a big BUT into the brain-storm process.

The article also gets you thinking about the supportive process or
background support which is so important in music. I’m familiar with
the importance of support in Barbershop harmony singing. The baritone singer gets all the strange notes. These are the notes which, when heard alone, don’t sound anything like music. But when blended with the other three parts, the magic happens. Someone needs to pick up and sing the left-over notes needed to make the quartet’s chords ring. That’s the job of the baritone.

The interview shares the importance of letting someone else have the
spotlight to make the whole process shine. In comedy the straight-man provides backup support by delivering the set-up and lets the comic harvest the laughs. Let someone else be the hero and the team is the star.

Check out the article/interview. It will get you thinking of examples
from your own life, improving your performance, empowering your
leadership, and strengthening your teamwork.

Interview With a Rock Icon

Observational Humor — Case Study # 138

August 21st, 2015

Here is another Observational Humor monologue presented at the end of a Toastmasters meeting. The principles used to create the humor are the same ones you would use to present a single joke at any meeting you might attend.

Observational Humor is usually the kind of humor where “you had to be there” for it to be funny. So, I’m preparing you for the monologue by giving you the set-up for the jokes.

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

1. Bobby said that he was getting old, but not as old as John Kinde.

2. It was a very hot day in Las Vegas. Some members, including me,
were wearing shorts.

3. Beverly jokingly said she prepared for the meeting by having a beer.

4. I had a soda bottle with me.

5. Ryan gave a speech and demonstrated Dual-Tasking. He pretended
to be brushing his teeth while doing a squatting exercise.

6. A speaker said she had burn scars on her arms.

7. We had a full-roast at our meeting six weeks ago. John Kinde was

8. One of the table topics presented was, “If your house was on fire,
what would you take with you?”

9. One of the table topics was, “Taking a trip to the Sun.”

10. One of the table topics was, “would you rather be a dog with a cat
head, or be a cat with a dog head”.

11.  A speaker joked about a member who only opened his mouth when he had something to say.

12. One of the Table Topics was, “Would you rather eat a spider or a


(I made my entrance using a walker.) I am a professional Bobby
Williams impersonator.
(Bobby setup this joke by calling me old. Good opener.)

Have you noticed…all the young people are wearing shorts?
(Joke based on the truth. Only the younger people were wearing shorts. Except for me, an older person wearing shorts. I am implying that I am a young person.)

(I entered carrying my soda bottle.)
Beverly drinks beer before the meeting. I drink beer during the meeting.
(I could have made this even more absurd saying: I drink beer while I’m speaking.)

What am I doing? Observational Humor (said while squatting).

Our club had a roast last month. Who was roasted? The person with the burn scars (pointing at my arms).

If I wake up and my house is burning, I’m going to do a Table Topic
(Reference to an impromptu speech. The trigger, absurdity and a

I’m going to vacation on the Sun. It’s cooler than Las Vegas.
(Exaggerating the heat of Las Vegas by comparing it with the sun.)

I never open my mouth unless I have something funny to say.
(Twist of a call-back.)

Question of the day. Would you rather eat a spider with a worm
head…or eat a worm with a spider head.
(Call-back and twist of two impromptu speech topics.)