Observational Humor — Case Study #3

Here’s another analysis of an Observational Humor monologue from a Toastmasters meeting.  During the meeting I’m challenged to put on my humor-hat and create on-the-spot humorous observations at the end of the meeting.  The way it works in my club, as the Observational Humor Master, I would first call on other members for their humorous observations before presenting my monologue. 

This meeting was a special model meeting for a newly forming club.  There were many non-Toastmasters in the audience who were prospective members for a club which was trying to achieve enough members for a charter.  Here are some of the things that were said or that happened at the meeting:

1.  Many of the people in the audience, as guests, were unfamiliar with the flow and purpose of a Toastmasters meeting. 

2.  On my way to the meeting, held at an Air Force Base, I passed by the Basic Food Flavors factory.

3.  The Table Topics Master (who presented the off-the-cuff speaking topics to members and guests) asked the guests if any of them would decline to present a table topic, without telling them exactly what they were getting into.

4.  A speaker said that women were better rock climbers than men.

5.  A speaker said that there was a rule that identical twins had to enter the field of stand-up comedy.

6.  I realized that first-time guest at a Toastmasters meeting often thinks of evaluation critiques as negative criticism.

8.  The AH counter reported that a speaker said:  1 UM, 1 SO, and 4 unnecessary ANDS during his speech

7.  I’ve been a Toastmaster for 33 years.

Here is the flow of my monologue with footnotes in parenthesis:

1.  UM, SO, AND AND AND AND.  I’ve found it’s best to just get those out at the beginning so they don’t ruin the rest of my talk.

2.  Welcome to Toastmasters.  Today we’re going to tell you how you, too, can become rich with multi-level marketing. (I suspected that many in the audience have had the surprise of attending an MLM program with disguised intentions.  That common experience made this joke work.  This joke would not have been strong at a normal TM meeting, but worked well for a model meeting for guests.)

3.  Asking someone whether or not they want to participate in Table Topics without telling them what it is…is like asking a clueless person if they want to participate in a Fear Factor stunt (USA TV program where people face dangerous or unpleasant tasks)…and five minutes later they find themselves eating worms.

4.  We heard that women are better rock climbers than men.  (looking at the woman who had said that)  I don’t know whether or not that is true…but I do know that YOU are a better rock climber than I am.  (What makes this joke work is self deprecation, poking fun at myself.  She is obviously younger, more agile, and in better shape than me.)

5.  My brother and I are twins.  I’m two years older.  It was a long delivery.  (This paved the way for the next joke.)

6.  And we heard that there is a rule that twins go into standup comedy.  That’s true.  What the speaker didn’t tell you is that there is also a rule that people who are NOT twins…are required to join a Toastmasters club.  (a perfect joke for a meeting designed to recruit new members.)

7.  If this your first meeting, it may have occurred to you that some of the evaluator’s comments sounded like criticism.  One of the techniques we learn in Toastmasters is to follow a negative comment with something positive.  For example:  “That was one of the worst speeches I’ve ever heard.  But it was a great improvement over the last time I heard you speak.”  (This was delivered as tongue-in-check humor, making it obvious that I wasn’t serious.)

8.  On the way into the base I passed the factory with the sign:  Basic Food Flavors.  I guess that means Better Dining Through Chemistry.  Am I the only one whose mouth waters every time I drive by that factory?  (This is a joke that plays in my head every time I drive by that factory.)

9.  I recommend that, after you join a TM club, you practice your observational humor at every meeting.  And when it comes to observational humor skills, after 33 years, you too will become an overnight success.  (The truth is funny.  People realize that any skill doesn’t come overnight.)

Other Observational Humor Case Studies
Case Study #1
Case Study #2