Archive for September, 2006

Observational Humor — Case Study #4

Tuesday, September 26th, 2006

Recently our National Speakers Association chapter in Las Vegas was treated to a terrific presentation by Dan Poynter, a top expert on writing and publishing books.  If you have a chance to attend one of his presentations, don’t miss it. 

Every time I watch a program, I like to focus on creating observational humor.  It’s a great exercise to keep my humor radar tuned.  Here are some observational humor lines I created from Dan’s program.

THE SETUP

As a setup for the lines I created, here are some things that happened or were said at that meeting.  You’ll need this to understand the context of the humor:

1.  I had joined the chapter board the night before to share dinner with our guest speaker, Dan Poynter.

2.  In Dan’s opening for his presentation, he used my name to set up a joke he was planning to use:  “Last night I sat next to John Kinde at dinner and he told me that Las Vegas chapter members are different.  It’s important that you customize your talk…”  This line set up his punchline (which isn’t included here).

3.  He shared with us the title of a book that had sold hundreds of thousands of copies, and the book was blank:  What Men Know About Women.

4.  He pointed out how L Ron Hubbard published many books, including some which were published after he had died.

5.  Dan said that a well focused book will have more appeal than a book aimed at a general audience.  For example, a book on Real Estate Selling would not sell as well as Real Estate Selling for Women.

6.  Dan talked about using the glow from some object to find his way to the bathroom at night.

7.  He talked about the importance of the ISBN number for your book (the number in bar code on the back of your book which is used by booksellers to categorize and track books).

8.  Dan encouraged us to write our own book:  “Don’t die with a book still in you.”

9.  I come from North Dakota Norwegian roots.

10.  Part of my personal career path includes Nuclear Weapons Launch Officer and Blackjack Dealer.

11.  I was wearing a black suit at the chapter meeting.  Someone commented that I looked like a mortician.

THE LINES

Here are some of the lines I created as a result of the meeting.  Notice how most of the humor hinges on making connections between two things which were previously unrelated:

I wrote my first book during Dan Poynter’s presentation.  “Famous North Dakota Norwegian Humorists.”  I didn’t realize how easy it would be to write a blank book. 
(plays with an alternate blank-book title and uses self-deprecating humor) 

And I’m getting started on my second book.  “How to Transition from Nuclear Weapons Custodian to Blackjack Dealer…for Women.”  By John Kinde and L Ron Hubbard. 
(plays with contrasting careers/uses a topper “for women”/and sneaks a second topper in with Hubbard)

I did sit next to Dan at dinner the night before.  What he said I said was close, but not exact.  What I said was, “The Las Vegas Chapter is different.  The important thing to remember is that during the first three minutes of your talk…mention my name.”  So he did. 
(builds tension with “what he said was not exact”/self-deprecation humor suggesting that I would be so vain as to ask that he mention my name)

I have a Public Service Announcement:  To solve the tainted spinach problem they are irradiating the bags of spinach to kill the bacteria.  Last night I was able to find my way to the bathroom using the glow from a bag of spinach. 
(connects something that was said during the workshop with current events/followed by an absurd statement)

Someone mentioned that I looked like a mortician in my black suit.  Actually, I have bought a mortuary.  We offer coffins with ISBN numbers on them…for speakers who died with a book still in them.
(a three-way connection of: the relationship between how I was dressed, the ISBN discussion, and his slogan “don’t die with a book still in you”)

Studying A Celebrity — The Society of Seven with Lani Misalucha

Sunday, September 24th, 2006

The Society of Seven with Lani Misalucha has it all.  Comedy and music that dazzles.  Always fun.  Often brilliant.  A bright spot on the Las Vegas entertainment scene.  Strong talent across the board.  They know what they’re doing and the audience loved the show.

You’ll learn many things from watching them perform.  By studying the pros you’ll become a better performer and public speaker.  You don’t want to copy them.  You want to ask yourself:  “What can I learn from their show that I can apply to what I’m already doing that will make me even better than I already am.”  Here are just a few tips:

1.  The Running Gag.  One of the performers, while doing an impersonation of a celebrity, flirted with an audience member seated next to the stage.  This provided a great opportunity for a running gag.  When he came out as another celebrity, he flirted again with the same person.  When he came out as himself, he flirted again with the same person.  A very funny bit.  The punchline was implied…that it was the performer who was flirting and not the celebrities he was impersonating.  This is usually a stronger comedy technique than directly stating a punchline.

2.  Celebrity Impersonations.  They have mastered the art of comedic impersonations.  Sometimes matching the real thing.  Often performing in parody.  When you watch an impressionist, look for mannerisms and physicality, vocal tone and quality of voice, rhythm, specific phrases.  When you do all the elements well, you can perform as a celebrity singing a signature song, and do it without even singing the proper or complete words.  The female vocalist, Lani Misalucha, was totally hilarious as she did song parodies substituting slurred words, almost a form of gibberish, instead of the actual words.  I thought it was the funniest thing in a show filled with great humor.

3.  Connection With The Audience.  They played their humor to individuals in the audience, not to the audience as a whole.  This is the right way to do it.  This technique personalized their performance and nailed their connection to the entire audience.

4.  Being In Fun.  They were having fun.  And they looked like they were having fun.  These two qualities aren’t the same thing.  Having fun when you’re speaking is one thing.  LOOKING like you’re having fun is a totally different matter.  Looking like you’re having fun is the most important thing.  If you have a cold and a headache but look like you’re having fun, you’ve won the prize.  If you’re having fun but look like you’re sick, you’ve lost the battle.

When you’re in Las Vegas, I highly recommend treating yourself to The Society of Seven with Lani Misalucha at the Flamingo.  It’s an afternoon show at 3:00 pm.

Psychic Professions — Humor Writing — Improving Your Humorous Speaking

Wednesday, September 20th, 2006

Our contests are all about sharpening your humor, your creativity, your thinking and your public speaking ability. 

Remember that when you enter the contest, the main goal is having fun and learning to see the humorous relationships and connections.  This will make you a better speaker and it will also make your daily life more enjoyable.

The Psychic Professions Contest.  Here are the winners.  As usual, our panel of eight judges liked many of the entries.  Each judge is tasked to pick his or her top five favorites and rank them.  Six of the entries were picked by individual judges as their favorite line.  When we add up the ballots, here are the results:

First Place
If psychics were psychic…they would know I don’t believe in psychics.
David Weiss, Mohrsville, Pennsylvania

Second Place
If pastors were psychic: “Some of you in the congregation today may be guilty of adultery…wait a minute…okay, it’s Bill and Susan and Sam and Julie.”
Tim Bete, Dayton, Ohio

Third Place
If astronomers were psychic…they would have known all along that Pluto was just a big ice ball.
Cindy Tebo, Catawissa, Missouri

Honorable Mention (in random order)

If Santas were psychic…they wouldn’t ask you what you want for Christmas.

If I were psychic…my second wife would have been my only wife.

If my Mom was psychic…she wouldn’t ask, “Why haven’t you called me?”

If my cat was psychic…she would know just when to rub up against me to make me feel good.  You know what?  She must be psychic!

If parents were psychic…they never would let teenage kids out of the house.

If store clerks were psychic…they would not ask if they could help me.

If my doctor was psychic…I wouldn’t have to get naked for my annual exam.

If weathermen were psychic…I wouldn’t need to be psychic to figure out what to wear.

If politicians were psychic…only the winner would run.

If political commentators were psychic…the first line of their broadcast: “I know that half of the country will hate me for what I say, but I will say it anyway.”

Are psychic pastors called prophets?

If a male football fan were psychic…when his wife walked in, he’d already have switched the channel to figure skating.
 
If doctors were psychic…they’d lose their house in Miami from running fewer tests.

If dogs were psychic…oh wait…they are!

If priests were psychic…there’d be no need for confession.

If pastors were psychic…they’d see through that compliment of “good sermon, Pastor.”
 
If Hillary were psychic…Bill would have needed surgery a lot sooner.
 
If voters were psychic…George W. Bush would not be in the White House.
 
If lifeguards were psychic…they could save drowning people before they got wet.
 
If monsters were psychic…they wouldn’t hide under the bed with your dirty socks.
 
If gamblers were psychic…they’d never enter the casino.
 
First, I have to say that I knew the theme of your contest before you published it.

If drive-up-window workers at MacDonald’s were psychic: “You don’t want fries with that.”

If a married couple was psychic…there would be no need to shout.
 
If teachers were psychic…they would say, “Here are your grades for tomorrow’s test.”
 
Funeral director:  “I really think you should consider buying a second plot today.”

If Toastmasters were psychic…impromptu speaking would be a lot less fun.

If my tea-cup reader was psychic…we could yarn over coffee.

Studying a Celebrity — Wes Winters Tribute to Liberace

Monday, September 18th, 2006

Learning From The Pros — Wes Winters Tribute to Liberace

Three times a week Wes Winters stars in an afternoon show at the Liberace Museum, 1775 East Tropicana Avenue in Las Vegas.  A Musical Tribute To Liberace is one of the best show bargains in Las Vegas.  Here are some lessons we can learn from the show that we can use to become better speakers and presenters of humor:

1.  Be yourself.  When I attended the performance I expected to see someone playing the character of Liberace.  Even though Wes occasionally delivered a Liberace line in the style of the legendary entertainer, 99 percent of the show is performed as Wes Winters.  Although he wears the flashy coat and jewelry in the style of the great entertainer and plays on a Liberace piano, Wes says: “There is only one Liberace.”  How true.  And there is only one Wes Winters.  And only one YOU.  As a speaker, your strength comes from being authentically you.  Your audiences don’t want to see you trying to be some other famous speaker.  They want to be touched by the real you.  Wes is a genuine, warm person and by the end of the show you feel like you know him.

2.  Talent will take you a long way.  Wes plays the music of Liberace.  What is surprising is that he has never had any musical training.  Because of his natural talent he was able to listen to Liberace recordings and learn to play the numbers by ear.  Pretty amazing.  It shows what talent and persistence can do.  That’s not to say it came easy to him.  He spent countless hours in practice honing his skills.  If you have a talent for something, focus on the task of becoming great and the odds are on your side.  Talent, passion, focus are a magical combination.

3.  The power of stories.  The Tribute show is more than just music.  What helps bring the show to life is storytelling to highlight the life of Liberace and Wes Winters journey to the Las Vegas stage.  A story is one of the most powerful vehicles for adding power to your speeches.  It paints pictures and makes your talk memorable.  It’s through story that you convey emotion and share the genuine you.  For more on the power of storytelling visit:  Doug Stevenson’s Story Theater International.

4.  Have fun.  Throughout the show it was clear that Wes Winters was having a great time.  This wasn’t just an act.  He mingled with audience members in the lobby after the show.  And as he left the building and crossed the parking lot he was still laughing.  Whatever you choose to do, enjoy it.  If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, find something else to do.  This applies to your speaking and your entire life!

The Musical Tribute to Liberace currently plays Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday at 1:00 pm.  Admission to the show is $15, (702) 798-5595.   A free shuttle bus is available.  Visit www.liberace.org.
Wes also entertains at Carluccio’s Tivoli Gardens Restaurant (Italian) next door to the Liberace Museum, Wednesday nights, 7:00 – 10:00 pm.  (702) 795-3236.

Humor Skills — Giving it Air

Monday, September 4th, 2006

Be sure to check your copy of Issue #96 of the Humor Power Tips Ezine for the article:  Give it Air — Adding Power to Your Humor Presentations

Giving your humor “air” can make it more powerful.  Another way of saying it is giving it white space.  Giving it silence.  Giving it a pause.  We’re not talking about a lot of space or silence…maybe just one or two seconds, strategically placed.  There are seven reasons that this “nothingness” adds “something” to your presentation skills and your humor.  It’s the feature article in the September issue. 

When you subscribe you’ll also get two special reports:  Show Me the Funny and What To Do When they Don’t Laugh.

Also check out the humor skills articles available on the Humor Power web site:  wwwHumorPower.com

And a reminder:  Entries for the Psychic Professions Contest are due by September 15.

Humor Skills — Creating Funny Lines

Friday, September 1st, 2006

This may look like a joke contest.  But it’s so much more.  It’s an exercise to stimulate your creativity. 

You enter the contest not for the sake of writing jokes.  Your primary goal in the contest is to sharpen your way of thinking and to become skilled at seeing humorous relationships.  Writing funny lines is like doing crunches at the gym.  When you go to the gym, the ultimate goal isn’t the crunches, the stretching and the repetitions you do.  Your goal is to improve the way you look and feel.  And so it is with a humor contest.  It’s the equivalent of going to the gym.  It will sharpen your mind and the way you see the world.

I’d encourage you to take the humor challenge on the first of each month.  Always remember, it’s not about the jokes.  It’s not about winning.  It’s not about the prizes (there aren’t any).  It’s about growth.  Even if you set aside just 20 minutes each month to focus on your creative writing, it will payoff in the long run.

**THE CONTEST**

Our humor skills feature this month is the Psychic Professions Contest.  Ask yourself, What if members of a certain profession or group were psychic?  What would they do differently?  What would they no longer do?  What would they say?   How would their relationships with other people change?  How would life be different?

Here are some examples of what your lines might look like.

If Blind Dates were psychic…99 percent of first meetings would never happen and the other 1 percent both dates would bring brochures for planning their honeymoon.

If Marriage Counselors were psychic…on some of their initial counseling sessions, their opening line would be, “I’ve completed the divorce papers, sign here.”
 
If Dog Trainers were psychic…you would overhear them say to a dog, “Yes, I know it’s stupid.  Just humor me.  Roll over.”

If Psychics were psychic…they would be winning the Power Ball Lottery instead of selling you readings for $60.

If You were psychic…(well, you already know the punchline)
 
If Spouses were psychic…you’d often hear, “Stop thinking at me like that!”

If the editor of the Humor Power Blog were psychic…he wouldn’t ask you to send in your funny lines, he’d already know what you were going to submit.

Our September contest was a theme suggested by Steve and Erin Pavlina.  You’ll enjoy their Blogs:  www.StevePavlina.com/blog and www.ErinPavlina.com/blog.

To Enter the Psychic Professions Contest:

1.  Reflect and write.  Don’t worry about quality.  You can edit and refine your lines later.

2.  Find a humor buddy to help you massage your lines.

3.  Sleep on it.  Rewrite the next day.

4.  Select your best lines and submit to HumorPowerTips@aol.com not later than September 15, 2006.

5.  The best lines will be published by the end of the month.  It’s all about fun, growth and recognition.