Observational Humor — Case Study #4

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.


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.


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”)