Observational Humor — Case Study #11

Here is another analysis of an Observational Humor monologue presented at the end of a Toastmasters meeting earlier tonight.

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

1.  The Toastmaster of the Evening (Emcee) quoted Toastmasters International Speech Champion David Brooks three times.

2.  In a speech about John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address, the speaker illustrated the power of one syllable words.

3. Darren LaCroix, another Toastmasters International world champion speaker, was quoted:  “Great speeches are not written…they are re-written.”

4.  Steve Pavlina was dressed in a black suit and was wearing a black T-shirt.  As part of the observational humor he put a small square piece of paper over the neck of the T-shirt, making it look like a clerical collar.  He then offered a prayer.

5.  Bryant Pergerson introduced his son Marshall Pergerson, a guest at the meeting.

6.  In the current news, a dog had been given $12 million in a will.

7.  A speaker gave a speech titled A Jerk and a Mensch.

8.  A speaker told of an experiment where a teacher was given a memo telling her that her class was filled with under-achievers.  In spite of the fact that they were average-ability students, they performed very poorly on exams.

9.  A speaker referred to a male court reporter as the Michelle Kwan of court reporting.

10.  Anita was asked if she wanted to recognize anyone for her success.  She identified her husband, Jim, who she referred to as Honey.


1.  I’d like to quote David Brooks:  “Empower your eloquent syntax with the energetic emphasis of one syllable words.”
(Of course this was not a real quote from David Brooks, but I took the liberty to make it up for the sake of the humor.  It made the twist stronger than saying I was quoting me or one of our club members.)

2.  And to quote Darren LaCroix:  “Great speeches are not written…they are typed.”
(Ditto.  Darren did not say this.  I played with a literal meaning of WRITTEN.)

3.  We were lucky that Father Pavlina could be here tonight…he had two weddings earlier this evening.
(I piggy-backed on a good laugh received by Steve a few minutes before.)

4.  If Bryant went into law enforcement…he would be Marshal Pergerson.
(This joke plays on an alternate meaning for the name Marshal.)

5.  Did you see on the news this week that a dog was awarded $12 million.  Well, enough about the jerk and the wench.
(I brought in a current events headline and crossed it with a twisted speech title, substituting a sound-alike word.)

6.  For the first time tonight I realized that my fourth grade teacher must have been given a memo telling her that we were underachievers.
(Self deprecation trying to explain my supposed poor performance in school.)

7.  Having lived through that experience, it’s amazing that I’ve become the Michelle Kwan of humor.
(Silly.  But it worked and got a good laugh.)

8.  When Anita was asked who she would like to recognize, I knew it would be Jim.  Then when she said “My Honey”…I thought, “Oh my God.  She’s going to introduce me!”
(Another silly twist.  Anita and Jim are good friends, so I knew the line was safe.)