Observational Humor — Case Study #13

Let’s look at some Observational Humor created during a Patricia Fripp Good-To-Great Speakers Workshop for intermediate and advanced speakers.  Fripp is one of the most respected executive speech coaches in the world.

THE SET-UP (What happened and what was said before the observational humor monologue was delivered.)

1.  Some of the students were members of the National Speakers Association (NSA).  Some were not.

2.  Fripp is a successful speaker coach and often does her one-on-one coaching in a hotel room.  Some of the students jokingly referred to meeting Fripp in their hotel room.

3.  A student said that, when she was a child, her school’s Headmaster had called her Dad and asked him to rush over to pick up his daughter.

4.  One student had the nervous habit of stroking his beard while he spoke.  Fripp said, “I hope you pet your wife like you pet your beard.”

5.  Fripp suggested an exercise to improve your range of gestures is to never use the same gesture twice.

6.  Fripp announced that an optional event Sunday night was to attend the Craig Ferguson concert.  In fact, she said, “I scheduled this weekend workshop because Craig Ferguson was performing in Las Vegas this weekend.”  (It was my first time to see him perform.  He was terrific.)

7.  I noticed that the lectern at the workshop venue (The White House in Las Vegas) was made entirely of clear plexi-glass plastic.  You could see through it.

8.  Between workshop days, some students partied, gambled, saw shows.  One student had casino chips taken from his pocket by a pickpocket.

9.  Fripp suggested that people not use the word STUFF.

10.  Fripp makes up words which are a spin-off from her name.  For example, “You’ve been working hard.  You’ve earned yourself a Fripp-teen minute break!)”

11.  One student told us that an environmentally-friendly area of California had banned hunters from using lead bullets because they would eventually poison the ground water.


I met Fripp 24 years ago when I joined NSA.  But I feel cheated.  Back then she wasn’t meeting men in their hotel room.
(Since “meeting Fripp in a hotel room” almost became almost a running gag earlier in the morning, it was an obvious choice for a joke.)

It’s amazing that I now entertain people for a living.  When I was a child, the Principal called my dad and said:  “How soon can you come pick up your son?”  My dad said, “What’s wrong?”  The Principal said, “He’s not funny!”
(My structure was clearly a parallel to something a speaker had said earlier in the day.  That makes people wonder, “What’s he going to do with it?”  It’s a line that works well, because I don’t look like a person who would be funny.)

I’ve learned a lot since then.  In fact we’ve even learned a lot just today.  For example:
   1.  Pet your wife like you pet your beard.
   2.  Never use the same gesture twice (slapping myself on the backside).
   3.  And we learned that we came here this weekend to see Fripp.  And that Fripp came here to see Craig Ferguson.
(I used the triplet structure.  The Beard-line was funny enough by itself.  All I had was to repeat it.  The advice not to use the same gesture twice, let me to wonder, “What’s the strangest gesture I could possibly do?”  Slapping my backside was strange enough.  And it was a big gesture with a sound, one they could not miss.  I considered sprinkling strange gestures throughout the monologue, but decided against it, thinking it would detract from the rest of the humor lines.)

By the way, here’s some interesting trivia.  The lectern here at the White House was bought at an estate sale…at a nudist colony.
(I had noticed this lectern at previous functions at this venue and the nudist-colony connection had occurred to me.  This was the first time I used it.  And it was one of the funniest lines of the monologue.)

A lot of you had fun last night.  Some of you gambled.  Some went to shows.  I live here…so I went to bed.  Well, not right away.  When I got home I had to futs around a little.  And then I went to bed.  Are you familiar with the expression “futs around”?  It means to do little unimportant things. The word FUTS by the way, is not approved by Fripp.  It’s not in the Fripptionary.  FUTS is STUFF spelled backwards!
(In my search for humorous connections, I frequently explore words and names to see what they spell backwards.  And I also couldn’t pass up the chance to play with Fripp’s name.)

Some of you are not members of the NSA.  You should consider attending the NSA convention in New York City this coming summer.  There are three good reasons to attend:
   1.  Nobody will steal your casino chips.  Because you won’t have any casino chips.
   2.  In New York City it’s against the law to shoot speakers…with lead bullets.  It poisons the hotel carpets.
   3.  And if you attend the NSA convention, there is a 92% chance that your hotel room will be visited by Patricia Fripp.
(All three jokes received excellent response.  Another triplet. Joke one was a punchline followed by a topper.  Two laughs.  Joke two.  Was a joke, followed by two toppers.  Joke three was a callback to my opening joke about Fripp/Hotel rooms.  A strong close.)