Observational Humor — Case Study #14

This is an examination of Observational Humor presented at an NSA chapter meeting featuring speaker Robin Creasman.

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

1.  The presenter, Robin Creasman, spoke of the value of being bigger than life when you’re presenting or performing.  His theme was about helping us to become Rock Stars in the speaking business.

2.  A chapter member suggested that if Robin could make John Kinde bigger than life, that there was hope for him (the speaker making the comment).  Everybody laughed.  I’m known as a very low-key, understated speaker.

3.  After sharing a personal example, the speaker said, “But I don’t want this program to be about me.” 

4.  The speaker shared several speaker video clips to illustrate his points.  One featured a speaker who opened his speech standing on a chair.  Another featured a speaker who delivered part of her speech wearing bunny ears.

5.  A coaching student shared that she came from a family of 13 children.

6.  A coaching student shared that, while growing up, she looked like a fat Willie Nelson.

7.  A coaching student shared a story about a man at work who wore pink pants.

8.  A coaching student shared a story about a survival game where contestants were dropped in the Gobi desert.

9.  A coaching student shared a story about someone’s bra setting off the airport security equipment.

10.  Robin asked early in the program, “What do you think of when someone says, Rock Star.”

11.  A member of the audience said that sometimes she could be a jerk.  Everyone that knew her countered that she was a super-nice person.  Ron (a coaching student) said, “I can teach you to be a jerk!”  He got a big laugh.


What you are now watching is Norwegian-style “bigger than life.”
(Delivered in a deadpan style.  Self-deprecating humor playing off my low-key style.)

But I don’t want this to be about me.
(A call back reference to something said earlier in the meeting.)

OK.  It’s all about me.
(Setup for a sequence of jokes about me.)

I’d stand on a chair…but I forgot my bunny ears…and we don’t have an ambulance standing by.
(Two call back lines referring to video clips and one line of self-deprecation hinting that I’d hurt myself if I stood on a
chair…which is probably true.)

You may not know it, but I was the 13th child.  And that was hard, because my parents only had three kids.
(A call back to 13th child.  Followed by an unexpected and illogical twist.)

It wasn’t easy growing up looking like a skinny Willie Nelson…in pink pants.
(Flipping the FAT to SKINNY and adding the topper.  Be willing to say silly things about yourself.)

Then when I was twelve…my parents dropped me in the Gobi desert.
(The line was totally unexpected.  It also happens that Gobi is a very funny word.  It contains two hard consonants. 
That makes it funnier than Sahara which is made up of soft sounds.)

Problems followed me into my adult life.  Just last month, while going thru airport security…my bra went off.
(A silly visual picture.  No…I don’t wear a bra.  But, Hey, this is humor.)

But enough about me.  Please welcome Norwack The Magnificent.
(This a transition setup for the Answer Man humor delivery vehicle where the answer is given first, followed by the
question.  This format was popularized by Johnny Carson and Steve Allen. I’ve found that this format can be good for a complete humor routine or at least a triplet, a set of three jokes.  I’d never use the Answer Man form for a single joke.  It’s the series of jokes in the same format that gets the audience understanding the joke structure and sets the rhythm for a good response.)

The answer is:  Fred Flintstone.
And the question is:  Who do you think of when someone says Rock Star?

The answer is:  Ask Ron.
And the question is:  What is the difference between a pull and a jerk?

The answer is:  Maury Pauvich, Howard Stern, and Robin Creasman.
And the question is:  Name a Talk Star, a Shock Star, and a Rock Star.

(The Flintstone joke works because of the Bedrock and Stone Age Connection.  Presented as an example, it seems telegraphed and obvious.  But in practice, the punchline seemed to have surprise value and got a good laugh.  The jerk line sneaks up on the audience by playing with the double meaning of the word jerk.  The last question is as perfect closer because it builds tension by linking the guest speaker to two controversial people, and then says something nice about him.  This type of closer joke almost always gets the affirmative response of “Ahhhhhhhhhh,” seeming to say “isn’t that nice!”)