Archive for January, 2008

Public Speaking and Comedy Resources

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

The auditions for the next season of Last Comic Standing started this week.

Here’s a link to an excellent Podcast by comedy coach Judy Carter giving Audition Tips and including an interview with finalist Michelle Balan

Many of the tips apply to public speakers.  Have fun.  If they’re not laughing, pretend that they are.  Be funny (engaging) quickly.  Get stage time to rehearse your material.  Be YOU…your persona is what makes you original and interesting.  I recommend the podcast.  It’s brief and to the point.  Also, browse Judy’s web site…you’ll find lots of great information

Observational Humor — Case Study #18

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

Here’s another Toastmasters Observational Humor monologue.

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

1.  An evaluator commended a speaker for keeping the comments at the start of his talk “YOU focused.”

2.  A new member told us how to pronounce his unusual name.  He said he was from the Ukraine where his name is normal.

3.  During a segment on New Year’s resolutions, Gretchen told us of the exciting success of her new business.

4.  Bill Jacky told us this was the first New Years Eve in 20 years that he got eight hours of sleep.

5.  S (that’s his name) commented that he was amazed that Steve Pavlina’s solar watch worked at night.

6.  A name on the printed program agenda was misspelled.  Guy Burns was listed as Buy Burns. 

7.  A speaker referred to Bill Jacky as Bob Jacky.

8.  One of our members is named Mary Coon.

THE MONOLOGUE

I tried to think of a joke about a female sheep.  I wanted the Observational Humor to be EWE focused.
(Played with a sound-alike word.)

My name is K-I-N-D-E.  It’s pronounced KIN-DEE.  I’m from North Dakota where that’s a normal name.
(I compared my simple name with a complicated one, using the same pattern which had been previously used.)

I was motivated by Gretchen’s business success.  I made a resolution to move my business to her neighborhood.
(A simple joke, implying that WHERE her business was located was why it was successful.)

This New Years I couldn’t sleep a wink.  I couldn’t sleep with all of Bill Jacky’s snoring.
(Silly joke.  The very unexpected twist is what made it work so well.)

Steve’s solar watch works at night.  There’s a reason S and I didn’t understand that.  Steve has money.
(This piggybacked on somebody else’s observational humor.  My implication was that the cheap solar watch that S and I could afford would work only during daylight hours because we couldn’t affort a GOOD watch.)

And now Norwack The Magnificent.
(The answer-man delivery formula.  Answer first.  Followed by the question.)

The answer is:  Someone who would pay someone else to light them on fire.
And the question is:  Who would Buy Burns.

(During the meeting we had messed up two member’s names.  So I went looking for other play-on-names that I might use to turn it into a mini-list.)

The answer is:  A happy raccoon.
And the question is:  What is a Merry Coon.
(Again, playing with a homonym.)

The answer is:  Toastmaster Jacky and Toastmaster Lusk, if the moved to Buffalo, New York.
And the question is:  Who are the Buffalo Bills.  Asuming Bill Jacky doesn’t change his name to Bob.
(Simple joke with an observational topper.  Just when they think the joke is over, you lay on the second joke.)

The answer is:  Pets that salivate when you ring a bell.
And the question is:  What are Pavlina’s dogs.
(A simple association with Pavlov’s dogs.)

Creative Humor Writing — Cartoon Caption Contest Results

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

Here are the results from our Aliens Cartoon Caption Contest.

New Cartoon Caption Contests are announced on the first of the month.

New Joke Contests are announced on the 15th of the month.

We had several first time contributors this month.  Congratulations.

Aliens Cartoon Contest

** FIRST PLACE **

It’s either a courting ritual or they’ve just mated.
     Les Harden, Brisbane, Australia

** SECOND PLACE **

I told you it wasn’t our muffler!
     Phil Harrington, Deerfield Beach, Florida, USA

** THIRD PLACE **

I recommend we call off the invasion and wait for them to destroy themselves.
     Gary Bachman, Hagerstown, Maryland, USA

HONORABLE MENTION (in random order)

This species must not have Lungs.
I love the smell of Carbon monoxide in the morning.
Perfect…these humans must not need oxygen to live either.
Boy this sure was an easy place to find with that giant hole in the ozone.
Yup, you better call in the rest of the Volunteer Alien Fire Department.
Large smoking guns and canons targeted at space! We have a spy among us.
Whew!  I am sure glad you landed on THIS side of the fence!
Would you look at that ash tray!  These guys must be HUGE!
I told you to stop and ask for directions.
Remember, keep this planet secret or ALL the aliens will come here for gas! These idiots are giving it away for free!
They’re more primitive than I thought, they still send smoke signals.
We were thinking of making Earth a planet but I think we’ll just go with Pluto instead.
I told you that was smoke signal code for ‘hell’ not ‘hello.’
I said “find a refined planet”, not “planet refinery”!
I thought we abducted all the stupid ones already?
Wow, I knew this planet had global warming problems — look at her now, she’s smokin’!
I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.
We got here just in time.  They’re already putting up a smoke screen.
We really need to get a new travel agent!
So many smoke signals, they must be in a lot of trouble.
I told you not to turn left at Pluto!
They must have voted off the fireman.
Here 39 seconds and already I’m homesick.
Are they waving their heads or their tails?
That reminds me…before we left did you turn off the oven.
I think one of the fat ones winked at me.
Don’t destroy this planet…it’s self destructing anyway.
This must be the designated smoking area.
This place is a cross between Rod Serling and Al Gore.

Observational Humor — Case Study #17

Friday, January 18th, 2008

Let’s look at another monologue presented at the end of a Toastmasters meeting.

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

1.  The Toastmaster of the Meeting critiqued someone for not staying at the front of the room after making an introduction, explaining that he should lead and continue the applause until the speaker reaches the front of the room and shakes hands with him.

2.  A subsequent speaker, when introduced, walked to the front of the room in slow motion, to extend the applause.  A good laugh.

3.  Andre, a first-time guest, told us that he was from Ukraine.  He also said that he was impressed with the quality of the meeting and would feel intimidated to be a member (said light-heartedly).

4.  In the past, I’ve used the Answer Man format to deliver humor (more on that later).  Johnny Carson used the role of Karnack to deliver this type of humor.  Since my roots are from Norway (the source of so many funny people), when I use this joke format, I perform it as Norwack.  It had been at least two years since I’ve used this format for Observational Humor at a Toastmasters meeting.  I’m comfortable with the format since I’ve written over a thousand custom Karnacks.  At this meeting, I made the choice to deliver the entire monologue in this format.

5.  At a Toastmasters Humor contest the previous week, the Contest Master (the MC who introduces the speakers, didn’t warm up the audience and went straight into the introductions.

6.  One of our club members gave a humorous speech about marriage where, several times, he repeated the phrase:  “I’m sorry.  It won’t happen again.”

7.  A member gave a speech where he gave the statistic that each year smoking kills more people than WWII and the Vietnam War combined.

8.  A speaker who talked about effective openings referred to a great opening as “Smoking Opening.”

9.  A member gave a speech about being a substitute teacher for a remedial English class where her class had been totally out of control.

10.  Following the theme of the evening, our Toastmaster of the Evening (Gretchen), gave out apples to the speakers.

11.  Someone said that when women are pregnant they become more creative.

12.  Someone read a quote saying that the most important sixty-seconds of a speech are the sixty-seconds that occur after the speech ends.  That’s when people reflect on the meaning of the talk.

THE MONOLOGUE

(When introduced, I took a winding route to the front of the room.  It took me about 30 seconds to reach the Toastmaster of the Evening.)

Andre, the purpose of Observational Humor is to make jokes about our guests.  I just wanted you to be comfortable.
(Joke and a topper.  I didn’t create this joke because he was a GUEST, but because he had expressed how easy it was to be intimidated by a club like ours.)

Ladies and Gentleman…please welcome Norwack the Magnificent!
(This introduction setup the vehicle for the Answer Man format popularized by Steve Allen and Johnny Carson.  Most people wouldn’t immediately know what was to follow, but most would quickly understand the format once I started.  The format is a comedy-joke-sequence where the performer gives the answer first, followed by the question.  It’s a humorous, psychic-like routine.)

The answer is:  It’s a quote from the boring Humor Contest Master at last weeks contest.
And the question is:  What is, “I’m sorry.  It won’t happen again.”
(The truth is, the Contest Master had not been described as BORING, but I took the liberty to exaggerate for the sake of the joke.)

The answer is:  It has killed more people than WWII and the Vietnam war combined.
And the question is:  What is a smoking opening.
(A silly connection that really doesn’t make sense.  But it was funny.)

The answer is:  A straight jacket.
And the question is:  What do you need to deal with crazy people and remedial English Students.

(An exaggeration is often a good humor trigger.)

The answer is:  They would be intimidated.
And the question is:  How would our club members feel if they knew that the entire meeting was to be conducted in Ukrainian.
(This is a reversal which puts the members in the supposed “uncomfortable” position, instead of the guest.)

The answer is:  The Wicked Witch and Gretchen. 
And the question is:  Name two people who give out apples.
(This type of set-up sets a form of tension when you link someone’s name to a famous, or especially an infamous, person.)

The answer is:  It’s what I do when I want to feel creative.
And the question is:  What is getting pregnant.
(A silly callback.)

The answer is:  The best part of my Observational Humor
And the question is:  What is the sixty-seconds after I stop talking.
(A perfect closer.  Self-deprecation.)

Creating Humor — Joke Contest

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

It’s time for our mid-month Joke contest.  This month’s theme is Favorite Foods.

This is a joke-formula contest. It goes like this:
(Group) likes (Type Of Food)

Newlyweds will learn to like Honeydews.
Manicurists like Lady Fingers.
Comedians like Ho-Ho’s better than Snickers.

You can start with the group and then go searching for foods.
Or you can start with a food and then try to connect it with a group.
When you’re having a snack or a meal, see if you can come up with a group that would be a link to the food you’re enjoying.

Do your usual creative routine and submit your best lines to HumorPowerTips@HumorPower.com by January 30, 2008.

Then treat yourself to your favorite food.

Creative Humor Writing — Humor Contest Results

Saturday, January 12th, 2008

Here are the results of our Games People Play contest.

** FIRST PLACE **

Gift shop owners sell Tic Tac Toe sets to make knick knack dough.
     Gary Bachman, Hagerstown, Maryland, USA

** SECOND PLACE **

Fishermen play Whose Line is it Anyway.
     Jim Spero, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

** THIRD PLACE **

Bartenders play gin rummy.
     Nancy Lininger, Camarillo, California, USA

HONORABLE MENTION (in random order)

Plumbers like winning poker with a flush.
Vegetable growers love to play squash.
The Writers Guild of America love to bowl and get lots of strikes. 
Mimes love to play charades.
Theater owners love when they get a full house. 
Gays love winning a poker hand with a straight. 
Miners Love Picktionary.
Hermits Love sCRABble.
Air Force Debutantes love Base Ball.
Spin doctors play roulette.
Pianists, locksmiths, and Floridians are 3 people who play on keys.
Dieters play to lose.
Mud wrestlers play dirty.
Phlebotomists play poke her.
Plastic surgeons play Tug-of-Pore
Plastic surgeons and psychiatrists play hide-and-seek.
Orchestras play musical chairs.
Prisoners play solitaire.
Surfers play board games.
Comedians play anything for a laugh.
The CIA staff love I Spy.
Snipers love hide and seek.
Peeping Toms love Hide and Peek.
Masochists delight in playing golf.
Sadomasochists play the Stock Market.
Thill seekers love Risk.
Skydivers hate playing Kerplunk.
Storm Casers love Twister.
Lovers enjoy making up after crosswords.
Swingers love connect four.
Most reporters dedicate their lives to Trivial Pursuit.
Sumo wrestlers love squash.
Chinese diners love playing Chopsticks.
Tap Dancing, the sport of plumbers.
American Idol Contestants love to play Simon.

Public Speaking Resources

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

Here are some resources you may want to check out.

Bert Decker’s Create Your Communications Experience blog for The Top Ten Best (and Worst) Communicators of 2007.  Number One is a presidential candidate.

Andrew Dlugan’s Six Minutes: A Public Speaking and Presentations Blog features his post:  75 Public Speaking Blogs:  The Public Speaking Blogosphere.

Eric Feng’s The Public Speaking Blog, The Best of The Public Speaking Blog In 2007.

The January 2008 issue of Toastmaster magazine features a five-page article by John Kinde, Acceptable Humor: How To Navigate the Minefield of Good and Bad Taste.

Laughing All The Way to New Hampshire — Political Humor

Friday, January 4th, 2008

A funny thing happened on the way to The White House.  At least that seems to be the case if you watch the campaign trail.  Humor is the candidate’s friend…if used well.  From Mike Huckabee playing guitar with the Tonight Show band, to Hillary Clinton delivering The Top Ten List on David Letterman, they know the value of having fun and using humor during the campaign:  Enhancing their image, driving home their message, minimizing the impact of attacks.  Business leaders can learn from their example.

Make a mistake?  Laugh it off.  Mitt Romney at a stop in Iowa mixed up his words.  “I won’t remember my friends here in Iowa.”  He was quickly corrected by his wife, Ann, “You said I won’t remember.”  “I said I won’t forget…I’m often corrected.  This is good.  This is like spell check right here.”  If you can laugh at your mistakes, it’s less likely that people will laugh at YOU.

Make lemonade.  Hillary Clinton was within range a hot microphone while singing the National Anthem off key.  It became a target for jokes.  The Clinton camp turned it into a commercial for the Iowa Caucus, using video footage of the singing.  “Exercising is hard.  Dancing is hard.  Singing is hard…Caucusing is easy.”  Laughing at yourself makes you human.

Spouses are funny too.  John Edwards was interrupted during a campaign speech by his wife Elizabeth who was busy signing autographs.  He tried to get her attention three times, each time using a different tone of voice.  Although he was smiling and laughing, it was an awkward moment.  She approached the microphone and said, “I can’t help it if people like me!”  Laughter and applause showed the audience’s approval.

Be in the moment.  At the December 12 Republican debate, the candidates were asked about their position on global warming.  After Alan Keyes talked for 30 seconds without addressing the issue, Fred Thompson said, “I agree with Alan Keyes’ position on global warming.”  A big laugh followed.  Being totally present allows a politician to listen and respond to what’s happening on the spot.

Zingers on offense and defense.  Mike Huckabee arrived at the December 12 Republican debate armed with a line about the Edwards $400 haircut.  Referring to runaway federal spending, Huckabee said, “We’ve had Congress that’s spent money like Edwards at a beauty shop.”  But John Edwards was already busy doing damage control.  Earlier on The Tonight Show, Jay Leno noted that Edwards celebrated his anniversary at Wendy’s.  Edwards replied, “You can’t spend money on food when you’re spending money on haircuts.”

In control when the unexpected happens.  Rudolph Giuliani, the June 6 Republican debate, was responding to a question about abortion which referred to a quote by a Catholic Bishop.  As he began to answer, the sound system was distorted by lightening.  Giuliani responded, “For someone who went to parochial school all of his life, this is a very frightening thing!”  A timely quip shows the audience that the candidate is in control.

Answering questions with a funny line.  In the September 26 Democratic debate, Tim Russert asked Barack Obama, “Have you been successful in stopping smoking?”  Obama replied, “I have. You know, the best cure is my wife.”  The truth is funny.  People can relate to it, and that helps make the comment funny.  Candidates often prepare light-hearted responses to anticipated questions.

Less is more.  The December 12 Republican debate closed with asking the candidates:  “Please suggest a New Years resolution for one of your opponents here today.”  This was an invitation which almost begs for a humorous punchline.  The candidates were wise enough to avoid closing with a zinger and instead stayed “on message.”  Although some of the answers sounded a bit like they were borrowed from a beauty pageant.  Use humor strategically and sparingly.  Don’t be too eager to be funny or you’re likely to shoot yourself in the foot. 

They get help.  Many presidential candidates have a staff member writing humor lines.  It makes sense.  Late-night talk show stars Leno and Letterman have a staff of writers.  As legendary funnyman Bob Hope put it, “Do I need writers?  Only if I want to say something funny.”  A good joke writer is probably more valuable than a hair stylist and makeup artist.

The Bottom Line.  A sense of humor is a great asset to a politician.  Two of the most popular presidents of the past 40 years were probably Kennedy and Reagan.  They were probably the best communicators and the best at using humor.  I just searched Amazon and found the books The Kennedy Wit and The Reagan Wit.  They seemed to be totally out of The Nixon Wit.

Your New Year’s Humor Resolutions

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

Are you interested in A Dozen New Year’s Humor Resolutions and more than a dozen links to give you Ideas to Boost Your Humor Power in 2008? 

If you’re already a subscriber to Humor Power Tips ezine, they’re in your mailbox now. 

If you’re NOT a subscriber, sign up now for free and also receive two special reports:  When They Don’t Laugh and Show Me The Funny!

Start your new year off right.  Commit to becoming a better speaker and sharpening your sense of humor.