Observational Humor — Case Study #17

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.


(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.)