Observational Humor — Case Study #20 — How To Be Funny

Here’s an analysis of an Observational Humor monologue presented at the end of a Toastmasters club meeting.

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

1.  The theme of Presidential Trivia was announced by Bill Parker.  As the Toastmaster of the meeting, he transitioned from one part of the meeting to another with interesting trivia.

2.  Someone mentioned club-member Darren LaCroix’s mantra of “Stage time, Stage time, Stage time.”

3.  A speaker mentioned how Americans and Australians use different words to describe things.  For example, it was noted that a toilet in America would be a lou in Australia.

4.  Speaker John Bernstein mentioned that he was almost named after his uncle Lewis.

5.  Someone mentioned the cliche, “Time heals all wounds.”

6.  A speaker gave a technical speech which he called his ALOHA speech, an acronym.

7.  In a piece of Presidential trivia it was noted that the shortest Presidential inauguration speech was 135 words long.

8.  A Toastmasters club meeting includes short impromptu speeches called Table Topics, normally about 60-90 seconds.

9.  Before we did the Pledge of Allegiance, it was noted that we were outclassed by the way the High Noon Lectern club did the Pledge with great enthusiasm.

10.  Bill Lusk always stands out as the most energetic voice in our club when reciting the Pledge.


Here’s a piece of presidential trivia.  Zachary Taylor logged more miles campaigning by stage coach than any other President.  His campaign advisor, Darren LaCross, said the key to success was: “Stage time. Stage time. Stage time.”
(The joke plays with the double meaning of the word STAGE.  Huge laugh.  The joke was made stronger by the fact that Darren was attending the meeting.)

John shared that he was almost named after his uncle Lewis.  In which case we would know him as Lou Bernstein.  Actually, that’s the difference between an American name and an Australian name.  In America he’s a John.  In Australia he’s a Lou.
(An excellent connection between comments made in two separate speeches.  Plays with the double meanings of both John and Lou.  Very big laugh.)

I knew someone who was such a jerk that within 30 days he was fired from his job, divorced by his wife and rejected by his dog.  Time wounds all heals.
(Twist of a cliche.  This was an old pun I had heard years earlier.  I created the set-up.  It worked well.)

I enjoyed Ed’s Aloha speech.  It was a sequel to last month’s Bonjour speech and a lead-in to next month’s Sayonara speech.
(To me, an obvious pattern for a joke.  A good laugh.)

It’s true.  One President actually gave a 135-word inaugural address.  He thought, “Do you solemnly swear?” was a table topic.
(The joke answers the question, “why such a short speech.”  It also tailors the answer for a Toastmasters audience.  Very good laugh.)

Here’s the secret to outclassing High Noon Lectern’s Pledge of Allegiance:  We need to clone Bill Lusk.
(A good closer which recognizes the enthusiasm of a long-time club member.)