Archive for June, 2008

Funny Short Film

Friday, June 27th, 2008

Paul Lirette produced a short film for the 48-Hour Film Project 2008.  Paul is a very talented improv player and is a member of my performing troupe in Las Vegas.

The challenges for the film project:

1.  Produce a film in 48 hours.

2.  Include a character named George or Gina Longfellow, PR Whiz.

3.  Use a backpack as a prop.

4.  Use the line:  “Can I get a little peace and quiet.”

5.  The film’s genre had to be:  A film de femme which required a strong female character.

I love the film.  Lots of humor and very nicely done.

I’d suggest you watch the eight-minute film, Reactive, before you read my comments.

Comments:

1.  Notice how inserting the symptom list provided a set-up for several gags.  In fact, the symptom list itself was a punchline since one of the symptoms had already occurred.

2.  They took a less-than-direct approach to the name Longfellow.  A recent marriage made it a hyphenated name.

3.  Word play:  Cher/Noble, Tinnitus.

4.  Theme of the film related to recent current events:  Consumer product safety issues with imported goods.

5.  Notice the power of commitment to a character.

Creative Humor Writing — Cartoon Caption Contest

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

Here are the results from our Grim News Cartoon Caption Contest featuring the artwork of professional cartoonist Dan Rosandich.

Our next caption contest will be announced on July 1.

Check out our June Joke Writing Contest — Tiny Homes.

And now, here are our top captions:

Grim News

** FIRST PLACE **

Due to the news readers’ strike, we are operating with a skeleton crew.
     Andy Dolphin, Mount Barker, Western Australia

** SECOND PLACE **

I’ll bet you’re wondering why you’re getting this newscast on every channel.
     S Frank Stringham, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

** THIRD PLACE **

Fred Reaper here, with today’s report on The Housing Market.
     Sol Morrison, Santa Barbara, California, USA

HONORABLE MENTION (in random order)

…so I said to him, scythe does matter.  And he sai,…oh, we’re back on in 5, 4, 3…

Your regular anchorman will not be joining you tonight…or ever.

A serial reaper was apprehended this evening in an old folks home.

For those of you who wrote in to make comments about my weight and my hairstyle, I have obviously tried to streamline my look.

Welcome to EXPIRED TV.

This is your friendly host telling you the die is cast.

The Weather is Bone Chillin cold this week.

And in Sports Barry Bones has hit another walk off homer.

And tonight I bring you an update of my in-depth research on fad diets.

Could we fix the lights?  It’s making me look pale and thin.

I would like to announce that I have switched careers from horseman to anchorman.

And now for the obituaries, or as I like to call it, my client list.

I will be taking over for Brendan today, who is resting on my doorstep as we speak.

Let’s break for lunch, I’m starving to death.

***Buzzzz**** ***Buzzz**** ****Buzzz**** This is your local cable comapny emergency signal test. This is only a test…Unless there is a skeleton news anchor on your screen.

General Motors announced today that Hummer is coming out with a new model that gets a half mile to the gallon.

You’ll die when  you hear this one.
 
For the rest of the news log on to our website. I am late for my son’s halloween party. I gotta run.

And now for sports-related deaths we move to Bob at the sports-desk.

And now, for the first part of our Special Two-Part Report on Death And Taxes.

And now for more good news from the Surgeon General.

Coming up after the break the newest breakthrough in the anti-aging revolution.
 
Hurry up and get the makeup crew on him. We’re going to be on the air in less than 60 seconds.

I’m happy to report that the world has come to an end.

And after these messages, we’ll return to day 197 of our continuing coverage of the nuclear conflict.

Coming up:  The brains shortage has thousands of area zombies worried about how to feed their families.

And in other news, a local man says Soylent Green is people.

And in some sad news, I am sorry to report, in that fiery bus crash on the turnpike today, all 66 passengers survived.

We’ve got hurricanes and tornados in the forecast for tomorrow so make sure you take the kids, get out there early, and check them out.

To be politically correct, I am neither grim nor am I a reaper.

And now for the weather…the extended forecast calls for below average temperatures;  leaving me chilled to the bone.

*****************

For information on how Dan Rosandich can help you with custom cartoons and artwork for your book, articles, website, T-shirts and more, visit his cartoon website.

Observational Humor — Case Study #25

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

Here’s a look at Observational Humor created at a Toastmasters Meeting last Monday.

The Set-Up (What happened and what was said during the meeting before the Observational Humor Monologue was delivered.)

1.  A speaker talked about time management and suggested a good way to say NO was to say “Let me check my schedule and I’ll get back with you.”

2.  Our General Evaluator (who evaluates the overall meeting) was Frank who was wearing an unbuttoned shirt with a printed muscle-man T-shirt underneath.

3.  Pam said she calls Hawaiian shirts “Hi I’m on Vacation shirts.”  She asked her partner Bryant why he was wearing one to work.

4.  The theme of the meeting was Hawaii.  The MC of the meeting told us about the laid-back life style of the Hawaiian people.  “It’s like working at Yucca Mountain.” (A reference to a local federal government project.)

5.  A speaker, John, suggested that a way to control nervousness was to take the focus off of ME, the speaker, and put the focus on YOU, the audience.

6.  The MC asked a trivia question:  Was the state of Hawaii attacked by Japan on December 7, 1941?  Answer:  No.  Hawaii had not yet achieved statehood.

7.  A speaker, Mary, sang a couple of bars or music as she began speaking.  She explained that she was composing herself.

8.  Our time-management speaker told about how a large percentage of people couldn’t get themselves to tear up a one-dollar bill.

9.  A speaker said that if pirates were to drop her on a desert island and she could take only two things…she’d take a pirate and an iPod.

The Monologue

The General Evaluator introduced me:  “And now it’s time to hear from our Observational Humor Master…John Kinde.”
My opening:  Let me check my schedule.
(I had prepared this line for my opener.  But then the introducer used the line about a minute before he introduced me.  So I dropped the line.)

When I saw how Frank was dressed, I was sure he was going to break into a chorus of “I’m too sexy for my shirt.”
(I just had to comment on Frank’s attire.  I chose to do it with a somewhat-dated pop-culture reference to a song.  It worked.)

Pam, it’s OK that Bryant wears an “Hi I’m on vacation shirt” to work…He works at Yucca Mountain.
(I was afraid that this punchline would be too obvious because of the set-up lines.  But that seemed not to be the case by the strength of the response.)

John explained to us how we control nervousness by realizing that the speech is not about ME, the speaker, it’s about YOU, the audience.  That explains why I’m so nervous every time I hear John speak.
(I asked “what if” the nervousness were transferred to the audience.  A well disguised punchline.  A very strong laugh.)

I’d blame my nervousness on my state of mind…except that my mind has not achieved statehood yet.
(Playing with the double meaning of state.  It worked.)

I was pleased to see Mary compose herself during the meeting.  And even more pleased that she will wait until she gets home to decompose.
(Playing with words and the change of meaning when DE is added to a word.)

Last night I wrote myself a check for $1 million.  And then I tore it up.
(The speaker started by saying how hard it would be to tear up a $100 bill and then illustrated that to show that it’s difficult to tear up even a one-dollar bill.  I stretched it to the sum of $1 million dollars, which was absurd because the check was really worth nothing.  Silly.  But the punchline seemed to be well disguised and it got a good laugh.)

I was kidnapped by pirates who were going to drop me on a desert island.  They said I could take only two things with me.  I asked for a bottle of their rum and one of their computers.  When they left me on the island, I poured myself a drink and sat down at the computer.  Then I realized on the keyboard, every key was an “R”.   Arrrrrrrrgh!
(I recycled an old joke I heard a year ago where a pirate’s keyboard had only one key.  The letter R.)

Writing a Joke — Humor Contest

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

Steve and Erin Pavlina came up with some jokes after visiting a friend’s tiny Manhattan apartment. “We shared our funny lines with our friend and another person who lives in the same building. They laughed nervously because some of these lines aren’t far from the truth. They pay about 10 times per square foot what homes in Las Vegas sell for.”

After looking at their jokes, I thought it would make a great theme for a contest…Tiny Homes.  They sent me about 20 lines.  I’ll share three of them with you to show you where the theme could take you.  After the contest I’ll show you some of their other lines:

  – At least you only have to change one light bulb.

  – I didn’t know Bonsai made furniture.

  –  You put your right foot in. You put your right foot out. Well, that’s it for the apartment tour!

Now it’s time for YOU to come up with some one liners on the theme of Tiny Home.  Put on your creativity cap and go to work.  Initially, write everything down…even the lines you don’t like.  Then set your initial brainstorm effort aside and come back to it later.  Edit.  Take out the unnecessary words.  Substitute funnier words.  Select your best lines and submit them to HumorPowerTips@HumorPower.com by June 29, 2008.

Speaking and Performing With Excellence

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

Terry Fator At The Las Vegas Hilton

Two days ago I went to my 8th show in three weeks.  I love living in Las Vegas!

Terry Fator has been playing at the Las Vegas Hilton since October 2007.  He has signed a long-term contract which will move him to the Mirage in February 2009 (replacing Danny Gans who is moving to the Wynn).  Musical chairs…Las Vegas style.

Terrific Show.  I had watched America’s Got Talent last year and was glad to see Terry Fator win.  Going to his show at the Las Vegas Hilton, I knew that it was going to be great.  It exceeded my expectations.  A 1700 seat theatre was sold out on a Tuesday evening.  Backed up by top-notch production support and an on-stage cast of 16 musicians and showgirls, it is one of the city’s best shows.

The Show Before The Show.  While awaiting the start of the show, the early-arriving audience was entertained by DJ Mike.  At showtime, Mike opened with about 10 minutes of audience-energy-building exercises.  It wasn’t a traditional opening act, like a comedian, but did a good job of guaranteeing that Terry Fator didn’t take the stage in front of a dead audience. 

Self-Deprecation.  Several times he took the opportunity to poke fun at himself.  One of his puppets bragged about how he (the puppet) had been the winner of America’s Got Talent.  Terry also joked about his name in large letters at the back of the stage.  He mentioned that if it were mis-spelled it could come out Ferry Tator.  Then he talked about how he used to be teased, when he was younger, by kids who misused his name.

Depth Of Talent.  Terry Fator won America’s Got Talent not because of his talent, but  because of his depth of talent.  He does comedy.  He sings.  He does celebrity impressions.  He does ventriloquism.  And he’s exceptionally talented in all of those skills.  And he does a terrific 90-minute show with no need for a filler-opening-act.  It’s no wonder that he could put together a few short entertaining segments for the competition, selecting his strongest material from a long list of outstanding routines.  So it is with speakers.  A speaker, who needs to fill a one hour slot, needs to KNOW at least ten hours of material on the subject of the speech.  Shallow depth of knowledge will make itself apparent during a talk.  When you know far more than you’ll ever have the time to share, you can pick and choose your best material.  Be a Terry Fator.  Not casually good.  But brilliantly excellent at what you do.

Great Humor Skills.  He is skilled in the art of comedy.  He’s able to create spontaneous lines while talking to a member of the audience.  He customizes for the locale, making reference to the hotel and other Las Vegas area attractions.  His turtle puppet (Winston) had visited Turtle Ranch (a play on Mustang Ranch, a local brothel).  Later another puppet, while under the counter, said:  “Hey, there’s a turtle down here.  He wants me to take him to some ranch.”  A great call-back made stronger by not completing the TURTLE part of Turtle Ranch, letting the audience fill-in-the-blank (the superiority theory of humor).  That subtle reference to the Mustang Ranch was as wild as the routine got.  It was a family-friendly show.  In fact many people brought young children to see the show (something you don’t often see at an evening Las Vegas show).

Audience Involvement.  Terry and his puppets often talk to members of the audience.  In the second half of the program he actually brings an audience member onstage.  Great improvisation.

Overnight Success.  Terry Fator won America’s Got Talent and was a huge success OVERNIGHT.  Within 12 months he went from virtual obscurity to a multi-million dollar headliner in Las Vegas.  Well, the truth is that 32 years of hard work and preparation went into turning him into an overnight success.  Overnight Success is a concept created in the mind of the casual observer.  In reality, overnight success is the result of years, often decades, of hard work, focus, dedication and discipline.  Terry’s overnight success is well earned.  I highly recommend Terry Fator’s show.  He plays one three-day appearance each month thru December at the Las Vegas Hilton, and opens his headliner show at the Mirage in February 2009.     

Joke Contest — Creative Humor Writing

Monday, June 9th, 2008

Our Joke Writing Contest for last month was Corporate Sponsors.

Our next contest will be announced June 15.

Our Cartoon Caption Contest is announced on the first of each month.  This month’s cartoon has been a popular one.

Here are the top lines from Quirky Corporate Sponsors.

** FIRST PLACE **

The Umpire Hall of Fame brought to you by LensCrafters.
     Kris Huffman, Bethany, Oklahoma, USA

** SECOND PLACE **

Mafia backs securities brokerage house and it becomes: Merrill Lynch Mob.
     Nancy Lininger, Camarillo, California, USA

** THIRD PLACE **

San Francisco-Oakland E-Bay Bridge.
     Harold Boje, San Francisco, California, USA

HONORABLE MENTION (in random order)

  – Political humorist supports San Francisco landmark and renames it:  The Palace of Fine Art Buchwald.

  – Chocolate manufacturer infuses capital into the US Treasury and it becomes The Hershey’s Mint.

  – Automaker keeps the tax collector solvent and it’s promoted as Dodge IRS.

  – Morton’s Great Salt Lake.

  – Orange Julius Caesar’s Palace.

A Toastmaster Speaks in China

Friday, June 6th, 2008

Darren LaCroix (2001 Toastmasters World Champion of Public Speaking) recently visited the MSD Toastmasters Club in Shanghai, China.  He has posted a nine-minute video sharing his experience

I found the video interesting and fun to watch.  More importantly, it teaches us some valuable lessons on speaking internationally.

First, Darren opens with a greeting in Chinese.  A great way to connect with an audience who was already gracious.

Second, Darren’s pace at the start was deliberate.  He didn’t race through his opening.  One of the most difficult things about listening to someone speak a foreign language is that the native speakers “speak so fast!”  His slightly-slower pacing allowed the audience to get used to his voice, style and accent.

Third, the audience laughed at the funny parts of the speech.  Wow!  That would certainly be a concern of mine.  Would they find the humor funny?  The Shanghai audience obviously was understanding and appreciating the humor.  It was clear to me that they would be laughing all the way through the talk.

I look forward to listening to additional stories from Darren about the experience.  He’s in my Toastmasters Club here in Las Vegas and we play disc (Frisbee) golf together, so I’ll have an opportunity to hear more.

Cartoon Caption Contest — Creative Humor Writing

Sunday, June 1st, 2008

It’s time for the June Cartoon Caption Contest featuring the artwork of professional cartoonist Dan Rosandich???????? ????? ????????.

We announce new Cartoon Caption Contests on the first of each month.

And our Joke Contests are announced on the 15th.

Let’s look at this month’s cartoon and three sample captions to get your imagination running.

Stay tuned for The Five People You Meet In Heaven…except on the West Coast.

And always remember…today is the last day of the rest of your life.

And for those of you whose bucket list contains “watching one more newscast”…this is it.

To Enter The Contest

1.  Challenge yourself to write at least three captions.  If you find that easy to do…write ten.

2.  Set your first effort aside for a day or two.

3.  Rewrite and improve your lines.

4.  Select your best lines and submit them to HumorPowerTips@HumorPower.com by June 15, 2008.

Visit the Cartoon Web Site of Dan Rosandich for information on custom cartoons for your book, speech, newsletter, T-shirts, and more!