Observational Humor — Case Study #25

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.)