Archive for September, 2008

Humor Skills — Cartoon Caption Contest

Monday, September 29th, 2008

It’s time for the results of the September Cartoon Caption Contest.  We’re featuring the Snake and Frogs cartoon by Dan Rosandich.

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

New Joke Contests are announced mid-month.

And here are the top captions selected by our panel of judges.

** FIRST PLACE **

I told you he’d come crawling back!
     Anthony Navarro, Santa Ana, California, USA

** SECOND PLACE **

Ok, you create a diversion and I’ll go see if that lump is really Franky.
     Austin Elcano, Reno, Nevada, USA

** THIRD PLACE **

We’re the ones who should be smiling…it’s Leap Year, not the Year of the Snake.
     Gary Bachman, Hagerstown, Maryland, USA

HONORABLE MENTION (in random order)

– Look at those curves!  She must workout.
– Wow, Kermit went on the Oprah show and got a complete makeover.
– Not me.  You tell him his fly is open.
– Who’s gonna break it to Miss Piggy?
– Do you think he could be vegetarian?
– He looks pretty happy considering he has a frog in his throat.
– He’s the long, silent type.
– Last time I saw him smile like that, I lost an uncle and two cousins!
– We’re distant cousins.
– Darn, wish I hadn’t quit those snake charming lessons.
– These guys get all the good publicity. You never hear of anyone referred to as “a frog in the grass!”
– Hey, I ain’t telling her that stripes went out in the 70s…you?

– When was the last time you saw Freddy?

For more information on custom cartoons for your next project, book, newsletter, T-Shirt and more, visit the web site of Dan Rosandich.

Observational Humor — Case Study #28

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

Here’s another Observational Humor monologue from a Toastmasters meeting.

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

1.  At a Toastmasters meeting, members often open their remarks with a formal “Mr Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters and welcome guests…”

2.  During his speech, member JD included a dramatic segment where he played a Dr Evil type character, including the facial expressions and a sinister laugh.

3.  S Frank Stringham introduces himself as S.  He cups his hands (like making a letter C), right hand above the left hand, to form the letter S on his chest (like Superman).  People are making a mistake when the left hand is placed above the right hand, he explained, because it forms the letter Z.

4.  A speaker sang a warm and cuddly children’s song in Spanish.

5.  While evaluating that speech, Bill suggested that the speaker sing just part of the song.  By singing the whole song, the speaker lost his attention.

6.  A speaker told us that he speaks three languages.

7.  JD told us that he is a practicing dentist.

8.  The club voted to accept two new members.

9.  At the start of the meeting, two members struggled with the table in the front of the room to fix a defective table leg.

10.  A speaker explained that the Autumnal Equinox was when the night was the same length as the day.

11.  A speaker said she was once so hungry she ate her fist.

12.  Our Ah Counter included in her report the number of times speakers used the unnecessary filler word “well.”

13.  One of our members is named Clark Wells.

THE MONOLOGUE

Mr Toastmaster, ladies and gentlemen, and especially Doctor JD and Mr Hyde.
(I gestured toward JD.)

Our Toastmaster of the Evening is known as S (doing the hand gestures)…except in France where he is known as Zee Frank Stringham.
(I said Zee Frank Stringham in a French accent.)

Since we had a song in Spanish tonight, I think it’s only right that we have one in French.  (I sang two lines of Alouette).  I know the rest of the song, but won’t sing it…I don’t want to risk losing Bill.  So instead I’ll just tell you what the song is about.  It’s about a cute little chicken…that tasted really good.
(The Alouette song contrasted with the warm-fuzzy Spanish song.)

I speak five languages.  Only one of them can be understood by other people.
(Notice the logical flow of observational remarks.  The letter S.  The letter Z.  The French accent.  The French Song.  Five languages.  Note that I looked for the logical sequence for the sake of the flow.  The events did not happen in that order.  I listed the items 1 to 13 in the sequence which would match the flow of the monologue, not the order in which they happened.)

I’m a practicing humorist.  And I’ll keep practicing until I get it right.
(A simple call-back to the word PRACTICING.  Also self-deprecation.)

We had a motion to accept two new members into the club tonight.  Considering the shape of the furniture, I’m glad we didn’t table the motion.
(Connected two independent events with a term from parliamentary procedure and the double meaning of the word TABLE.)

The Toastmaster Equinox is when exactly half of your audience is sleeping.
(An alternate definition.  It worked well.)

I was really hungry, so I stopped at a buffet before the meeting.  I cut in front of this huge body builder.  He got really mad.  So I ate his fist.
(I’m not sure how obvious the punchline was.  It seemed to be disguised well enough because it got a good laugh.)

I have one addition to the Ah Counter’s report.  Clark had one Well.
(Connecting part of the Ah Counter’s Report with the name of a member.)

5 Powerful Lessons That Will Get You Speaking on Par With The Best

Friday, September 19th, 2008

by Eric Feng, The Public Speaking Blog.

“It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take and keep moving forward!”  Rocky Balboa

I have never watched a single Rocky movie even though my roommate and dad are huge fans. However after Monday’s presentation by a phenomenal speaker, I will most likely (more…)

Creative Humor Writing — Joke Contest

Monday, September 15th, 2008

The Humor Power Blog sponsors two humor contests each month.  On the first of the month we announce our Cartoon Caption Contest.  And then mid-month we announce a new Joke Writing Contest.

Celebrity Businesses is a contest theme inspired by Sol Morrison from Santa Barbara.  The challenge is to create imaginary businesses that might be started up or owned by famous celebrities.

It could look something like this:

–  Al Gore opens a Dental Office specializing in extractions:  An Inconvenient Tooth.
–  The Senate Majority Leader opens a woodwind instrument supply store:  Harry’s Reeds.
–  Marie Osmond finds that opening a day-planner business is as easy as pie:  Marie Calendars.

Put on your humor hat and see what you can come up with.  Go for quantity first.  Then edit to work on the quality.  Select your best lines and submit them to HumorPowerTips@HumorPower.com by September 30, 2008.

Political Satire — Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

Check out this satire on Palin/Clinton featured on Saturday Night Live

Four things that make impersonations work are:

1.  The look.

2.  The gestures and movement.

3.  The voice

4.  The use of key words/phrases/themes.

Humor Writing Contest Results — Favorite Entertainment

Saturday, September 13th, 2008

It time for the results of the Favorite Entertainment joke writing contest.

New Joke Writing Contests are announced mid-month.

New Cartoon Caption Contests are announced on the 1st of each month.

Now…here are the top entries.

** FIRST PLACE **

Jewelers have fun in the proper setting.
     Martyn Bernstein, Oak Park, Illinois, USA

** SECOND PLACE **

Arctic explorers love pole dancers.
     Arun Ramkumar, Chennai, India

** THIRD PLACE **

Blacksmiths like heavy metal.
     Anthony Navarro, Santa Ana, California, USA

HONORABLE MENTION (in random order)

– Cows like the moooovies.
– Packaging machine engineers listen to wrappers.
– Detectives enjoy clue.
– Real estate barons play monopoly.
– Crybabies like whineries.
– Plumbers indulge in pipe dreams.
– Cardiac surgeons play hearts.
– Ditch diggers like spades.
– Golfers like rough and tumble, but only in a fair way.
– Poker players love Full House.
– Cleanliness freaks love soap operas.
– Divorce attorneys love the X-files.
– Undertakes love 6 feet under.
– Geologists love rock concerts.
– Astronauts love Dancing with the stars.
– Cryogenists like ice skating.
– Slackers spend time Hang Gliding.
– Hair Stylists in Sweden take time off to go Curling.
– Belgian Waffle Makers root for The Gridiron Sports.
– Railroad Engineers support All Track Events.
– Burning Man Attendees like to listen to torch singers and watch Firing Line.
– The Gore family loves horror movies.
– Geologists love rock music.
– Plumbers enjoy clog dancing.
– Pretzel makers enjoy doing the twist.
– Morticians vacation in Death Valley.    
– Carpenters like Woody Allen.
– Olympiads like Barnum & Bailey’s 5 Ring Circus.
– Spelling Bee contestants like David Letterman.
– Card players like to draw.
– Historians enjoy all past times.
– Schizophrenics read US Weekly.
– Immigrants do cross country.
– Loners play UNO.
– Politicians study ventriloquism.
– Lawyers play truth or dare.
– Lawyers watch The Moment of Truth.
– Mimes play Charades.
– Contortionists play Twister.
– Matchmakers love fireworks.

Eleven Ways to Energize Your Body Language

Monday, September 8th, 2008

Using effective body language drives home your humor.  I’m not advocating that bigger is better, because often it’s the small gesture has a magical effect on the laughter you’ll receive. What you want is effective and meaningful gestures.  Here are some ideas for you to try.

1.  Watch a video.  Do you want to evaluate your physical motion while you speak or tell a story?  Watch yourself on video and turn the sound OFF!  It’s a quick check-up to let you know where you might need some work.

2.  Using gibberish.  For segments of your speech that need help on
the physical movement, try delivering that segment in gibberish (a
nonsensical, made-up language).  Since you won’t be working hard on
the word selections you’ll be able to focus on the physical
delivery.  When using gibberish, the physical language is critical
to convey the meaning.

3.  Mirror work.  Record your talk.  When playing the recording,
watch yourself in the mirror and lip sync to your talk. It’ll free
you from concentrating on the content of the speech and let you
focus entirely on your physical delivery.

4.  Mask work.  Some people find that mask-work, performing while
wearing a face-mask (sometimes a costume will have the same
effect), will free up their physical work.  In a sense, while
wearing a mask, they become someone else and are less inhibited.
Try it as an exercise.  A great source for information on Mask Work
is Impro by Keith Johnstone.

5.  Using an accent.  When going into character to tell a story,
try doing it with an accent.  An Italian accent, for example, may
encourage hand gestures.

6.  Link a physical beat to the punchword.  It’s often a great idea
to link a specific gesture to every punch word you use.  It will
help magnify this important word which sets the laughter in motion.

7.  Sometimes less is more.  There are times when a subtle gesture
with the eyes, perhaps the raising of an eyebrow, will have more
impact than a big gesture.  Bigger isn’t always better.

8.  Show rather than tell.  Look for descriptive gestures which
will show what you mean and create a picture, rather than depending
on the words to do all the work.

9.  Extend the gesture.  If you do not normally use big gestures,
look for one opportunity in a talk to use a broad extended gesture.
By forcing yourself to do this, it will hopefully become more
natural for you to include larger gestures automatically.

10.  Physical activity.  A speaking coach suggested that walking
was a great way to improve flexibility on the platform.  In fact
most exercise routines would probably have side benefits
which improve your platform presence.  Martial arts, Tai Chi, Yoga,
many sports and dance classes are all excellent avenues to enhance
the strength, grace and energy of your gestures.

11.  Sign Language classes.  Deaf people are master communicators.
They are especially talented and gifted in the area of gestures,
body language and facial expression.  Taking a sign language class
from a deaf person is a great lesson in physical communication.

The Roller Coaster of a Speech Contest

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

Those of us in Toastmasters are about to enter a new Humorous Speech Contest season.  My club contest is September 8.

In this article, I’ll share with you some contest ups and downs experienced by Ken Egervari from Windsor, Canada, during last year’s contest cycle.

Ken is a relatively new Toastmaster, a member for about two years, and he is in his late 20’s. 

I’m impressed by his hard work and the analytical mind he applied to the task of writing and delivering a contest speech.  He belongs to four clubs.  He lost the Humor Contest last fall in his first club.  Then lost at the second club.  Then lost at the third club.  Finally winning at the fourth club, Ken went on to win the area contest and placed second at the division competition.  How many of us would have kept going after the second or third loss?

Let me share with you some lessons learned, in the words of Ken Egervari:

JOHN:  How did you get started on your speech?  How did you pick your topic?

KEN:  I thought, “What’s a big problem around here…something everyone could relate to?”  And the answer came to me–unemployment!  Windsor’s unemployment rate is one of the worst in Canada, and that’s the city I live in!  When I started brainstorming I had tons of ideas.  At Starbucks, I wrote for a few hours every single day for 30 days.  By the end of the process, I had 47 planned laugh lines…the very best of the hundreds of lines I came up with.  I think at that point, I had put over 80 hours into the speech.

JOHN:  At the first contest, did you try anything that turned out to be a mistake?

KEN:  One of the ways I wanted to separate myself from the other contestants was to use an unusually long title–47 words in fact.  After the contest, judges actually came up and told me they wanted to write me off the ballot because it took 1.5 minutes to say the title!   Whoops!

JOHN:  So you had 47 planned laugh lines.  How was the speech received?

KEN:  40 out of the 47 lines connected with the audience, and 20 of them were very good laughs.  However most of the laughs came in the beginning.

JOHN:  How do you account for fewer laughs at the end of the speech?

KEN:  I completely lost the audience when I said the word “prostitution.”  The energy in the room completely changed at that point–you can even feel it when listening to the voice recording.  I started to understand that Comedy Club and Corporate humor are two different things.  I thought the majority of the people would still laugh anyway, but I was wrong.  I learned that when you cross the line, offended audiences aren’t going to be on your side anymore and that it’s going to take a lot to win them back to your side. 

JOHN:  You decided to take the speech and enter it at a second club.  How did it go?

KEN:  Unfortunately, the speech went over horribly.  I managed to score 2 laughs from the audience with the same speech.  I felt like they were trying not to laugh!  Their lack of response threw off my pacing.  I began to anticipate their lack of response.  I may have even run over potential laughs.  Worse still, when I got into the adult entertainment industry, the smiles even dropped from the audience’s faces.  Between lines, all you could hear was silence.

JOHN:  So taking the speech to your third club, you decided to give the speech a major overhaul?

KEN:  That was a difficult thing to do…to “un-marry” myself from my own material.  It’s difficult to throw out 80-plus hours of work and start over.  I didn’t want to give up on the unemployment theme, I’m very stubborn.  So I looked at the old speech and asked, “Is there anything I can use from this?”  After looking at all the offensive material, or even potentially offensive material, I kept only 4 lines and started with a brand new document.  I really began to believe the old adage, “If in doubt, leave it out.”  I no longer had the urge to test lines just to “get it out of my system.”  I got audience response 30 times during the speech and ended up in third place.

JOHN:  I’m starting to think you’re the Energizer Bunny of Toastmasters.  You took the speech to your fourth club?

KEN:  Yes.  And then to the area contest with 37 laughs and a first place win.

JOHN:  And then on to a second place division contest finish.  Congratulations.

KEN:  For the first time, I genuinely felt good about my performance.  I knew I rocked the speech, prepared the best I could, and pretty much gave one of the best speeches of my life.  Sure, it would have been nice to make it to the district contest…but it didn’t matter anymore.  The biggest accomplishment was that I knew I did my best.

JOHN:  What lessons did you learn from this contest experience?

KEN:  First, brainstorm lots of topic ideas to find your passion.  When you find a speech that you really connect with, you’ll create lots of funny material.

Second, come up with more lines than you need…and select the best ones.  Create dozens of variations on the same line to find the funniest punch line for each one.

Third, don’t let the audience response throw off your pacing.

Fourth, if your speech has no chance to win, don’t be afraid to scrap it, regardless how much work you put into it.  Don’t ever get married to your material.

Fifth, listen to the old adage:  “If in doubt, leave it out!”

Sixth, it’s important to set the premise of your speech before you launch into your funny material.  Then all the humor makes sense because you have a strong premise to support it all.

And last, I learned how to handle myself better emotionally during and after a contest:  Dealing with losing.  Dealing with judging.  Dealing with audiences not finding you all that funny.

JOHN:  Thanks for sharing your roller coaster ride with us.  Any final words?

KEN:  Feel good about doing your best!

To listen to Ken’s speech CLICK HERE.

Cartoon Caption Contest — Creative Humor Writing

Monday, September 1st, 2008

It’s time for the September Cartoon Caption Contest featuring the art of Dan Rosandich.

New caption contests are announced on the first of the month.

New joke contests are announced mid-month.

Here’s the cartoon for this month and one caption to get you started.

              Isn’t it amazing we both taste like chicken.

Write more than one caption.  Rewrite your captions to improve them.  Select your best captions and then send them to HumorPowerTips@HumorPower.com by September 14, 2008.

Visit the site of Dan Rosandich for information on how Dan can create custom cartoons for your next project, book, brochure, web site, T-shirt, and more!