John McCain and Barack Obama Roast

A McCain and Obama roast-like fundraiser was held in NYC last night.  It probably did more for both candidates than the debates.  Great humor humanizes.

They demonstrated many excellent comedy techniques:

Self Deprecation.  Both candidates did an excellent job of poking fun at themselves.  Both used self-deprecation early in their set, which is the best way to open your remarks at a roast.  Poking fun at yourself, right at the beginning, gives you permission to poke fun at someone else later.  McCain’s reference to his seven houses, and Obama’s references to his humility were examples of the right way to do it.

The Implied Punchline.  McCain implied that Hillary supports him.

Building the Tension.  McCain’s opening “make a major announcement” was technically a tension-builder lead-in to a joke, although it was clearly telegraphing the arrival of a joke.

Using a Label.  McCain linked “name calling” with the label of “pet names” (That One and George Bush).

Switching.  McCain found a reason for Obama to “suspend his campaign and rush back to Washington” (if the economy improves).

Call-backs to items in the news.  Acorn, Lipstick On a Pig, See Russia From Here, and many more.

Name Play.  Obama played with both his first and middle names with great success. (Barack is Swahili for “that one.”)

Raising the Stakes.  McCain’s comments to transition into Obama’s remarks were brilliant.

Both candidates were great.  I’d say that McCain was stronger on the quality of his jokes.  And Obama was stronger on his “takes” or reactions to the humor.  Whether reacting to McCain’s jokes or his own, his laughter response appeared to be more natural.  It’s the “beat beyond” or a person’s ability to laugh in a natural way is part of what gives a person likability. 

Formal roasts often conclude with nice-remarks about the guest of honor.   Both candidates recognized the other, but I felt that McCain was the most gracious of the two.  In my opinion that win’s points for McCain.

But the bottom line, both candidates receive very high marks for the event.

McCain Part 1

McCain Part 2

Obama Part 1

Obama Part 2