Archive for April, 2009

Observational Humor — Case Study #36

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Here’s another Observational Humor monologue presented at the end of a meeting.

Remember that the set-up items are listed in the sequence of the monologue lines they inspired, but in reality they did not happen in that order during the meeting.

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

1.  Toastmasters are often trained to open their comments with a stilted:  “Mr Toastmaster, Fellow Toastmasters and honored guests.”  A member, during a speech evaluation, commented that in her first speech she was most concerned about doing that opening salutation correctly.

2.  The theme of the meeting was BASKETBALL because the collegiate basketball championships were being played.  The emcee of the meeting brought a basketball and each speaker was handed the ball when they came to the front of the room.

3.  A speaker told of an April Fool joke played on her.  Long ago, in her office, she answered the telephone.  It was an old-style phone with two pieces.  One piece you hold to your ear and the other one you talk into.  The two pieces had been super-glued together.

4.  A speaker provided the statistic that the average person spends $1400 each year on clothing.

5.  A speaker said that she liked Australian basketball because the men wore Tank Tops and Skimpy Shorts.

6.  A speaker said that she liked football because the men were always bending over.

7.  I am a tall person.  Six-feet-three-inches.

8.  A speaker told about playing hide-and-seek as a child.  They told the seeker to close his eyes and count to 20…and then the rest of the kids all went home.


Mr Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters and honored guests…thank God that part’s over!
(A good response.  An even better response following a physical take, wiping my brow.)

(They hand me the basketball)  I think I’m going to start dribbling.
(The double meaning of the word DRIBBLE activates this joke…bouncing the ball and drooling.)

On the break I did some research on Google.  When two-piece phones were being used…super glue had not been invented.
(An observation based on the truth.  A very good laugh.)

Three ways to succeed as a humor speaker.
1.  Spend $1400/year on clothing…mostly tank tops and skimpy shorts.
2.  While you’re speaking…spend most of your time bending over.  At least half the audience will like what you’re doing.
3.  And last…this comes from personal observation…be tall.
(Line number two runs the risk of crossing that invisible line of good taste, depending on how directly sexual the line is.  Remember that innuendo does not make a line safe.  I felt this line was tame and the response was great.)

Now if you would all close your eyes and count to twenty…I’m going home.
(A perfect closing line.)

Cartoon Caption Contest — Creative Humor Writing

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

Here are the results of our latest Cartoon Caption Contest.

Our next caption contest will be announced on May 1.

New joke contests are announced mid month.

Here are this month’s top lines.


The FAA hired me to keep you guys off the runway.
      Cindy Tebo, Catawissa, Missouri, USA


Your mission is to fly up to the 42nd floor and see what the AIG execs are doing with all that bailout money.
     Tom Nee, Oak Lawn, Illinois, USA


This is your stimulant, enjoy it.  I’m still waiting for mine.
     Timothy Busam, Cary, North Carolina, USA.

HONORABLE MENTION (in random order)

  – I’ll give you all the popcorn you want, but I am not sharing my wine with Mynahs!
  – Don’t beg for more!  Remember, I am one of those ex-AIG executives who had to return our bonuses.
  – Now roll over.
  – Come on guys, give me a break even a scarecrow needs some time to himself.
  – Didn’t anyone bring back a response from all those resumes I gave you?  
  – When you guys fly South for the winter, see if you can spot my job, my car, and my house.  They all went that-a-way.
  – Bernie made off with a couple of stool pigeons.
  – I bet you guys would eat it if Rachael Ray were tossing it out.
  – Carl, did we fly to the wrong Main Street? I thought after the election we’d be getting more. This is definitely the guy on Main Street, but things aren’t getting any better.
  – What do you mean its too salty?  You want healthy stuff; you go and catch your own.
  – From Caviar to Popcorn — A Riches to Rags Story.

Topping a Joke

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

I competed in the District 33, Division C, International Speech Contest yesterday.  Five excellent speeches.  I placed second behind Bryant Pergerson, an international stage finalist from two years ago.  A very competitive contest.

One of the most fun parts of a contest is always the contestant interview.  I was the fifth speaker (the last speaking slot) and the speaker before me was Bryant.  During the interview he was asked, “Is there anyone you would like to recognize?”

He responded by listing the names of four or five people he wanted to thank.  And then added:  “And Pam” (his partner).  It received a good laugh, since it appeared that he mentioned her  as an afterthought.  Earlier in the event Pam had a major role as Emcee of the Tall Tales Contest where her humor was a hit.  She also received the Division C Toastmaster of the Year Award.  Both Bryant and Pam are well-known and well-liked Toastmasters in the Las Vegas community.  And both are good friends of mine.  I mention those factors because they are relevant when you’re considering making a joke which involves someone else.

My contestant interview followed Bryant’s.  I had considered the possibility of recycling an interview line from last year, a line which is perfect if you are the contestant speaking in the last slot of the contest.  I then planned to top it with a new Observational Humor line.  Here was my response to “Is there anyone you would like to recognize?”

“Yes.  I’d like to thank the other four speakers for warming up the audience (laugh) (pause) …and Pam.”  (bigger laugh)   Then I blew her a kiss (and she blew a kiss back to me) (even bigger laugh).

Here is the structure that made the humor work:

1.  I used a recycled line that had worked in 2008 during a contestant interview.  It was safe, tested humor.  I was confident it would play well because it had worked in the past.  Confidence helps to improve your delivery.  It’s easier to pause to let the joke kick in if you “know” it’s going to connect.

2.  The “…and Pam” line was simple and not cluttered or buried under a pile of unnecessary words.  It was a topper which used minimum words, the exact words that Bryant had used.  I paused a couple of beats before delivering it to give it the feeling of an afterthought.

3.  I then added a physical beat topper, the blowing of a kiss.  A topper or punchline doesn’t need to be a string of words.  It could be some form of “take” (a physical response to a joke), such as shrugging the shoulders or raising an eyebrow.  Or in this case it was a gesture that implied a punchline. 

4.  In this case the Joke, Topper, Topper sequence worked perfectly.  Each subsequent addition to the humor progression received a stronger response than the previous. Ideally, that’s the way it’s supposed to work.

The Almost Dictionary — Humor Contest

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

This was posted on the Blog:  “I was reading something today that talked about the economy ‘souring’, but as I read it quickly, thought it said ‘soaring’ at first and was struck by what a difference one little letter makes in the meaning of that phrase!”

And of course I thought, let’s have a contest!

Your challenge is to find “almost” spellings for common words or short phrases.  The variations might be created by changing one letter, or two.  Or by using a homonym.  Or some other little variation.  Give us the new word or phrase.  And then give us a definition.

For example, let’s look at “almost” possibilities for:
  – Faux pas
  – Mistake
  – Tinker Bell

Faux Pa:  A man on the Jerry Springer show who failed a paternity test.

Flow Pas:  A glacier field which is melting too fast.

Misteak:  A filet mignon ordered rare which was cooked well-done.

Miss Take:  A beauty pageant for kleptomaniacs.

Tinker Belle:  A debutante coming out at Tinker AFB, Oklahoma.

Tinkle Bell:  Used by a hospital patient to request a bedpan.

What other words or combinations of words almost look or sound like the original but would have a twisted meaning?

We are not looking for daffynitions, which are twisted definitions of actual words.

Get your creativity motor running.  Make a long list.  Then edit your first draft to make the lines stronger.  Submit your best lines to by April 30, 2009.

When First Impressions Are Wrong

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

Susan Boyle, age 47, took the stage at Britain’s Got Talent to sing I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables.
The way she looked…
The way she moved…
The way she talked…
I’ll admit, I was looking for something like Mrs Miller from the 1960s Ed Sullivan show…so bad that it was entertaining.
But then they cued the music…
And she brought a skeptical crowd to their feet.
I watched the video four times.
Talent speaks louder than first impressions.
A great reminder to us as we prejudge the people we meet.
What you see isn’t what you get!

PS:  Note how Simon Cowell uses the rule of three to get a laugh during the judges comments:  Surprised, Surprised, Not Surprised.

We Won!

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

We won First Place in the New Yorker cartoon caption contest!  Thanks for your encouragement and support.

I just recently discovered another site offering contests.  The Speaker Net News Ezine is announcing contests on themes relating to the business of speaking.  In addition to the contests, the Ezine is a terrific source for information on the business of speaking.  Highly recommended.

And also, don’t forget to enter the New Yorker Contest every week.  Ordinary people do win!

Observational Humor — Case Study #35

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

Here is another Observational Humor monologue delivered at the end of a meeting.

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

1.  Someone mentioned the biblical character Methuselah who lived to be over 900 years old.

2.  Bill Lusk is our most senior Toastmaster and is in his mid-70s.

3.  The club President mentioned that we were the largest club in our District of over 100 clubs.

4.  We had a large number of guests at the meeting (eight).

5.  We had two guest speakers who were high school students.

6.  An image consultant joked about giving fashion tips to Michelle Obama.

7.  I usually dress very casually when I attend a club meeting.

8.  Our club dues are being collected this month.

8.  Pam Shinkle, our club President, told a story of an IRS agent trying to collect unpaid payroll taxes from a politician.  The agent went to his office and sat in the waiting room.  When people came in, she stood up and said, “Hi, I’m Pam and I’m from the IRS.”  Within forty minutes he wrote her a check.

9.  Dave gave a speech which included the power of visualization.

10.  The word of the day was BODE.  The word of the day is always posted on a sign at the front of the room.


Fellow Toastmasters, honored guests, and Methuselah Lusk.
(Poking fun at the senior member of our club.  He has a good sense of humor.)

It’s said that we’re the largest club in our district.  That is a myth.  We have so many guests…it just looks like the largest.
(This line connected the observation of the “largest club” announcement and the observation of a large number of guests.)

I’ve noticed a trend in this club.  Next week all the speakers will be one-year-olds.
(The principles of extrapolation and exaggeration.)

Michele Obama called me four days ago…for fashion advice (adjusting my denim shirt.)

Our dues are due.  I must warn you…if you haven’t paid…President Shinkle will go to your house and sit on your front porch.  And when your neighbors drive by, she’ll say:  “My name is Pam and I’m from Toastmasters.”
(A simple switch drives this joke.)

David said that a person could have anything just by thinking about it.  If that were true, I’d have a hot body (pointing to, and mispronouncing, the word of the day BODE).
(Mis-pronouncing a word can sometimes lead to humor.  This usually works better if the word is in print, otherwise the reference to the word could be missed.)

AATH Conference in Las Vegas

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate National Humor Month than to spend four days at the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor (AATH) conference.  With nearly 200 people attending from around the globe, we spend four days laughing, learning and making new friends.

Jollytologist Allen Klein received the Doug Fletcher Lifetime Achievement Award.  His acceptance speech included a drop-in by Joan Rivers impersonator, Frank Marino.

I presented an Improv Workshop at the convention.  Also, I was on a panel with Larry Wilde, named America’s best-selling humorist by the New York Times; Marilyn Sherman, motivational speaker; Allen Klein, Jollytologist; and John Kinde, Humor Power (that’s me).  It was a coaching program titled:  How to Add Power, Punch, and Pizzazz to Your Humor Presentations.

Next year’s AATH conference is April 22-25, 2010, at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, Anaheim, California.

Joke Contest Results — Creative Humor Writing

Monday, April 6th, 2009

It’s time for the results of the Quirky Pet Foods contest.

Our next Joke Writing Contest will be on the 15th.

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

Here are the top lines from this month’s contest, selected by our panel of seven judges (speakers and improv players).


Twheaties:  Canary flavored breakfast cereal for cats.
     Jim Spero, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA


Tender Piddles:  Special formula for cats who occasionally miss the litter box.
     Tom Nee, Oak Lawn, Illinois, USA


Chow Mane:  Full of vitamins to grow healthy hair on lions.
     Nancy Lininger, Camarillo, California, USA

HONORABLE MENTION (in random order)

  – A jungle favorite:  Chocolate Chimp Cookies and Ape Nut Flakes.
  – For small, female horses:  Filly Mignon Steak.   
  – Favorite of Sloths:  Dirty Rice and Sloppy Joe Sandwiches.
  – Canary favorite:  Peep Tarts and Coal Slaw.
  – Irish Setter:  Saint Patty Melt.
  – Termites:  Plank Steak.
  – Hush Guppies.
  – St Bernard:  Holy Mackerel and Angel Food Cake.
  – Ducks:  Quacker Oats.
  – Young Dogs:  Pup Tarts.
  – Kosher Dog Food:  Lox and Beagles.
  – Lo-Fat-Cats:  For dieting dogs.
  – Tweety Pies:  For discriminating puddy tat palates.
  – Pedigreen:  Special mix for Irish Setters.
  – Mouse Mix:  For pet owls and pussycats.
  – Beggin strips: Bacon flavored dog snacks for pets of AIG Management.
  – Road Apple Jacks:  For keeping dogs calm on long Road trips.
  – Dream of Meat : Wheat cereal for dogs that has a subtle meat flavor.
  – Dog Trix: Silly Rabbit these Trix are for dogs.
  – Rex Lax: Guard dog food that is high in Fiber.
  – Pupsi Cola: Brand new Cola flavored dog water.
  – Guppy Chow:  Makes fish chase their tail.
  – Double dribble:  Bubble gum flavored treats that make dogs drool.
  – German Shepherd’s pie.
  – Cycle:  Pet food for your Hell’s Angelfish.
  – Bark:  Dog food brand made from trees.
  – Chickens like anything that doesn’t taste like chicken.
  – My Impala eats gas, oil, and windshield wiper fluid.
  – I Sear meat for my Roebuck; it Wards off disease for only Penney’s.
  – My young horse likes Filly Cheese Steaks.
  – My rabbit doesn’t like hare in his soup.
  – My beaver eats things that are dam good.
  – Bow Wow:  Black-Tie Doggie biscuits.