Observational Humor — Case Study #37

Here is a brief bit Observational Humor I used as an opening remark at the Las Vegas Chapter of the National Speakers Association.  Patricia Fripp was the featured speaker presenting a full-day program.  Her program included individual coaching of audience members presenting speech openings. 

I typically open my speeches with Observational Humor, so my “speech opening” was a short segment of humor.

The Set Up (what happened and what was said before I delivered the observational remarks).

1.  RJ DiDonato is our Chapter President Elect.

2.  Fripp mentioned that she was 5′ 1″ tall.

3.  During her program Fripp mentioned that one of her DVDs had a technical issue that made her look wider than she really is.

4.  The night before the meeting, chapter board members joined Fripp for dinner.  She ordered a scallop dinner.

My Speech Opening

“Would you find it interesting to know how we find our speakers for Chapter programs?  Last evening, RJ and I were driving to the Bahama Breeze restaurant for dinner.  As we approached the restaurant, we noticed a woman, about five-foot-one, standing on the corner of Flamingo and Paradise.  The first thing we noticed was that, for some reason, standing on the corner made her look wider than she really was.  The second thing we noticed was that she was holding a cardboard sign:  ‘Will speak for scallops.’  So we picked her up.  And that’s how we find speakers for our programs.  Would you find it interesting to learn how to create fresh, observational humor that you could use as an opener for one of your speeches?”

Notes:

1.  I made reference to the woman’s height to make it immediately clear I was talking about Fripp, without saying her name.

2.  The scallop dinner was an inside joke, since most attendees were not at the dinner and the menu selections were not mentioned at the program.  I felt that it was OK since I was using the classic format of “holding a cardboard sign” (people anticipate a punchline) and also because scallops is a funny word.  The line received a very good laugh.

3.  The transition into my “speech” used a question in the same format as my opening.  This book-ended my opener and led me smoothly into the body of my “speech.”

4.  The “standing on the corner made her look wider than she really was” line received the biggest laugh.

5.  The sequence would have been funnier if I had used THREE things we noticed about the woman on the corner (triplets and the rhythm of humor).  I didn’t have a third item that I felt was strong enough, so I went with just two “things we noticed.”

6.  Fripp’s Speaking School is next week, June 29-30, in Las Vegas.  It’s a great investment.  Highly recommended.