Observational Humor — Case Study #38

Here is an Observational Humor Monologue presented at a Fripp Speaking and Presentation Skills School.  Patricia Fripp is a world-class speaking coach.  The next Fripp Speaking School is November 14-15 in Las Vegas.  Being coached by Fripp, or watching her coach others, is something you can’t afford to miss.

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

1.  I appear to be, to most people who don’t know me, a very serious, non-funny guy.

2.  Fripp preaches eliminating the vague word STUFF from our speeches.  She fines people one dollar for using the word.

3.  Mid-way through the workshop Fripp accidently used the word STUFF.  A big laugh.

4.  Fripp often coaches clients in their hotel room.  She jokes about being locked with people in a hotel room.  Guy Burns suggested that he was in a hotel room attaching a microphone to Fripp’s panty hose.  That’s the gist of the set-up, not exactly the way it unfolded.

5.  I’ve known Fripp for more than 20 years and shared a story from an NSA chapter meeting in Los Angeles.

6.  Fripp told a story about a woman who met her in a restroom and asked, “Are you British?”  And then continued, “You’re Patricia Fripp” and continued to quote points from a Fripp speech one year earlier.

7.  Fripp pointed out that if a person sitting in a chair were to stand while keeping their head up, the person would have more power and elegance than if people were to see the top of their head because they dropped their head while standing.

8.  Fripp suggested not wearing a new dress shirt when giving a speech because the stiff fabric could make you itch.

9.  The principle of RECIPROCITY was discussed.  People will treat you the way you treat them.  If you’re nice to them, they will feel obligated to be nice to you.

10.  A statistic was provided suggesting that taller people are more likely to be elected President.

11.  Illustrating the principle of “asking for more than you think you’ll get,” Fripp suggested that a child, if he wanted a pony, should ask for a baby brother.


If you had met me 30 years ago, you would have said to yourself, “I can’t believe this guy could possibly be funny.”  When you saw me this morning, you probably thought…the same thing.
(Self-deprecation, poking fun at my apparent serious demeanor.  I’m saying what people were probably thinking.)

I’m now going to share some humorous observations…and stuff.  There is no penalty for my use of that word…because I’m only quoting Fripp.
(With the word “stuff” it appears that the joke is complete.  The topper line sneaks up on the audience.)

I wish you could have been there…17 years ago on a Saturday at an NSA chapter meeting in Los Angeles.  At the end of the meeting I was helping Fripp pack her audio and video albums.  Fripp and I were the only two people in the meeting room as she was ready to leave for the airport.  She wanted to change into a comfortable travel outfit and decided to do it right there, in the meeting room.  She looked at me and said, “Don’t look down!”  And off came her skirt.  Well, you know what happens when someone says, “Don’t think of a pink elephant.”  You may be surprised to know that her panty hose was miked! 
(A true story except that I was a good boy and didn’t look down…and I made up the panty hose part.  The opener “I wish you could have been there,” was one of Fripp’s recommended speech openers.  Using it got a laugh.)

Last week I was at the MGM and accidentally walked into the ladies room.  I was looking in the mirror combing my hair when a woman walked up behind me:  “Excuse me, but…are you British?”  I don’t know why she asked me that.  Maybe it was because she couldn’t see the top of my head.  I replied, “No I’m not.”  Then she asked me, “Do you know Patricia Fripp?”  I don’t know why she asked me that.  Maybe she noticed the mike on my panty hose.
(This sequence received several laughs.
  – It uses a running gag with the miked panty hose.
  – Walking into the ladies room, by itself, gets a laugh.
  – When I introduce the “Excuse me, but…” line, I briefly paused to let the audience fill in the next line.  Most people would probably think that the words to follow would be “Do you realize you’re in the ladies room?”  One audience member voiced what she thought my punchline would be:  “Are you John Kinde?”  A good line.  But “Are you British?” is more of a surprise and a stronger line.
  – “Couldn’t see the top of my head” is a silly line that really makes no sense, but is a fun and unexpected callback that received a strong laugh.)

I’ll close with four tips for success with public speaking and humor.
1.  When you speak, always wear clean underwear…But never wear NEW underwear.

(“Clean underwear” is a cliche joke, and disguises the real punchline because it seems that the joke is complete.  The main punchline becomes a topper.)
2.  To ensure that people laugh at your jokes during a speech…when you meet audience members before you give your speech, no matter what they say to you, laugh at them.  That activates the principle of reciprocity.
(An absurd twist of the reciprocity principle.)
3.  At any convention, the tallest speaker is always the funniest.  So tip number three…Be Tall.
(An absurd statistic and suggestion.  Probably works well because I am tall, six-foot-three, and implying that I’m funny simply because I’m tall.)
4.  To get a woman to laugh on a first date, ask for more than you expect to get.  Don’t ask her to laugh.  Ask her for a baby boy.
(A very big laugh.  A strong and unexpected call back.)