Observational Humor — Case Study #40

Here is another Observational Humor monologue with an analysis of what makes the humor tick.

THE-SETUP (What was said and what happened during the meeting before the monologue was delivered.)

1.  We had three first-time visitors at the meeting.

2.  A speaker talked about drug abuse and told us that opium gave a feeling of joy.  She also said that withdrawal from the drug made you feel like you had the flu.

3.  The weather was hot, about 110 degrees Fahrenheit, for several days.

4.  The theme of the meeting was, “It’s too hot to have a theme.”

5.  Our new club President, Erin Pavlina, was absent, on vacation.

6.  JD, a dynamic speaker and actor, said that he had been in 14 movies.  In one of the films he played a corpse.  He also complained that as he gets older he gains weight in spite of the fact that he eats less.

7.  JD’s brother, Lemuel, was attending the meeting for the first time.

8.  A speaker gave a talk on the history of aviation.  He shared photographs of many famous aviators.  And he commented on how they looked invigorated.  Invigorate was the word of the day.  He received a laugh each time he used the word.

9.  An evaluator referred to a repetitive, two-handed, karate-chop gesture, as the Mussolini Gesture.


If this is your first time attending our meeting…you’ll notice that we start Observational Humor by passing out opium.  This explains why you’ll feel joy by the end of the meeting.  And tomorrow morning you’ll feel like you have the flu.
(A good opener.)

And if this is your first meeting…I’m sorry you’ll miss seeing our new President, Erin Pavlina…whose theme for the year is “It’s too hot to go to Toastmasters.”
(Linked our hot weather with Erin’s vacation absence.)

JD always impresses me with his terrific dramatic skills.  I see what he can do and sometimes think, “I could never be an actor.”  Before the meeting he told me that he has been in 14 movies.  In one of them he played a corpse.  I could do that!
(When I started the monologue, I intended to say “I could do that” in full voice.  In the moment, as I started to deliver the line, I made the choice to lightly whisper the words.  That technique employed the superiority technique.  I was letting the audience fill in the words by reading my lips.  A huge laugh. It’s also a self-deprecation joke, as I tend to have a dead-pan style and to be less physically-expressive than most speakers.)

JD also was complaining that as he gets older, he gains weight in spite of the fact that he’s eating less.  That’s why I was surprised to see Lemuel coming down the hall with JD on his back.  Lemuel told me, “He’s not heavy…he’s my brother.”
(Linking JD’s weight with his brother and using the song lyrics as the vehicle.)

Alex is a math genius.  She said that 7 years ago she was 19, and that she is now 25.  That means when she is 65 she’ll be 60.
(A joke based on extrapolation.)

It was exactly 40 years ago today that Neil Armstrong walked on the moon (holding up stick-figure drawing of Neil Armstrong).  You can see from the photo that he was invigorated.
(The stick-figure drawing received a huge laugh.  Before I showed the drawing I paused for a beat.  Then I showed it without any comment.  The pause accentuated the tension to heighten the laughter.  And showing the drawing with no spoken words magnified the impact of the visual by not smothering it with unnecessary word clutter.  After the laugh died out, I delivered the topper.)

And tonight’s speaking tip.  If you’re going to use this gesture (doing the Musolini gesture)…For variety, blend it with this gesture (doing the Hitler salute).
(Linking the physical behavior of two WWII axis leaders.  I didn’t repeat either person’s name.  I just did the gestures.  It worked.  I’m thinking that I might try to close all my monologues with a speaking tip.  That would magnify the humor by the repetitive structure technique.)