Archive for February, 2010

Joke Contest Results — Quirky Medications

Friday, February 19th, 2010

This month’s joke contest is Quirky Medications.  The top lines were selected by our panel of seven judges (improv players and speakers).

New Joke Contests are announced on the first of the month (alternating months).  The next joke contest is April 1, 2010.

New Cartoon Caption Contests are announced on the first of the month (alternating months).  The next caption contest is March 1, 2010.

Our web site was down for maintenance a couple of days earlier this month.  If you submitted lines during that period, your email should have been returned to you.  Hopefully you re-submitted and we didn’t miss any of your creative work.  Our apologies if we missed any submissions.

Here are the contest results:

** FIRST PLACE **

Aussiecotton:  Softens and protects any condition “Down Under.”
     Jim Spero, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

 ** SECOND PLACE **

Ibeloafin:  Takes away the desire to do anything.
     Darin Thompson, Smithfield, Utah, USA

** THIRD PLACE **

Frolic acid:  Makes you feel young again.
     Tom Nee, Oak Lawn, Illinois, USA

HONORABLE MENTION (in random order)

  – Dramaloeine:  Used for suntan lotion sickness.
  – Pettyocillin:  Helps lessen the obsession for Anal personalities.
  – Knowhatimine:  Improves ability to understand others.
  – Hydrocotton : A 200mg tablet used to almost guarantee victory in a wet T-shirt contest.
  – Slowmodium:  Calms Type A personalities.
  – Cleptomicin:  Cures the urge to steal.
  – Aspirin-G:  Eliminates the butterflies in young actresses and pageant contestants.
  – Ambien-T:  Works like mood lighting to quickly calm you down.
  – Lackconan:  An expensive pill that is hard for NBC execs to swallow.
  – Tabloida:  Helps you to discern fact from fiction in those supermarket mags.
  – Verbatem-EX:  Helps you to understand exactly what your former spouse is telling you.
  – Clearitin 20-20:  Eliminates the need for eyeglasses.
  – Lacktact acid:  Helps you to be kinder to others.
  – Bowtox & Bagels:  For Plastic Surgery Group Operations in a Jewish Medical Center.
  – Thatdopamine:  Helps you to get along better with your better half.
  – Bennzoil:  Lubricates those creaky joints.
  – Corleone cream:  Works well on gunshot wounds.
  – Zooloft: brings out the animal in you.
  – Mummidefier:  Makes you VERY quiet.
  – Waistaway:  A diet drug.
  – Bentadrill:  Anger control for do-it-yourselfers who abuse their tools.
  – Botoxycontin:  Pain killer for facelifts.
  – Ibeproofin:  Pain killer for overworked copy editors.

Lessons From The Olympics

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

If you watched the Olympic Opening Ceremonies from Vancouver, you probably noticed the problem with the lighting of the Olympic Torch.  According to the plan, four pillars were to rise out of the floor to become part of the torch.  One of the pillars had a mechanical failure and never appeared.  Although it seemed longer, the wait time was more than two minutes as the network narrators began commenting on the situation.  TV hosts said the torch bearers were “all dressed up with no place to go.” 

This situation is not unlike a speaking or performing situation when something goes astray.  Your mind goes blank, a prop malfunctions, or you tell your best joke and nobody laughs.

Time is Relative
Time is measured differently by someone facing a problem during a performance.  When you’re speaking and your mind goes blank for five seconds, it will seem much longer.  That five seconds may not even be noticed by the audience…especially if you don’t draw attention to it.

It’s Your Secret
The torch bearers were wearing ear pieces.  They were told about the pillar problem and to “keep smiling and keep waving.”  It’s the same thing with an issue during your speech.  Keep smiling and the audience may never know.

Avoid Making the Problem Worse
A stage-wait, or an unintentional pause during a performance, demands that you improvise and go with the flow.  Make a “command decision” and move on.  The longer you wait, the more attention it draws to the problem, the more tension it creates, and the more you wait.  The quicker you move forward, the more invisible the problem becomes.

At the Opening Ceremonies, the audience at home with high-definition TVs might see you sweating…but most of the audience in the stadium will never notice.

During a speech when your mind goes blank, if you accept it and move on, most of the audience will never notice.  It’s OK to be human.  Sometimes we forget.  Being honest with the audience is often a good choice.

Throw out the script.
Don’t fall into the trap of being a slave to the script.  If the script calls for four pillars, don’t knock yourself out complying with the script.  If a speech calls for a third point, and you can’t remember what that point is…skip that part of the speech.  The reality is that the audience doesn’t know what’s on the script.  When something happens (no matter what it is), that is what was supposed to happen (from the viewpoint of the audience). 

Improvise.
Improvise and go with the flow.  The improv principle is called “Yes…And.”  Here’s how it works.  You receive an offer (one pillar isn’t working).  You accept the offer and you add to it.  “Yes…we have only three pillars…and we will light them!”  The quicker you “Yes…And” the offer the more seamless will be the performance.  By applying “Yes…And” to a problem, you help to make it a non-issue.    Plan B will appear to be Plan A to the audience.

Learn From Every Experience
Every time you make a mistake, learn from it.  When you see someone else stumble in a speech, learn a lesson from their experience.  And when you see something at the Olympics deviate from the script, be a student.  Ask yourself, what can I learn.  You’ll be wiser and better prepared the next time you take the platform.

Observational Humor — Case Study #51

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Here is an opportunity for you to see and hear an Observational Humor monologue presented on January 25, 2010.  It was delivered at the end of a program, “Good to Great — Speech coaching with Patricia Fripp and Darren LaCroix.”  This was a special event sponsored by PowerHouse Pros Toastmasters Club.

Here is what Patricia Fripp and Darren LaCroix said about the humor:

“You ROCKED. Wow…that was funny.”  Patricia Fripp.

“You were hysterical!”  Darren LaCroix

And here are a couple of comments from people who watched the program on the Internet:

“John Kinde ROCKS!  He had me and the audience rolling in the aisles.  I love his observational humor.”  Bruce Ellingsen

“I’m still laughing.  Wow!  You made it look so easy.”  Patty K, Victoria, BC, Canada

The video link is at the end of this post.  You will have two choices:

  – You can listen to the entire program and experience it as the audience did.  The content is terrific and your 95 minutes would be well spent viewing the entire program.  You’ll also have more insight on the set-ups and the punchlines.  It’s almost like “being there.”

  – You can “express view.”  First, read the SET-UP comments which are provided in the post.  Those comments, about what happened during the meeting, will put the humor in the proper context.  Then when you go to the link for the video, skip to the end to see the monologue.  It’s a 95 minute program and the monologue is in the last five minutes.

  – Note that most Observational Humor has a “You Had To Be There” factor.  As you study Observational Humor, don’t pay attention to what YOU think is funny, but note the AUDIENCE reaction to the monologue.  The audience response is the true measure of the power of Observational Humor.

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

1.  Barbell was the last speaker to be coached, just before I was introduced to do my monologue.  Darren coached her to have a happy expression as she mimed looking at a baby:  “Your look couldn’t have been more stoic.”

2.  The first time Fripp critiqued a speaker using notes, she said:  “Yes, this is me…with my glasses.”

3.  Fripp shared weak word choices which some speakers use to bury their punchlines, like:  “each and every one of you here in this room.”  Also the adding of “today” or “tonight” at the end of a phrase.

4.  A speaker said “when you think of Panama…you think of cows.”  And she shared some funny connections.

5.  Darren owned a Subway sandwich shop and attended Subway University.  He related being a farmer and having an MBA to skills which work to make you a better speaker and comedian.

6.  In the past, Fripp told a John Cantu story about a speaker who shared that she was a cheerleader and that women in the audience might think, “I have fat thighs.  I hate you!”

7.  Darren said, “All of you have written a world-champion quality speech…you just haven’t finished yet.”

8.  Darren told us about weaving free speeches around his work-week when he started developing his speaking skills.

9.  Darren gave an example of how a speaker’s emotions were expressed when his facial expression went from excited to nothing.

10.  Dana, one of the speakers being coached, posted a profile on our club’s web site.  He wrote:  “I’ll let you call me a pretty boy.”

THE MONOLOGUE

Barbell could have looked more stoic. (Big laugh.  Because of the response, I dropped a scripted topper “She could have looked like me.”  The topper line was implied and the audience “got it” without my having to spell it out.  Usually an implied punchline is stronger than one which is stated.  At its core, this is a self-deprecation line, poking fun at my lack of expressiveness.  Also, recency helped make the line work.  Barbel was coached immediately before my monologue, which made my opening the best place to use it.)

Yes, this is me…with my glasses.  I’m going to share some funny lines with each and every one of you here in this room…tonight.
(Some simple callbacks.  Effective.)

I’m from North Dakota.  I grew up around cows.  I know what you’re thinking…Panama!
(A reversal.  Big laugh.  What helped make the line work was that Panama/Cows was a significant part of the program, not just a quick mention.)

I’m just like Darren.  I, too, am a farmer.  And I have an MBA. And of course you’re thinking, “No wonder he’s so funny.  And he did it without going to Subway University.”
(Callbacks liking things in common between Darren and me.  The Subway University topper was perfect.  The audience senses that the humor is over…and then you drop the unexpected, additional line on them, playing with the element of surprise.)

Did you notice that the people who aren’t laughing…have fat thighs?
(An excellent call back.)

I’ve written a funny monologue.  But I haven’t finished it yet.
(I twisted Darren’s sound-bite phrase to fit the writing of a monologue.)

Just like Darren, I worked a day job and gave free speeches at night.  I worked with nuclear weapons, sitting by the button which I never had to push.  And every night I spoke to a civic club…and bombed.
(“Things in common with Darren” becomes a running gag.  Also uses the double meaning of the word BOMB to trigger a laugh.)

You may have noticed that specific line worked because my facial expression went from nothing to nothing.
(Twisted a Darren phrase again.  Also self-deprecation.)

I was reviewing the club’s web site today and noticed that Dana’s profile says “It’s OK for you to call me Pretty Boy.”  What I want to know is, “How late is too late to call?”
(I actually had visited the club’s web site that day, but not for the purpose of creating humor.  I was asked to give feedback on the site by another member.  Since Dana had a significant role in the program, I decided to pull a quote from the site to wrap up the monologue.  I didn’t use the exact words from the site, but took the liberty of structuring the words to set up my punch line.  A strong closer.)

THE LINK.  When you click on the link to watch the video, you’ll have two choices.  You can watch the entire program (95 minutes) OR you can skip to the monologue which is in the last five minutes of the program.  Here is the video link.

I highly recommend Darren LaCroix’s Humor Boot Camp, April 30 – May 2.  Spend a three-day weekend in Las Vegas at an energizing and entertaining event.  You’ll discover a funnier you!

Don’t miss the Patricia Fripp Public Speaking and Presentation Skills School, June 10 – 11, 2010, in Las Vegas.  She is a world-class speaking coach and the school is one of the best investments you can make.

Joke Writing Contest — Quirky Medications

Monday, February 1st, 2010

Our February Joke Contest theme is Quirky Medications.

New Joke Contests are announced on the first of the month, alternating months.

New Cartoon Caption Contests are announced on the first of the month, alternating months.  The next Cartoon Caption Contest is March 1, 2010.

For this month’s contest you are challenged to create names for new, non-existant medications and drugs.  Here are three examples:

Dramaflu:  Neutralizes the impact of drama queens.
Tetracycling:  Gives you the stamina to ride a bike for four hours.
Blowtox PM:  Eliminates the urge to be a late-night wind-bag.

Send your submissions to HumorPowerTips@HumorPower.com by February 14, 2010.  Your first three entries will be entered for our top-three recognition.