Observational Humor — Case Study #51

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.”


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.