Archive for October, 2010

Cartoon Caption Contest

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

It’s time for our Cartoon Caption Contest for the month of November.  We feature the art of professional cartoonist Dan Rosandich.

New Cartoon Caption Contests are announced at the start of the month (alternating months).

New Joke Contests are announced at the start of the month (alternating months).  The next Joke Contest is December 1, 2010.

Here is the cartoon:

Write as many captions as you can.  Then select your best three captions and submit them.  You can submit more than three lines, the extra lines will be eligible for honorable mention.  Only your first three lines will be judged by our panel of judges for first, second and third place.

Select and submit your best entries by November 14, 2010, to

Visit cartoonist Dan Rosandich who has an extensive and in-depth archive of categorized cartoons and cartoon pictures available for licensing at negotiable fees.

Contest Results — Music On Hold

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

There were many great lines submitted this month.  The contest theme of Music On Hold was suggested by Sol Morrison from Santa Barbara.

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 caption contest is November 1, 2010.

Here are the top lines selected by our panel of ten judges (speakers and improv players).


Organ Donation Organization — Why Not Take All of Me
     Donna Oiland, Lake Forest Park, Washington, USA


Zoo — The Lion Sleeps Tonight
     D. Allen, Crofton, Maryland, USA


Escort Service — Are you Lonesome Tonight
     Les Harden, Brisbane, Australia

HONORABLE MENTION (in random order)

  – U.S. Postal Service — Return To Sender
  – NASA — Fly Me to the Moon
  – Mattress Store–Sweet Dreams
  – Road Breakdown Service — Long Lonely Highway
  – Apple Spokesperson — You say it best, when you say nothing at all
  – Funeral Home — Thriller
  – Eye Bank — I Only Have Eyes for You
  – Priest — Stairway to Heaven
  – Lindsey Lohan — Oops, I Did It Again
  – Wine Maker — I Heard it Through the Grape Vine
  – Astronomer — I Can See For Miles
  – Marriage Counselor — What’s Love Got To Do With It
  – Immigration Officer — Born in the USA
  – Cialis — I’ve Been Loving You Too Long
  – Electrician — When the Lights Go Down In The City
  – Manicurist — I Want To Hold Your Hand
  – Pet Shop — Who Let The Dogs Out
  – Mime College — The Sounds Of Silence
  – WNBA — Long Tall Sally
  – U.S. Postal Service — You Send Me
  – Preparation H — Burning Ring of Fire
  – City Psychiatric Hospital — Don’t Worry, Be Happy
  – K-9 Therapist — You Ain’t Nothing But a Hound Dog
  – Ford Dealer — Mustang Sally
  – Shoe Store — These Boots Are Made For Walkin’
  – Candy Store — Peppermint Twist
  – Hardware Store — If I Had a Hammer
  – Hair Salon — Hair
  – Mars Company — Sugar, Sugar
  – Carpet Store — Magic Carpet Ride
  – Airline — Jet Plane
  – Professor — Think
  – Traffic Court — One Fine Day
  – Subway — Holding Out For a Hero
  – Plastic Wrap Manufacturer — Glad All Over
  – Audiologist — Do You Hear What I Hear
  – NASA — Rocketman
  – Consolidated Edison — Electric Avenue
  – Oslo Lumber Yard — Norwegian Wood
  – Calendar Manufacturer — (Medley) Eight days a week; Monday, Monday; Last Date; Day After Day
  – The Vatican — Lady Madonna
  – Elmer’s Glue — Come together
  – 911 — Billy Don’t Be a Hero
  – Drummer — Beat It
  – Google Maps — Nowhere Man
  – Las Vegas Wedding Salon — Chapel of Love
  – Meteorologist — (Medley) Blowing In The Wind; Rainy Night  in Georgia; Get Off My Cloud
  – Adoption Agency — Mother and Child Reunion
  – Irish-Native American Association — Quinn the Eskimo
  – Bankrupt Circus College — Tears of a Clown
  – Optician — I Can See Clearly Now
  – Lumber Yard — If I Were a Carpenter
  – Portable Toilet Company — Big Bad John
  – Astronomer  — Here Comes the Sun
  – Tarot Card Reader — Do You Want to Know a Secret
  – Navy — Yellow Submarine
  – Pest Control Service — Another One Bites the Dust
  – Fabric Store — Chantilly Lace
  – CIA — Secret Agent Man
  – Burger King — Any Way You Want It
  – Crematorium — Ashes to Ashes
  – Egg farm — Lay Lady Lay
  – Moonshiner — In the Still of the Night
  – Realtor — This Land Is Your Land
  – Jewelry Store — Diamonds Are Forever
  – Dermatologist — I’ve Got You Under My Skin
  – Victoria’s Secret — Itsy Bitsy Yellow Polka Dot Bikini
  – Chimney Sweep — Light My Fire

Avoid Energy Zappers

Friday, October 15th, 2010

When it comes to humor delivery and getting good laughs, it’s important to avoid the energy zappers that could suck the energy right out of the room.

1.  Your attitude.  A negative or pessimistic attitude can sabotage your laughter.  Sometimes it’s easy to slip into a “negative expectation” mode.  If your first funny line bombs, a speaker may start interpret the inner motivations of the audience.  “They don’t like me.”  Negative thoughts attract negative results.  The solution is to always assume the audience is enjoying your program even if they aren’t showing it.   Perform now.  Critique later.

2.  Eye contact.  Lack of good eye contact is an energy zapper.  Great eye contact gives you a presence and a connection with the audience that is critical to your success.  Great eye contact completes the conversation loop.  A speech is never a monologue.  It’s always a two-way conversation.  The feedback you receive from the audience works to energize you.  Lack of eye contact drains energy from your presentation.

3.  Warm ups.  Failing to warm up your body and your voice can have negative consequences.  I remember watching Leo Cortez, one of our most experienced actors in my California improv troupe twelve years ago.  Before a show he would always walk around back stage waving his arms, stretching, humming, singing, massaging his face.  He had a regular warm up routine that prepared him for the performance.  Often, before I take the stage for a keynote speech, I use some group warm up exercises borrowed from improv theater.  I do them alone when I can find a private spot.  Before you speak, take a brisk walk, or do some jumping jacks!  Before I present an Observational Humor monologue at a Toastmasters meeting, I always step out of the back of the room first so that I can do some stretching.  I don’t want to be introduced while having sat in my chair for an hour.  Warm up before you speak…or you’ll warm up as you begin your speech.  Warm up in private…or you’ll warm up in front of your audience.

4.  The seating.  A bad seating arrangement can pull energy out of the room.  Tall centerpieces that block some audience members from seeing you is not good.  An aisle down the center of the room is not ideal.  A large gap between the first row of audience members and the platform on which you speak is not good.  Be proactive in setting up good seating for your listeners.  Don’t get in the habit of passively accepting the seating arrangement as it is.

5.  The lighting.  Poor lighting results in dim laughter.  The audience needs to see you and your facial expression.  And the audience needs to see each other.  It’s a myth that comedy plays best in a darkened room.   I much prefer a lit room.  I’m not talking about a blinding light, but enough light so that a listener can easily see others in the audience.   The contagious nature of laughter, and the energy, is magnified when the room is not dark.

6.  The sound.  Can they hear you?   It’s better to have a microphone when you don’t need it, than to not have one when you do need it.  It’s a major drain on the energy if they can’t hear you.  Avoid the temptation to think, “I’m OK without a microphone.  I’ll just shout my speech.”

7.  The venue.  Some performing conditions are better than others,  especially for presenting humor.  An indoor event is usually much better than outdoor event.  When you speak outdoors, energy is sucked up to the sky.  Likewise, speaking in a room with a very high ceiling, like an over-sized ballroom or warehouse, has the same energy draining effect.  Speaking in a padded room is not ideal.  For example, I presented 30 minutes of humor in an elegant lounge area lined with heavy drapes and filled with over-stuffed furniture.  It was not an ideal humor venue.  Padding absorbs energy.  If you have a part in selecting the venue, make good choices.  If you have no control in picking the venue, you may have the option of declining the speaking opportunity.

8.  Distractions.  Anything that pulls attention away from your humor is a zapper.  If the serving staff is bussing dishes during your talk…not good.  If a band is playing on the other side of the sliding wall divider…not good.  If you’re performing stand-up comedy in a room with people talking in the back of the room…well, you get the picture.  Be proactive to eliminate potential distractions before you take the platform.

Eliminate the energy zappers and you’ll increase the odds that your humor will connect and laughter will fill the room!

Observational Humor — Case Study #61

Friday, October 8th, 2010

Let’s look at some Observational Humor from a monologue at the end of a PowerHouse Pros Toastmaster meeting.

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

1.  A guest introduced herself to the club as Short, Fat and Adorable.

2.  A speaker used a math game to direct audience members to arrive at a “free choice” of DENMARK and ELEPHANT.

3.  A speaker said that when he was in Japan someone gave him a gift of 40,000 Yen.

4.  A speaker shared the insight that “Things happen for a reason.”

5.  Randy told us about a woman where he works who is really weird.  She’s looking for a man, and Randy said he would protect us.)

6.  The word of the day for the meeting was GOOMBA.  The grammarian took several minutes to introduce the word.

7.  In a speech on robots, a speaker referred to a Roomba, an automated vacuum cleaner.

8.  A speaker talked about asserting his masculinity and mentioned the TV series The Sopranos.

9.  A speaker shared a cheer used at a High School basketball game when he was younger.  “Lets Go!  Lets Go!  L-E-T-S-G-O!  Lets Go!”


My name is John Kinde.  I’m tall, skinny and adorable.  Well…two out of three isn’t bad.
(Self deprecation.  A punchline followed by a topper.  The topper, two out of three, implies that I’m not adorable…since it’s not debatable that I’m tall and skinny.  Although I prefer thin or slender, skinny is a funnier word choice.)

Take your age.  Multiply it by 27.  Now take the cube root of that number and add it to the weight of a Danish Elephant.  The next step is to wake up your neighbor.
(The-weight-of-a-Danish-Elephant is the first punchline.  And wake-up-your-neighbor is a topper.  You feel that the joke is over…and boom, down comes the topper.  As a good topper should, it received a bigger laugh than the line that set it up.)

I’ve travelled in Japan.  An interesting thing is their pay telephones.  I was making a call, and was interrupted by the operator who said:  “For the next three minutes…please deposit 40,000 yen.”
(It’s a funny way of saying “40,000 Yen isn’t as much as it sounds like.”  Which is true, but it IS more than $450 at today’s exchange rates, which is not pocket change.)

Things happen for a reason.  That’s a profound insight.  Like, when you tell a joke and nobody laughs…there’s a reason.
(A call back to a wisdom sound bite sets up a punchline which merely states the obvious.)

This past weekend I dated this really weird woman.  Then I found out she works with Randy.
(Dropping myself into someone else’s story.  I set up the fact that the woman was strange, then I linked her to Randy’s story.)

Let me conclude by answering some of your burning questions.
(Using the Answer Man format, giving the answer first and then providing the question.)

The first answer is:  A Goomba.
The question is:  What do you call a Roomba which is owned by a Gomer.
(Using a dated pop culture reference to Gomer Pyle, who played an unsophisticated country person on the Andy Griffith Show.  A GOMER is sometimes a slang term for rube.)

As a side note:  The word of the day for the next meeting will be Lutefisk.  It’s not related to Goomba…except that it also takes 5-7 minutes to explain what it is.
(I stepped away from the Answer Man vehicle for an aside on the Word of The Day.  Earlier in the meeting the introduction of the word of the day was noticeably long.  Normally it would be about 30 seconds.  That evening it was possibly three minutes.  I was guessing that it would be a good target of a joke.  And I was right.  It got a very big laugh.  I exaggerated by referring to a time frame of a typical speech at a Toastmasters meeting, 5-7 minutes.  Lutefisk is a Norwegian fish dish.  I just picked it as a random, obscure, funny-sounding word.)

The next answer is:  Become a soprano.
The question is:  What is an unlikely way to assert your masculinity.
(My intention was to refer to an alternate word meaning for soprano…a singing voice, usually female, in the high register.)

Well, the meeting is almost over so, Let’s Go, Let’s Go… L-E-T-S-G-O…Let’s Go!
(The cheer was a good way to close the monologue.)

New Joke Contest — Music On Hold

Friday, October 1st, 2010

The theme for this month’s contest, Music On Hold, was suggested by Sol Morrison from Santa Barbara.

New Joke Contests are announced at the start of the month (alternating months).

New Cartoon Caption Contests are announced at the start of the month (alternating months).  The next Cartoon Caption Contest will be announced November 1, 2010.

Your challenge this month is to name a company or business and then decide what would be the perfect “music on hold” for their voice mail system.

Here are some examples:

Plumber:  Cry Me a River.
Arrow Shirts:  I’m Too Sexy For My Shirt.
A dating agency to help women find men:  It’s Raining Men.
US Treasury Department:  Money, Money, Money.

Create as many lines as you can.  Your first three lines will be considered for Top-Three recognition.  Lines submitted beyond your first three will be eligible for Honorable Mention.  Please submit your entries by October 15, 2010.  Send them to