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.)