Archive for November, 2010

Writing a Blog or a Newsletter

Friday, November 26th, 2010

There are many good reasons to write a blog or a newsletter.

1.  Commitment.  Once you set your blog or newsletter in motion, you have deadlines to meet.  Whether it’s once a week or once a month, you have a target date which gives you a push to write an article.  I’ve written over 400 articles and posts the past five years.  Without the structured deadline of my blog and newsletter, that would have never happened.

2.  Stretch yourself.  It’s amazing how the stream of articles never ends. The first dozen or so come easily.  And then you “run out of ideas” to write about.  But that dry spell is only temporary.  You’ll probably amaze yourself with the creative new-article ideas that will come to you.  Some seem to come out of nowhere.  Some are an extension or re-write of an old article.  Some ideas are stimulated by your readers. 

3.  Flexibility.  Based on your creative flow or time availability, you can always change your editorial calendar…increasing or decreasing your writing commitment.  Last year I decided to cut back on my writing.  I went from two newsletters a month and a blog post every four days, to one newsletter a month and a blog post every seven days.  That is a reduction of about one article a week.  But the reduced schedule still gives me a challenge to keep creating new insights to share with readers.

4.  Easier than you think.  Learning to format and publish a blog is not difficult.  Like anything else, there is a learning curve.  Your first few posts will take a little more time than subsequent ones.  When I first started my newsletter, I managed my mailing lists manually.  When I hit 1600 subscribers, I switched to a hosted list service.  My subscriber list is now 5400.  If I had it to do over, I would have switched sooner.  The company that hosts my list is very affordable and provides great service.

5.  An investment.  In time, your efforts to produce a blog and newsletter will create a bank of articles which could be turned into a book.  I’ve written nearly 1500 pages of humor related articles.  It also gives you a data base for creating articles for print magazines and internet related publications.

6.  Networking.  The result of your efforts is good business and social connections.  I’ve made friends worldwide as a result of my writing. 

7.  Take action.  If you’ve been considering starting a blog or newsletter, why wait?  Today would be a great day to commit to putting your ideas to work to stimulate your creativity, build a network, and to share your knowledge with others.

Cartoon Caption Contest Results

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

It’s time for the top captions in our November Cartoon Caption Contest featuring the artwork of 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 will be announced on December 1, 2010.

Here are this month’s cartoon and the results:

** FIRST PLACE **

NO, Fido, NO! Eat the CAT! The CAT!
     Rich Hopkins, Denver, Colorado, USA

** SECOND PLACE **

Oh great!  Who’s going to feed us now that he’s eaten the owner?
     Ron DesGroseilliers Jr., Spring Lake, North Carolina, USA

** THIRD PLACE **

Such brutality makes me glad I’ve only got a 3 second memory.
     Les Harden, Brisbane, Australia

HONORABLE MENTION (in random order)

  – As long as he focuses on that fillet of sole, we’re ok!
  – Perhaps those, “JUST DO IT” commercials can be misleading!
  – …then he tosses them here, and we get blamed.
  – Wow and all this time I thought people were lying when they said my dog ate it.
  – I hope he’s decent enough to save that giant worm for US.
  – Remember “What Happens in Vegas…”
  – Is that a fillet of sole?
  – That’s just an appetizer…the main course is Ferragamos.
  – He’s a fussy eater, only chews the left shoe.
  – See, Goldie?  I told you fish-flavored shoe polish was a great idea.
  – It appears to be an obscure canine mating ritual.
  – Last week our plastic sunken pirate ship, today our master’s shoes.
  – Where do you think he hid the body?
  – No, I don’t think he’s using the shoe string for dental floss.
  – This will be interesting when the cat gets here, his mouse toy is in the shoe!
  – I think it’s funny when our owner leaves his cell phone in the shoe and then calls the dog!
  – He must be a chew-huahua.
  – That’s an alligator shoe…made from my cousin Vinnie!
  – Beats me, why they call him man’s best friend.
  – What did he do with the rest of the postman?

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

Observational Humor — Case Study #62

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

Here’s an analysis of another Observational Humor monologue.

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

1.  Jeffrey was a guest at the meeting.  When he was introduced he was congratulated for having the courage to sit in the front row.

2.  Ben Klink, our club president, arrived late and missed the opening part of the meeting.  Club officer Ryan Mulligan filled in for him.

3.  Speaker Al Jensen wore an extremely flashy coat.

4.  In that day’s news was the closure of the Liberace Museum.

5.  Speaker Barbel referred to the fact that 30 years ago “she was hot!”

6.  A speaker mentioned losing weight using ankle weights when going to bed.

THE MONOLOGUE

Jeffrey, I hope you enjoyed sitting in the front row.  It’s now time for the Observational Humor part of the meeting…so we’re ready to pass out the plastic sheets.
(The joke implies that the Observational Humor part of the meeting gets wild, like a Gallagher program.)

Ben, since you were late to the meeting…we gave you a Mulligan.
(Using a reference from golf where a person gets a second chance by taking a “mulligan.”)

Al Jensen’s wardrobe was made possible by this morning’s closing of the Liberace Museum.
(Al’s coat was an obvious target for humor.  Connecting it to the day’s news was effective.  Big laugh.)

Barbel, you and I should have met 30 years ago…when we were both hot.
(Self-deprecation.  Implies that I’m no longer hot.)

Going to bed with ankle weights is like sleeping with a Bar Bell.  Which is always good for losing two pounds.
(Use of name play and a sound-alike word, Bar Bell and Barbel.  The joke which proceeded it [thirty years ago] was part of the set up by using her name.  Huge laugh.  The laugh was so big, I forgot to deliver the topper.)

Physical Comedy

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

I attended a magician’s convention in October.  It opened with a panel of four, top comedy magicians which included Tom Mullica, famous for his Tom Foolery night club in Atlanta and his tribute to Red Skelton performed in Branson Missouri.  He said his favorite funny-man was George Carl.  Tom sent me a link of a George Carl performance on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.  It’s brilliant physical comedy.

When you watch a performance like this, it’s unlikely that you’ll be thinking, “How can I do a performance like that?”  The question to ask is, “Even though the performer’s style is unlike mine and is nothing I would want to totally adapt, how can I learn something that might be applicable to what I do?”

Here are a few things that stood out to me:

Use of music to enhance program.  He uses music throughout.  Notice how he uses music to open his set.  He uses it to announce his arrival.  The dignified fanfare sounds…then the vaudeville clown enters.  The contrast helps set the scene for comedy.  The drummer immediately goes into rim-shots to accent his performance.  Lesson learned:  A performer should explore the use of music to enhance his or her performance and message.  It might be singing a song.  It might be to set the tone for your entrance.  It might only be to engage the audience before you are introduced to speak, as part of your pre-performance package.

The power of physical movement.  Notice the impact of his facial expressions, his arm and hand gestures, his overall flexibility.  He uses physical gestures to respond to and connect to the audience.  We all have the ability to add just a degree more physicality to our own performances.

The implied punchline.  This is one of my favorite techniques.  Twice he looks at his watch and then continues the physical action on which he was focused.  The unspoken punchline is, “Have I killed enough time doing this yet?”  As a magician, I can see this type of gag working while shuffling cards.  Look at your watch.  Continue shuffling the cards.

What will you notice in George Carl’s performance that you could apply to your’s?  I’m sure you can identify at least one thing, and probably more.

Here’s the link to the video of George Carl on the Tonight Show.