Archive for January, 2011

Observational Humor — Case Study #65

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

This post features an analysis of another monologue delivered at the end of a Toastmasters meeting.

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

1.  The meeting was held on the Martin Luther King holiday.  The emcee of the program quoted large parts of King’s I Have A Dream speech.

2.  Frank, the emcee of the evening, had interviewed every speaker for the evening and asked them what was their dream.  He then introduced every speaker on the program and shared their dream.

3.  Normally the Observational Humor Master (me) is introduced by the Master Evaluator.  That evening the Master Evaluator passed control of the meeting back to the emcee without introducing me.  The emcee (Frank) kept the meeting moving by doing my introduction.  He wasn’t planning on doing that introduction, so he didn’t have “a dream” to share for me.

4.  Frank is an over-the-top funny person and a professional entertainer.

5.  Frank is one of my disc golf partners.  He almost always beats me.

6.  A speaker said his dream was to be a porn star.

7.  The word of the day for the meeting was CREED.  The grammarian shared the definition of the word and jokingly suggested that using the word of the day could make us sound more intelligent.

8.  A speaker said that her dream was to be taller.

9.  A speaker talked about future security, and suggested investing in silver.  And getting a gun.

10.  An evaluator noted that a speaker’s manual project suggested using a Rhetorical Device.  He jokingly admitted he didn’t know what that was.

11.  A speaker told of a place, Paragapolis Island, where all the inhabitants were men.  Her dream was to vacation there.

12.  The same speaker mentioned that she had a friend who easily attracted men.  She referred to her as a “boy magnet.”

13.  A speaker told us about a cabbage soup diet.  A negative feature about the diet was that it gave you gas.


Did you notice that I’m the only speaker on the program tonight who does not have a dream?
(At the last minute we realized that the Master Evaluator passed control of the meeting to the Emcee without introducing the Observational Humor Master.  I knew that the Emcee had not asked me what my dream was, and suspected that he might just make something up.  That he was going to introduce me took him by surprise and he did a great introduction but left out the part of telling people what my dream was.  I felt that the audience would “get” the fact that I wasn’t introduced with a “dream”…and they did.  Very good laugh.)

I actually do have a dream.  One day I’ll beat Frank in disc golf.
(Self-deprecation, admitting I usually lose when playing Frank in disc golf.)

And Frank has a dream…that one day he’ll be a CORN star.  Dreams do come true.
(Frank is a master of many forms of humor, including corny jokes.  Dreams do come true is a topper.)

Last week I joined a multi-level marketing program for a miracle wrinkle remover.  I have a cream!
(I played with a number of rhyme/sound-alikes for the word dream.  I considered using a LIST as a vehicle for creating the humor, but chose instead to use just the one item for CREAM.  Big laugh.)

The program is seriously about helping people.  We are not motivated by creed.
(Plays with a similar sounding word.  Also provides the setup for the next joke.)

I said that word so I’d sound intelligent.

How to be funny.
1.  Be tall.
2.  Get a gun.
3.  Use a rhetorical device.
(A list of three, each one being a call-back to a different part of the evening.  Good laughs for each item.)

For the women in the audience, before you rush out and buy your plane tickets to Paragapolis Island…realize that there is a reason why only men live there.  Boy magnets.
(Small laugh after Paragapolis Island as they anticipate the punchline.  Boy magnets line provides a strong topper.  Huge laugh.)

And finally, I need to point out a myth.  People have come to believe I sit in the back of the room to help me create humor.  The real reason I sit in the back of the room…cabbage soup.
(A long pause before delivering the punch words.  A huge laugh.)

Cartoon Caption Contest Results

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

It’s time for the results of our January Cartoon Caption Contest.  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 February 1, 2011.

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


As you can clearly see there’s no extra income for an allowance increase at this time.
     Sandy Kampner, Evergreen Park, Illinois, USA


Nice try Marsha, but this is a Spanish lesson.
     Les Harden, Brisbane, Australia


This is like a check book:  The bottom part is what you think you have, and the top part is what the bank says you have.
     Jim Nott, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

HONORABLE MENTION (in random order)

  – I don’t care if you are practicing Lawyer Billing. Give me the straight answer.
  – I’m really not a math teacher, I just play one on TV.
  – Only Congress is allowed to add things up like this!
  – Of course you’ll use this in real life.
  – What’s long division?  You didn’t bring your calculator?
  – An additional numerator gets you closer to completing your denominator.
  – It’s as easy as wearing color coordinated outfits.
  – This is the number of pounds I gained during the holidays this year…divided by how many days I have left to lose those pounds before next year’s holiday season.
  – It really depends how you look at it, doesn’t it?
  – Do what I always do with a toughie like that; first, roll up your sleeves…
  – Oh, I’d say it’s 0.98367346939.  Of course, that’s just an estimate.
  – Yes, it has to be a rational number.  What’s irrational is that you think I’d know it.
  – Long division doesn’t refer to the process, but rather, the face on its solver.
  – Add four more to the numerator and I think I can tackle it.
  – So try to visualize an example: Say you own 245 chickens, and they find 234 worms and then find 7 more; how many will each chicken eat if they are all sharing?

  – I’ll admit that Kindergarten Calculus can be a bit intimidating.
  – The answer is your new smart phone password.
  – The quadratic sum of the two numbers divided by the square root of the mean, subtracted by the exponential derivative and you would be right, HOWEVER in this case you are wrong!
  – It’s an imaginary number, like the amount of time you spend on math homework.
  – When you’re dealt five low cards you’ll always beat the dealer.
  – No, you can’t have multiple choice.
  – Even though your mother says, “women are always right,” it’s still wrong!
  – Of course boys think girl mathematicians are sexy.
  – That’s my phone number; it’s a party line.
  – Yes, that’s one way to write your phone number.
  – So, if you have 234 apples and you add 7 apples, and then you divide by 245 oranges, how many bananas do you have?

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 #64

Saturday, January 8th, 2011

In this case study we’ll look at building a monologue on a theme.

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

1.  A speaker quoted Shakespeare:  All the world’s a stage…and all the men and women merely players.

2.  I arrive early for the meeting so I can grab my regular back row seat, to the left of the stage.  For observational purposes, I find it valuable to have all the “action” in front of me.  If I were to sit in the middle of the room, some of the speakers, when speaking from their chairs, would be speaking behind me.  My selected chair also happens to be next to an open door which leads to a kitchen.  Before I’m introduced to lead the Observational Humor part of the meeting, I step into the kitchen and loosen up.

3.  A speaker told a well-used joke:  Always pick A.  And always pick B.  But never pick your nose.

4.  A member gave a speech about sports betting.  He talked about the importance of understanding the essentials of betting to give you an edge. “Before you place a bet…make sure you get it!”


(Note that observations in the SET-UP never occur, as the meeting unfolds, in the same order as the lines in the monologue.  What happens is that I notice a set-up opportunity.  Then I draft a first-cut effort at a humor line.  About eighty-percent of the way thru the meeting I start to look at my possible humor lines to see if I see a pattern.  I always try to give the monologue some meaningful structure or a theme, if possible.  In this case I saw potential lines that fell into the category of “tips for delivering Observational Humor.”  Here is the monologue segment that resulted.

All the world’s a stage…and all men and women merely humorists.
(Part of the set-up for this opening is that when I opened the floor to observational comments, about ten members contributed approximately 25 humorous observations.)

One of the keys to creating good observational humor is where you sit.  You’ve probably noticed that I always sit in the back corner of the room.
(This is not funny.  I’m using it as a set-up for an upcoming joke.  Some members are expecting every line in the monologue to be funny.  For them, a non-humorous line builds the tension that is set by the anticipation of the payoff.)

Here are three suggestions for being alert and selecting items for observational humor.
(Rule of three.  The first and second one are not funny, continuing to build tension.)

  – Pick something someone said.

  – Or pick something that someone did.

  – But most importantly…never pick my seat.
(Triggers for this joke are, first, a call back to the pick-a-nose joke, but freshening it with a different twist.  Second, it uses alternate word meanings.  In this case, there are TWO words with double meanings, making the joke richer.  PICK and SEAT both have alternate meanings.

And remember this…before you deliver a joke…make sure you get it!
(Common sense advice.  The humor is triggered by using a call back to a phrase which was used three or four times in a speaker’s speech.  The repetitive nature of the phrase was a factor in making it a strong setup.)

New Cartoon Caption Contest

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

It’s time for our Cartoon Caption Contest for the month of January.  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 February 1, 2011.

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 January 14, 2011, 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.