Observational Humor — Case Study #64

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.)