Archive for April, 2011

Facial Expression

Monday, April 25th, 2011

What does public speaking, sign language for the deaf, dancing and singing have in common?  When you receive training in any of these, you’ll be taught the importance of facial expression.

Public speakers know the importance of showing what you mean through gestures and facial expression.  Of course this is easier said than done.  I am not a master of expressiveness.  Because I need help, I stretched myself taking some classes out of my comfort zone.

Sign language for the deaf is a VERY expressive language.  It’s not just words and symbols created with the hands.  Watch a master at sign language and you’ll see their face in action.  It’s a great lesson.  Better yet, take sign language lessons…from a deaf person.  I did that when I lived in Omaha.

Dance lessons, such as Jazz Dance, come with coaching to help you express your emotions on the dance floor.  The instructor wants you to LOOK like you’re having fun…even if you’re stressed out trying to remember the dance moves.  A valuable class I took was Dance Performance Skills.  The focus of the class was not a specific dance style, but rather a study of how you look while you’re performing on stage.  Very eye-opening.

Singing.  A speech coach in Canada recommended taking singing lessons to improve your speaking.  It will improve the quality of your voice and your breathing.  But it will also improve your expressiveness.  I sang with a barbershop chorus for eight years.  Performance skills and facial expression are a high priority when you’re singing.  I recently watched a series of videos of the Westminster Chorus.  They are the 2010 International Chorus Champion.  Watch their faces as they sing.  They’re not just singing.  They are performing and showing emotion.  Also consider the power of energy, focus, preparation and commitment to excellence.  You will be amazed.
Westminster Chorus video (study their faces)
Westminster Chorus another video (International Competition performance–Wow!)

Joke Contest Results — Classic TV Updated

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

Here are the results from our April contest — Classic TV Updated.  The top three entries were selected by a panel of eight judges (speakers and improv players).

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 May 1, 2011.


Starshrek–With a five year mission to go where no ogre has gone before.
     Marty Bernstein, Oak Park, Illinois


Southern Exposure–Young doctor does his internship in a nudist camp.
     Gerald Fleischmann, Fountain Valley, California


Who Wants To Be A Billionaire
     D. Allen, Crofton, Maryland

HONORABLE MENTION (in random order)

  – M*U*S*H–A raucous compilation of the funniest hijinks that happened during the Korean War.
  – Howdy Dooit–In this detective thriller, our hero pulls all the strings.
  – The Paper Chaise–Follow the whirlwind lives of Origami students.
  – The Mild Mild West–This private investigator team prefers to beat their villains with time outs and tough love.
  – Leave it to the Beverly Hill St. Blues–The logical result of program fusion.
  – The Frying Nun–Gourmets genuflect over the convent’s cookery.
  – Murder She Rote–Weekly original mystery stories that totally engross the viewer while following the same, stodgy formula.
  – Bananza–Life with a cowboy family on a tropical plantation.
  – Watch Mr. Blizzard–He just loves to snow the kids with science.
  – Have Gum, Will Travel–It’s BlackJack for this gunslinger, Palate-in.
  – They Call Me MISTER Rogers–Mild-mannered nice guy brings law and order to a really tough neighborhood.
  – The Frying Nun–Grounded for buzzing the convent, our heroine soars to new heights as a culinary convert.
  – S*M*A*S*H – Horrific surgical accidents caught on film.
  – The Ozzie Divorced Harriet and Married Sharon Show–Proving once again that there is no perfect family.
  – Welcome Back Carter–Our greatest living ex-president re-enters the presidential race on the Habitat for Humanity platform.
  – Green Acres–Follow the adventures of medicinal marijuana growers.
  – The Waltons–Sam Walton rises from the grave to throw out all foreign-made Wal-Mart products.
  – Gilligan’s Survivor Island–Tempers run high as America’s favorite castaways plot and conspire against each other.
  – Three’s Company–A guy lives with three females.  So What?
  – The Gong Show Idol–No annoying voting, just a lot of gong banging
  – The Honeymooners on Gilligan’s Island–The Royal misadventures of Prince William and Kate.
  – The Sopranos–An American Idol spinoff for opera singers only.
  – Rat Patrol–Adorable cartoon rodents live and love beneath the streets of New York City.
  – Fantasy Island–A comedy where people think they can afford to pay for gas in their vehicle.
  – Howahya  Five-O: A group of Friends who loved being 30 and then 40 somethings, now deal with the reality of 50 staring them in the face. Sponsored by Viagra, Activa and Lipitor.
  – Prince of  Dead-Air–The biographical story about the VP of Cellular service for AT&T and his comical attempts to give better cellular coverage.
  – Saturday Night Live–In real time, on your Google Machine.
  – I Team–Creating and exploring new worlds with Apple Products.
  – My Three Sons–Back Home Again.
  – The ADD Couple
  – Get Smartphone
  – Facebook The Nation
  – Make Room for Diddy
  – Leave it to Boehner
  – My Eight Sons–Starring Kate Gosselin.
  – The Muensters–Updated, but still cheesy.
  – Master Ed–About a horse who is a martial arts teacher.
  – The Bob Oldhart Show
  – Chocolate CHiPS–Starring Mrs. Fields.
  – Miami Vise Grips–A series about criminal handymen.
  – Don Knotts Landing–Celebrating two classic shows.
  – Doobie Houser, not MD
  – All My Grandchildren
  – Live Broadcast of the U.S. Congress, formerly The Twilight Zone.
  – 30 Rock From The Sun
  – Leave It To Tweeter
  – I’ve Got Victoria’s Secret
  – What’s My Link?
  – Wonder Woman–Juggling Family & Career and Still Looking Good.
  – The Cosby Show–Now takes place in an old folks home.

Game Time

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Jeremy Webster, a talented member of our Las Vegas improv troupe, is a Game Master.  He has dozens of fun games and we can always count on him to add a spark to a party.  The right game is a sure-fire way to add laughter to an event.  I asked him what are some of his favorite games.   Here are a few, along with his comments:
1.  Mad Gab:  Great for wordy people and people who are good listeners.  (John’s note:  An easy-to-play game around a dinner table at a restaurant.  We played it at Applebee’s after an improv show.  It’s a cryptic, phoenetic, phrase-pronunciation game.  Not easy to describe, but fun to play.  It’s easy to play the game sprinkled around dinner conversation, ordering, serving and eating.  We just pass the deck around, no winners, no losers.)

2.  Liar’s Dice:  Learned it from Pirates of the Carribean second movie…har, har, harr!

3.  Catch Phrase:  Get people to say the word on the card.  Interesting to see how they get people to arrive at the answer.

4.  Cranium (Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, Acting, Charades, drawing, sculpting, word smithing.  Uses many different intelligences.  Great party game.

Thanks to Jeremy for sharing.

Using Humor From the Platform

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

I enjoyed a tele-seminar by Brad Montgomery today.  He shared many excellent, practical tips for using humor from the platform.  Brad is a successful professional speaker, a funny guy, and a great teacher.  Here are a few of his suggestions:

1.  The main goal when using humor is not getting laughs; the goal is making a connection with the audience.

2.  If you wonder if you’re crossing the line of good taste, you’re too close to the line.  If you can even see the line, you’re totally in the wrong neighborhood.

3.  Borderline material which may be OK in the moment, two weeks later will cause you problems because people won’t remember the context.

4.  Brad talked about how it can be difficult using humor during a period of crisis.  He suggests getting permission from the audience to use humor.  “It seems strange that we’ll be laughing.  Would it be OK to take a break and laugh a little, knowing that it means no disrespect to the current situation?”

5.  When delivering some off-color humor used by professions that deal with stress:  “I’ve heard some of your jokes…but that’s how you survive, isn’t it?”  In preparation for the program to a medical audience, ask some key people:  “What are some things you’d say to each other that you wouldn’t say to a patient.”  You’ll tap into some of the humor they use as a coping tool.

Here’s a link for humor resources.

And here’s Brad’s web site.

New Joke Contest — Classic TV Updated

Friday, April 1st, 2011

The April Joke Contest is called:  Classic TV Updated.

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 May 1, 2011.

Your challenge for Classic TV Updated is to take an old TV show which is no longer in production and bring it up-to-date.  You can do this by changing the name slightly.  Or you could add a sub-title or short TV Guide type description.  Or re-cast the show.  Or some other variation.  Here is an example:

The Beverly Hillbullies
The cast of 90210 learns that “It gets better.”

See what you can come up with.  Submit your top three lines to by April 15, 2011.  To be eligible for our top three recognition, also submit your Name, City and State.