Archive for November, 2011

A Flash Mob

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

My friend Karen Lewison recently sent me a fun flash mob video.

Normally, a flash mob is a group which appears in a public place, seemingly out of nowhere.  They participate in an activity which usually entertains, amazes, surprises, raises curiosity, or confuses the spectators.  A good flash mob does not block access, interrupt commerce, break laws, or make people angry.  The activity is usually short and intended to be fun for everyone.

May 2, 2011, the Copenhagen Philharmonic amazed commuters at the Copenhagen Central Train Station, performing Ravel’s Bolero.  It’s more elaborate than your average flash mob, because they needed to bring their instruments.  Watch the reaction of the spectators.  To me, it falls into the “random act of kindness” category.  They add a bright spot to the day of total strangers.  Typical of many flash mobs, the activity starts small, with one person and then builds.  When it’s over, the mob pretends nothing happened and quickly dissolves into the crowd.

Some flash mobs involve dance routines, but most of them have an activity which is simple compared to the Copenhagen event.  I’ve never organized a flash mob nor participated in one, but there are sites online which can give you ideas on making a flash mob happen.  It looks like it would be fun.

Cartoon Caption Contest Results

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Here are the results of the November Cartoon Caption Contest, featuring the artwork 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 December 1, 2011.

Here is the cartoon:


First question:  What color is your wife’s dress?
     Tom Nee, Oak Lawn, Illinois


So, Helen, you’d also like him to wear blinders that limit his vision to just from the neck up?
      Gerald Fleischmann, Fountain Valley, California


And then we’ll remove the right side blinder and see if communication improves.
     Sandy Kampner, Evergreen Park, Illinois

HONORABLE MENTION (in random order)

  – Like a leg cast, Mr. Gander, we can remove them as soon as your eyes just “set” properly.
  – But now you say you’re having dreams of Susie wearing a saddle?
  – You seem to communicate well; your wife talks and you pretend to listen.
  – She says I never “focus” on our conversations.
  – Is everyone staring at me?
  – Please! Don’t give my wife any ideas.
  – Your wife complains that you have tunnel vision.
  – You really didn’t have to put those on here, Mr. John Doe.
  – No, Horace, I don’t think your chances of running at Santa Anita have improved.
  – And do you feel you’re making progress, Pony…I mean, Tony?
  – They automatically close during football season.
  – That’s not what I meant when I advised you to go straight.
  – Mr. Jones, you of all people should not accuse my of talking out of both sides of my mouth.
  – First we’ll try to cure his powder blue suit fetish.
  – As I was saying Fred…Fred, I’m over here.
  – Mr. Jones, I’ve got good news and bad news.  The bad news is we had to fire your marriage counselor for misconduct.  The good news is, the blinders he gave you work so well, you didn’t see he was having an affair with your wife.
  – Your blinders must be working.  I said bring your mistress, not your wife.
  – You just don’t see it, do you.

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 #74

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Here is the analysis of an Observational Humor monologue presented at the end of a Toastmasters meeting.

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

1.  Ryan announced that he would be stepping into the role of MC for the evening because Mary, the person scheduled for the job, could not attend the meeting due to family problems.

2.  A speaker talked about telling a story in the third person.

3.  A speaker ran overtime.  His evaluator suggested that, to save time, he could have dropped the part of the speech where he made side comments to David about his Physics speech the previous week.

4.  At the start of the meeting, the President pointed out where the restrooms were located.

5.  We were meeting for the second time in a new location.

6.  Directly behind the speaker was an office door.  It was room 318.  The room number was marked with a Post-It Note.

7.  The word of the day was Install.

8.  We used to meet at the US Bank Building next to Palace Station Casino.

9.  The walls of the room were covered with 100+ nail holes patched with white plaster which had not been painted over.

10.  In the front corner of the room, eight electrical sockets had been installed.

11.  Bill gave a speech about playing the clarinet.  Had three volunteers demonstrate the right way to blow on the reed.  There was a good amount of loud squawking and screeching.

12.  Bill’s speech ran a little overtime.

13.  Bill had three volunteers join him to demonstrate the proper technique for playing the clarinet.  He had one of them blow into the instrument while Bill pressed the keys to play a song.  His speech evaluator suggested that he could have collected the mouth pieces and reeds from the other two volunteers and sent them back to their seats, since they were just standing there watching with nothing to do.

13.  Bill used the Yiddish word KIBITZ.  His speech evaluator said that he didn’t know what that word meant.

14.  Frank, an accomplished piano player, was attending the meeting.

15.  A speaker presented a magic show/speech using a mind-reading goose.

16.  An audience member was asked to think of a number.  The goose predicted that he would think of NINE.

17.  Herman Cain, Republican presidential candidate, was currently promoting his tax plan called 9-9-9.

18.  I noticed that the evaluation portion of the meeting (which includes the Observational Humor segment and which takes about 20 minutes) was scheduled for 15 minutes on the printed agenda.

19.  We had three prepared speakers.  All three failed to meet either the minimum or maximum time limits for their speeches.


I almost didn’t make it here tonight.  I was having trouble with Mary’s family.  I was especially having trouble with the third person.
(I was playing with the absurd suggestion that Mary’s family had an impact on my getting to the meeting.  I was also “dropping myself into the story.”  Mary’s family was not about me…but I put myself into the story anyway.  The THIRD PERSON reference provided a good topper and got a very good laugh.)

We’re short on time tonight so I won’t use any filler material.  That’s a physics problem, isn’t it David?
(A good call-back as I modeled a behavior which had been criticized.  The  technique is MODELING THE FORBIDDEN.  Anytime someone suggests that something specific should not be done, doing it will often get a laugh.  I frequently use this technique.)

If you need to use the restroom, you’ll find it (gesturing out the window) at the US Bank building across from Palace Station.
(This was an absurd suggestion since the US Bank building was nearly ten miles away.)

This is Ryan’s office.  That’s where the restrooms really are…indoor plumbing.  In his office you’ll find the Install.  When it’s out of order you can go to the parking lot and use the Outstall.
(The OFFICE joke set up the INSTALL joke and the OUTSTALL topper.)

We introduced an innovation at last week’s meeting.  People who used too many AHs faced a firing squad.  I’m pleased to see that they patched the bullet holes.
(This joke came from Asking-The-Question.  The walls had been prepared for painting, the nail holes in the drywall had been patched.  I asked, what else could this be.  Also the element of “something everyone notices” makes it a good target for humor.  Then I made it relevant to the group by connecting it with counting-AHs.)

And I noticed that it looks like we’ve had sufficient wiring installed to hook up our electric chair.
(This follows the theme of innovations.  I also asked the question:  Why so many plug-in outlets?)

You probably noticed that there are no cats here.  The reason…clarinet lessons. 
(The cats set up the recall of the squeaky clarinets.)

Bill didn’t collect the reeds because he didn’t want to be accused of schlepping reeds.
(A great way to recall the reference to KIBITZ was to use another Yiddish word.)

Next week I’ll be playing the piano.  I’ll be standing behind the piano…Frank will be pressing the keys.
(This joke paints a funny picture.)

On weekends, Al rents out his mind-reading goose to Herman Cain.   Nine-nine-nine.
(I linked the random selection of NINE to something in the news.)

This building is in as time warp.  That explains why we’re able to schedule the Master Evaluator’s report, Evaluator one, Evaluator two, Evaluator three, The Ah counters report, the Gramarian, the Timer’s report, AND the Observational Humor, all in 15 minutes.  That’s also why our speeches appeared to be outside the time limits, but actually weren’t.
(This joke links two time-related observations with the concept of time warp.  Silly but it worked.)

Gov Perry’s Recovery With Humor

Friday, November 11th, 2011

What can we learn from Governor Rick Perry’s “brain freeze” during the last Republican debate?

1.  Don’t go into denial.  Gov Perry made the right choice of taking ownership of the mistake.  To deny a glaring error would have been a recipe for disaster. 

2.  Act quickly.  The next morning he appeared on several TV networks to say that he “stepped in it.”  Since everyone already knew that, admitting it was the right choice.  By being honest, the issue was more likely to be put behind him sooner.

3.  Can’t Beat Them…Join Them.  Knowing that the gaffe would be a hot topic on late night TV, Gov Perry arranged an appearance on David Letterman.  Better to have them laughing WITH you than laughing AT you.

4.  Know Your Strength.  Realizing that his off-the-cuff, impromptu speaking skills had its limits, he arranged to read Letterman’s Top Ten list.  He didn’t hang around to sit on the couch and chit chat.  Good choice.  He was able to show that he had a sense of humor, could poke fun at himself,  and avoided the one-on-one risk of looking bad during an interview.

5.  We’re All Human.  It was interesting that Letterman shared, in detail, a bad speaking experience which he had the night before, feeling that he bombed as a speaker at a dinner function.  It set a tone, moving into the Perry Top Ten segment, of “we’re all human and we all make mistakes,” which helped put everything in a more positive perspective.

6.  Me Too.  I had a similar “brain freeze” experience during a professional talk.  I said, “There are three ways to do XXX.  Number one is XXX.  Number two is XXX and number three is….”  And my mind went totally blank.  I had set up a need to fill a space for number three and I couldn’t remember what my third point was.  I immediately said, “It skips my mind right now, I’ll come back to it.”  I continued my talk, and of course number three popped into the back of my head right away.  I doubled back and covered item three.  Admitting to a blank mind IMMEDIATELY is better than the awkward choice of struggling to find the missing words while standing in front of the audience.  It quickly tells the audience, “I’m human.”  As a whole, the audience will be on your side, and most of them have had the same experience in their past.  It wasn’t the first nor the last time my mind has gone blank on the platform.

7.  Don’t Feel the Need to Make Noise.  There is no need for you to keep talking.  Pause briefly.  If the words don’t come, admit to the blank mind and press on.

8.  Overall, good choices by Gov Perry.  As to the long-term impact on his campaign, the jury is still out.

Add Humor to a Club Meeting — Five More Ways

Friday, November 11th, 2011

Five more ways to add Humor to your club meetings.

1.  Theme.  Every club meeting should have a theme.  It gives a structure for building humor, even if the theme itself isn’t humorous.  Structure is a critical humor building block.

2.  Build-A-Joke Session.  This might be an exercise where members practice the Rule-Of- Three.  Or they could be assigned two random words and be asked to create a joke using the two words, looking for a funny connection.

3.  An Opening Cheer.  The Laughing Matters club in Austin TX opens its meetings with a cheer:  “Welcome to Laughing Matters, where laughing really matters!”  A cheer can be a fun way to jump-start the meeting’s energy.

4.  New Role Titles.  Many humor clubs invent new titles for people responsible for agenda items.  For example, the Toastmaster of the Meeting may be called:  The Master of Ceremonies, The Emcee, or The Ringmaster.

5.  Incubator.  Joan Miller, Wit Pleasure Toastmasters in Calgary, shares a brainstorming technique:  We’ve added a new feature called Humor Incubator.  People bring portions of speeches they are working on and we help brainstorm and add humor.  Other times, for Humor Incubator, we split into groups, are given a topic, then brainstorm it into a humorous short speech to be given by one of the group members on that day.  This is like a group table topics but with a bit more preparation.

Try adding just one of these ideas to stimulate the positive energy of your club meetings.

Building on Success

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

Here are some thoughts on taking a thriving club and keeping the momentum.  These ideas come from members of successful Humor Specialty clubs.

Innovation.  When you have a successful club going…keep building on your success.  “Don’t be predictable!  Keep it interesting,” advises Kurt Penner, Comedy Club Eh! Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.  Experiment and try new ideas which fit into the club meeting format and support the goals of your club.

A Guest Magnet.  Generate so much positive energy and laughter at a meeting that guests will spread the word that your club meeting is THE place to be.  It’s also the best way to keep current members engaged and coming back.  Randy Garcez, HumorMasters, Anaheim, CA, shares that “we commonly have a guest speaker who educates us on a variety of humor topics, such as: How to create an original joke, incorporating magic into your speech, using humor in the workplace.”  A guest speaker is a great way to add a spark to your regular meetings and help ensure that guests will want to return.

Open House.  Create a special meeting to share value and showcase your club to the community.  Special workshops on adding humor to a speech, improv skills, or observational humor are popular.  It’s a strategic way to recruit new members.  Promote the event well.  Try to have a full-house, standing room only.  Success builds on success.

Joint Meetings.  Invite another club to join your club meeting or commit your members to travel to another club’s meeting.  The larger audience energizes the laughter at the meeting and spreads the word about both clubs.  Most of the meetings of Comedy Club Eh! are joint meetings.  They call themselves the only Travelling Comedy Toastmasters Club in Canada!

Field Trips.  Take your club to a non-Toastmasters event which relates to humor. Visit a comedy club.  Perform on an Open-Mike stage.  Attend an improv workshop.  Go to a funny movie.  After the event, meet for coffee or dessert and discuss what you learned about humor.


If your local area doesn’t have a Humor Specialty Club, and you wish it did, you’re the ideal person to start laying the foundation for a new club.  Talk it up.  Start building a list of humor-minded people.  Develop a strong structure that adds value and fun to a member’s life.  And when you get a good thing going…maintain the energy to keep it thriving.  You’ll become a more powerful speaker and you’ll enrich your life.

New Cartoon Caption Contest

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

It’s time for our Cartoon Caption Contest for the month of November.  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 December 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, and your city/state/country, by November 15, 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.