Archive for April, 2012

Observational Humor — Case Study #80

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Here is another Observational Humor monologue presented at the end of a meeting:

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

1.  I was introduced by the General Evaluator.

2.  While delivering impromptu speech topics, two members role-played as Superman and Batman.

3.  In his speech, Scott named two mentors.  Bill was one.  I was one.  He said that Bill was tough on him.

4.  I’m normally casually dressed when I attend meetings.  That night, Ryan was very casually dressed…shorts, TShirt, sandals.

5.  A speaker talked about family names and what a translation of a family name said about a person’s ancestors.

6.  Greg gave a humorous speech about relationships.  He talked about his wife and ex-wives.  He talked about meeting a woman who had features he was not normally attracted to.  He talked about meeting a woman with a deep voice.


Mr General Evaluator, Superman, Batman…I am the Joker…and it’s time for Observational Humor.
(As the assigned leader of Observational Humor for the meeting, it allowed me to do a couple of character call-backs and link it to a character for myself, the Joker, which fit my role as Observational Humor Master.  It served as a good transition to the humor part of our meeting.)

Scott…hit the floor for 50 push-ups.  And you thought Bill was tough on you.
(Role reversal placed me as the tough mentor.  Good laugh.)

I’d like to thank Ryan for making me feel over-dressed.
(Almost a running gag.  I’m frequently doing self-deprecation at the informal way I dress.  So it was a reversal pointing out that Ryan was more casually dressed than I was.  From a humor standpoint, it was a double-plus that he was our club President and that he was well liked.  You normally have more permission to poke fun at authority figures.  And roast-like lines play best when directed at popular people.)

My family name suggests that my ancestors were Kind.
(Weakest line of the monologue.)

I met an attractive woman at the store today:
  – She was short.  I’m normally attracted to tall women.
  – She was a brunette.  I’m normally attracted to red heads.
  – She had a deep voice.  I’m not normally attracted to Greg’s wives.
(Very strong closing line using the Rule-of-Three.  When Greg mentioned the deep-voiced woman he got a big laugh, so that provided a trigger for my joke suggesting that he married deep-voiced women.  Very big laugh.)

Joke Contest Results — Reality TV

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

Here are the results of our April contest–Reality TV Shows We Don’t Want to See.  The winners were selected by our panel of seven 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, 2012.
Here are this month’s top lines:


Cat Whisperer:  Contenders try convincing felines to do anything at all on command.
     Gerald Fleischmann, Fountain Valley, California


Are You Smarter than a Road Grader?  Man vs machine.
     Marty Bernstein, Oak Park, Illinois


The Applicant:  Watch people fill out application forms.
     David Novick, Dayton, Ohio

HONORABLE MENTION (In random order)

  – A-Maize-In Race:  Farmers are timed making their way thru a cornfield.
  – CROPS:  Whatcha gonna chew–whatcha gonna chew when they come for you.
  – Fair Factor:  4H Team Swine goes head-to-head against Team Dairy Cattle.
  – Real House-husbands of Omaha:  The unvarnished stories of the mister- Moms of the Midwest.
  – Judge Booty:  Legal dominatrix punishes and rewards plaintiffs and defendants with serious spanks.
  – Beverly Hills approximately 90210:  Starlets try to guess their own zip code.
  – America’s Next Top Depilatory:  Watch contestants get rid of unwanted facial hair.
  – The Real World of Keeping up with the Kardashians in Big Brother’s Queer Eye for the Straight Bachelor’s Simple Life.
  – America’s Next Top Model Prisoner : Trya Bankjob hosts while 14 hopefuls vie for the title.
  – Spell’s Kitchen: A favorite at Hogwarts.
  – Vegas, With No Money:  Contestants spend a week in Vegas, with no money.
  – The Biggest Hoosier:  Weight loss competition in Indiana.
  – Dance Fiver:  America’s best dancers compete for $5.00.
  – Fear Factory:  Who can survive the assembly line for 8 hours plus 2 hours of overtime?
  – Last Comic Writing:  Who will take first place in the Humor Power contest?
  – Feel or No Feel:  A firewalking competition.
  – Satisfactory Makeover:  Watch as dowdy women are transformed into less dowdy women.
  – Family Plotz:  America’s funniest funerals on tape.
  – Jon and Katy plus Eighty: The daily life of what may be the most prolific couple in the world and their four-score kids.
  – Myth Boosters:  Two scientists visit ancient sites trying to prove the existence of various Greek and Roman gods, thus angering the Persian and African gods.
  – American Pickles:  Two gherkin experts scour the Midwestern U.S. for the best pickle.
  – Iditarod Truckers:  Reality show featuring big rigs traveling through the wilds of Alaska, being pulled by hundreds of huskies.
  – Hell’s Bathroom:  Really angry janitor lords it over contestants trying to get the cleanest porcelain appliances.
  – Wide World of Shorts:  Visits to different beach resorts run by Over Eaters Anonymous.
  – The Hunger Games:  Young female contestants try to reach size 0.
  – The Sloth Whisperer:  Tune in next month for another exciting episode.
  – Extreme Makeover–Kardashian Edition:  Hey, this one is already cancelled.
  – Catch It And You Keep It:  Major appliances are tossed from the roof of a 10-story building to contestants below.
  – The Unger Games:  Contestants try to act as obnoxious as neat freak Felix Unger.
  – Dancing With The Scars:  Accident-prone dancers try again.
  – CROPS:  Following the exciting lives of  Wheat farmers in Kansas.  Featuring the hit single Farm Boys (Farm Boys, Farm Boys.  Whatcha gonna do.  Whatcha gonna do when the Combine’s down).
  – The Amazing Race To Witch Mountain:  The losing teams get abducted by aliens.
  – Amazing Face:  Six two-person teams, each with one ugly person and one cosmetic surgeon, race to make the most beautiful improvement.  Prizes for fastest cut-up, and most weight lost.
  – Answer Men:  Who can provide the most accurate answer to “will that tree fall on me?”
  – America’s Got Talon:  Search for the best impersonator of birds of prey.
  – The Trulywed Game:  Couples married for 20 years or more compete for prizes like all expense paid trips, cars and divorces.
  – Keeping Up With the Cardigans:  Daily adventures of young, sweater-wearing ladies who are famous for being famous.
  – The People’s Skirt:  Judge Wapner decides whose skirt is too short.
  – The App Apprentice:  Amateurs compete to devise the best new smart phone tools.
  – Ready For Viewing:  Morticians compete to see who can create the most lifelike viewing.

It’s Hard to Be Funny

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

Comedy DVDs are usually a recording of a comedian’s stand-up comedy routine.   An album that’s been out for about ten years is very different from most.  It’s called Comedian featuring Jerry Seinfeld.  Rather than focusing on a comedy routine, most of the documentary features behind-the-scenes insights into the physical and psychological effort it takes to develop a stand-up comedy routine. 

If you’ve watched it before, it’s worth a second viewing.

The show includes conversations with:  Jay Leno, Robert Klein, Bill Cosby, George Shapiro, Ray Romano, Chris Rock, Garry Shandling, and others.  Also featured on the disc is the developing comedy career of Orny Adams.

There is a lot to learn from the experience of others:

  – People who are great at doing something have a compulsion to do it.
  – If you have a reputation for being funny, the audience will give you a break, for awhile.  Then you have to BE funny.
  – It shows how difficult it is to develop new material.  “It’s quite painful.”  The pros make it look easy, but it’s hard work.
  – Opening with untested material is a mistake typically made by a rookie.
  – The audience has never written a joke, yet they’re the judge of whether or not your humor is funny.
  – Get stage time.  It’s your job.
  – If you’re bad you can blame the audience.  Or you can make no excuses.  “I just wasn’t good.”
  – The experiences of performing on late-night TV talk shows is valuable watching.
  – Often we are our hardest critic.  “I focus on the tiny mistakes.”
  – The show helps you appreciate the physical effort required to do a 45 minute comedy performance.

I highly recommend you rent or buy this video.  What I have shared in this short review is the tip of the iceberg.  There is so much to learn from the hard-earned experience of the professionals who have paid the price to “make it look easy.”   Comedy skill is not a gift from heaven.  They worked for it.

Observational Humor — Case Study #79

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

 Here is another Observational Humor monologue.  First I’ll provide the set-ups for the jokes, and then an analysis of what makes the jokes work.

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

1.  A scheduled speaker arrived at the meeting unprepared to give his speech.   They asked him to give it anyway.  It was introduced as an off-the-cuff speech.

2.  The theme of the meeting was:  Politics As Usual.

3.  The first three speeches were touching stories that brought tears to the eye.

4.  A blonde member joked about the stereotype of blondes not being too bright.

5.  The emcee of the evening shared a list of how different political groups would handle the situation of having only two cows.  For example:  A Bureaucratic Government would take both your cows, shoot one of them, milk the other, pour half the milk down the drain, and sell the rest of it at triple the price.

6.  Ryan said that he supported Ron Paul for President.

7.  Someone suggested in jest that we need a third party, like the Pot Party.

8.  The General Evaluator (who evaluates the conduct of the entire meeting) said that he was “going to evaluate the meeting as a whole.”


I have no Observational Humor tonight.  But they insisted that I present some anyway.
(Nice opener.  Good laugh.  Switched giving an unprepared speech to giving unprepared Observational Humor; which was not true, because I had prepared a monologue.  I just claimed to be unprepared for the sake of the joke.)

This is the Observational Humor section of the meeting.  Also known as Humor-As-Usual.
(Not a strong joke.  I considered deleting it, but left it in because is tied nicely into the flow of the monologue, supporting the other jokes.)

In keeping with the flow of tonight’s meeting, you will be required to present humor that makes us cry.
(Good call back.  Very good laugh.)

For the benefit of blondes in the audience…that was a joke.
(A safe joke because a blonde had provided the set up.  Big laugh.)

If a humorist had two cows…he would buy one more.  Because 3 is a funnier number than 2.
(Good laugh after TWO COWS.  Slight pause before punchline.  Good laughter after THAN 2.)

Ryan has something in common with President Obama.  They’re both hoping that the Republican nomination goes to Ron Paul.
(First sentence builds anticipation, a form of tension, which magnifies the humor.   The punchline links two different reasons for wanting Ron Paul to receive the nomination.  One reason is to make him President.  The other reason is to give Obama a second term.  The reasons are implied, letting the listener connect the dots.)

If we had a Pot Party…that would lead to the Crack Party…which would lead to the Crack-Pot Party.  And we come full circle.
(Crack Party received moderate laugh.  Crack-Pot Party received bigger laugh.  Full Circle received biggest laugh.  Joke/Topper/Topper.)

If I keep talking I’m going to dig myself a hole.  But that would be in keeping with tonight’s meeting.  The General Evaluator said that he evaluated the meeting as a whole.
(Joke/Topper.  Very good laugh.  Plays with the sound-a-likes hole/whole.  A good closer.)

New Joke Contest–Reality TV Shows

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

The theme for this month’s Joke Contest is:  Reality TV Shows We Don’t Want to See. 

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 caption contest is May 1, 2012.

The Reality Shows, which you make up, could include competition type shows like the Amazing Race.  Or 24/7 camera shows which pretend to document “real life”…like Wife Swap.  Not included would be scripted Sit-Com or Drama Shows.

Here are some examples of what you might come up with:

Dancing with the Cars
Contestants tango across a busy street dodging traffic.

A Spinet to Win It
Contestants take apart and then re-assemble a piano while blindfolded.

Campaign Survivor
Winner-take-all debate format where politicians write their answers on an Etch-A-Sketch.

Write as many humor lines as you can.  Then select your best lines and submit them.  If you submit more than three, the extra lines will be eligible for honorable mention.  Only your first three will be evaluated by our panel of judges for first, second and third place.

Select and submit your best entries, and your city/state/country, by April  15, 2012, to