Archive for July, 2012

New Joke Contest — There Ought to Be a Law

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

The theme for the August Joke Contest is:  There ought to be a law.

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 September 1, 2012.

Your challenge this month is to create a law that does not exist, and then define it.  Here are some examples:

Balanced Budget Law.  The first money to cover deficit spending comes from the salaries and retirement funds of law makers.

No 15-minutes of Fame Law.  When someone commits a crime, it is against the law to print or broadcast their name or picture.

Crime Reduction Law.  All law enforcement agencies are assigned to patrol adult movie theaters.

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 August 15, 2012, to HumorPowerTips@HumorPower.com

What’s Funny When Nothing Is Happening?

Friday, July 27th, 2012

We had a challenging cartoon for the July caption contest.  It was a simple drawing of a man and a woman standing next to a window.  Often a cartoon will have a built-in twist which will be the obvious center-point of the humorous caption.  But in this case the cartoon did not offer something that shouted funny.

Here’s the cartoon:

It can be challenging to make something out of nothing.  Frustration can lead to captions like:

  – I can’t think of anything funny to say, how about you?
  – It’s a slow day at work.  Nothing’s happening.
  – Don’t you love having a job where you can just stand around?

Let’s look at some techniques which will help point your writing to something funny:

1.  Ask “what happened just before this scene?”  Any frame is part of a bigger scene.  Something happened before, and something is going to happen after the moment depicted in the frame.  Ask, where did they come from?  Where are they going?  It doesn’t have to be something immediately before or after the scene.  The man could say:  “I didn’t get the promotion this morning, but the fun I had at the party last night was worth it.”

2.  What is the relationship between the two people?  That question can lead to something meaningful which is not immediately drawn into the cartoon.  Are they boss and employee?  Husband and wife?  Sales person and customer?  The woman might say:  “You’re right.  The morning staff meeting was probably the wrong place to serve the divorce papers.”

3.  Where are they?  It looks like a scene at an office because they’re dressed in suits.  But they could be in a library or somewhere else.  If you were thinking “in an office,” that gives you the vehicle for listing “things that are said or that happen in an office.”  Layoffs, sexual-harassment, office politics and more.  You can probably come up with a dozen things on your list.

4.  Dig deeper.  Look for the smaller details.  Many of our contest entries focused on the suits they were wearing.  The woman’s earring.  The woman’s glasses.  How about the birds?  The man could say:  “I didn’t know you shopped at the Men’s Warehouse too?”

5.  Current events or topical humor.  What’s happening in the day’s headlines?  They could be chatting about what they saw on the morning news.  The winning caption did that:  “Is it a tax or a penalty?  That depends on what your definition of “is” is.”  That kind of caption could be used it they were sitting at a restaurant. Or at a bus stop.  It’s not very specific to the moment in the cartoon.  But if you’re stuck and think “nothing’s happening,” it can provide you water-cooler conversation which can work nicely. 

6.  Combine techniques:  The third-place caption was:  “Of course, I can ask you out. The Supreme Court just ruled individual man dates as constitutional.”  That deals with the relationship between the two people.  And it taps into current events humor.  That’s a richer joke than one just using topical humor because it adds the texture of a relationship.

When you have some techniques in your humor tool box, it makes it easier to create something out of nothing.  But always remember that in any scene “nothing” is never happening.  That frame of reference help point you toward something funny.

Click here for the top entries in the caption contest.

Cartoon Caption Contest Results

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

It’s time for the results of our July Cartoon Caption Contest.  We feature the artwork of professional cartoonist Dan Rosandich.  The top lines were selected by our panel of judges (speakers and improv players).

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 August 1, 2012.

Here are the top captions for this month’s contest:

** FIRST PLACE **

Is it a tax or a penalty?  That depends on what your definition of “is” is.
     Terry Wall, Washington Township, New Jersey

** SECOND PLACE **

In 15 minutes I’m appearing before the Corporate Ethics Committee; would you happen to have a copy of the questions I’ll be asked?
     Scott Tredwell, Advance, North Carolina

** THIRD PLACE **

Of course, I can ask you out. The Supreme Court just ruled individual man dates as constitutional.
     Ron DesGroseilliers Jr., Spring Lake, North Carolina

 HONORABLE MENTION (in random order)

  – Oh, no…nothing personal!  I just said I liked your double breasted suit!
  – You’re concerned about breaking through the glass ceiling…I’m considering hurling myself through the glass window.
  – I’m scheduled for a review by IT Security.  Have you seen my laptop?
  – Quite honestly, Fred, I think you should get the operation.
  – I sure hope this “Dress Like A Mortician Day” does NOT catch on.
  – I can’t believe they told us to go home and change into something more Hawaiiany. Working for an internet startup sure will be a change.
  – You want a divorce just because I didn’t notice your new glasses?
  – How about that drink you’ve been turning down for the last five years?
  – OK, tomorrow I’ll be the assistant and you can be the Chairperson.
  – How crazy is that?  We both wore the same color suit today.
  – If you’re right, I’ll wear your earrings for a week.
  – The boss says that this hostile takeover needs a woman’s touch
  – It’s true that the boss called you Sweetie, but don’t take offense.  He says that to all the girls.
  – I agree that posing in bathing suits for the company’s holiday greeting card is ridiculous, but I guarantee that you will look better than me.
  – I know the boss called you a paralegal instead of a lawyer, but I wouldn’t make a Federal Case out of it.
  – I also don’t want to stand on a street corner in a clown costume, but someone has to get the word out.
  – OK, so there’s no meteor on collision course with the earth.
  – Who knew being the employee of the month doesn’t entitle you to sit on the CEO’s lap.
  – You think it’s big now, you should have seen it BEFORE the nose job.
  – I’m telling you, I just saw Spiderman out the window, with Captain America!
  – We went camping over the weekend. All the wood was wet, so I had to use hard copies of the Humor Power blog for Kinde-ling!
  – So I was supposed to do Observational Humor at today’s Toastmaster’s meeting. There was nothing funny to observe!
  – I asked him what was wrong with my writing. He said, “I can’t explain that, but I’ll recognize when it’s good!”

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 #84

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

Here’s another Observational Humor monologue and an analysis of what makes the humor work.

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

1.  The club had five guests that evening.

2.  The President announced that we would be serving cake at the end of the meeting.

3.  A speaker talked about wine.  He suggested that we might have wine with the cake.

4.  The Word Of The Day was LOOKISM:  Defined as prejudice or discrimination based on physical appearance.

5.  An impromptu speech subject (called Table Topics) was to describe what it took to be a good Sergeant At Arms.  The speaker said “a hook,” so that he/she could remove speakers who spoke too long.

6.  Our club President had the habit of making opening announcements usine a small slip of paper.  An evaluator suggested that he would be more effective if he went without notes.

7.  Club President Ryan has, on several occasions, announced the wrong date for an event.

8.  A speaker said that a great speech is often opened with a question.

9.  I was given an impromptu speech topic.  That rarely happens because I am usually assigned to lead the Observational Humor part of the program.  Table Topics are normally given to members who are not assigned major roles during the meeting.

10.  The Table Topics Master asked the audience, “How many people are petrified that the Table Topics Master will call on you?”

11.  A speaker jokingly mentioned that he watched a TV show he wouldn’t normally watch, “but nothing else was on.”

12.  The night before the meeting, the Miss USA Pageant was broadcast on a major TV network.

THE MONOLOGUE

Welcome to our guests tonight.  We are PowerHouse Pros, also known as “the club where you can have your cake and eat it too.”
(Linked the announcement of refreshments to a cliche.)

And tonight we’re serving wine…at the end of the meeting.  We serve no wine before its time.
(Linked the mention of serving wine to a cliche.)

Our club practices Lookism.  We only permit the attendance of good looking guests.  Checking out the room tonight, I’d say we’ve been very successful.
(I call this an Ahhhhh-Joke.  That is a joke form that contains a soft compliment to a person or a group which might otherwise be a target for a joke.  The audience response to this form of a joke is to think “Ahhhh, how sweet!”  It’s a form I often use in a Roast monologue.  After hitting a person or group with a couple of zingers, I slip in an Ahhhh-Joke to soften the sting.  An Ahhhh-Joke can be ideal as a monologue closer.)

Tonight I was reminded of the Sgt At Arms in my first club many years ago.  He had a hook…and a peg leg and eye patch.  And because of him our club had an Arrrrgh Counter.  (The hook set up the pirate comparison.  That set up the topper which linked to the traditional club Ah-Counter.)

We’ve had some great suggestions for our speakers tonight.  It was suggested that President Ryan not carry a small note card when speaking.  Although I would suggest that he carry a calendar.
(A call-back to the slip-of-paper suggestion linked to the running gag of forgetting dates.)

Another speaker emphasized how great speeches are often started with a question. Which reminds me of:
   JFK’s speech, “Ask not what your country can do for you…ask what you can do for your COUNTRY?” (Capital letters indicate raised intonation making the statement a question.)
   Martin Luther King’s speech on the Washington Mall:  “I have a DREAM?”
   And the Gettyburg Address:  “Four score and SEVEN years ago?”
(I asked “what if.”   What if all famous speeches were opened with a question?  I included the Kennedy quote even though it was not a speech opener.)

Table Topics don’t petrify me.  I always sign up to be the leader of Observational  Humor, which means I’ll NEVER be called on for Table Topics (with pen, scratch out NEVER on my notes).  Make that USUALLY NOT be called on for Table Topics.
(The trigger is “what everyone was thinking.”  I’m not usually called on for Table Topics.  I was sure I wasn’t the only one that noticed that.)

I’ve been really busy lately and would certainly never watch the Miss USA Pageant.  But last night I was channel surfing, and nothing else was on.
(A call back linked to a current TV broadcast.)

New Cartoon Caption Contest

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

It’s time for our Cartoon Caption Contest for the month of July.  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 August 1, 2012.

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 July 15, 2012, to HumorPowerTips@HumorPower.com

Visit cartoonist Dan Rosandich who has an extensive and in-depth archive of categorized cartoons and cartoon pictures available for licensing at negotiable fees.