Archive for August, 2012

Joke Contest Results — There Ought To Be A Law

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

It’s time for the results of our August Joke Contest — There Ought To Be A Law.  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 September 1, 2012.
Here are this month’s top lines:


Promote Literacy Law:  Politicians must read bills before voting on them.
     Terry Wall, Washington Township, New Jersey


The In-Law Law:  Insanity plea accepted for any crime committed against an in-law that overstays a visit.
     Nancy Lininger, Camarillo, California


It is illegal to procrastinate. If you do, you will be punished.  Later.
     Marty Bernstein, Oak Park, Illinois

HONORABLE MENTION (in random order)

  – Volunteer Legislators Law:  Congressmen and Senators will now work for free, finally matching their work with their worth.
  – Universal Sufferage Law:  Boosts tax rates for all, to ensure that everyone is suffering.
  – No Humor Law:  A crime will have occured when politicians and comedians use foul language or grab their private parts to get a laugh.
  – Eat Your Own Dogfood Law:  All regulations will have a trial period of one year, during which those who voted for the law are subject to the taxes and restrictions of the law (but no one else is).
  – Gum Control Law:  Take gum from your mouth and toss it on the sidewalk in a commercial area,  and we’ll stick you in jail overnight.
  – Disorganized Crime Law:  Anyone caught committing a white-collar crime, due to amateur mistakes, must attend finishing school taught by professional criminals with lifetime tenure.
  – Get Out of Jail Free Law:  Reserved for celebrities only.
  – Beginning January 1, 2013, Saber Rattling will become an included lesser offense for Dueling.
  – Any motorist caught obeying the posted speed limit in the passing lane, will automatically have their drivers license revoked.
   – Members of the U.S. Congress who vote their conscience,
must provide proof showing they have one.
  – The Banning of Plastic Covered Furniture:  In the interest of good taste this relic of the 1960’s needs to be removed from the public consciousness once and for all.
  – Doggie Doo Bag Law:  In all cities over 10,000, this law sets up one Doggie Doo Bag Distribution Station on every square block.
  – Hope and Change Law:  Allows everyone to hope they have some change left after taxes.
  – Acronyms Become Stupid, Useless, Ridiculous Data (ABSURD) Law:  Outlaws the overuse of acronyms by the government and military.  Penalty is jail time where the only reading material allowed is a dictionary.
  – Really Affordable Care Act:  Requires doctors to pay their hourly rate equivalent to patients for the time spent waiting for scheduled appointments.
  – Wave Goodbye to Waivers Law:  Prevents government from granting waivers to existing laws.  What’s the point of having laws, if you can grant waivers to everyone?
  – Me First Law:  Once each weeks every citizen is allowed to go first.
  – Rosetta Stone Act:  Legalization of marijuana for linguistics majors.
  – What’s Holding Up The Line Law:  Any person who attempts to pay a $50.00 or more grocery bill with spare change will be banished from the store for 30 days.
  – Truth In Advertising Law:  No one is allowed to post photos that are over two years old on any social media site.
  – Trashy People Law.  Those who throw trash out their windows while driving will be stopped and the trash thrown back in.
  – Phone Tree Law:  All phone trees that do not offer the option of talking to a live person will be cut down at once.
  – Best Picture Nomination Law. To prevent all the good movies from coming out in December, no more than one picture released in a given month can be nominated.
  – Alternating Current shall be the only legal source for energy in the nations capital. The  DC hasn’t worked in years.
  – Airline Delay Law: 
  For any airplane delay lasting 5 hours, airline VPs shall drive buses taking the passengers to their original destination.
  For any airplane delay lasting 7 hours, the airline CEO and President shall drive the buses taking passengers to their original destination.
  For any airplane delay lasting 10 hours or more, the Chairman of the Board and Board members shall drive buses taking passengers to their original destination.
  – First amateur Plumbing Law:  It is illegal to begin a plumbing project later than 10:00 am on Saturday and all day Sunday.
  – Blue Law:  It is illegal to be sad.
  – BS, HS and CS Law:  Telling lies will land you in the bull pasture, horse stable or chicken coop.
  – Alcohol Law: Break this and you end up behind bars.
  – Procrastination Law:
  – Humor Law for Deaf People:  Observational humor shall be sign and not heard.
  – The Selfish People Law:  That doesn’t apply to me.
  – Law of the Humor Power Jungle: Survival of the wittiest.
  – Zoo Laws: 
  No leopard shall be named Spot.
  No giraffe shall be named Stretch.
  No elephant shall be named Jumbo or Tiny.
  – Political candidates will be required to explain how they will accomplish the things they promise to do in their campaigns.  Winners will be evaluated at the end of their terms in office.  If they have not done the things they promised to do, they will spend the same amount of time they spent on office in jail.
  – CLAM-UP (Co-worker Long, Aimless, Mindless, Unfocused, and Pretentious) story Act:  It is not considered a breach of etiquette to feign death until the story teller, sensing awkwardness, moves on.
  – Mother-in-law Law.  Three day maximum for mother-in-law visits.

Phyllis Diller

Monday, August 20th, 2012

Phyllis Diller has died at the age of 95. She is known for self-deprecation. If she wasn’t making fun of herself, she was probably poking fun at her husband, Fang, her mother in law, or her kids.

Diller was one of the few comedians who laughed at her own jokes. And her body language demonstrated that angles are funnier than straight lines.

She got her start in comedy when the stage was occupied mostly by men. She became one of the country’s most popular comedians with a career spanning five decades.

“Photos of me don’t do me justice. They just look like me.”

“Fang and I are always fighting; when we get up in the morning, we don’t kiss; we touch gloves.”

“I’m the only woman who can walk in Central Park at night… and reduce the crime rate.”

Observational Humor — Case Study #86

Friday, August 17th, 2012

We recently had a Toastmasters meeting with low attendance.  A small crowd can make the humor less effective.  Humor is contagious, and fewer people in the room means less people to “catch the laughter wave.”  It’s easy to have the mistaken feeling that “nothing funny is happening,” when it’s actually a problem with the energy level.  I’d rather present humor to thirty people than to ten. A bigger crowd is a laughter magnifier.

One of the things about laughter is that humor attracts more humor.  The more laughter you have, the funnier will be the next thing that’s funny.  But don’t despair if you have a small crowd.  You can still create your own funny.  Here are some thoughts:

1.  Don’t push it.  If the crowd is small and humor is not quite lifting the roof off the building, tailor your expectations.  Don’t expect as many big laughs as you had at a previous meeting with two to three times as many members.  If you get one or two good laughs, you’re doing well.  When humor isn’t working, the harder you try, the worse it gets.

2.  Adjust your Laugh-O-Meter.  The success of a joke will depend on a lower register of the meter than you’d need with a larger crowd.  Be happy with an appropriate response that fits the crowd.

3.  Create your own funny.  The more an audience laughs, the more opportunities you have to piggy-back on previous jokes and funny comments.  If you don’t have the waves of laughter to help you along, remember you can create your own ripples where there are none.  In our low-attendance meeting, for example, it’s easy to think that there is nothing funny about a small audience.  But there could be…if you create it.  A line I used:  “This is great.  Another full-house (laughter).  The secret to our success is that we all bring our imaginary friends (big laugh).”

4.  Exaggerate the small things. Our club President two or three times made a comment followed by “take that with a grain of salt.”  This is an idiom which normally means to view something with skepticism; not to take something literally.  In my Observational Humor monologue, I gave a humorous tip that received a small laugh.  “Take that tip with a block of salt.”  (Bigger laugh.)   Later in the monologue I had another joke that didn’t rock the small audience.  “Take that joke with two blocks of salt.”  (A good laugh.)  I was able to use the block-of-salt line as a saver, or what I like to call a bomb-line; that’s a line you use to soften the blow of delivering a line that misses the mark.  With a small audience, you’re more likely to need a bomb-line than with a larger crowd.  And how nice it is to use an original bomb-line and a running gag from a fresh observation.

5.  It’s not just what people say.  Sometimes you can make a humorous observation from what people DO.  You need to work a little harder at paying attention.  Daniel was introduced by the emcee to be the Master Evaluator.  He ran up to the front of the room with high energy and ran around Corrine, the emcee, twice.  My observation was:  “Daniel is in great shape.  That’s because every day he runs two laps around Corrine.”

So don’t let a small audience get you down.  There are laughs to be had.  You just need to adjust your expectations, sharpen your techniques and direct your focus.

Fun Video Links

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

Here are a couple of great YouTube links.  If you’d like to add a smile to your day, visit the sites.

An excellent Johnny Carson clip:  Politician Lie Detector.  Sent to me by my cousins Beth Colvin and Ed Howard.

I enjoy a good flash mob.  I recommend this one sent to me by my Toastmaster and Barbershop Chorus friend, Karen Lewison.

Observational Humor — Case Study #85

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

Here’s another Observational Humor monologue.  It was a good night for observations.  My monologue had 16 punchlines.  I’ll be providing you with the set-ups and then some comments on what made the humor work.

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

1.  Giving feedback to a speaker, an evaluator suggested that the speaker “loosen up.”

2.  Bill, the emcee for the evening, intended to close the meeting by using his cell phone to give us a photo flash, thereby erasing our memory of the meeting (like the movie Men In Black).  He couldn’t get the flash on his phone to work.

3.  The meeting was held two days before Independence Day.  In spite of the nearby holiday, we had a very good attendance.

4.  I always try to arrive early to the meeting and sit in the back, right corner of the room.

5.  A speaker referred to how well his speech was going, commenting on the blank stares from the audience.  He got a big laugh.

6.  The President was introducing guests, and noted that a couple of them had “snuck in late.”

7.  The word of the day was Alien.  It was defined as someone from another country or another world.

8.  We had two guests from Division A.  Our club is in Division H.

9.  A guest joked that our club was an advanced club, but that he was looking for a remedial club.

10.  Scott arrived at the meeting and sat behind his girl-friend Jessica.  She turned around and gave him a kiss.

11.  Gordon gave a speech about his lack of social skills with the ladies.  A woman has asked him to go to a romantic movie and he was confused.

12.  Gordon told us about dating a woman who rubbed his ear.  And later he saw her rubbing her cat’s ear.

13.  A guest made a comment about our restrooms.

14.  Scott gave a speech titled “Chasing Chickens.”

15.  Dawn’s speech evaluator, Greg, said that Hillary Clinton was a powerful woman, adding that he was not a fan of hers.  He then commented on Dawn’s style as powerful and said that she was in the class of women like Hillary Clinton.

16.  A speaker said that she used to be a Taxi Dancer.


It’s time for me to loosen up.
(Self deprecation.  A call-back poking fun at my stiff delivery style.)

Bill, don’t worry about your equipment malfunction.  Nobody wanted to see you flash.
(A call-back to the flash malfunction.  The trigger at work is the double meaning of the word FLASH; bright light and exposing yourself.)

It’s great to see such a large attendance on a holiday weekend.  I’m glad I arrived early.  You may think I get here early to reserve my back-row, corner seat.  The real reason I arrive early is to delay that time when people think of me as the “late John Kinde.”
(I was commenting on things everyone noticed.  Big crowd.  I’m sitting in my usual seat.  And I used the double meaning of LATE; tardy and dead.)

This is going to be a great monologue.  I can tell as I look at your blank stares.
(A call-back.  Great laugh.)

The President noted that “a couple of guests snuck in late.”  If you also noticed that, you could customize our standard Toastmaster speech opening.  You could say:
  – Mr Toastmaster, Fellow Toastmasters, and Sneaking Guests.
  – Mr Toastmaster, Fellow Toastmasters and Aliens from Division A.
  – Mr Toastmaster, honored guests, and Remedial Toastmasters.
(I chose SNEAKING GUESTS.  I considered SNUCK IN GUESTS, but even though it sounded funny, the word choice could create confusion.  Also considered SNEAKY GUESTS, but made the decision that SNEAKING had more of an action quality than the adjective SNEAKY.  The action word would paint a funnier picture.  It was an arbitrary choice.  I was also using the rhythm of a sequence of three.)

A couple of unusual things happened tonight before the meeting started:
  – Scott sat down behind Jessica.  She turned around and gave him a kiss.  I’m so glad Scott didn’t sit down behind me.  But I know that next week, I’m sitting behind Jessica.
  – Also before the meeting, Gordon asked me if I wanted to go to a romantic movie.  I was confused.  But then I was relieved when I found out that all I needed to do was rub his ear.
(The lines for Scott resulted from asking questions which would lead me to punchlines.  What if Scott sat behind me?  How would this affect my behavior for  next week?
For Gordon, I decided to drop myself into his story.)

We’re proud to say that members of our club have had restroom training.  PowerHouse Pros members “Aim To Please.”
(Uses the double meaning of AIM.  Desire and Direct At Target.  It received a much bigger laugh than I expected.)

Why did the chicken cross the road?  Because it was being chased by Scott.
(Used a cliche question to give me a set-up for an obvious punchline.)

Here’s an example of a back-handed compliment:  Dawn…you have things in common with a powerful woman that Greg doesn’t like!
(This was an observation which I found amusing, so I used it.  It received a good laugh.)

Now that I know what a Taxi Dancer is…when I’m ready to go home tonight, I’m calling a cab.
(A good closer because it referenced “going home,” or the end of the meeting.)

NOTE:  Occasionally, you’ll find that you’ve prepared a joke, and before you deliver it, two or three other people make jokes using the same set-up that you were relying on to make your joke work.  They don’t use your same jokes, they just over-work the set-up.  The result of this is that your joke runs the possibility of looking like an “old joke.”  Or your joke may appear to be too obvious or too easy.  When I’m in that situation, I’m inclined to not use the joke, even if I think it’s funny.  Scratching the joke is hard to do, because a good joke is not easy to come by.  Also, since it’s our joke, we easily fall in love with it and really want to use it.  My monologue, which is written out above, contains two jokes which I planned to use but did NOT include in the spoken presentation.  I included the lines in the printed monologue for you to see them, because they were good lines, but I did not actually use them in the spoken monologue because their impact would have been weakened by the references of speakers who went before me. The lines were:

  – Bill, don’t worry about your equipment malfunction.  Nobody wanted to see you flash.

  – But then I was relieved when I found out that all I was expected to do was rub his ear.

Other speakers didn’t use my exact jokes, but they used the same set-ups to create their own jokes.  I felt that the previous use of the set-ups would make my jokes look too easy, and made the decision to drop the lines.  It felt like it was the right thing to do.