Observational Humor — Case Study #85

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.