Observational Humor — Case Study #89

Here is another Observational Humor monologue.  First, I’ll provide you the set up for the jokes.  Then, following the jokes, I’ll share a few words about what makes each joke work.

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

1.  Mary was our emcee for the program.  When introduced she was standing, or more accurately hiding, behind the lectern which was taller than her.  At the completion of her introduction, she raised her arms and waved her hands.  A big laugh.

2.  A speaker talked about Japanese bath houses and social customs.

3.  A speaker told about picking up a nervous, shaking dog.  The dog wet the shirt and pants he was wearing.

4.  Dawn evaluated Ben’s speech.  Ben wore a bath robe at the start of the speech.   Dawn referred to his opening as SHOCK AND AWE.

5.  Beverly assigned impromptu speech topics on a theme of strange food combinations.  Each speaker’s assignment was to describe a recipe using those foods.

6.  Greg attended his first meeting in a couple of months.  He had grown a mustache and beard.  And he had lost 30 pounds. 

7.  A speaker quoted Ben Franklin:  “Tell me and I forget.  Teach me and I remember.  Involve me and I learn.”  He then jokingly said that Franklin had probably stolen the words from Socrates.


One of our members is Superwoman.  She changes clothes, not in a phone booth, but behind a lectern.
(This line received a huge laugh.  It was a call-back to something that had received a big laugh.  It implied that Mary was Superwoman.)

The theme of our next meeting is BATH HOUSE.  We’ll be getting to know each other much better.
(The triggers are:  Absurdity, tension, and creating a funny picture.)

So next week if you see any members nervous and shaking.  Don’t pick them up.
(A call-back to picking up the dog.)

Ben, I wanted to clarify Dawn’s evaluation of your speech.  Wearing a robe was SHOCK.  Taking it off was AWE.
(I created a punch line by splitting the cliche SHOCK AND AWE.  It got a big laugh.)

I recognized Beverly’s cooking tips.  It was obvious we both watch Fear Factor.
(A fair response.  Probably the weakest line of the monologue.  Fear Factor is not a mega-hit TV program.)

It’s great to have Greg attending our meeting again.  He’s been spending his time in the Witness Protection Program.
(Huge laugh as the audience recognized the implied “he has changed so much I didn’t recognize him.”)

My Dad always told me:  Tell me and I forget.  Teach me and I remember.  Involve me and I learn.  My Father was a close friend of Socrates.
(Good laugh.  Not one of the strongest lines, so it was probably not the best choice for a closer.)