Just wrapped up the Scott Pritchard speaker workshop yesterday. A Saturday well invested with Ryan Avery, the current Toastmasters World Champion of Public Speaking. Bill Parker, master coach and mentor. And Scott and Me. In addition to humor presentation tips, here is a thought I shared with the group: SPEAKER GROWTH You improve as a speaker by understanding your strengths and weaknesses. And by improving both. By improving your weaknesses you become a better speaker. By improving your strengths you become more unique. As a professional, you want to be a great speaker, but to stand out from the crowd, you want to be unique.
Archive for January, 2013
Our contest theme for January was suggested by Kaye Newton, Raymond Terrace, Australia. Haiku is a short-form Japanese poem. It has more complexity and nuance than we’ll share here. For the purposes of our contest, we’re going to define it as a three line (three phrase) poem of a set number of syllables (beats) per line.
Line one: Five syllables.
Line two: Seven syllables.
Line three: Five syllables.
Here are the top poems as selected by our panel of judges.
** FIRST PLACE **
Love those pancakes dear
Diet aside let’s drench them
Scott Tredwell, Advance, North Carolina
** SECOND PLACE **
Joke writing is fun
Challenges the intellect
Like I have got one
Marty Bernstein, Oak Park, Illinois
** THIRD PLACE **
What, Me Worry?
Can frustrate me to no end
But never frets me
Terry Wall, Washington Township, New Jersey
** HONORABLE MENTION **
One Flew Over the Haiku’s Nest
Haiku theme is tough
Because humor’s hard enough
A Japanese poem
Is hard to understanza
The Italian said
Thousandth wise crack, and
Henny Youngman’s wife then said
Take my husband, please
Back to Basics
Great humor, so rare
Who knows when it’s best to quit
With no rule of three
Thoughts On The Beach At Sunrise
By the waves, you think
“All is vanity.” And yet
life needs a porpoise
This — a joke from me
Don’t know if it is funny
John will let me know
New Years as it dawns
My poor head feels like it fell
Off a fiscal cliff
Routines I performed
about the stupid things done
Has caused much laughing
Spring breeze Summer heat
Now, winter chills on my feet
Let alone cold sheets
Feeding Time at The Zoo
When came the bamboo
What ensued at the zoo was
Famous For Being Famous
Zsa Zsa said that the
Single man is incomplete
Once married, finished
My six-year-old nephew’s life-style
no sleep, no rest, and no meals
Why does the chicken
To get to the other side
You think that’s funny?
Only some take top prizes
But all win this game
Sun ripens apples
like limericks blush the girls
I’m getting warm now
Can you help me please
I really want your advice
Mind your own business
Dungeons and Dragons
How long, long ago it seems
Now I live on Wii
My computer died
But it gave me a day off
So I went fishing
Lost in Space
The world is so wide
But with no cell phone in hand
I’m in no man’s land
A lonely leaf falls
It lands on e. e. cummings
Now it’s immortal
What do I prefer
To spend days writing haikus
Rather than working
All you need is love
All I need is the Beatles
All they need is cash
I got my CC
Then CL, AC, AL
Now for DTM
A cheater at cards
Though most be fooled
Is often dealt with
Air It Out
Many may fear flying
But psychologists can help
In that area
We Deliver For Few
Take a little break
from tweets, Facebook and e-mail
try a stamp instead
What do you get
Oh, what do you get
When hungry pigs and crows meet
Stuffed pigs eating crow
If the Ravens win
we will all be real happy
If not, we will cry
My house is dusty
with dirty dishes and clothes
Where is Mr Clean
Chicken on a Highway
Why did the chicken
Take the highway across town
Local roads were closed
Go Forward young man
Any direction you choose
But don’t look under
An apple a day
Does keep the doctor away
Don’t you like doctors
Snap went the mousetrap
Poor thing just couldn’t resist
Death by chocolate
To learn this fine artistry
I went to Haik U
A cold wintry day
My feet really freezing cold
My boots have a hole
My dog is spotted
She is a crazy wild pooch
People think I’m nuts
I’m not good at rhymes
They usually sound bad
But if people laugh
I’d Rather Work With a Lizard
Work processes at
Progressive not going well
Problem with work-Flo
New Joke Contests are announced at the start of the month. The next Joke Contest is February 1, 2013.
Here’s another Observational Humor monologue presented at the end of a meeting. You probably were not at this meeting. Remember that with Observational Humor “you had to be there.” The jokes are provided as examples only, not to make YOU laugh. However, the principles can be applied to any type of meeting you may be attending or type of speech you are delivering.
We will review the set-up. Then we will look at the joke. Next we will look at what makes the joke tick.
THE SET-UP (What was said and what happened during the meeting, before the monologue was presented.)
1. The General Evaluator (who evaluates all aspects of the meeting) said, “I’ll be evaluating the meeting as a whole.”
2. Bobby suggested that Guest Loren attended tonight’s meeting because I bought him dinner.
3. Bill was our Ah Counter for the evening. He reported that Bobby used eight ahs, but was so subtle with it that he almost didn’t notice them. He also said that so few people used ahs, that if we spread out Bobby’s ahs among the other speakers, as a group, we all did well.
4. A speaker said that people listen to a person who uses humor. He also mentioned that people also listen for other reasons, suggesting that Hitler found an audience and wasn’t funny.
5. Speaker Ben said that his daughter looks like him.
6. Scott para-phrased the song lyric, “I’m not heavy…I’m your brother.”
7. Bobby presented a humorous speech and received lots of laughs.
8. A speaker said that if you use lots of humor when you speak, you’re likely to get paid to speak.
(Speaking as if shouting into a deep hole which has an echo)
“The meeting was very good…good…good.”
“I’m evaluating the meeting as a hole…hole…hole.”
(Playing with sound-alike words WHOLE/HOLE and the cliche, “I’m evaluating the meeting as a whole.” Silly as it is, it turned out to be an excellent opening.)
I have a correction for something that Bobby said. He indicated that Loren came tonight only because I bought him dinner. The truth is I came tonight because Loren bought ME dinner.
(Flipped a statement 180 degrees. It easily came to me, we had just come from dinner and Loren paid. Although I would have attended the meeting either way.)
My Ahs are so subtle, even Bill didn’t notice.
(Since Bill didn’t report any Ahs from me, I felt this was a good, humorous explanation why.)
Next week, we will have a big crowd…Our humor expert will be Adolph Hitler.
(A call back and an absurd statement. Good laugh.)
I was shopping at WalMart and ran into Ben’s daughter. I recognized her because of her beard.
(Creates a funny picture. Plays with absurdity.)
I attended Scott’s comedy show two weeks ago. And I have this to say…Scott is heavy.
(A good call back. And plays with the truth…Scott is a big guy.)
By spreading the laughs from Bobby’s speech over the whole meeting…we had a funny meeting.
(A re-visit of the suggestion “spread the ahs over all the speakers.”)
That will be $50 please.
(A good closer.)
A terrific new book is about to hit the market: The Message of You: Turn Your Life Story into a Money-Making Speaking Career by Judy Carter. Judy is the author of The Comedy Bible and Stand-Up Comedy–The Book. If you’re a speaker, The Message of You will be the perfect addition to your resource bookshelf. You can read Chapter One for free.
Pre-order the book from Amazon on Thursday, January 10, and not only will you get the book for a discounted price, but you will be on your way to discovering your message and making a difference in people’s lives.
To show her appreciation, if you email Judy your Amazon receipt to book@TheMessageOfYou.com she will send you a fabulous bonus, a podcast, How to Add Observational Humor When You Speak. Remember to place your order on January 10.
Here is another Observational Humor monologue analysis. I’ll give you the set-up, the joke, and a look at what made the joke work.
THE SET-UP (What happened or what was said during the meeting before the monologue was delivered.)
1. Several people had a difficult time correctly pronouncing Ronny Angelke’s name. It became a running gag.
2. A speaker led an exercise for creating humor based on the double meaning of words. I presented a joke that got a big laugh. Someone said that the joke was funny but didn’t use a word with double meaning. I pointed out the word which had a double meaning that activated the joke.
3. A speaker talked about learning to fly a plane. His flight instructor told him that if he felt he was losing control of the plane to clap twice and throw his hands in the air to indicate that the flight instructor should take over the control of the plane.
4. I noticed a new janitorial sign in the men’s restroom before the meeting.
5. A speaker demonstrated how the emphasis of one word over another can change the meaning of a sentence. He gave an example with a target sentence: I never kissed my wife. “I never kissed MY wife.” (I kissed your wife.) “I never KISSED my wife.” (I hugged my wife.)
6. A speaker talked about running a marathon.
Mr General Evaluator, Fellow Toastmasters and Ronny Angel-Clunk.
(I picked up on the running gag of mis-pronouncing Ronny’s last name, and used the principle of exaggeration to drive home the joke.)
For your convenience, I’ll point out my jokes with double-word meanings. Since my word choice is subtle, I’ll indicate double meanings by pulling on my ear lobe.
(The pull-the-ear joke sets an expectation for the physical gag to appear again in my monologue. This expectation is a form of tension which helps activate the joke. Also the superiority theory is in play when people catch the quick ear tug which I have planned.)
I’m not sure about this first joke (Clap, clap, hands in the air).
(I was prepared to drop this joke if someone else made a joke of the clap-clap illustration from the Learning-to-Fly speech. I was surprised that nobody mentioned it since it was repeated twice in the speaker’s talk. I also wasn’t sure how strong the response would be to my line, but it got a good laugh.)
I noticed that a sign in the men’s restroom said “Please aim at back of urinal.” So that’s what I’ve been doing wrong. It made me wonder if the women’s restroom also has signs. So when nobody was looking I stepped into their restroom. Sure enough, a sign in each stall read: “Please remain seated during performance.” (I pulled on my ear lobe.)
(The seated-during-performance line received the biggest laugh of the monologue. The ear-lobe gag got a laugh, but I’m not sure how much of that was the extended laugh from the spoken joke. I suspect that it helped extend the spoken joke’s laughter, more than creating laughter as a result of the physical sight gag.)
I want you to know that I’ve never RUN a marathon…I’ve DRIVEN a marathon.
(A call back of the marathon using the word-emphasis exercise to trigger a joke.)