Bill Stainton is a motivational speaker who also is a 29-time Emmy Award winning TV producer, writer, and performer. He recently posted a video using “being a producer” as a metaphor for your life. It’s an excellent example of taking an experience from your life an making it relevant to the lives of other people. Also watch for his relaxed, natural use of facial expressions. His video blog provides useful insights in how show business lessons apply to your life and speaking career.
Archive for February, 2013
February’s joke contest “It’s in the name.” Readers are giving advice to famous people on what NOT to name their children.
This month’s contest theme was submitted by Luther Beauchamp, Chiefland, Florida.
New Joke Contests are announced on the first of the month.
The next contest will be announced March 1, 2013.
Here are the top lines, from February’s contest, selected by our panel of seven judges (speakers and improv players).
** FIRST PLACE **
Lucille Ball should not name her daughter Crystal.
Marty Bernstein, Oak Park, Illinois
** SECOND PLACE **
Apollo Ohno should not name his son Yasser.
Scott Tredwell, Advance, North Carolina
** THIRD PLACE **
Tori Spelling should not name her son Wong.
Nancy Lininger, Camarillo, California
HONORABLE MENTION (in random order)
– Tom Cruise should not name his son River.
– Johnny Carson should not name his son Park.
– Megan Fox should not name her daughter Keela.
– John Mayer should not name his son Oscar.
– Danny Kaye should not name his son Beau.
– Usain Bolt should not name his son Titan.
– Hedda Hopper should not name her daughter Bunny.
– Carrie Fisher should not name her daughter Pearl.
– Helen Hayes should not name her daughter Smoky.
– Melissa McCarthy should not name her son Charles.
– Red Skelton should not name his child Whitey.
– Nia Peeples should not name her son Manny.
– Eve Plumb should not name her daughter Sugar.
– Kate Moss should not name her son Peter.
– Country singer Eddie Rabbit should not name a daughter Bonnie.
– President Bush was smart to not name one of his daughters Rose.
– Johnny Cash was smart not to have a son named Owen.
– Patsy Cline should not name her child Dee.
– Eddie Money should not name his son Owen.
– Hillary Duff should not name her daughter Rotunda.
– Bruno Mars should not name his daughter Venus.
– Jim Carrey should not name his son Harold.
– Jeremy Irons should not name his son Brandon.
– Tom Cruise should not name his son Otto.
– Pontius Pilate would never have named his son Otto.
– George Bush wouldn’t want to name his daughter Rose.
– Alexander Graham Bell wouldn’t want to name his son Tinker.
– Graeme Fox wouldn’t want to name his son Wily.
– Adele Ringer wouldn’t want to name her daughter Belle.
– Donald Trump should not name his daughter D. Clare.
– Grant Wood should not name his daughter Cherry.
– Warren Sapp should not name his daughter Ima.
– George McAfee should not name his son Norton.
– Grover Alexander should not name his daughter Brandy.
– Jason Day should not name his daughter Holly.
– Bill Gates should not name his daughter Pearl E.
– Henry Clay should not name his son Gray.
– Jeremy Irons should not name his son Brandon.
– Michelle Wie should not name her son Pee Wee.
– Neil Diamond should not name his daughter Jewel Ruby.
– Whoopi Goldberg’s mother should not name her daughter Whoopi.
– Ross Perot should not name his daughter Merlot.
– Phil Donahue should not name his daughter Donna Sue.
– Julia Child should not name her daughter Honey.
– William Holden should not name his daughter Bea.
– Alexander Graham Bell should not name his son Ringo.
– Jenni Craig should not name her daughter Seattle S.
– Peter Gabriel should not name his daughter Angel.
– Wolfgang Puck should not name his son Rocky.
– Hugh Downs should not name his son Mark.
– Soupy Sales should not name his son Clarence.
– Peter Boyle should not name his son Lance.
– Ethan Hawke should not name his son Tommy.
– Man Ray should not name his son Sting.
– Elaine May should not name her daughter April.
– Matthew Weiner should not name his son Oscar Meyer.
– Bill Gates should name his daughter Purlie.
– Moises Alou shouldn’t name his son after Boog Powell.
– Francis Scott Key should name his son Hank.
– Don Knotts shouldn’t have named his son Ty.
– Brad Pitt should not name his daughter Olive.
– Brad Pitt should not name his son Paul.
– Brad Pitt should not name his son Harold.
– Brad Pitt should not name his daughter Cherrie.
– Brad Pitt should not name his daughter Peaches.
– Curt Shilling shouldn’t name his daughter Penny.
– Helen Hunt should not name her son Archer.
– Snoop Doggy Dogg should not name his daughter Isabella Emma, which could be abbreviated I. Emma.
– Bob Hope should not name his son Maurice, because he would be Mo Hope.
Here are several more Observational Humor lines presented at the end of a meeting. We’ll look at the set-up (What was said and what happened during the meeting before the Observational Humor lines were delivered). Then we’ll look at the lines and the process that made the lines funny.
1. The officers were not ready to open the meeting on time. The Sgt at Arms called the meeting to order on time and then declared a five minute recess to allow the officers to finalize the agenda.
2. The Joke Master opened with: One nun to another, “Have you heard? There is a case of Gonorrhea in the convent.” “Oh good…I’m getting tired of White Zinfandel.”
3. A speaker mentioned “howling at the moon.”
4. A speaker told the story of Dr Lister who performed one of the first surgeries with antiseptic on his sister. The speaker then joked about the sister trusting her brother.
5. Four members presented a panel discussion on Gun Control.
6. A speaker suggested that more people were killed by fists than guns.
7. A speaker traced the career of Lincoln, telling us that he lost in love, business, and politics before becoming President.
8. A speaker said that the Gettysburg Address was one of the greatest speeches in history.
9. The meeting room was filled with many long-time, successful Toastmasters.
I liked the way you made sure we started on time. You opened the meeting at 1:00 pm and then took an immediate 5 minute recess to tie up loose ends. I think this would be a great way to solve our problems with Congress. When the new session of Congress opens in January, they should bring the session to order and take an immediate 5 minute recess during which there will be no new federal spending. At the end of the 5 minute break, they’ll come back to order and spending will resume as usual.
(A bit lengthy for a joke, but pokes fun at the club’s technique for ensuring that the meeting starts on time. And it jokes about congress and its inept dealing with spending.)
This is my kind of club. It opened with a gonorrhea joke.
(Makes an appropriate comment about the off-color, yet tame, opening joke. A bit of self-deprecation, linking me to the questionable joke.)
All meeting I’ve been waiting for someone to moon…just so I could count the number of people that would howl.
(Plays with the alternate meaning of MOON and links it to the word HOWL, providing a call-back.)
On my way to the meeting I picked up some Listerine and some cotton balls. I’m opening a surgery clinic for those who don’t trust their brothers.
(I was afraid the joke would be too obvious. But the response was really big. I think the “trust your brothers” was a surprise punch line, compared to “so if you need some surgery.”)
FACT: I’d be funnier if I were packing a handgun. (Looking at Scott) Didn’t you think that joke was funny?
(What followed “I’d be funnier if…” with a surprise choice. Then I followed with a topper, implying that I might use the gun.)
FACT: More people are killed by jokes each year than by guns.
(A twist of a cliche.)
The message of Table Topics is: “If a loser can give the world’s greatest speech in 3 minutes…what can you do in three minutes?”
(Linked the message of one of the speakers with the process of giving Table Topics impromptu speeches.)
What a group of people we have at today’s meeting: Our District Governor. A past District Governor. Two competitors from the International Competition Stage. Several District Contest winners. An Accredited Speaker. The President of the local NSA chapter. Division and area governors. Mr Mentor in the front row. Wow. I’m wondering if we sent our third-in-command to a secure underground bunker.
(A very big laugh. Surprise factor. The punch line was unexpected. Superiority theory. It sets the audience on a pedestal.)
Here’s another Observational Humor monologue presented at a full-day workshop featuring Ryan Avery, 2012 World Champion of Public Speaking, Scott Pritchard, 2011 Third Place Winner of World Championship of Public Speaking, and me. The monologue was delivered right after lunch. First we will look at the set-up which triggered an idea for an observational humor line. Then we’ll look at the joke and analyze what made it tick.
THE SET-UP (What happened and what was said during the meeting, but before the monologue was delivered.)
1. A speaker talked about the power of suggestion by using the classic “Don’t think of a Pink Elephant” to illustrate the power of suggestion. Just hearing the words Pink Elephant makes a person want to think of one.
2. The meeting room was very convenient and easy to get to. We discovered that the restrooms were in another building, and a considerable walk from where we were meeting.
3. A speaker referred to an age-range of people using the phrase “from 25 to 95.”
4. A speaker referred to someone who was not a specialist as someone who speaks, cuts hair and does landscaping.
5. A speaker talked about life on the farm and chasing chickens.
6. A speaker referred to a woman comedian who “was no Ellen.”
7. A speaker suggested that if you’re the most talented/skilled person in a group, that you need to find another group so you’ll be surrounded by people better than you, giving you the opportunity to learn and grow.
8. Ryan suggested that when faced with a problem, “Push Past It.”
9. A speaker suggested that when delivering humor, look to connect with an audience member who is having a good time and laughing.
10. A speaker suggested that practicing under water is a good way to slow down a speaker who tends to be too fast.
11. The football player with the imaginary girl friend was in the current headlines.
12. Ryan said that everyone had someone’s help in getting to where they are. He said, “If you haven’t had help from anyone, I’ll give you $1000.”
13. Scott said that the Huffington Post had recently called him because of his reputation on sports betting. He mentioned that Bill was at his house when the Post called him.
14. Talking about his athletic abilities, Scott said that he couldn’t ride a unicycle or do a back-flip.
I do humor, cut hair, do landscaping, and chase chickens…but I’m no Ellen.
(This was a nice opener because it introduced me with self-deprecation. It also tied together three call backs–the first triplet, chickens, and Ellen.)
Think of a Pink Elephant…Now that your minds are blank, we can continue.
(This twists the original point of the pink-elephant exercise. I reversed it. Since asking someone NOT TO THINK of a Pink Elephant would cause them to think of one; I pretended that asking them to THINK of a Pink Elephant would cause them to think of nothing at all. Not logical, but somewhat funny.)
When I arrived here this morning, I thought: “Great meeting room.” Then I found out that the restrooms are in Pahrump.
(This was funny because the long walk to the restrooms was something that everyone had noticed. I chose Pahrump because it’s the local funny-sounding town.)
My humor tips will apply to you if you’re 25 or 95. Which means they will apply to Ryan and to Bobby.
(Two prominent people at the workshop, with good senses of humor, made them good targets for the joke. Ryan had been introduced as 25 years old. And Bobby was well-known as a 40-year member of Toastmasters.)
I’m looking for a new group to hang out with. I just realized that in my current group, I’m the funniest person.
(Applying a call-back to my life.)
Here’s a humor tip. If you do a joke and they don’t laugh…push past it.
(A call-back of one of Ryan’s key phrases.)
You were given the tip to find a friendly face and to deliver your humor to that person. In other words…don’t look at me.
(Self-deprecating joke. Poking fun at my serious demeanor.)
My speaking style is too slow. To think of all those years I wasted rehearsing under water. So I’ve changed my strategy. Every time I practice, I set my house on fire.
(A funny call-back. Created a strategy by flipping the original thought 180 degrees. I thought, if water slows someone down, what would cause someone to move faster. Plays with the trigger of absurdity.)
I attribute my success to my dead imaginary girl friend. Since she doesn’t exist, that means I’m self made. Ryan, that will be $1000 please.
(A call-back to the mention of the imaginary girlfriend in the news. I extended the logic to conclude that getting help from an imaginary person would be the same as getting help from nobody. Then I looked at Ryan as I asked for $1000.)
Bill was at my house last week. Huffington Post called me…they were looking for Scott’s phone number.
(I could have left out the opening sentence about Bill. But I decided to include it to set the same pattern used in the orignal story that Scott told. It’s a self-deprecation joke. It builds me up, implying that the Huffington Post was calling me because I was important. Then it switches that the purpose of the call was because the Post was trying to contact Scott.)
We will be closing the workshop this afternoon with Scott doing a back-flip on a unicycle…if the ambulance has arrived.
(Works on the principle of What If. What if Scott tried to do something he said he can’t do…and what kind of preparation would we need to make ahead of time. A good closer.)
This month’s contest theme was submitted by Luther Beauchamp, Chiefland, Florida. It’s In A Name.
New Joke Contests are announced at the start of the month.
Your challenge in the February contest is to Fill-In-The-BLANKs. Here is the format: BLANK should not name his/her child BLANK.
For example: Rob Lowe should not name his daughter Bea.
That gives you a broad range to work with. Lots of names out there. For the set-up, use the first and last name of a real person. For the punchline use only a first name.
Here are some suggestions:
– David Letterman should not name his son David, because he would be a Junior Letterman.
– Twyla Banks should not name her son Rob.
– A good choice, in the above example, would be to have the punchline be Robert, instead of Rob. In a sense, the punchline would then be implied. One step is needed to arrive at the punchword. That makes it a slightly stronger joke.
– A bad choice is to make up a fake name just for the sake of the gag.
– Your goal is to use a recognizable name and not an obscure “real” name that you found in the phone book or the intenet.
Write as many 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 entries 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, byFebruary 15, 2013, to HumorPowerTips@HumorPower.com