Observational Humor — Case Study #96

Here is another Observational Humor monologue presented at the end of a meeting.  We’ll look at the set-up, the joke, and comment why the joke worked. 

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

1.  A speaker said that Al Jensen was setting a great example with his clear diction.

2.  We only had one woman attending the meeting.  She commented on that fact.

3.  The meeting theme was Spring Forward, based on the recent Daylight Saving clock adjustment.  The Emcee of the meeting gave interesting trivia about Daylight Saving time.  He said that there were fewer heart attacks in the fall when clocks were set BACK because people got an extra hour’s sleep.

4.  A speaker commented on our small attendance at the meeting.  We had only ten people, while the normal attendance used to be twenty.

5.  A speech evaluator praised Ryan by using a negative term and stating it was what Ryan was not.  “Ryan you are not ignorant.”

6.  I gave a speech on how “attention grabbers” provide the foundation for a funny joke.

7.  The one woman attending the meeting suggested that, as the only woman in a group of men, she could be an exotic dancer.


Thank you Mr Toastmaster, Lady and Gentlemen.  I especially want to thank my diction coach Al Jensen. 
(Delivered in a slurred voice with poor diction.  This was a call-back to the comment praising Al Jensen for his good diction.  I also made a subtle change in the cliche “Ladies and Gentlemen” by changing it to “Lady and Gentlemen.”  That change was probably not widely noticed as I slurred my speech.)

Few people know it, but I’ve been working part-time as a heart researcher.  I’ve discovered something recently that will reduce heart attacks by ten percent.  I recommend that every month we set the clocks back one more hour.  The downside is that after 12 months people will be having heart attacks as they leave work and see the sun rising.
(Using the technique of extrapolation and asking what if:  If moving the clock back reduces heart attacks, what if we moved the clock back EVERY month.  Also it plays with the trigger of absurdity.  The final punchline points out that after one year our clocks would be off by 12 hours or by half a day.)

It’s true that we have fewer members than we had a year ago.  But we have BIGGER members.  My theory is that our current members have been eating our former members.
(Plays with the trigger of absurdity.  Also plays with the truth.  We have lots of big members, which makes for a good joke structure.  The truth is funny.  The first joke, “we have bigger members,” sets up the absurd topper of “eating our former members.”)

We have a new evaluation style for our club.  It’s called “negative praise”:
  – Ryan, you are not ignorant.
  – David, you are not ugly.
  – Bobby, you are not serious.
  – Al, you are not dull.
(The theme of negative-praise provided me a list or a vehicle to create and deliver funny lines.  From a laughter perspective, this was the weakest part of the monologue.)

I have one more point to add to my list of creating strong set-ups.  If someone strips…that is an attention grabber
(A good link between the exotic dancer/stripper comment and my list of Attention Grabbers which can be used to making a good joke.)