Archive for April, 2013

White House Correspondents’ Dinner

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

The annual White House Correspondents’ dinner is always a great study in roast-style humor  It’s an opportunity for the President to use self-deprecation and to review the year with humor.

This year’s dinner was Saturday evening, April 27, 2013.  Conan O’Brien was the featured humor professional.  And the President was a big hit asusual.  Past dinners have made the sitting president look good, whether they be Democrat or Republican.

Here are some thoughts on President Obama’s speech.

  1.  The theme of his speech was “My Second Term.”

  2.  It was filled with self-deprecation, although there was no shortage of zingers aimed at his opponents.

  3.  He demonstrated the power of the picture.  Many of his jokes were carried by photographs which had either been doctored or posed.  When doing photo humor you have several options.
  – Using actual photos and recaptioning them to fit your needs.
  – Photo-shopping pictures to fit a joke.
  – Posed photos with a look-alike actor.
  – Posed photos with the actual guest of honor.  For example, an Obama-Lincoln-type film parody was shot with Obama playing himself in the “future” Spielberg movie titled Obama. 

  4.  In a typical roast format, Obama threw in some lines targeted at Conan O’Brien.  When you’re given the power to throw lines, you are a fair target to receive them as well.

  5.  My favorite Obama line was when he brought up his future Presidential Library:  “Some have suggested we put it in my birthplace.  But I’d rather keep it in the United States.”  Poking fun at his own expense.   Great line.

  6.  The President closed his speech with serious comments about the press, the Boston, West Texas, and mid-West flood survivors and heroes.  He did that without humor and included a call to action.  “All of us…we can do better.”

Click here to watch the Obama speech.

Also speaking at the dinner was Conan O’Brien.  As a guest speaker, he would have permission to speak on topics which might be off limit to the President, and he did. 

  – Conan also used the power of the photograph.
  – He used some self-deprecation, but not as much as the President used.
  – My favorite joke referring to the fact that Obama has added jobs:  “The number of popes has doubled.  And the number of tonight-show hosts has tripled.”
  – He also mentioned the tragedies, using one light joke. “Don’t pick on a city where 9 people out of ten are related to a cop.”  And then he closed with a photo piece targeted at celebrity look-alikes of big-shots in government.  The goal was to leave the audience on a laugh line.

Click here to watch the O’Brien speech.

The Power of Poking Fun at Yourself

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

     Fourteen-Year-Old Jack Carroll has Cerebral Palsy.  He does stand-up comedy with a good dose of poking fun at himself, on Britain’s Got Talent.  He’s a huge hit.  I’ll give you an overview of the structure of his routine, hopefully not telegraphing the punchlines.
     His first joke connects before the act begins.  He jokes when asked “tell me a little bit more about you.”
   1.  He does a Harry Potter joke, based on his appearance.
   2.  He plays with a phrase which has a double meaning:  “can’t stand.”
   3.  Jokes about QUEUING at Disney Land.  QUEUE is British for standing in line.
   4.  He pokes fun at his disability benefits.
   5.  Uses a topper referring to “a pool”.
   6.  A James Bond joke referring to a LIFT which is British for elevator.
   7.  A great closer giving the final punchline to his sister.
     Most jokes are based on some form of self-deprecation.  His connection with the audience is very strong…a difficult task for a two-minute comedy set.  Timely references, good pacing, lightly pokes fun at his condition.  He’s a young man with a bright future.
     Click here to view the video.

Contest Results — Games to Play

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Here are the results of April’s contest as picked by our panel of judges.  The theme for the contest was:  Games To Play in Prison.

The challenge was to make up games (which are not real), based on actual games which do exist.  The original games can be board games, TV games, reality games, carnival games, sport games, etc.  The new games should fit the prison theme.

New Joke Contests are announced at the start of the month.  The next contest will be announced on May 1.

Here are the top entries for this month:


Whack a Mole – Reality Version
     Nancy Lininger, Camarillo, California


Last Convict Standing
     Gerald Fleischmann, Fountain Valley, California


Who Wants to Fleece a Millionaire
     Tom Nee, Oak Lawn, Illinois

HONORABLE MENTION (in random order)

  – Straight-Jacket Twister
  – I Used to Have a Secret
  – I survived a San Quentin game show
  – Four Years to Win It
  – In the Clink You Can Dance
  – Mame That Goon

  – Meal or No Meal
  – Our Cell’s Got Talent
  – What’s My Fine?
  – Brig Bother
  – Candid Security Camera

  – Farewell The Truth
  – Dancing With the Scars
  – IOU Money Drop
  – The Price is Out of Sight
  – Truth Nor Consequences

  – Forgot the Lyrics
  – Scream for a Day
  – Fear Factory
  – Sure Raids
  – Concentration Camp

  – Family Food Fight
  – Sheets and Ladders
  – Hide and Hide
  – Wheel of Misfortune
  – Game of Lifer

  – Convictionary
  – Prisonopoly
  – Prison Hold ‘Em
  – The Apprentice Accomplice
  – So You ThinkYou Can Scam?

  – Whose Alibi is it Anyway?
  – SafeBusters
  – Without a Fingerprint Trace
  – Solitaire Confinement
  – Texas Hold-’em Up

  – Not Guilty due to Crazy Eights
  – What’s My Alibi?
  – Big House
  – Five Card Fast Draw
  – Go Fish — or Sleep With ‘Em

  – Monoplea
  – You Are the Weakest Link
  – The Sentence is Right
  – Press your Lock
  – You Bet Your Life Sentence

  – Not so Trivial Robbery Pursuit
  – Fantasy Island — Alcatraz
  – Are You Smarter Than a Rookie Cop?
  – The Ponzi Pyramid
  – Truth or Incarceration

  – Criminal Mastermind
  – Connect Four Years to Your Sentence
  – America’s Got Safe-Cracking Talent
  – You Bet Your Life Without Parole
  – Whose Lineup Is It Anyway?

  – Project Runaway
  – The Amazing Conjugal Visit
  – America’s Got Alibis
  – Celebrity Hunger Strikes
  – Bowling for Early Release

  – The eXit Factor
  – Beat the Alarm System
  – Show Me The Bail Bond
  – The Solitary Life
  – Shoots and Splatters

  – Frisk
  – Texas Hold’em and Cuff’em
  – Better Believe I’m Sorry!
  – Tiddly Finks
  – Clueless

Humor Program in Las Vegas

Saturday, April 13th, 2013

Powerhouse Pros presents a special Humor Skills program – “Prison Games” presented by John Kinde, DTM – on Monday, April 15 at 6:15 pm in Las Vegas. It will include techniques for helping you focus your humor skills on creating original humor. The program will be interactive and fun. You are invited to join as we learn to create fresh humor and laughter. The club meets at Pololu Robotics and Electronics, 920 Pilot Road in Las Vegas.

Dating Dictionary

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Dating Dictionary — Understanding Postings in the Singles Scene

Here’s an update to our Dating Dictionary.  You may find it useful if you’re into the internet dating scene.

  – Web Cam:  An invention that has eliminated the need to ask:  “What are you wearing?”
  – Easy:  Used to describe a woman who has the morals of a man.
  – Eye Contact:  Something that is difficult for women since their eyes are not in their chest.
  – Friend:  An acquaintance with a flaw that makes sleeping with the person an unappealing thought.
  – Love at First Sight:  What happens when two aroused, not-especially-choosey people meet.

  – Birth Control:  Avoiding pregnancy by pills, condoms, or dating repulsive people.
  – Committed:  Sees therapist but is not incarcerated.
  – Indifference:  An emotion which is often read as “playing hard to get.”
  – Interesting:  How a man describes a woman who lets him do all the talking.
  – Irritating Habit:  What the endearing little qualities that initially attract two people turn into after four months together.

  – Law of Relativity:  How attractive a person appears to be is inversely  proportional to the number of minutes remaining before the club closes.
  – Sober:  A condition in which it’s almost impossible to fall in love.
  – Loves Adventure:  Has had more partners than you ever will.
  – Average Looking:  On their first visit to your home, all your clocks will stop.
  – Good Looking:  Able to look at objects really well.
  – Very Good Looking:  Arrogant.

  – Educated:  College dropout.
  – Highly Educated:  Will treat you like an idiot.
  – Fun:  Annoying.
  – Open Minded:  Will sleep with your sister (and your brother).
  – New Age:  Hair in places you’d rather not find it.

  – Romantic:  Looks better in candle light.
  – Looking for Soul Mate:  Stalker.
  – Young At Heart:  Body is falling apart.
  – 40 Something:  60 something looking for 20 something (average is 40)
  – Friendship First:  As long as it includes nudity.

  – Gym Fit:  Loves looking in mirror.
  – Spiritual:  Seven years ago attended an Easter service.
  – Stable:  Arrested twice but never charged.
  – Thoughtful:  Says Please when demanding a beer.
  – Height or length:  Subtract two inches.

  – Weight:  Add ten percent.
  – Swimmers build:  Whales swim.
  – Athletic:  Watches ESPN.
  – Rugged:  Bad complexion.
  – Feminine:  You’ll smell the perfume before turning the corner.
  – Masculine:  You’ll wish they were wearing perfume.

  – In Shape:  Round is a shape.
  – Financially secure:  Able to pay the interest on credit cards each month.
  – Age is Relative:  Looks like your aunt or uncle.
  – Free Spirit:  Recently out on parole.

Authenticity and Risk

Saturday, April 6th, 2013

Authenticity creates risk.  And with it comes magical moments.

I’ll share a video segment from a Michael Buble concert where we witness one of those magical moments.  Michael Buble, in the middle of a concert chose to lower the shields, be authentic, and let the magic happen.

As speakers and performers, we have shields which keep us from touching our audience.  We have control of the stage.  We have the authority of the microphone.  Our position as speaker and performer defines our role in the power structure.  We need to choose to lower some of the barriers which block us from making an authentic connection. 

We’ve seen it before.  The Pope goes into the crowd and takes a child in his arms.  He’s taking a risk.  He’s connecting with the faithful.  The Obamas get out of the limo on inauguration day and walk the parade route.  They are taking a risk and they are connecting with the parade watchers.

The first thing we see in the video clip is that a woman in the audience starts talking to Michael Buble.  She wants to talk about her son.  His first reaction is to be annoyed.  He uses blunt words and tone of voice.  While that is an authentic reaction, it’s not what we normally think of when we hear the phrase “be authentic and connect with your audience.”   Just as arrogance blocks connection so does annoyance.  We have barriers and shields which are designed to protect us but they also can block us from being authentic. 

Michael Buble drops his first shield when he makes the decision to engage the woman in conversation.  The second shield goes down when he moves from standing on the stage to sitting on the edge of the stage.  This allows him a more positive, authentic communication position with the woman.  Standing on a podium or behind a lectern puts a barrier between you and the audience.  The third shield goes down when he lowers his tone of voice to a conversational register and he starts using softer words.  The fourth shield is lowered when he chooses to listen and let the woman talk.  The fifth shield goes down when he invites the 15-year-old boy (Sam) to join him at the front of the stage, letting him inside the security ring.  The young man joins him, sitting on the edge of the stage.   The sixth shield, he invites him to sing.  Michael Buble cues the music, and the seventh shield drops as he makes physical contact by giving the boy a one-armed hug, encouraging the boy to relax.  Michael begins singing and then places the microphone in front of the boy.  After only four words of the song, everyone knows that the boy CAN SING.  Michael and the crowd are electrified…a magical moment happens. 

The eighth shield drops, the boy is invited on stage.  The ninth shield falls when Michael lets go and shows his excitement by trying to pick Sam up, discovering that the boy is too heavy.  Michael starts singing again.  The tenth shield drops when Michael hands the microphone to the boy, giving him control of the song.  Note that Sam did not reach to take the microphone, Michael picked up Sam’s right hand and put it on the microphone.  Michael then backs away giving Sam the spotlight.  When Michael sends Sam back into the audience, he drops his eleventh shield by praising the boy, even using a little self-deprecation humor. 

This sequence shows us how a performer or speaker can move from annoyance to positive authenticity by permitting the magic to happen.  He had to take the risk of lowering the shields which were preventing his authentic self coming from coming out and making a positive connection with the audience.  Sometimes the shields are lowered a little at a time.  The boy wasn’t immediately invited onto the stage and handed the microphone.  Lowering the shields were done in a stepping stone manner.  And that allowed the authenticity to come out and for the magic to happen.

Sometimes we have a moment which presents itself in the middle of a program: A chance to be sincere, honest, genuine.  The risk may keep us from being authentic.  What if they don’t like me?  What if it happens to be bad judgment on my part to say or do something? What if I try to be funny and they don’t laugh?  What if I take a risk and lose control?

The next time a magical moment knocks, take a chance and answer the door.  It may involve some risks, but the reward of authentic connection and a magical moment are worth it.  Here is the link to the Michael Buble video clip.

Here is another video clip on Authenticity.  It received the biggest response of all my posts in the past seven years.  It features Mr Rogers testifying before a Senate Sub-Committee.  It’s worth watching.

New Humor Contest — Games To Play

Monday, April 1st, 2013

The April contest is called Games To Play.  I heard of a stress reliever game used in a prison environment.  The staff and inmates were using a Trivia Game to break up the routine of the day.  I started to wonder, “what other games would be good in a prison environment.”  And I started making up new games from existing, familiar games.  The games I created are not real, they’re just a game title, twisted for possible humorous effect.  The games could be based on real games, Past and present: Table games, TV games, TV reality shows, anything game related.

Here are three examples for the theme Games To Play in a prison environment:

  – Warden Swap
  – Let’s Make a Plea Deal
  – 101 Ways to Leave a Prison

Select your best lines and submit them.  Your first three submissions will be eligible for Top-Three recognition by our panel of judges.  Additional lines may be recognized as Honorable Mention.  Send them to us at by April 14, 2013. 

New Joke Contests are announced at the start of the month.  The next contest will be announced May 1.