Archive for May, 2013

Joke Contest — Career Change

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

It’s time for the results of our May Joke Contest.  The theme is “Changing Careers” from the improv game “Once was…now is.”

The game is that someone is a speech coach.  They used to be in another career field, and that previous work exprience affects their work as a speech coach.

The top lines were selected by our panel of five judges (speakers and improv players).

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


Once was a doctor, now is a speech coach: “Open wide and don’t say ahh.”

     Nancy Lininger, Camarillo, California


“Once was an auto mechanic, now is speech coach: “I can fix it so ya talk all better, but it’s gonna cost ya”

     Tom Nee, Oak Lawn, Illinois


Once was a politician, now is a speech coach: “I knew Ralph Smedley.   Ralph Smedley was a friend of mine.  Sir, you’re no Ralph Smedley.”

     Gerald Fleischmann, Fountain Valley, California

HONORABLE MENTION (in random order)

Once was a stripper, now is a speech coach: “Imagine everyone in the audience naked.”

Once was a police officer, now speech coach: “I clocked you at 80 words per minute…slow down!”

Once was a librarian, now is a speech coach: “SHHHH.  Not so loud.”
Once was a wedding consultant, now is a speech coach: “Try saying I DO with real feeling.”

Once was a third grade teacher, now is a speech coach: “Don’t speak until you are spoken to.”

Once was a nurse, now is a speech coach: “Put this in your mouth and speak for thirty seconds.”

Once was a fashion model, now is a speech coach: “Now let’s try walking and talking at the same time.”
Once was a head cheerleader, now is a speech coach: “Give me a subject!  Give me a verb!….”

Once was a hypnotist, now is a speech coach: “You are getting speechy…very speechy”

Once was a mime, now is a speech coach:  ”                   !”

Once was a janitor, now is a speech coach: “Today we’ll mop up superfluous words and wring out an exceptional speech.”
Once was a movie director, now is a speech coach: “Let’s stick to the script.”

Once was an umpire, now is a speech coach: “Three stutters…you’re out!

Once was a golf pro, now is a speech coach: “Your approach needs work.”

Once was an exterminator, now is a speech coach: “That term might not fly in an audience of WASPs.”

Once was a librarian, now is a speech coach:  “I think your speech needs better bookends.”

Once was a banker, now is a speech coach: “Put your principal points up front to generate more interest.”

Once was a undertaker, now is a speech coach: “You need to dig into your research further.”

Once was a boxer, now is a speech coach: “Love those punch lines.”

Once was a carpenter, now is a speech coach: “I saw your script; just nail down your points and use plane English.”

Once was a traffic cop, now is a speech coach: “That red light means STOP!”

Once was an elevator operator, now is a speech coach: “Try adding more highs and lows in your vocal variety.”

Once was a dentist, now is a speech coach: “To avoid cavities in your logic, brush up on your facts.”

Once was a jailer, now is a speech coach: “Your audience won’t pardon such grammatical crimes.”

Once was a realtor, now is a speech coach: “Your job speech has a lot to offer; think ‘vocation, vocation, vocation.'”

Once was a ventriloquist, now is a speech coach: “Don’t just throw your voice, project it.”

When You Make a Mistake

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

What is the best way to respond when you or someone else makes a mistake?  Martha Stewart was on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno on May 14.  She accidently referred to Jay as Dave, a reference to his time-slot competitor David Letterman. 

 Two ways to deal with a mis-statement are:

  1.  Acknowledge your mistake.  Martha immediately caught her mistake and corrected it.

  2.  Use humor.  Jay Leno and Wanda Sykes were standing by to defuse the mistake with humor. 

 Jay said, “Many women call out the wrong name.  I’ve had that happen.”  And Wanda said, “She called me Oprah.” 

 Using humor as a response to a mistake is a good way to acknowledge the mistake and set it aside.  When you can laugh at the mistake, it’s like saying: OK, so we made a mistake…we can laugh at it and it’s no big deal.  Once it is acknowledged it’s easier to consider it a non issue and you can press on with what you were really talking about.  If you can’t think of a witty comment, don’t force the humor.  Just point out the mistake, own it, take responsibility, and let it go.

Observational Humor — Case Study #97

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Here’s another Observational Humor monologue presented at the end of a meeting. I’ll provide the set-up, the joke, and a brief look at what made the joke work.

The set-up items are listed in the order that the jokes were presented. They are not in the order that they occurred during the meeting. I sequenced the jokes in what I thought was the best order for the monologue. Everything I’m sharing below is listed in monologue order of flow for ease of understanding the analysis.

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

1. The Emcee for the meeting explained that he was sick and would not be shaking hands with anyone he introduced during the program.

2. In the upper right corner of the White Board in the front of the room was “CISCO123” written in a small box.

3. Speaker Al Jensen used the phrase “taking up space.” He also said, “I take up a lot of space.” He was using self-deprecation. Al is a big guy.

4. A speaker suggested that we serve cocktails at our meeting. Someone added that we should use topless servers.

5. Earlier in the day, a speaker had been talking to a phone salesperson at the mall. He was asked if he was interested in an ORGY. Then he realized he misunderstood that he was being asked if he was interested in 4-G.

6. Al Jensen delivered a program titled: A Square Yard of Humor. He created the title which made reference to his full-day workshop called Acres of Humor. His title that evening, implied that the content would be a small part of his bigger workshop.

7. Daniel delivered a brainstorming session. A speaker said that Daniel had been “peppered” with questions.


(The Observational Humor Master called on me to present my observations. I walked to the front of the room. I started to reach out for a handshake, but when I got within touching distance, I spread my arms as though I was expecting a hug. We immediately hugged.  I specifically timed the “hug request” to be at the last second.  I wanted it to happen without a second thought.)

 I have the Ebola Virus…so I’m not shaking hands. (My approaching the speaking platform built the tension. People knew something was up since I normally presented my observations from my chair.  I wouldn’t go to the front of the room for nothing. The elevated tension drew attention to my opening line, and provided a tension to be broken by the first punchline. A very big laugh.)

Ladies and Gentlemen, and especially CISCO123. (This played with the trigger of “something everyone noticed.” People had seen CISCO123 written in the corner of the white-board for many weeks, without knowing what it meant. I pretended it was a person who was present at the meeting. I delivered the joke without acknowledging or pointing to the white-board, which brought the superiority theory into play. People made the connection immediately. A big laugh.)

I have a lot in common with Al Jensen. I’m a member of Power House Pros. I specialize in humor. And I do comedy magic. Think of me as an Al Jensen…who takes up less space. (A call back to the phrase “takes up space.” Very big laugh.)

 I have good news and bad news. The good news is that next week we will have topless cocktail servers. The bad news is…the servers will be Al Jensen and me. (Self-deprecation joke. But I couldn’t resist the chance to make Al the target of the joke too. So I used both of us. Very big laugh.)

Invite guests to our next meeting. Tell then the theme of the meeting will be 4-G. They may misunderstand you, but it will build the attendance. (That was a call-back of 4-G. Connection to ORGY was implied. Good laugh.)

I went by Al Jensen’s house last week. Like many Las Vegas homes, he has a small front yard. There was a small grass patch, about 10X10. And it was surrounded to bushes sculptured into cartoon characters. It didn’t surprise me to see that he had “a square yard of humor.” (A call back to the title of his program. The humor trigger was a picture created from a literal interpretation of his Al’s speech title. It was a stretch, but it worked. A good laugh.)

Daniel, during your speech you were “peppered.” And before you leave the meeting tonight…you will be assaulted. (The word PEPPERED had been referred to three times during the meeting. The repetitive quality set it up for a joke. The joke was linked to the unspoken SALT AND PEPPER. It worked. Good laugh.)

Changing Careers

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

This month’s contest theme comes from an Improv Game called “Once was…now is.”  In the improv game, one of the players is designated as a person who used to work in a specific career field.  He or she has left that career field and now works in a different one.  Their behavior in the new career field is influenced by their first career.  In the improv game the players act out an entire scene.  In this contest we’ll just be looking for a single punchline.  We’re going to have a person as coming from a variety of career fields, but now working as a speech coach.

Here is the formula for the joke:
The person once was a (BLANK), now is a speech coach:  (You’ll tell us what that person would say when coaching a speaker.)

Here are three examples:

Once was a Drill Sergeant, now is a speech coach:  “I can’t hear you!!”

Once was a dog trainer, now is a speech coach: “Speak!”

Once lived in the 1920s, now is a speech coach:  “An effective opening is, Mr Toastmaster, Fellow Toastmasters and Honored Guests.”

Write as many lines as you can.  Humor is a numbers game.  The more lines you write, the more likely it is that you’ll discover a gem.  Submit your best three lines to  You may submit more than three lines.  The additional lines will be eligible for Honorable Mention.  Submit your entries by May 15, 2013.

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