Observational Humor — Case Study #98

Observational Humor Monologue number 98!  As usual, the monologues are not presented for the entertainment value, but as a learning tool.  First you will see the set-ups.  Then the monologue jokes follow.  And then a brief comment on what makes the jokes tick.  Enjoy.

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

1.  An evaluator suggested to a speaker that, when crossing the speaking platform, he should not turn his back on part of the audience.  He demonstrated how one could cross while still somewhat facing the audience, maintaining a connection.

2.  The same evaluator suggested lengthening a specific pause in the speakers talk.  He wanted the speaker to relax and take a deep breath at a specific point in the speech.

3.  A guest named Fred was referred to by wrong names three or four times. The first time was an accident.  Then it started to be on purpose, a running gag.

4.  An evaluator used the word EXTRANEOUS…twice.

5.  The weather was starting to warm up.  In the summer time our members tend to dress rather casually.  Three people were dressed in shorts.

6.  Carolyn noted that she was the only woman attending the meeting.  She said she liked the odds.

7.  We had a guest speaker named Marco.


(I crossed the podium in an exaggerated side-ways movement.  This entry got a very big laugh.)
Mr General Evaluator, fellow Toastmasters, and especially (I took a deep breath and exhaled) Francis.
(Noticing the running gag of mentioning our guest using the wrong name, I jumped on the bandwagon.  The breath got a fair response.  Saying the name Francis got a very big laugh.  Although I was expecting a bigger response to the breath, the fact that it played less than expected probably helped build the tension to make the Francis line even funnier.)

Few people know it, but I used to work for the Rail Road.  I’m an EX-train-eous person.
(Since EXTRANEOUS is an uncommon word, and since it had been used twice, it was a good target for Observational Humor.  If it had been used only once, I would not have used it.  The repetitive nature strengthened its use as a joke set-up.)

To our guests, you’ll notice that we are a very informal club.  The warmer it gets, the more we dress down.  You should come back in August.  The meetings are very interesting.
(This is a re-cycled joke which I had used before.  The set-up was really strong that evening.  Nineteen people were present, and a guest was the only person in a suit and tie.  Three people were wearing shorts.  We were just starting to notice a weather warming trend.  I was a speaker and was wearing basketball shorts and a colored TShirt.  The contrast of dress styles encouraged me to repeat a previously used line, because I knew it was funny, and because it had been maybe nine months since I had used it.  I used the technique of extrapolation, projecting a trend into the future.  Very good laugh.)

Carolyn said she liked the makeup of the group tonight.  As the only woman, she said the “odds were good.”  She is right.  At PowerHouse Pros, “the odds are good…and the goods are odd.”
(This is an old joke told to me by a woman speaker when I was visiting Alaska.  My feeling was that it wasn’t a widely told joke and was guessing that nobody had heard it before.  I felt I needed to repeat Carolyn’s comment to strengthen the set up.  Good laugh.)

The thing I like about this group is that people are athletic and fit.  As I look around the room.  Daniel…scuba diving.  David…swing dancing.   Marco…polo.
(The connection of Marco Polo had jumped into my head.  So I used the rule of three to set it up.  I set a pause between each set of names and activities which set the rhythm and expectation for the third item and the punchline.  Very big laugh.)