Observational Humor — Case Study #101

Monologue #101.  We’ll take a look at the set-up for the jokes.  And then present each joke and take a look at the triggers that made the joke work.

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

1.  Bill gave a passionate speech about being a race car driver. 

2.  A speaker said, “you’ll enjoy the program tonight or I’ll give you your money back.”   Funny, because the program was free.

3.  I have won four District Humor Contests.

4.  Scott said he still loved his first wife.  He had been married to his Ex for two years.

5.  Scott joked about being booked to do a comedy appearance in Primm, Nevada, which is a small town about 40 miles from Las Vegas.

6.  A speaker said, there is no such thing as a stupid question…Only speakers who think their questions are stupid.

7.  Ronny told of a practical joke where someone told him to hold his hand up to his face to see if his hand was bigger than his face.  When he did, they hit his hand and he slapped himself. 


I have something in common with Bill.  I consider myself a good racer.  in fact, I compare myself to Ben Hur.  When Bill heard that, he said:  “Just a minute.  I knew Ben Hur.  Ben Hur was a friend of mine.  And you’re no Ben Hur.” 
(A call back to the Lloyd Bentsen reply to Dan Quayle in the 1988 Vice Presidential Debate.  Implies that Bill is old.  Also self-deprecation, suggesting that I’ve overstated my credentials.  Very big laugh.)

I guarantee you’ll like my humor or I’ll refund DOUBLE your money.
(A call back to the money-back guarantee comment, exaggerating it.  Good laugh.)

I’ve won four District Humor Contests.  I don’t say that to impress you.  I tell you that because I’m impressed.
(A simple call back.  Very big laugh.)

My first wife was very special.  To be with me, she left her husband of two years.
(Implies that my first wife was Scott’s ex.  None of that was true of course, but the laugh was very big.)

People have always said to me, “John, you’re pretty good.  But you’ll never speak in Primm.”
(A call back linked to my not being good enough to speak in Primm.  A typical joke relying on a local funny-sounding town to trigger the joke.)

There are no stupid jokes, only speakers who tell cement jokes.
(Very good laugh.  After I told it, I wondered if it was received well by the target of the joke.  If I had it to do over, I’d probably delete this joke from the monologue.)

Ronny, if your hand is bigger than a fig leaf…
(I placed my hand in fig-leaf position.  Huge laugh.  The funniest line of the monologue.  Perfect as a closer.)