Saying the Unexpected

The guest of honor at a roast opens with:  “There are nights which turn out magical.  This was not one of those nights.”

The audience is expecting to hear:  “This WAS one of those nights.”   By saying the opposite, he uses the trigger of surprise.  The line is a sure laugh and most people will realize that it’s said in jest.

A speaker receiving an award used the opening line:  “I deserve this.”  A very funny line.  She was saying the opposite of what would be expected.   One would normally hear something like, “With such a distinguished list of nominees, it’s such an honor to receive this award.”  People would be expecting the recipient to be somewhat humble.  Instead she used self-aggrandizement to trigger the humor, saying something totally unexpected.

When I left California to move to Las Vegas, the community held a Roast in my honor.  My mother flew in from Arizona to be part of the roast.  One of her lines was:  “When John was born…he was such an ugly baby.”  The line was totally unexpected.  It was the last thing you’d expect a mother to say about her first-born.  It was a perfect roast line and got a huge response from the audience.  Who would have thought that a farm girl from Kansas would be the hit of the roast?

When you’re preparing your script for a speaking event…look for the opportunity to say the exact opposite of what people would be expecting.  You will want to be selective.  Be careful not to insult someone.   Self-deprecation works well.  Most of the time, tongue-in-cheek humor works best because it’s usually clear that you aren’t serious.