Observational Humor — Case Study #106

Here is another Observational Humor monologue presented at the end of a meeting. We’ll look at the set-up. The joke. And what makes the joke work.

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

1. A speaker humorously used the slang “broad” when referring to a woman. Although it’s often a “non-PC” word, in the context of his speech it was in good taste and well received.

2. A speaker talked about being married two and one half times.

3. A running gag for the past five years is that Frank’s wife is my girlfriend.

4. Frank said that women want a man with a sense of humor.

5. Frank said that his wife didn’t smell good, playing with a meaning of “unable to smell things well.”

6. Frank gave a great speech on how to make drab subjects colorful, funny and interesting.

7. Melanie apologized for not wearing makeup.

8. Bill was the emcee for the program and was sharply dressed in a suit.

9. Bill is a race car driver.

10. Frank used his name and made a joke playing with the spelling, saying that the F was silent.


When I was in the military, they were concerned that I wasn’t married…so they sent me abroad. (Played with the sound-alikes: Abroad–overseas. A broad–outdated slang for a woman. I wouldn’t normally use the expression, a broad, as it could be offensive. But in this instance I felt it was acceptable. Be aware and be cautious.)

I considered that to be half a marriage. (Call back to half marriage referenced in a speech that evening.)

I had another half of marriage when I met my girlfriend, Lynnea (Frank’s wife. This worked as a running gag which had been used many times over the years.)

She was looking for a man with a sense of humor. (A call back. Implies that Frank might not be funny, which is far from the truth.)

And she smells great. (A call-back.)

Frank delivered a terrific humor skills program tonight. Would you join me at the front of the room, Frank? (Frank came and stood next to me.) Funny (pointing at Frank). Drab (pointing at me). Funny. Drab. Thanks for a great program, Frank. (Self deprecation humor. And also recognized Frank for a job well done.)

 I have to apologize…normally I’m wearing more makeup. (A call back to Melanie’s apology.)

Would Bill join me.  Melanie is planning a PR campaign for our club. It will feature me and Bill.  Before…After. (Pointing at me and then Bill).   Before…after. (Self deprecation and also a compliment for Bill’s appearance, comparing his sharp look to my overly casual attire.   I’m also using parallel construction where I first used DRAB and FUNNY with a member of the audience.   This time it was BEFORE and AFTER.  Parallel construction triggers recognition of a joke format and helps strengthen the joke.)

Bill is known for his race car driving skills. I may not be a race car driver, but they’ve named a major race after me. The Indy 500… The K is silent. (I wasn’t sure how hidden the punchline would be…hearing Indy as (k)Inde. But it worked great. Huge laugh. The audience must have made the connection.)