Archive for January, 2014

Contest Results — Speaking in Code

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

It’s time for the results of our January Joke Contest — Speaking In Code.   The challenge was to uncover the hidden meaning in common expressions.

New Joke Contests are announced on the first of the month.  Our next contest will be February 1.
Here are this month’s top lines selected by our panel of eight judges (speakers and improv players):

 It’s a no brainer.  Code for, “Even I could do it.”
     Sandy Kampner, Evergreen Park, Illinois


Yes, dear.  Code for, “That’s certainly not worth arguing about.”
    Gerald Fleischmann, Fountain Valley, California


To make a long story short.  Code for, “You better sit down because I’m going to be talking for a long time.”
     Candace Allen, Crofton, Maryland


The doctor is running a little late.  Code for, “It will be at least an hour.”
     David Novick, Dayton, Ohio

HONORABLE MENTION (In random order)

  – Sure I’ll marry you, but this is a very important decision. Code for, “We’re talking about the next 6 to 7 years on the average.”
  – Gun Control.  Code for, “using both hands on the rifle.”
  – Have-a-nice-day.  Code for, “Here’s your change. Now take your groceries and MOVE ON!”
  – Don’t be a stranger.”  Code for, “Be a stranger.”
  – That dress looks good on you.  Code for, “I wouldn’t be caught dead in it.”

  – What a lovely gift!  Code for, “I wonder who I can re-gift it to?”
  – I have a headache.  Code for, “Get lost, lover boy.”
  – This is a brand new recipe.  Code for, “You are all my guinea pigs tonight.”
  – I did it my way.  Code for, “I made a mess of it.”
  – Would you consider a larger shoe size, miss?  Code for, “We won’t be trying Cinderella’s glass slippers on those whoppers, sis!”

  – Just a little for me; I’m eating light.  Code for, “I never could stand your cooking.”
  – RSVP.  Code for, “Show up unannounced and we’ll know you’re the social boor we think you are.”
  – Gluten free, soy free, salt free, sugar free, fat free, and lactose free.  Code for, “Nearly tasteless.”
  – Isn’t your puppy cute?  Code for, “Six months and 60 pounds later, it may not be so cute.”
  – I do all my own cooking.  Code for, “I can zap anything they sell on TJ’s ready-to-eat aisle.”

  – I’m back to square one.  Code for, “No wonder I never get called to play Hollywood Squares.”
  – I’m the butt of everyone’s jokes. Code for “I’ve got a big butt.”
  – Time to throw in the towel.  Code for, “That leak in the basement is overflowing.”
  – I have a headache.  Code for, “Not tonight, Honey.”
  – I’ll think about it.  Code for, “Forget about it!”

  – I am so sorry that this happened.  Code for, “Don’t blame me.  It wasn’t my fault
– A stitch in time saves nine. Code for, “Get off your lazy butt and do it now.”
  – Too many cooks spoil the broth.  Code for, “You can’t cook; now please get out of my kitchen.”
  – A penny saved is a penny earned.  Code for “Forget about the fun and finer things in life and you’ll retire at age 65 instead of 75.”
  – A piece of cake.  Code for, “It’s really hard and you’ll probably fail.”

  – Needless to say.  Code for, “I’m going to say this anyway.”
  – The check is in the mail… Code for “You’re not getting paid.”
  – Same old same old.  Code for, “I am bored silly and I really don’t want to talk to you.”
  – Today’s special. Code for, “What we didn’t serve yesterday.”
  – It was a beautiful wedding.  Code for, “How much did that cost?”

  – It is what it is.  Code for, “What is it?”
  – After due consideration.  “Code for, “not a snowball’s chance.”
  – Politically correct.  Code for, “I’m not going to tell the truth!”
  – All the bells and whistles.  Code for, “You bet it’s expensive.”
  – How the other half lives.  Code for, “the one percent.”

  – Brand spanking new.  Code for, “Only used once.”
  – Cleanliness is next to godliness.  Code for, “There’s soap and a shower in the church basement.”
  – The customer is always right.  Code for, “This person is a moron.”     
  – I respect my esteemed colleague from the other side of the aisle.  Code for, “he’s the world’s biggest slime bag.”
  – I only had 2 beers.  Code for, “Please don’t give me a sobriety test.”

  – Let’s have a trial separation.  Code for I want a divorce.
  – We had a frank exchange.  Code for, “We yelled and screamed till we were hoarse.”
  – Whatever.  Code for, “I’m dumb and lazy.”
  – Maybe.  Code for, “No Way, Never Ever, Not a Chance but I’m not saying no because I can’t put up with any more of your whining.”
  – Did you hear the one about.  Code for, “Let me be the center of
attention because I want you to love me.”

  – Just lucky I guess.  Gamblers code for, “I gambled a fortune and got
some back.”
  – Pull over Driver.  Code for, “This will cost you a fortune.”
  – Hmmm. Doctor’s code for, “Your health insurance won’t be enough.”
  – You’ve been a great audience.  Comic’s code for, ” Thank goodness some of you laughed.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

Words of inspiration by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  – There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.

  – Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

  – Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.

  – Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

  – Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

  – If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving.

Observational Humor — Case Study #112

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

Here is another Observational Humor monologue delivered at the end of a meeting.  We will look at the setups for the jokes.  Then we will review the jokes and what made them work.

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

1.  Bill Lusk said that after each automobile race he participates in, he comes off the track 5 years younger.

2. Our Club President said that our Club Board is a crack team.

3.  We had a lot of guests.  During the guest introductions it was clear that most of them came to hear guest speaker Linda Bown.

4.  In Linda’s speech she played a character, a romantic man from Barcelona.

5.  An introductory speech was delivered by a new member who happened to be a good-looking woman who met her husband in Atlanta.

6.  A speaker talked about having specific speaking skills on purpose.

7.  A speaker said he was FAST not HALF-FAST.

8.  A speaker said that the key to a good impromptu speech is “Don’t Puke.”

9.  A speaker said that effective speakers don’t deliver their speech in a half-hearted manner.

10.  Eric Culverson thanked the audience for allowing him to put in his two cents by speaking to them. 


Fellow Toastmasters, Ladies and Gentlemen, and especially Bill Lusk, the Benjamin Button of the Race Track.
(Refers to the movie, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which is about a character who grows younger over time.)

The secret of our club success is out.  We have crack teams.
(Implies that our club leadership is energized by chemical means.)

But you realize that if Linda Bown wasn’t speaking tonight, there would only be three people attending this meeting.
(Exaggeration, implying that people would not have come if it were not for the guest speaker.  While there is some truth in that, I exaggerated the result of not having the guest speaker.)

I’m Funny On Purpose…
I’m not half-funny…
I can deliver a successful humor monologue because I don’t puke.
(A series of call-backs.)

After people return home tonight…The women are going to book plane tickets to Barcelona.  And the men will book tickets to Atlanta.
(Implies that members would want to go to destinations where they could find romantic partners of the opposite sex.)

The reason that joke worked was because I delivered it in a half-hearted manner.
(Self-Deprecation.  I told a joke that worked, delivering it in my low-key presentation style, not a high-energy style.)

Tonight you found out that we pay our guest speakers.  We paid Eric Culverson two cents.
(A call-back playing with an alternate phrase meaning.  I used the literal meaning of two-cents, whereas Eric had used it to imply that “two cents” meant “to give my opinon.”  Good closer to the monologue.)

Observational Humor — Case Study #111

Friday, January 10th, 2014

Here’s another Observational Humor monologue.  Learning to use Observational Humor adds a fresh touch to your prepared speeches.  Audiences love in-the-moment humor.  We’ll look at the set-up, the joke, and then examine what makes the joke tick.

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

 1.  Several of our speakers were limping, for different reasons, as they walked to the platform.  One of our members joked that he didn’t feel like a member since he didn’t have a limp.

 2.  A speaker made the comment that my style reminded him of Robin Williams.  He was joking because my laid-back style is far from the frenetic style of Robin Williams.

 3.  A speaker talked about the difficulty of using the correct modifier, adjective or adverb, to modify a word.

 4.  A speaker joked that you’d be a better speaker if you had two shots of vodka before speaking.

 5.  A speaker led a creative exercise:  How many Toastmasters does it take to screw in a light bulb?

 6.  A speaker joked, how is fresh fish like inlaws who are visiting?  You need to get rid of them after three days.

 7.  Ryan gave a technical speech on an engineering topic.

 8.  Greg suggested to a woman member that she introduce her role to our guests.  She said that she would do that later in the meeting, just before she performed the role.  Greg joked that once again, he had been turned down by a woman. 


I am such an experienced member of this club that when I limp I need a walker.

(The original joke was triggered by a repetitive set-up, several people who were limping.  The trigger for my joke was “something funny that had been said.”  I used exaggeration, bragging that my limp was bigger.  It also used the trigger of TENSION, since I was using a walker for only the second time at a club meeting.  People had not had enough time to consider the walker as my new normal.)

 Here I go with another impersonation of Robin Williams.

(A callback and self-deprecation.)

The aim of this part of the program is to fulfill your goal of using humor gooder.

(I couldn’t resist the mis-use of adverbs.  It also provided a good set-up for the vodka joke.)

What is the secret to using humor weller?  Two shots of vodka.

(This is a subtle use of TENSION.  I let them know a “secret” is coming.  It’s a signal that a joke is about to happen. Anticipation is a form of tension.)

How many Toastmasters does it take to change a light bulb?  One, but he has to imagine that the people watching him are naked.

(Plays with the cliche that speakers control nervousness by imagining people in their underwear or naked.)

For Thanksgiving I was going to serve fresh fish.  But at the last minute I just decided to cook my inlaws.  After three days I have to toss them out anyway.

(Probably popped into my head because we DID have fish for Thanksgiving.  A call back.)

Ryan, that was the first time I’ve heard a Toastmaster speak Greek.

(Played with the cliche used when hearing something that’s hard to understand:  “That’s Greek to Me.”

I have bad news and good news.  The bad news was that Greg got turned down by two women.  The good news is that he was not turned down by any men.

(Greg was the emcee for the program.  Great response.  Excellent closer for the monologue. )

Observational Humor — Case Study #110

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

Here’s another Observational Humor monologue delivered at the end of a meeting.  We will look at the set-up, the joke, and then briefly examine what made the joke work.

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

1.  Our club President gave a short “Educational Moment” speech which summarized how club dues income can and cannot be spent.

2.  A speaker acknowledged 15 women in the audience.  There were only 10 women present.

3.  A speaker said that I had told him to speak in a conversational tone.

4.  Beverly said that on a vacation she had the opportunity to visit a nude beach.

5.  The emcee introduced someone who was a Doctor.  He said he wouldn’t ask what kind of Doctor she was.

6.  A speaker said, “When I go home tonight, I’ll be met at the front door by a lovely young woman who happens to be my wife.”

7.  I have presented hundreds of Observational Humor monologues.

8.  I occasionally use a walker.  I took it with me for the first time this evening.

9.  We had a large number of guests at the meeting, perhaps half the audience.

10.  In a speech, Kevin said that he was born in 1967.

11.  A speaker told us of his first time skydiving.  Then he said he has since jumped a total of 19 times.


Tonight I found out that Club Dues Income can’t be used to compensate the Observational Humor Master.  That concludes my remarks.  Thank you. (Started to leave the speaker’s platform.)

(Call back to the mention of Club Dues.  Implied punchline.  Suggested that I would only speak if I were paid.)

Madam General Evaluator, Fellow Toastmasters, and especially the ten women and the five women dressed as men.

(Any mistake, yours or someone else’s, should be examined for humor possibilities.  After I realized there weren’t 15 women present, I asked the question: “How do the numbers add up?”)

Speak in a conversational tone.  (In an announcer’s voice)  I can do that!

(Implies do as I say, not as I do.)

This has been a fun meeting tonight.  I haven’t had this much fun since I saw Beverly at the beach.  THAT was fun!

(Call back to the nude beach with a topper.)

I’m not a Doctor…but I played one on the improv stage.

(The trigger was something repeated multiple times.  The introducer mentioned “Doctor” three or four times.  Anything repeated an unusual number of times should trigger a search for humor possibilities.  I took the cliche “but I played one on TV,” and twisted it.)

Tonight when I go home, I’ll be met at the front door by a lovely young woman who happens to be someone else’s wife.

(Starts as a call back.  Then I twist the ending.)

This is my first time doing this.  Which explains the training wheels.

(Someone else had mentioned his role and explained that it was his first time doing it.  Although it was widely known that I do the Observational Humor role nearly every meeting, I suggested that it was my first time.  Moderate laughter.  It set up my walker joke.)

For the first time guests, if you were counting the number of guest introductions, you’ll realize that our club has only two members.

(A recycled joke.  I already knew it was a strong line.)

Kevin was born in 1967.  That was the year that I turned 20.  And that’s not funny.

(Self-deprecation.  The truth is funny.  But not THAT funny.  Weakest line of the monologue.)

If you go skydiving it proves that you have courage.  If you go skydiving 19 times, it proves that you lack common sense.

(Very big laugh.  Good closer.)

New Joke Contest — Speaking In Code

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

The January joke contest is called Speaking In Code.  The idea came to me when Bill Parker responded to my request for a written introduction for his upcoming speech.  He replied:  “I’ll bring the introduction with me.  Code for: I haven’t written it yet.”

Then he added: “Towards the end of my presentation, the audience and I will create our own joke using my humor creation process. Is it okay to use you as the subject of a joke?”

 I replied to him:  “Certainly, you can use me as the subject of a joke.  (Code for I’ll have the last laugh.)”

Then I thought, this is a great idea for a humor contest.  What would the CODE be for common expressions?  Here are some examples:

 Last night, I won a $500 slot machine jackpot.  Code for “Don’t ask me how much money I put into the slot machine before I hit the jackpot.”

 Not guilty, your honor.  Code for “I know I’m guilty, but this legal game we’re playing allows me to plead otherwise.”

 Until death do us part.  Code for “Until the initial passion wears off, I get bored and someone else sweeps me off my feet.”

Your creativity challenge for this month is to come up with a common phrase, and then create the code for what it really means.  Write as many items as you can.  Then pick your best three and submit them to by January 15.  Your first three entries will be eligible for Top Three recognition.  You can submit more than three entries and they will be eligible for Honorable Mention.