Archive for July, 2014

Observational Humor — Case Study #123

Saturday, July 26th, 2014

Here is another Observational Humor monologue presented at the end of a meeting.  First we’ll look at the set-up for the jokes.   Then we’ll look at the jokes and a brief analysis of what made the jokes work.

Read the set-up information first, then you’ll be ready to watch the video of the monologue.  You’ve heard the expression when someone shares a funny event:  “You had to be there.”  Watching the video will give you a feel for “being there.”  It will help you understand the power of Observational Humor.

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

1. A speaker said she was compelled to do something, but used the word IMPALED instead of COMPELLED.

2. My Mother was visiting and attending the meeting.

3. My mother is from Arizona.

4. At a previous meeting four guests attended, all introducing
themselves as roommates of Ethan. He shares a large house with
several people.

5. A speaker said he was entering some data into the computer but
forgot to click SAVE when he was done.

6. Two first-time guests were visiting the meeting with their two
children, one was as very small baby.

7. Carolyn was wearing a top with a black-and-white, busy, abstract


Before watching the video, it’s important that you read the seven set-up items listed above. It’s the set-up that gives the monologue the context it needs to be funny. Click to play the video.


I wasn’t going to be doing Observational Humor until I was impaled by the President.
(A simple call-back of a mistakenly-used word.)

If I look bothered.  I’m out of my normal routine.   I usually relax myself by imagining my audience naked. But my Mother is here tonight…

(Playing with a cliche. A very big laugh.)

She said she was from Arizona. That’s not true…she is one of Ethan’s roommates.

(The set-up for this line was something that happened a month earlier
when Ethan brought four guests to a meeting. In spite of the fact that
half the audience was not familiar with the original set-up, it got a very
big laugh. For those who didn’t know of the set-up, the absurdity of the line was probably enough of a set-up to make the joke work even for them.)

I was on a church web site, surfing. It said, Do you believe in God?
Click Yes or No. YES! But I forgot on the bottom to check SAVED.
(Playing with the double meaning of the word SAVE. I wasn’t sure that
the joke would be clear enough to the audience, but it received a very
good response.)

And I’ve got the solution for building our attendance. We can
immediately double it if everybody brings a cute baby. And I can think of a dozen reasons why that would help our club.
(An absurd suggestion using a baby as a call-back. The baby was
adorable and the hit of the meeting.)


Carolyn would you please stand up. A lot of you don’t realize that she is wearing an army uniform. This is a camouflaged uniform for people who are fighting a color-blind enemy.
(I answered the question, “What’s the story behind this very abstract
B&W blouse?”)

Contest Results — First Date

Friday, July 25th, 2014

It’s time for our contest results for the July theme of  FIRST DATE.

Our Top-Three lines were selected by our panel of judges (speakers and improv players).

Our contests come out on the first of the month. Our next contest will be announced on August 1, 2014.

Here are the top lines for this month.


What NOT to say on a first date: Don’t worry, liquor doesn’t affect my driving.

Gerald Fleischmann, Fountain Valley, California


What  NOT to do on a first date: Text a friend about your date whilE you are on it, speaking aloud everything you are texting.

Marty Bernstein, Oak Park, Illinois


What NOT to say when trying to get a first date: I stutter when I ask a pretty girl out. Oh look…I didn’t stutter!

Nancy Lininger, Camarillo, Calfiornia

HONORABLE MENTION (In random order)

What NOT to say when trying to get a first date: 

– I’ve been depressed lately. Maybe a date will cheer me up.
– Let’s meet at a wedding dress store.
– We’d have to meet out of town…people know me here.
– I can’t believe you’re going out with me. I really can’t believe you’re going out with me. I really really can’t believe you’re going out with me.  I really really really can’t believe you’re going out with me!

What NOT to bring to a first date:

– A Sponge Bob security blanket.
– A textbook from a class you took 20 years ago.
– Your grandmother’s ashes.
– Your dog. “He loves doing that. I’ll get you a tissue.”
– Your mother.

What NOT to say during a first date:
– So how do you feel about polygamy?
– Could I look at your teeth?
– Want to hear my Pee Wee Herman impression?
– By the way, do you have cab fare for the ride home?
– Is it OK if we dress up as super-heroes tonight?
– In the glove box there’s a bottle of aspirin, in case you suddenly get a headache.

– Sorry I’m late. My first hot date tonight took longer than I planned.

– We can have a fun time or not…it’s up to you.
– After dinner, you can come over to my place, and I’ll show you my trophies.

– I win joke contests.
– How is Venus this time of year?
– I’ve got to be home by midnight…in case my probation officer calls.
– We can go anywhere you want…as long as it’s not out-of-state.
– You remind me of my last date.
– If we get married I can stay in the country. Then we can go out again.
– I can get us fast service…Hey waiter, here’s a buck.
– I’ll call you if I remember your number.
– Did you have to pick the most expensive item?
– My policy is don’t ask don’t tell.
– I thought you were my dream date, then I woke up.
– Mother tried to fix me up with a guy who looks just like you.
– I’m sure that mole can be removed.
– What do you think of the new cologne I’m trying tonight? It’s an aphrodisiac.

– You smell much better than I’ve heard.
– I hope you’re not just another party pooper.
– I’m using this lip balm so my mouth sores can clear up before we kiss goodnight.

– I have a lot in common with Oedipus Rex.

– You use too many crutch words…have you considered joining Toastmasters?

– I thought I’d surprise you with an evening of competition paintball.
– I didn’t say we’re going to Birmingham; I said Burning Man.
– So how far do you go on a first date?
– Please don’t open the glove box…that’s where I keep my guns.
– So let’s talk about string theory.
– Is that your real hair color?
– Have you had a face lift?
– I can see you’re into me.
– Could you loan me some money?
– If we get serious, I will need to see your tax returns for the last three years.

– I live with my mom, 2 dogs, and 22 cats.
– I’m really good with numbers. I bet I can guess your measurements.
– My last date ended with a murder trial, but I was acquitted.

What NOT to do on a first date:
– Crack your knuckles repeatedly all evening.
– Text a friend about your date while you are on it, speaking aloud everything you are texting.

– Complain about never getting a second date.
– Laugh at everything your date says.
– Hum every few minutes, alternating between “The Candy Man” and “It’s a Small World.”

– Blow your nose on your shirt tail.
– Take a call from your ex.
– Check the score of a game (you will never score if you do).
– Turn up one hour late and say “Sorry, I forgot.”
– You pick up your date in your convertible with the top down when it is winter and windy.

– Show up wearing a bow tie and nothing else.
– Show up wearing a Sumo wrestling outfit.

Places to NOT to go on a first date:

– An adult theater, bookstore, or strip club.
– To a Toastmasters meeting and make sure your date is called on for Table Topics.

Ups and Downs of English

Saturday, July 19th, 2014

UPS and DOWNS of the English Language

I’m a fan of creating my own humor writing exercises.  I saw a post online which discussed the crazy English Language.  It got me going UP and DOWN the strange contrasts in our colorful language.  Here are some of the things I came up with:

Why fill a pillow with DOWN if you’re only going to fluff it UP?

Why do they say a bank robbery is going DOWN when they’re being held UP?

If a balloon goes UP in flames, will it come crashing DOWN?

If someone is feeling DOWN why do they need to throw UP?

If you’re number was UP, would it make you feel DOWN?

In Blackjack, if your luck was on the UPswing, why would you double DOWN?

If you were DOWN on your luck, why would you give UP?

If a team is DOWN two in the ninth, why would the next batter be UP?

If you were consoling someone who was UP-set, would you be a DOWN comforter?

If you put a paper bag over your head when you had hick-UPS, would you put a plastic bag over your head if you had hick-DOWNS?

If you cured hick-UPS by scaring someone, would hick-DOWNS be cured by love at first sight?

Now you’re all caught UP and have the low DOWN on the latest definitions.

I just made this UP and wrote it all DOWN.

Observational Humor — Case Study #122

Friday, July 11th, 2014

Here is another Observational Humor monologue presented at the end of a meeting.  An Observational Humor joke does not need to be the funniest joke in the world to get a good laugh.  The factor of “being there” is what magnifies the power of the joke.  Watching the audience response teaches you the power of Observational Humor.

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

1. We had a an excellent meeting. The speeches were motivational and inspiring.

2. Ethan, one of our club members, brought 5 guests. They were all
people who share a house. The guests were introduced as his room

3. One of the guests at the meeting was from Sweden. One was from
Canada. One club member had the last name of Polish. One guest had
the first name of Happy.

4. The guests were young men and some members were referring to
them as a Boy Band.

5. A speaker told us about her Grandmother receiving her high school
diploma at age 98. On receiving her diploma, her Grandmother said:
“Oh boy, my last day of school.” And her son replied with: “Now you
have to get a job!”

6. A member was assigned to give an impromptu speech topic on the
subject of “what would he name a month if he were to name it after

7. A guest gave an impromptu speech about a guy in a dress who kept
calling him to be his friend.

8. Member Bobby Williams talked about how his dog reacted after he
had been absent for a long period of time. When they reunited, the dog got excited and licked him.

9. The monologue video is presented from beginning to end without any cuts or edits. As I approached the end of the monologue I had a lengthy pause as I made a decision to drop two jokes and deliver the final joke which I wasn’t sure I wanted to use. The joke related to Bobby’s dog’s response welcoming him home. As I wasn’t sure about the joke, I stumbled over my own words getting the joke started. It got a good laugh and was ok as a closer. But usually when I’m not sure about a joke I leave it out. The excessive pause and the mixing up of my words were not the highlights of my humor that evening and they were not the best way to close the monologue.


Here is the entire monologue, presented at the meeting, recorded on
video. Watching the video of the monologue is the best way to see and understand the power of observational humor. A joke by itself is not nearly as strong as a joke within the context of “being there.”   Click Here to watch the video.



LINE ONE. In the interest of having a balanced program, I will now
speak on how to have an unhappy and unfulfilled life.
(This line was set-up by a meeting with excetionally motivational and
inspiring speeches. The trigger at work is a 180 twist.)

LINE TWO. Mr Toastmaster, guests, and the one person who has never lived with Ethan.
(This line uses a cliche, formal, speech opening with a call back about
Ethan’s many roommates. The trigger is an implied exaggeration,
suggesting that EVERYONE has been a roommate of Ethan’s.)

LINE THREE. One Direction and Abba having nothing on us.
We have:
A Swedish person,
A Canadian,
We have one Polish Person
We have one person who is Happy.
(This joke starts with a reference to two bands, a Boy Band and a band from Sweden. I then list a colorful list of people who were attending the meeting.)

LINE FOUR. And I received an inspiring insight tonight. In thirty
years I can get my high school diploma…and get a job.
(An excellent call back about the diploma and the get-a-job lines which
had received huge laughs earlier in the meeting. I dropped myself into
someone else’s story. I looked at the Grandmother’s experience, and I
said “I could do that.”)

LINE FIVE. I’m not interested in naming a whole month. One day
would be sufficient. February 29. I figure that one day every four years would be enough of me. And guys would celebrate this day by putting on a dress and calling John.
(Two call backs which linked the “month” speech with the stalking

LINE SIX. And finally, I always thought it was strange that if Bobby
hadn’t seen me for a long time, every time he would see me he would lick me.

(I had a lengthy pause and stumbled on my words as I debated whether I wanted to use this last joke. Usually when I doubt a line, I delete it. But this evening I went with it. The line got a good response but was not the best way to end the monologue. It’s also interesting to note that as time passes, the pause and the stumble are not nearly as noticable as I when I first experienced them. The lesson is that mistakes are often less noticable to the audience than they are to the speaker.)

Observational Humor — Case Study #121

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

This is a blend of Observational Humor and also jokes written for a 90th Birthday celebration. After a few opening lines, I presented most of the monologue in the format of a Question Man routine, where you first give the answer and then read the question.

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

1. Darren LaCroix recommended opening a speech with a video because it establishes credibility and builds a relationship with the audience.

2. He pointed out that Celine Dion uses an opening video even though she doesn’t need it.

3. We were told that giving away solid content encourages people to buy your educational products because they will want more of your wisdom.

4. A third of the audience, maybe more, were guests of featured speaker Burt Dubin.

5. Burt is a member of the Las Vegas, Nevada chapter and drives from Kingman, Arizona to attend meetings.

6. Recent chapter programs have featured speakers with the names Waldo, Rocco, and Bodine.

7. Burt Dubin was born on June 10, 1924.

8. Burt told us that during an economic downturn he downsized his life. Moved from a house to a condo and unloaded things he didn’t need…which included a wife.

9. This monologue was designed to honor the 90th birthday of Burt Dubin.


In the interest of saving time, I won’t play my opening video.

(Moderate laughter.)

Actually I don’t have a video.
(Topper. Slightly bigger laugh.)

I use Celine Dion’s video.

(Topper. Good laugh, but I was expecting more.)

I learned today that if I don’t include content in my talk, I won’t sell any of my Celine Dion albums.
(A transition to the next joke. And continuing the Celine Dion theme.)

So here’s one humor tip. Where do you place humor in your talk? You place your humor right before the audience laughs. 

(Recycle of a good original joke which I used at a meeting two weeks before. Very good response.)

But enough about me. This is about Burt. And I’m now going to answer your questions about Burt Dubin. Many of you submitted written questions before the start of the meeting. I will give you the answer and then read your question:
(Transition into the Question Man format where I give the answer first and then read the question–made famous by Johnny Carson, Steve Allen, Ernie Kovaks, and Plato.)

The answer is: 20 to 1 .

The question is: Of the people attending today’s meeting, what is the ratio of Burt’s guests to professional speakers.

(Burt had a lot of guests. I used the trigger of exaggeration. Very big laugh.)

The answer is: The FBI opened a case file on Burt Dubin.
The question is: What happened when Burt joined the NSA Las Vegas chapter by crossing state lines.
(Recognizes Burt’s dedication attending meetings. Plays with what happens when you “cross state lines.” Moderate laugh.)

The answer is: Waldo, Rocco and Bodine
The question is: Name three people with names almost as colorful as Burt.
(Weak response, probably for three reasons: First, it was not a fresh observation, but instead was a prepared joke. Second, it may be that Burt was not the best choice to anchor this joke. John would have made a better joke (more common, ordinary, boring than Burt, which is actually a somewhat colorful name). And third, many in the audience had not attended recent meetings and we not familiar with past speaker names.)

The answer is: Don Knotts, Carol O’Conner, Truman Capote, Fess Parker, Buddy Hackett, Jack Lemmon, Marilyn Monroe, Johnny Carson, Richard Burton, and Rock Hudson.
The question is: Name ten people who were born after Burt Dubin.

(This joke was built with simple research looking for names of famous people born within 12 months after Burt’s date of birth. Big laugh.)

You may have noticed that none of these ten people are still living.
(I would suggest caution using this type of joke. I did not have it in my prepared monologue, because I wasn’t sure how it would play. On the positive side, Burt has a good sense of humor and is a very vibrant 90-year-old. I sensed that the mood of the audience, and the response of the group to the list-of-names joke was positive and that the topper line would work. It did. A good line. A big laugh. If I were doing the monologue for a guest of honor who was not in excellent health, I would not have used this joke. Awareness and caution are valuable assets.)

The answer is: The first President Bush has great respect for Burt Dubin.
The question is: What is the result of George H W Bush being two days younger than Burt Dubin.
(This joke is very similar to the previous one, except that the birthdays are very close together and involved a Presidential figure. President Bush was featured on the news relating to his birthday the week before the meeting. Moderate response.)

The answer is: It means that Burt is a practical and resourceful person.

The question is: What does it say about Burt when, in the dictionary, DUBIN comes between DUAL PURPOSE and DUCT TAPE.

(The line was prepared in advance. The trigger is the question: What comes before and after Dubin in the dictionary. The words don’t have to be immediately before or after his name, but need to be fairly close. Weak response, but I like the joke and would use it again.)

The answer is: Burt’s wedding vows.
The question is: What is To Love, To Cherish, To Unload.
(A very unexpected call back. Huge laugh. Maybe the biggest laugh of the monologue.)

The answer is: Reynolds, Lancaster, Bacharach.
The question: is Name three people with whom Burt generously agreed to share his first name.

(The trigger was the question: What famous people have the first name of Burt. Weak response.)

The answer is: Burt Dubin.
The question is: Who is Lively, Mighty, and Ninety.
(This is a joke formula, rhyming triplett which ends in ninety and includes two flattering terms. I like a closer that gets an “ahhhh isn’t that sweet” response. Excellent response.)

Joke Contest — A First Date

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

Striking Out on a First Date.   Getting a first date and enjoying it are one of the challenges of life.   What are some things that might ruin your ability to get a first date, enjoy a first date, or get to a second date?

Here are some examples:

1. Things to not to say when trying to get a first date.
– How about dinner tomorrow night? Or are you going to play hard to get?

2. Things not to say on a first date.
– Will you want a boy or a girl first?

3. Things not to do on a first date.
– Bring a small glove and keep repeating “It it doesn’t fit you must

4. Places not to go on a first date.
– A funeral.

5. What to not too bring on a first date.
– Your Mother.

6. If you’re not enjoying a first date, how to be intentionally anoying.
– Take a Selfie every three minutes.

7. Things not to say after a first date.
– I can’t wait for our second date. We won’t be so limited on things
we can do.

8. Or any other faux pas a person could make related to a first date.
– I speak French. I’ll order the wine. Mr Wine Steward…voulez vous
coucher avec moi ce soir?

Write as many lines as you can. Then write ten more. Pick your best
three and submit by July 15, 2014. Send your top lines to You can send more than three
lines. The additional lines will be eligible for Honorable Mention. Our
panel of judges will recognize our top thee submissions.