Observational Humor — Case Study #121

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.)