Archive for April, 2015

A Pro Taking a Risk

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

Here are two examples of Josh Groban taking a chance by singing with an audience member. It demonstrates that with risk comes reward.  Groban and the audience members are thrilled with the excitement and the surprise that happens in the middle of a show.  Audience members love seeing something special that unfolds before their eyes. Of course, if the segment is totally off-the-cuff, there is the risk of bombing. On the other hand, there is always the option of planned spontaneity, in this case by having the audience members pre-audition before they are invited on stage. If the star never saw the audition, it would still have the feel of spontaneity for both the star and the audience. These two clips have the genuine feeling of being in-the-moment and have results that will impress you. Also, improvised interaction with the audience increases the authenticity of the performer by connecting them with
their fans. The star is able to drop his or her guard and become more genuine. I think you will enjoy both the clips.

Josh Groban with a woman audience member.

Josh Groban with a man audience member.

Subscriber Survey Results

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

We are pleased that 173 subscribers gave us their opinions about our Humor Power Tips Newsletter.

If were too busy to take the survey, you can do it now if you would like to. Your opinions would be valuable to us. It will take you about five minutes. Click here to go to the survey.

If you are not a subscriber, you can sign up now. It’s free. You’ll get the newsletter each month and Two special reports: Show Me The Funny and When They Don’t Laugh!   Click here to subscribe.

Here is a summary of the survey results.

Percent of subscribers completing the survey:
Current subscribers 8% (of those who “opened” the newsletter)
New subscribers 25% (of those who responded to the verification email)

How do new subscribers find us:
Internet Search 60%
Referral by Friend 30%

Why do new subscribers sign up?
Add humor to my life 70%
Just curious about the newsletter 20%
Add humor to my speeches 10%

Current Subscribers Would like to see More of:
Observational Humor 64%
Adding humor to a speech 64%
Motivational humor for positive attitudes 57%
Humor triggers for funny lines 54%
Resources for learning humor 46%
Humor skills for writers 44%
Basics of joke writing 42%
Video clips that teach humor 42%

New Subscribers are Interested in:
Observational Humor 80%
Humor for relationships 71%
Humor for positive attitudes 71%
Humor triggers 63%
Adding humor to a speech 60%
Resources for learning humor 54%

76 comments on things people like about the newsletter. Thank you for your kind comments and support.

74 suggestions for improving the newsletter Thanks for your thoughtful suggestions. The suggestions were not focused in any one area. Some of the suggestions:
– More video. Our goal is to feature more video segments as a learning
tool. I’m still on the beginner’s side of the learning curve for using my
video camera and Windows 8 laptop computer. As I gain more skills in
the video editing department and become better at uploading the video to the internet, I’ll be doing more of it.
– Bring back the cartoon caption contest. I’m considering doing that
and am discussing it with a cartoonist. And I need to learn how to post
cartoons to my web site.
– When offering links to blog articles, give a summary of the article so
we don’t have to click on the link to see what the article is about. Good
– Recap and review past insights.
– More recognition of the contestants. I’m considering having a “Meet
The Contestant” feature. It might include some short biographical
information, a photo, a website, other relevant links. This would be
interesting to some of our readers, and it might be a good resource for
– The most frequent comment was that subscribers like the newsletter
as it is.
– There were comments on improving the format, and a small number
of comments that the humor wasn’t funny. While these were in the
minority, we realize that many who would agree with those comments
are already unsubscribed. So we do much appreciate the constructive
comments of every kind.

Comments about the contests:
– 75% enter or read the contests each month. 25% find the contests not relevant to their needs.
– One subscriber always shares the contest results with friends he/she
jokes around with.
– Another posts the contest results to a humor bulletin board at work.
– A few comments suggested that contest selection of winners tends to be subjective. I agree. The results are totally subjective. If you want to know more about how our contest winners are selected click here.

Speaking Experience of our subscribers:
An experienced speaker 50% (current subscribers)
An experienced speaker 35% (new subscribers)

Age of Subscribers:
Our average subscriber is in his/her late 50s.
29 and below 4%
30-40s 18%
50-60s 60%
70s and up 18%

A special Thank You to everyone who participated in our survey. If you have NOT participated in the survey and would like to do it now click here.

Contest Results — New National Holidays

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

It’s time for the best lines of our April Contest. The theme for the month is New National Holidays.

New contests are announced on the first of the month. The next contest will be introduced in the May 1 newsletter.

Here are the top lines for New National Holidays:


National Fiction Day: Not a real holiday

Marty Bernstein, Oak Park, Illinois


National Procrastination Day: To be determined.

Gerald Fleischmann, Fountain Valley, California


Write Backwards Day: 1 LIRPA

Sandy Kampner, Evergreen Park, IL

HONORABLE MENTION (in random order)

– Calculate Pi Day, 3/14/16. A day that never ends.

– Eat More Butter Day: Put it on everything. Deep fried butter sticks. Great in a cone. Give it 20 seconds in the microwave oven and drink it. Celebrated the day before Healthy Heart Day.

– National Rational Day: Celebrated when it makes sense.

– New Ears Day: Celebrating plastic surgeons.

– Formal Monday. The first Monday of the month. Wear a suit to work.

– National Nothing Day: A holiday from all other holidays.

– Garage Sale Exchange Day: On the first Saturday of May, from the neighbor on your left, you take all their stuff, as the neighbor on your right, takes all your stuff. Children and family pets not included.

– Buy a New Car Day; Every February 29th.

– Road Hog Day: Slow drivers get to put on their Danica Patrick and A.J. Foyt helmets and floor it!

– Illinois voter day: April 7. 1. Vote. 2. Watch the returns. 3. Look in your mailbox for your stipend.

– Groucho Marx Day: Everybody walks and talks like Groucho for 24 hours.

– Kinde Day: April 15th. Every contest entry is a winner today.

– Walk Funny Day: You’ve always wanted to. A stone in your shoe is optional.

– Dennis Day Day: Everybody acts like Dennis Day. Celebrated the day after Gladys Night Night.

– Doc Holliday Holiday: A holiday for doctors.

– It’s Mine Day: On your birthday everything is yours.

– Native Americans Day: Give the U.S. back to the Native Americans to see if they can do better.

– Stay at Home on Your Birthday Because You Are Well Day.

– Chew Out Your Boss Day: Scheduled on your last day at work Buy Something Silly Day, January 26: Help your local merchant unload his overstock of pet rocks, chia animals, and last year’s joke-a-day calendars.

– Contact an Extraterrestrial Day: August 13. They’re all around you.

– Take Your Nukes to Work Day: The day after signing the nuclear treaty with Iran. If signed in April, it will also be April Fool’s Day.

– It Depends Day: Allows you to prevaricate and lie by waffling on any Politicians celebrated daily by politicians.

– March Sadness: Month-long grieving by teams that get bounced form the NCAA basketball tournament on bad referee calls.

– Inauguration Day: Also known as Buyer’s Remorse Day.

– National Procrastination day. Starts May 7,ends August 16.

– National Funny Day. On this day, people who think they are funny actually must be funny.

– National Straight line day. Celebrated on 1-11 – National Defense Industry Day: Tanksgiving.

– Celebrating longer days for personal grooming: Daylight Shavings Time.

– National Geography Day. Customer service line personnel must tell you their actual location.

– New Ears Day. Celebrating plastic surgeons.

– Holiday Recovery Day. The first weekday after January 1. You get a day off to recover from the holidays.

– March Sadness Day. The day after the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. If your team lost, you get the day off to recover from the disappointment. If your team won, you get the day off to celebrate. If you didn’t fill out a bracket, you are obviously working too hard, so you get the day off as well.

Selecting Our Contest Winners

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

On a recent survey of subscribers, a few comments suggested that the selection of contest winners is subjective. I agree. The results are totally subjective. What is funny to one person is often not funny to another.
– Here is some background on the judging process for our contests.
– I try to minimize the subjectivity factor by having at least 8 – 10 judges for each contest. And usually the panel of judges is different each month. Sometimes I take the ballots to an improv workshop, sometimes to a Toastmasters meeting, sometimes I email the ballot to friends who I think would be good judges.   The judges do NOT know who authored the jokes.
– The judges usually range in age from 20s to 80s, and are usually about half men/women. But the bottom line is that the selection of one judge is just an opinion. There is no clear-cut, objective way to arrive at the Top Three entries each month.
– The results of the contests will naturally also be affected by our use of mostly American-English-speaking judges.
– And each month I’m reminded of the subjective nature of humor. My favorite entry is usually not the favorite entry of the judges. In fact, sometimes my favorite entry is not even in the top three!
– Have you ever thought that one of the Honorable Mention entries should have been in the Top Three, and wondered why it wasn’t? Or maybe you wondered why one of your submissions didn’t even make the Honorable Mention list?
– We have already mentioned that the big factor is the subjectivity of humor. What is funny to one person may not be funny to another.
– Another factor might be that a particular joke didn’t make it past the editor (me). I apply a certain standard of corporate-quality humor and also act as the Politically Correct Police for the contests.
– Also, it’s not practical to produce a judge’s ballot with 500 jokes on it. Someone has to narrow the field down to a manageable number of jokes. I usually prepare a ballot with what I consider the top 20 jokes. Then the judges pick the top three. If I have at least five judges, I don’t vote for the Top Three selection.
– The judges don’t know who submitted the individual jokes. Occasionally, but not often, the judges may pick select a Top Three which includes two jokes by the same author. When that happens, I pick that author’s best joke (as determined by the judges) to include in the Top Three and I move the fourth place joke into third. This expands our winner recognition.
– Another factor why an Honorable Mention joke may be your favorite and not be one of our winners, is that the joke may be submitted by the person who suggested the theme for the month. When someone creates the joke theme for the month, they are permitted to be on the Honorable Mention list, but not in the Top Three.   We feel it wouldn’t look right for the person who contributed the theme to also be the winner.
– Sometimes some of the Honorable Mention jokes were written by me. It’s not often I include my own jokes, but sometimes I do. My jokes never appear in the Top Three.
– So there you have a little insight into the judging process and why one of your favorite jokes only made Honorable Mention or didn’t even appear on the list at all.

Observational Humor — Case Study #134

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

Here is another Observational Humor monologue presented at the end of an NSA Las Vegas chapter meeting. First we’ll look at the set-up. Then we will look at the joke and what triggered the humor. The strength of most observational humor is “being there.” Humor which is funny for the audience will not be nearly as funny when studied as an academic exercise. But this is presented as a humor piece which has passed the test of a live audience.

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

1. I brought a Virgil’s Soda to my NSA chapter meeting. It’s brown
glass which looks like a beer bottle.

2. Bill Bachrach set up a magic trick by planting a special cup on the
front table, asking the woman sitting at the front table to pretend that
the cup was hers. He told us about this coordination with the woman
after he did the magic trick.

3. Darren asked a question about a speaker using something another
speaker had said or had done earlier during the meeting.

4. Bill said it worked to his advantage that he was funnier than people
thought he would be.

5. Mark is always colorfully dressed. That morning he was wearing an
orange blazer and orange-color, checked pants.

6. A speaker joked that she might have a wardrobe malfunction during
the meeting.

7. Marilyn was wearing a bold-pattern pair of pants. It looked like a
print of vines, black on white.

8. Mike opened with a top-ten list: Ten Ways You Know when You’ve
Spoken too Long.

9. A speaker mentioned a comedy show, Confessions of a Showgirl.

10. The entrance to the meeting room was a large garage-style door.

11. The decor at the back of the stage was four brightly-colored doors.

12. A speaker talked about living in a room on the top floor of the
Flamingo hotel.

13. A speaker talked about the challenges of starting a new show on the
LV Strip. He said that each month he writes a check for the privilege of

14. A speaker said that when you’re starting out, you’re not great.
“The first time you’re hired to speak, you suck.”

15. A speaker told about being a speaker for Charles Schwab, and
mispronounced the word SPEAKER, like it was a difficult tongue

16. The speaking room was equipped with a FoosBall table and an Air
Hockey machine.

17. A speaker said, it’s self-defeating to think “this is as good as I’m
going to get.”

18. Bill Bachrach said, “If comfort is your goal, success is not in your


(Placing my soda bottle on the front table and speaking to the woman
sitting there.) Pretend this is your beer.

(Pefect opener. Started getting laughs just putting down the bottle. Big laugh when I delivered the line.)

(Making eye contact with Darren.) You can use that line.
(Very big laugh. The trigger was Absurdity.)

I’m funnier than I look.
(Good call back. Big laugh.)

This is a classy group. Look at how people are dressed.
(I had three outfit observations, good response although not among the better lines.)

One is dressed in an outfit that doesn’t rhyme.

(I figured this would work for an orange or a purple outfit, words that
do not rhyme.)

One is dressed in clothing from the Janet Jackson collection.
(A reference to Jackson’s Super Bowl performance several years ago.)

And one is wearing camouflaged pants worn when fighting an enemy that is color blind.
(A bold outfit attracted my attention, and I figured the attention of the
audience as well.)

Ten Ways I Can Tell I’ve Been Speaking Too Long. Or confessions of a showgirl.
(Anytime I hear a top-ten list in a program, I look for the possibility of
creating my own top-ten list on the same theme. And following with an
absurd topper call-back got a good laugh.)

I Iknew was speaking too long when I had a dream that I was speaking, and when I woke up, I was.

(Not an Observational joke, but a joke made up to fill in the top-ten

When I’m speaking in a room that looks like a garage.
(Simple observation. OK response.)

When the audience laughs uncontrollably until  I start speaking.

(Medium response.)

When I give the audience a choice of a joke behind Door number one. Door number two. Or door number three.

(Good response,)

When my funniest material is something I just made up.
(Weaker response than I expected.)

When I’m wishing I could move from my room in the Motel 6 to a room in the Flamingo.
(Big laugh.)

When I do the wrap-up humor at each monthly chapter meeting,
because I write a check.
(Good call back, implies that I pay to be on the program.)

When I continue to get hired even though I still suck.
(Self-deprecation using a call-back of a phrase used earlier in the
program by one of the speakers.)

When I’m caught looking in the bathroom mirror saying “Charles
Schwab serves speakers at the sea shore.”
(A call back of something that happened which had gotten a laugh.)

When my stiffest competition is a FoosBall game and an Air Hockey table.
(One of the weaker lines.)

You know I’ve been speaking too long when you can see my mouth
(A generic joke line for the Top Ten List which I deleted from the
monologue by accident. I like he line. Self-deprecation.)

When I start thinking: This is the funniest I’m going to get.
(Twisted a phrase used by a speaker. Adapted it to a humor theme.
Good response.)

In closing, the thought for the day: If comfort is your goal, being funny is not in your future.
(Good close. Good response.)

Humor Contest — New National Holidays

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

New National Holidays

What new National Holiday would you propose? Why? How would we celebrate it? When would it be? Don’t try answering all the questions. Being brief is better

Labor Day: The day before Thanksgiving. It will be the only day of the year when we do go to work. Since the next day is Thanksgiving Day, nobody will work past noon.

April Fools Day: The second Tuesday in November. We celebrate it by giving a pension of 25 times the minimum wage to anyone even thinking of running for national office. No photo ID required to qualify for the pension.

National Fitness Day: Celebrated by staying home, watching sports on TV, drinking beer, and eating poato chips.

Submit your best three holidays to: not later than April 15, 2015 (right after you mail in your taxes). If you send in more than three entries, the additional lines will be eligible for Honorable Mention.