Observational Humor — Case Study #134

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.)