Archive for June, 2015

New Joke Contest — Sounds Like

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

The theme for he July Joke Contest is “Sounds Like…” It looks a bit like an Onomatopoeia exercise. Look for desciptive words that sound like what they describe. You can take some liberties with that formula to make a joke work. Here are eight examples:

– The sound at the end of a Ponzie scam: Clink-clink-clink.

– The sound of a lemon car trying to start: Errrrr, clunk, errrrr, clunk, errrrr.

– The sound of a beer bottle chilling in the freezer too long: Ka-Boom with a silencer.

– A burglar breaking into a home: Ka-Boom without a silencer… followed by “STOP or I’ll shoot.”

– Peace in the Middle East: Followed by the sound of skeptical  disbelief.

– After singing Happy Birthday to a 100-year old: “What did you say?”

– The sound in a gambling casino. Hard to describe, but it sounds like people kissing their money goodbye.

It’s time for you to go to work. Grab pen and paper and start your humor synapses firing. Write as many lines as you can. Then submit your best three lines for top-three recognition. Additional lines submitted will be eligible for Honorable Mention.

Send your entries to not later than July 15, 2015.

The Power of the Right Word

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

The Power of the Right Word

When writing a joke, the right word can add more punch. Mark Twain said that the difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.

Descriptive words. Look for colorful words. Don’t use limp modifiers.  The word VERY is such a modifier. I visited the home where I was raised. Compared to the home in my memory, the actual home was very big. Or maybe instead it was huge. Or maybe, compared to the family home in my imagination, it was palatial. Very is a very limp modifier.  Very big is a yawn generator. Huge is a step in the right direction, but it is a generic size description. Palatial is descriptive and related to home size. We’re getting warm.

Made-up words.
A beater. This is a common word for a beat up old car.
A bomb. This was a term for our family 1953 Pontiac as it slowly turned
from a stylish new car into an embarrassing beater.

Funny words. Referring to marijuana as a drug is a rather bland
description. Cannabis has a K sound and may be a bit funnier. Weed is
funnier. Mary Jane, a little more color. Pot has more POP to it.
Another word, calliope is funnier than organ. And the word captures some of the whimsical qualities of the instrument.
Lake Superior is not as funny as Lake Erie; which is not as funny as
Lake Wobegon; which is not as funny as Lake Titicaca. Some words
just sound funny.

K sounds.
Bing hit in the face with a cream cake is funnier than with an apple pie.
Kinky, is a funny sounding word with a double K.
Macaroon. A K sound buried in the middle gives is a humorous ring.
Cotton Candy, corn dog, funnel cake, are great words for a circus midway, with the K sounds adding some snap. Cotton Candy plays with alliteration.
Kiwi if funnier than orange.
Kinde is funnier than Smith.

Hard sounds are similar to K sounding words.
Jitterbug is funnier than Waltz.
Toyota is funnier than Ford.

Words funny for associations.
Ballet is not funny for the way it sounds, but for tights and tutus we
associate with it.

Crack sounds like the sound it describes, and a bonus, it has a strong K sound.
Whack. You could hit someone on the head but it’s funnier to whack them on the noggin.

So give some thought to the words you use. The right word can kick up the humor value in your jokes and stories.

Contest Results — Rich/Poor

Sunday, June 21st, 2015

It’s time for the results of our June Joke Contest. The theme is “You Know You’re Rich When…” And “You Know You’re Poor When…”

New Joke Contests are announced on the first of the month.

Look for July’s contest on July 1, 2015.

And here are the top lines:


You know you’re poor when you put your shoes on the wrong feet so they wear down more evenly.

Kaye Newton, Raymond Terrace, NSW, Australia


You know you’re rich when you need no keys.

Marty Bernstein, Oak Park, Ilinois


You know you’re rich when you only eat meals that no one can pronounce.

Tom Nee, Oak Lawn, Illin

HONORABLE MENTION (In random order.)

– You know you’re rich when every Casino Host in Las Vegas knows you by your first name.

– You know you’re poor when every Casino Host in Las Vegas knows you by your first name.

– You know you’re rich when you send your valet to Mars to see if you would like it there.

– You know you’re rich when you hire ten manicurists, one for each finger.

– You know you’re poor when you recycle dental floss.

– You know you’re rich when your other Gulfstream is in the shop.

– You know you’re rich when your address has a street but no number.

– You know you’re rich when you have His and Hers Bentleys…and you’re single.

– You know you’re rich when the golf clubs you buy involve real estate.

– You know you’re rich when “down on your luck” means you just lost $50,000 playing blackjack.

– You know you’re poor when the only way you’ll see foreign countries is by watching the Travel Channel at a Best Buy store.

– You know you’re rich when your bank balance is higher on return from an around the world holiday, and you’ve collected enough air points to go around again.

– You know you’re rich when you have to drop the zeros and use b or t next to your asset balances.

Observational Humor — Case Study ##137 (Video)

Saturday, June 13th, 2015

Bala, one of our readers, has regularly been doing his own Observational Humor monologues at the end of his Toastmasters meetings in the Netherlands. He has a humor Blog, The Indian Humor Blog, whch is published in the Netherlands. Don’t confuse that with the Netherlands Humor Blog which is published in India.

He recently published his first Observational Humor Video Blog.
Although the video picture and sound are not perfect, and he faces the
challenge of performing the monologue for a small Toastmaster
audience, he is doing a great job and has posted many monologues over the past year. Way to go, Bala.

A couple of suggestions I gave to Bala are to experiment with moving a bit to the right or left to see if you can reduce the back light glare problem. Sometimes a small move, while not eliminating the problem completely, reduces the glare.

And also, I suggested he obtain a wireless microphone which feeds directly into the video camera. Click on this video of one of my recent blog posts to see the difference a direct microphone makes. At the start of the video the MC does not have a mic sending his voice directly to the camera. When I step on stage, his voice is picked up on my lapel mic which is fed directly into the video camera. The difference in sound quality is big.

Here are a couple of my favorite lines, and a couple of suggestions. My
comments should make sense if you visit Bala’s video blog. His blog
post gives context to the jokes. It solves the classic problem of “you had to be there.”

– The line, “Touches my shoulder.” One of my favorite lines. Very nice.

– The line for “4 speeches 4 evaluations.” Excellent.

– On the line, “Eindhoven was 22 percent. It dropped when I moved in.”
My preference is to use an implied punchline. Rather than stating it
directly, I’d say: “It dropped in 2013. I’m not able to analyze why it
dropped in that year because that’s when I moved here.” (pause) It
makes the punchline more complicated to understand, but with an
intelligent audience, which we do have, it makes it a stronger joke.

– On the line, “She has not put on make up.” I might follow with:
“I knew I was going to be the video-master so fortunately, before I
arrived, I was able to put on my makeup.”

Great job Bala. Keep up the good work. It only gets easier.

Humor and the Truth

Sunday, June 7th, 2015
Truth and humor are a strange mix.
One of the rules of improv is to BE TRUTHFUL.  Often, trying too hard to be funny doesn’t serve you well.  Life is funny enough.
Most jokes, even ones that aren’t true, have a ring of truth in them.
“Here lies W. C. Fields.  I would rather be living in Philadelphia.”   How true.  Wouldn’t we all.   Not that there is anything inherently funny about living in Philadelphia, it’s just that the truth is funny.  We would rather be in Philly than six feet under.

Comic license allows us to stretch the truth, to embellish.

It’s one of the times when it’s ok to lie, just for the sake of the joke and being funny.  When one goes for exaggeration in the extreme, or absurdity, it’s an acceptable lie for the sake of the laugh.  And it’s normally understood by the speaker and the listener that it is not the truth.


When you are just joking and departing from the truth, it can create miscommunication and it may require an apology or the explanation that you were “just kidding.”
Getting a laugh can be a balancing act which requires finding the right mix of truth and embellishment.