Archive for June, 2016

Getting Older

Saturday, June 25th, 2016

Tonight we went to Green Valley Ranch and saw a Beatles Tribute show.  Free tickets.  It was only one hour, but excellent. The audience was a bunch of old folks.  Correction…they were mostly my age.  The Beatles made their debut on The Ed Sullivan Show nearly 53 years ago.  So you can do the math.   Just when you weren’t thinking about your age, an old fogey shows up in your mirror.  But I hope to keep getting older for a long time.  It’s not a bad gig.  Every day is a bonus.

Observational Humor — Case Study #145

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

Here is another observational Humor monologue written for presentation at the end of a meeting.

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

  1. Bryant Pergerson is a perfect person to introduce a speaker. He is positive, enthusiastic, and builds the interest of the audience to want to hear the program.
  2. Bryant critiqued a speaker who opened his speech with Mr Toastmaster and fellow Toastmasters, to say instead: Mr Toastmaster and anybody who has ever been face-to-face with a 1500 pound bull.
  3. It was suggested to a speaker that he open his speech using a less aggressive stance.
  4. It was suggested to a speaker that his speaking style was a bit stiff.
  5. As Darren LaCroix prepared to present his program he casually visited with members of the audience, He recalled a program where he suggested to a woman in the front row to show some movement because she looked like a painting.
  6. Two speakers spoke before my program was introduced,
  7. During the earlier part of the program, late arriving people were seated during a break in the program.
  8. Kip Mecham was the skilled tech guru who kept the video connections running smoothly.
  9. Darren talked about the differences between humor and comedy.

THE MONOLOGUE

I’m done. I just came to hear Bryant’s introduction.

(An unexpected opening implying that the only reason I came was to be introduced by Bryant.)

Mr Toastmaster and everyone who has ever told a joke to a 1500 pound bull.

(Twisted a critique comment to blend in the humor theme.)

I’m sitting down so I don’t look aggressive.

(Having some fun with an earlier suggestion.)

If I look a bit stiff that means that you have a good video camera because it’s capturing the real me.

(Self-Deprecation.)

I’ll move so Darren won’t think I’m a painting.

(A call back and self-deprecation.)

This is an exciting day for me. For years my friends have always said, Kinde you’re pretty good, but you’ll never have Eric Culverson and Darren Lacroix as your warm up acts.

(A stock opening line which permits you to recognize the other speakers.)

It’s now time to seat the late people.

(A call back. Absurdity, there were no late comers near the end of the program.)

I want to recognize our tech guru Kip Mecham. Something you may not know is that his name is not really Kip. Kip is an acronym for Killer Internet Presentations. Let’s give a big thank you and a round of applause to Kip.

(Good humor allowing me to recognize our tech expert,)

During this program, we’re going to be talking about the difference between Humor and Comedy. The difference is that Humor starts with an H and Comedy starts with a C.

(Absurd but funny.)

POST SCRIPT

This was an unusual monologue. It was never presented to a live audience. Well that’s not that’s totally right or wrong. It was written to be presented alone in my office, but to an audience which was 1000 miles away watching the monologue on a TV screen. But that’s not the way it turned out. Due to a last-minute medical emergency, my part of the program was postponed.   The paramedics came and the person having the seizure is thankfully fine. And we correctly decided that it was best to reschedule my closing-part of that day’s program to next month. So the truth is, the monologue was never presented, except in my head…and now, in print to you. Although my humor workshop will be slipped to next month, the monologue will not. It was timely and relevant only for the end of the program on that specific day. However, I am confident that it was a good monologue and chosen to share it with you in my blog.

Borrowing Humor

Sunday, June 12th, 2016

Patricia Fripp had a fall earlier this year, landing on her face. Ouch. She split her lip and went to the emergency room for stitches. In typical Fripp The-Show-Must-Go-On style, she preseted a webinar a few days later. When there is a program on the calendar, the Pro shows up ready to perform.

If I had a mishap and it was still obvious that I had an accident (crutches, a sling, stitches) here’s an opening line that I might be tempted to use:

“To paraphrase Phyllis Diller…I have a public service announcement. In the book, 50 Shades of Gray, there is a typo on page 137…but it was worth it.”

Here are some thoughts on using an opening line from another source:
– The joke is borrowed from Phyllis Diller, via Gene Perret, multiple Emmy-Award-winning comedy writer.
– My edited joke gives Diller credit.
– The punch line is implied.
– It is adapted, Diller had a broken arm.
– It’s updated, forty-some years ago the joke referred to the book, The Joy of Sex.
– And it includes a topper.

– When would “borrowing” a joke be acceptable, and when might it get you in trouble? Sometimes we might be tempted to substitute “steal” for the word “borrow.” But for now we will just use the word BORROW.

– If someone were to borrow humor that you had written, how would you like for them to handle it? Then drop yourself into the process of borrowing someone else’s creative work.

– Using someone else’s creativity as inspiration for your presentation is a short-cut to humor. But the pro is more likely to write his or her own jokes.

– Updating or adapting a joke may seem to make the joke yours and to give you permission, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes that green light is an illusion.

– Repeating a joke to friends in a social situation is not likely to be a problem.

– Where you may get into trouble is when you put a borrowed joke into a platform presentation. Giving credit for a joke might be sufficient, especially for one-time use, relating the joke to something fresh that just happened. But it becomes questionable if it becomes a regular part of a professional talk. Making money from someone else’s intellectual property may be crossing the line.

– If you’ve adapted a joke, changed it to bring it up to date, it is still a good idea to give credit to the original source. The act of rewriting a joke doesn’t automatically make it YOUR joke.

– When using humor for gain, as a professional who is paid to speak, is when you start dancing on thin ice. Whether a joke is adapted, adopted, or source-cited, giving credit is likely the right thing to do. The safe thing to do. Maybe even the legal thing to do.

– If you stray into the gray areas, err on the side of caution.

– As with “fair use” considerations in the copyright world, the amount of humor you borrow affects the acceptability of your use of someone else’s material. Using a two-page humorous story comes close to borrowing a signature story, and credited or not most likely falls in the unacceptable category of use. On the other hand, a two or three line joke, with proper credit given, is likely to fall in the range of acceptable behavior.

– What if other people are borrowing YOUR humor? Allowing your
humor to be used by others, unchallenged by you, may place your
material into a free-for-all category. Humor which is freely and
frequently used by many people can become part of the common domain and available for all to use.

– If someone is using YOUR humor, resolve it first with the offending party. In most cases, the offending party will do what is right. A couple of examples from my experience. About twenty years ago, a professional humorist borrowed a humorous story from my newsletter and published it in his newsletter with no credit. It was about a half-page, word-for-word lifting of my writing. I decided to write him a letter commenting on another part of his newsletter, just to let him know that I was reading his material. The problem never appeared again. Another example, an entire article, word-for-word, was published on someone’s web site, specifically naming someone else as the author. I contacted the editor of the website. It turned out to be an honest mistake and he changed the credit line immediately. People usually want to and will do the right thing.

– If you need to or want to use someone else’s material, sometimes it’s as simple as asking permission. Permission may come free, just ask. Sometimes it comes with a small fee.

– It’s not likely you’ll run into a lawsuit for misuse of material. But if
you are on the offending side of the behavior, the issue could land on the desk of an ethics committee. It could give you bad word-of-mouth. It could affect your reputation. And if you’re on the receiving end of a lawsuit, it’s probably from someone who has deeper pockets than you. Not good.

– If you are the offended party, when you raised the issue with the
offending party, what did they say? That’s the first step. Don’t start
with a letter from your attorney, file a law suit, or make a complaint with an ethics committee. When you talk with the offending party, most of the time they will make it right.

– All things considered, if I had a recent mishap which was obvious to the audience, I would be comfortable using the adapted joke giving Phyllis Diller credit. But my first choice is not to have an accident.

– When appropriate, see an attorney. The opinions expressed in this article are based on my experience and are not a substitute for qualified legal advice.