Archive for the 'Case Studies' Category

The Paul Lynde Show

Friday, April 21st, 2017

The Paul Lynde Show is playing afternoons at Bally’s Las Vegas. It’s a fun show and I recommend it.  Impersonator Michael Arington plays Lynde in a show which is mostly biographical. Arington has the voice and the gestures mastered. He brings Lynde back to life, sharing perspectives on how society has changed during the last 35 years. And we get a performer’s perspective on the challenges of being a success in show business. One of my favorite segment themes showed us what it would be like if Lynde had auditioned for parts in famous movies, playing well-known scenes seasoned with Lynde’s campy style: Jaws, Deliverance, The Graduate, Love Story, and more. He expanded a Titanic scene, bringing an audience member to play a scene on stage with him. Well connected with the audience, he engaged several audience members in the show, and kept the show fresh with a number of callbacks resulting from his chatting with the audience. We shared his successes in life, Bye Bye Birdie, Bewitched, Hollywood squares…and his challenges and career low points. One-liners from his center-square performances on Hollywood Squares were sprinkled throughout the show. Never a lack of laughs. The show had the added professional touch of a keyboard player, a bass player, and a drummer. Bally’s is located on the corner of Flamingo and LV Boulevard.  This is a three-minute synopsis of a 75 minute show. Take a friend. You will enjoy yourself. Don’t miss it.

Observational Humor — Case Study #153

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

Here is another Observational Humor monologue presented at the end of a meeting. We will provide you with the set-up, the joke, and a comment on what made the joke work.

THE SET-UP (To help you understand the context of the jokes, we will share with you what happened and what was said during the meeting, before the monologue was delivered.)

1. Our NSA Chapter President gave a speech introducing himself to the chapter while also sharing an inspirational message. He said the title of his talk was, “Let’s talk about John Getter.”

2. The President’s speech included photographs from his childhood. “I started out as a child.” He told us he played the violin, but that did not qualify him to be in the marching band.

3. Our featured speaker was Mike Staver. He suggested when we try to catch fish we go fishing…so when we try to catch a cow, why don’t we go cowing?

4. A speaker noted that the meeting room was set up nicely. He pointed out that there were several speakers hanging from the ceiling.

5. Members were reminded to check in with Rocky first thing in the morning.

6. We had a guest from Switzerland. He was introduced as the “person who came the furthest.”

7. Laura gave a workshop-style program. Half-way through the program she said it was time to debrief.

8. Our featured speaker told of being on a weightlessness-training aircraft. When they went into wrightless mode, most trainees either giggled or they lost their lunch.


We were concerned about whether we would have time to do my meeting wrap up. Next month I will be sitting in the front row instead of the back row. That should save us about 10 minutes.

And now…let’s talk about John Kinde.

I started out as a child. (I showed a drawing of a stick figure character. I always have three types of pens; ball point, magic marker, and a heavier felt marker. That allows me to create visuals and speaking notes.)

In middle-school I played the violin (Drawing of a stick-figure orchestra.)

Then I joined the marching band. (stick figure marching band with one person playing the violin.)

On weekends we went cowing. (Stick figure of man with fishing pole with a cow on the hook.)

I’m moving slow today. Part of that is due to the walker. However, most of it is me.

But being slow opens new career opportunities to me. I go a job at Madame Tussaud’s wax museum. I was Mr Rogers. They told me I was almost life like. (Self-deprecation.)

But enough about me.

(Call-back phrase,)

I know that an audience at a stimulating meeting like this will have some questions.

I’ll give you the answer first and then share the question. (This is a set up for using the answer-man or Carnack format as a vehicle for humor.)

The answer is: Sneaking past Rocky before the meeting starts.

And the question is: How do you become a speaker hanging from the ceiling?


The answer is: Visit the NSA chapter in Geneva Switzerland.

The question is: How do you get recognized as the person who came the furthest?


The answer is: I thought… I’m glad I didn’t wear boxers today.

The question is: What crossed your mind when Laura said, We are now going to debrief.

(Playing with double-word meaning.)


The answer is: It’s when you are watching John Kinde’s humor.

The question is: What are you doing when half the people around you are giggling. And the other half are throwing up. (Self-deprecation.)

Observational Humor — Case Study #151

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

Here is another Observational Humor monologue presented at the end of a meeting.

First, we will share the set-up to each joke, what happened and what was said before the monologue was presented.
We will then share the jokes and give a brief comment on why the joke was funny.


1. The meeting featured our annual Humorous Speech contest and evaluation contest.

2. Rebecca, a guest speaker, was incorrectly introduced as

3. Rebecca told us about her “Elvis” wedding.

4. Don Rickles is a famous insult-style comedian.

5. The wedding program included a dancing girl wearing

6. The wedding limo refused to take 12 people.  Their
limit was 10.

7. The photos from the wedding were stamped “Do Not Copy.”

8. A member introduced himself as Bond—James Bond.

9. Bond paper us a high-quality paper often used for letterheads.
It is heavier than lower-quality paper, and it could contain
cotton fiber to give it a crisp texture and feel.

10. A member said that Bill, a humor contestant, was her
husband’s favorite comic speaker.  Then as an after-thought
she added “After John Kinde, of course.”


It was great having Rebecca join us this evening.  In the
Witness Protection Program she is known as Rachel.

(The mis-introduction of her name  had gotten a good laugh.
That made it a good trigger for a joke later in the meeting.)

The Elvis Wedding sounds like fun. Did you know that they
also have a “Don Rickles divorce package.”

(I asked myself, “What is the opposite of a feel-good Elvis
wedding?”  I provided the answer, a divorce ceremony themed
after an insult comic.)

If I had known Rebecca was speaking tonight I would have
worn my coconuts.

( A silly comment and picture for the mind.)

We had 12 people show up for tonight’s meeting.  The Fire
Marshal sent two of them home.

(A joke structure which paralleled the limo experience.)

Rebecca, I’ll give you a copy of my speech evaluation notes.
But notice that they are stamped “Do Not Copy.”

(A call-back on the silly side, but effective.  A good laugh.)

We don’t have any trophies tonight, but we do have nice
Certificates of Participation printed on Bond—24 lb cotton
content Bond.

(Name play linking to the thought of Bond paper.)

This would have been joke 007, but it was classified .

(Pretended the censor was at work again.)

I have the reputation for being funny, but only funny enough to
be a footnote.

(Self-Deprecation.  Being a complimentary afterthought was funny.)

I’ve already shared 10 observations with you.  The censors are shutting me down.

(A call back to the limit of 10.  Implies that 11 – 12 hitting the cutting-room floor.)

Observational Humor — Case Study #150

Sunday, September 18th, 2016

Here is another Observational Humor monologue presented at the end of a meeting.

First, we will look at the set-up to give you
a sense of being there.  Then I will share the joke and why it
was funny.

Are you making Observational Humor a part of your club meeting?
If so write me a note to tell me what the experience is like,
and I’ll share your use of Observational Humor with our readers.

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

1. The Word-of-the-Day was temerity.

2. Georgia uses a walker and we often joke about racing each other.

3. Sherri said that she printed the agenda on whatever paper she
could find

4. Georgia was our timer and while expaining her function to the
guests, she said “We time everything.”

5. We have more than one body builder in the club. They turn any
shirt into a “muscle shirt.”

6. A speaker talked about buying stock and entering he bond market.

7. A speaker said you become successful in business by making good
choices.  And you learn to make good choices by making bad choices.

8. A speaker said that she wrote a country song: I’m not feeling
funny when my nose is runny.


Tonight I had the temerity to wear shorts to a Toastmasters meeting .

(Many Toastmaster clubs are somewhat formal and would frown on
wearing shorts to a meeting.  However it’s hot in Las Vegas during
the summer and some people wear shorts.)

Another Olympics has passed and once again I have not beaten Georgia in the 100 meter dash.

(The Olympics had just ended.  It tied in with our walker running-gag

Sherri didn’t tell you how close she came to printing the agenda on toilet paper.

(Using the principle of extrapolation.  One odd paper choice leads
to another more unusual choice.)

Georgia said that we time everything.  You know that’s true if you
visited the restroom.  Because of that, for efficiency, we sometimes DO print the agenda on toilet paper.

(Used exaggeration and absurdity to link the timing of all functions
to include restroom activities.  And then did a call-back providing
a topper which linked to the printing of the agenda. Nice structure.)

My function tonight is to show you what a muscle shirt looks like
without the muscles.

(Self-deprecation and the obvious is funny.)

If you do stock humor, you run the risk of entering the bomb market.

(A call-back and the use of a sound-alike word.)

Speaking of bombing.  You learn humor skills by making bad choices.

(Not very funny but a nice call-back.)

Your country song reminds me of the one: If my nose was running
money…I’d blow it all on you.

(One joke reminded me of another.  A good closer.)

Observational Humor — Case Study #147

Friday, July 15th, 2016

Here is another Observational Humor monologue presented at the end of a meeting.

THE SETUP What happened or what was said during the meeting before the monologue was delivered.

1. A member said that speaking at a Toastmasters Club is not about perfection, it’s about growth.

2. Jesse Oakley, a well-known, popular Toastmaster arrived at the meeting 20 minutes late. He is Jesse Oakley the third and tags iii onto his name (Jessie Oakley eye eye eye)

3.  I evaluated Stan’s speech.

4. Stan works out at the gym and has huge muscles. He was wearing a tight fitting muscle shirt.

5. A speaker was introduced as Mr Dependability

6. Bobby commented that President Obama was ranking high in popularity at the end of his term. He noted that as his term ended for club President, he was also expecting to be popular.

7. Bill Parker said he felt like he was being forced to ride in the back of the bus.

8. Bobby said that he likes Bill, because when Bill says something, he means it.

9. Bill and Sherri attend the meeting with Sheri’s Mother, Georgia.


Mr Toastmaster.   Fellow Toastmasters. And the Late Jesse Oakley, iii

(I used the formal opening often used by Toastmasters, a triplet ending with Jesse’s name. I have used the “Late” gag before, but not with this group. Good response.)

And now it’s time for perfection.

(Self-Aggrandizement works well in moderation and if the audience knows you well)

I enjoyed evaluating Stan’s speech tonight. We have something in common. We both are wearing muscle shirts. And one of us has muscles.

(Self deprecation. Big laugh.)

I’ve never been called Mr Dependability. Although I was once voted to be Miss Congeniality.

(Self deprecation. Absurdity. Good response.)

This club is known for its large number of dependable members. The majority of its members wear depends.

(Absurdity. Funny connection)

Bobby is one of my few friends who have the popularity of Donald Trump.

(Bobby is a universally well-liked guy. The absurd switch to Trump received a good laugh.)

I was excited when Bill said that he liked me. Because I knew that tonight he meant it.

(Combined two observations from the meeting.)

Bill said that felt that he was riding in the back of the bus tonight. That’s why his nickname is Rosa Parker.

(The line occurred to me because of the similarity of his last name, Parker, to Rosa Parks.)

Bill and Sherri Parker Attend Toasmasters meetings with Sherri’s Mother, Georgia. When a club is fortunate to have them as guests it’s like giving a three-for-one coupon.

(Two-fer coupons are common and popular in Las Vegas.)

Many of you probably don’t realize that Georgia is in the witness protection program where her last name is Hippie. Depending on how well you know her, you can refer to her as Georgia or as Mrs Hippie (Mississippi). ii ii

(I’ve known Georgia for over ten years and the connection between Georgia and Mississippi had never occurred to me until that night. It also allowed me to bookend the monologue, opening with iii and closing with ii ii. A strong closing.)

Observational Humor — Case Study #144

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

Here is another monologue presented at the end of a meeting. The jokes were the result of paying attention to what was happening during the meeting and then looking for connections which were humorous and not expected by the audience.

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

1. A speaker quoted a bible verse.

2. A speaker was wearing a shirt with a slogan on it: Why not today?

3. The meeting was held in a church which had the slogan: “Church for people who don’t like church.

4. A speaker said to the audience, “You’re the best audience I’ve had in a long time…and I don’t say that to every audience. Well, maybe I do.”

5. I have joked in the past that the only celebrity I look like is Mr

6. A speaker said that his alarm wakes him up every morning at 5:00 am.

7. I was using a walker.

8. One of the members attending the meeting looked like Hillary

9. A speaker said, “If you don’t market yourself you become invisible.”

10. A speaker said, “Get a coach. A good coach isn’t cheap, but is a
good investment.”


The bible refers to the quick and the dead. I am neither.
(Self deprecation. I often joke about being slow.)

I speak on procrastination. I have a book titled “Why Not Tomorrow?”
(A call back with a twist. It was set up nicely during the self
introductions when the man wearing the Why-not-today shirt
commented on his shirt.)

I do humor for people who don’t like laughter.
(Twisting the theme of the church to relate it to what I do, in a joking way. It could be received as an absurd statement or it could be implying that people don’t laugh at my jokes, self-deprecation.)

As a group you have the best sense of humor. And I don’t say that to every group.
(A call back.)

I’m now working nights at Madam Tsuaad’s Wax Museum. I’m performing as a sculpture of Mr Rogers. Tourists say I’m almost life like.
(Self-deprecation about my low-energy style.)

Every day my alarm goes off at 5…pm…after my afternoon nap.
(Switching am for pm.)

Women like men who are funny. Women like men who are tall. Women like men who use walkers. I made that up.
(Making fun of my walker, something obvious.)

We have a special guest today. Would you please stand, Hillary Clinton.
(I like to recognize people in the audience without coordinating with
them. In this case, I was taken by surprise when the look-alike had left the meeting early.)

To wrap things up: Two tips to help you understand the speaking business:
(Bringing closure to the monologue.)

Not being funny is being invisible.
(Twisting an earlier phrase to tie it into my humor theme.)

Know that funny speeches aren’t cheap…and cheap speeches aren’t funny.
(Another example of twisting words to fit my theme.)

Observational Humor — Case Study #143

Friday, February 5th, 2016

Here is another Observational Humor monologue which was presented at the end of a meeting. I observed what was said and what happened during the meeting, and at the end of the meeting I presented humorous observations. We will look at the set-ups, the jokes, and what made the jokes work.

THE SET-UPS (What happened and what was said during the meeting.)

1. In a speech about writing a winning Tall Tale speech, we were told to open with a catchy statement and also to know our closing perfectly.

2. Our Toastmaster was introduced as a District contest winner and an expert in vocal variety.

3. A speaker told us that vocal variety will bring your characters to life.

4. The word of the day was Iota.

5. Bill, a former club member, arrived a half hour late.

6. A speaker talked about four personality styles represented on a
matrix by four symbols.

7. She said that the circle represented water.

8. A speaker told us to increase credibility by citing our sources.

9. She suggested that it was not good to cite Wikipedia as a source.

10. She said that her husband was “a hard circle” in the matrix.

11. She used a repetitive phrase in her speech, “Are you sure?”

12. A speaker’s speech title was: “What in the World Was I Thinking?”

13. A speaker talked about sky diving while “strapped to a guy.”

14. I was wearing a sweater embroidered with the logo of The National Speakers Association.


“And that’s how I jumped over the moon!”

(Good response. Strong laugh.)

I have the last line memorized.

(Good laugh. Nice topper.)

Our General Evaluator is a two-time District winner in Evaluation.
He is a two-time District winner in Tall Tales.
He is a four-time District winner in Humorous Speaking.
But he has never won the International Speaking Contest at the District level.
We apologize for not bringing you a winner.
(Funny because of the truth. Often we tend to remember the negative
things in life.)

I am an expert in Vocal Variety.
I bring my characters to life.
(Self-deprecation. I am not known for my vocal variety.)

I was in a college fraternity, Iota Delta Kapa
(Playing with the word IOTA.)

I’d like to welcome the late Bill Lusk.
(A recycled line which I had used before. Always gets a good laugh.)

Tonight, we’ll talk about the four styles of humor.
The wiggly line represents those who crash and burn.
The triangle represents those who use the rule of three.
The circle represents water, those who wet their pants.
And the square represents those who pun.
(The call back of symbols got good laughs.)
My source for that information is Wickipedia.
What in the World Was I Thinking.

Melanie you said that your husband Jim was a hard circle.
Are you sure?
(The call back of the HARD CIRCLE comment would only work with a follow-on punchline. “Are you sure?” A good laugh.)

After my speech tonight, I thought that Iota have practiced more.
(Playing with the word of the day and sound-alikes (I oughta). Looking for something that almost sounds like the word of the day is usually good for a laugh.)

Next time I give a contest speech I’m going to be strapped to a guy
(Absurdity. Paints a silly picture.)

I was wearing this sweater while playing Black Jack this week. A guy at the other end of the table commented: “You’re wearing a National Speakers Association sweater  but you never speak.” My simple reply: “I only speak when I’m paid.”

(Something that really happened. A funny observation.)

Observational Humor — Case Study #142

Sunday, November 8th, 2015

Here is another Observational Humor monologue presented at the end of a meeting of the Las Vegas Chapter of the National Speakers Association.

First, we will look at the set-ups for the jokes. Then review the jokes.  And finally, we’ll look at what made the humor work.

The goal of studying Observational Humor is to develop your talent of creating just one original, fresh joke to include in your presentation.

The SetUp (What happened and what was said during the meeting,
before he monologue was presented.)

1. I was moving slowly due to stiffness.

2. Mike Rayburn played a difficult song on the guitar. He said: I do
that…because I can.

3. Mike Rayburn has played Carnegie Hall multiple times.

4. Debbie Allen said that every speaker’s first book usually sucks.

5. Debbie has written eight books.

6. Have a current photo in your promo materials so that when you show
up for an engagement, you look like yourself.

7. Debbie is one of the most successful and most highly paid women
speakers in the speaking business.

8. This is my second year to close every chapter meeting with an
Observational Humor wrap-up.

9. Sophia (chapter President) gave a thank you gift to Mike Rayburn
(immediate past President). She said Mike had it all, and the most
meaningful gift she could give Mike would be to write a check as a
donation to his church.


(I approached the front of the room very slowly. Not to setup a joke but because I was very stiff.)
I have an advantage over many speakers. When I give a one-hour keynote, I only need 30 minutes of content.
(The joke received less laughter than I thought it would. My voice
wasn’t strong that day, and I got feedback after the meeting that I was hard to hear. I should have been wearing a microphone.)

I’m not going to sing and play the guitar…because I can’t.
(A reversal of a call back.)

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?  Buy tickets to see Mike Rayburn.  

(Self-deprecation and also compliments a talented member.)

My speaking career is on track. I’m writing my first book…which will suck.
(self deprecation.)

I’ve written eight books. No…I ate my first book. I was hungry.
(Plays with sound-alike words EIGHT/ATE. Ate my first book was a
joke. I was hungry was a topper. And self-deprecation.)

My career was going great…until I showed up looking like myself.

(A call back. Unexpectedly applying prior advice twist to myself.)

And soon I’ll be ranked in the top-five of all women speakers.
(Silly but fun. A good laugh.)

How to get mentioned in one of John’s wrap-up monologues: Do or say something brilliant. Do or say something stupid. And keep doing it until you see John write something down.
(Absurd advice, since it’s unlikely any member of the audience was
wondering how they could be mentioned in the monologue.)

Sophia, I don’t have everything. You can make a check out to me.
(A call back. And self-deprecation.)

Observational Humor — Case Study # 141

Thursday, October 15th, 2015

This article will be a good learning tool on the subject of creating original humor. We begin with an Observational Humor monologue created at the end of a Toastmasters meeting by Bala (Balakumar Shanmugam), Author of the Indian Humor Blog, which is published in the Netherlands. Don’t confuse it with the Dutch Humor Blog which is published in India.

We will begin with the original monologue delivered on September 16. 2015. Following that we’ll look at my edits and changes to the monologue. And last Bala and I will discuss the differences between the two versions of the monologue.

This article illustrates a few thoughts on creating humor:

1. Two heads are better than one. This is why many humor presenters have a humor buddy, someone who will provide feedback on their humor writing and delivery.

2. You can turn almost anything into a humor exercise. In this case we take a monologue delivered at the end of a Toastmasters meeting. Since this is one-time-use humor, it would be easy to toss it in the trash or throw it into a file or a drawer. A better choice is to realize that you can learn a lot from editing it even though you will never actually present it again. The cliche is that the value is in the journey, in the process, and not in the arrival at the destination.

3. It should also be noted that editing a monologue after it’s presented, is easier than writing it on-the-fly just before it’s presented. After the fact, you have a more leisure time to study the monologue, do more than one edit, work with a humor buddy, and create a more carefully crafted monologue.

4. The classic comment is still true. In the analysis of a joke, the humor often is lost.

5. John says, “two heads are better than one.” Bala says, “three heads are funnier than two.”

6. For people who are serious about their humor, this process of editing, just for the sake of doing it, is fun.

So let’s get started.

When you listen to an Observational Humor Monologue, it’s nice if you were actually there. You’ve heard the expression which follows someone sharing something funny that happened. And the person listening to the story doesn’t laugh. The explanation is, “Well you had to be there.” To make the monologue make sense to you, we will begin by giving you the set-up for the jokes. What that means is that we will first give you what happened and what was said during the meeting, before the monologue was delivered. This will provide you the set-up for the jokes, the context which will help you understand the humor. It will make it more like “you were there.”

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

1. Floris gave a speech in which the topic was TBD (To Be Decided). He gave the audience three topics and asked them to choose one.

2. Justina, the host, asked the audience to give a big round of applause whenever the speaker was coming to the stage or leaving the stage. She said she is a big fan of applause.

3. Bogdan read a letter from Toastmasters International Headquarters which announced that our club was a distinguished club. He first said that the letter was addressed to him (since he’s the president) but later said, “It’s actually addressed to all of us.”

4. Eindhoven, the city where we live, is in a state called Noord Brabant.

5. Justina said that sometimes we have barbeque at Toastmasters.

6. It had rained heavily the whole day. Generally, it rains on most days in the Netherlands.

7. Floris explained the dangers of cloud computing. Maria asked Floris a question: “How can I retrieve the data in my laptop (not in the cloud) if my house burns down?”

8. The Table Topics Master, leader of the impromptu speech part of the meeting, said that in the year 1752, on the Gregorian calendar, September 2 was immediately followed by September 14, eleven days were lost. The topic was: “What would you do if you had 11 extra days in a year?”

9. Floris also explained that a 3D printer can be used to make innovative objects.

10. On the agenda, there was no 3rd speaker. There were 1st, 2nd, and 4th speakers, but the 3rd speaker had dropped out.

11. Bogdan told a story about a rich man and how he planned to get his daughter married. He called all bachelors in the surrounding area. He announced a contest which used a pool full of alligators and other dangerous animals. The person who jumps in and reaches the other side first can either get 1 million in cash, or 1000 acres land, or marry his daughter. As soon as he makes the announcement, one person jumps and reaches the other side. The rich man asks him if he wants 1 million. He says no. He asks if he wants 1000 acres of land. He says no. He asks if he wants to marry his daughter. He says no. Finally he asks, “What do you want?” The reply, “I want to know who pushed me into the water.”

12. Most speakers talked overtime, exceeding their alotted time limits.

13. There were two guests named Brent and Noor. The host, Justina, asked them to introduce themselves. They started talking together, for which Justina said, “Not together. One after another.”


My humor monologue topic is TBD. I will give you three joke formats. Choose the one you want:
First: Yo mama so fat.
Second: A Toastmaster walks into a bar.
Third: Why did the chicken cross the road?

(The audience says Number 2)
Ok, so Three it is.

Why did the chicken cross the road? Someone pushed it.

A Toastmaster walks into a bar. Justina asks everyone to give him a big round of applause.

(I remove a letter from my pocket.)
I received a letter, addressed to me. No, addressed to all of us. Oh wait. Forget it. It’s a love letter I got from a girl.

Maria, don’t worry. Your house will never be on fire. In the Netherlands, it rains 24/7.

If we had a guest named Debra, it would’ve been great.
(After saying this, you write De Bra on the board. Actual delivery of this line got a huge laugh.)

(I write Noor, a guest’s name, in front of De and Brent, another guest’s name, next to Bra. So it looks like Noorde Brabrent.) That’s our state.

What would I make with a 3D printer? A 3D speaker. (Write 3D speaker on board. Then add an R before the D to make it a 3RD speaker.)

Bogdan, I want to reveal a secret. I was the one who pushed you.

A lot of speakers went overtime. To finish this meeting, we’ll need an extra 11 days.

You may clap now. Not together. One after another.


My Observational Humor Monologue is TBD. I will give you three joke formats and you will choose the one you want me to use.

First…A Toastmaster walks into a Bar.
Second…Why did the chicken cross the road?
Third…Yo Mama says.

OK, so THREE it is (or whatever number they pick).
Why did Yo Mama ask why the chicken crossed the road? Because there was a Toastmasters meeting in a bar on the other side…and a Toastmaster had pushed the chicken in that direction.

A Toastmaster follows a chicken and Yo Mama into the bar. Justina asks everyone in the bar to give the chicken a big round of applause.

Why didn’t the chicken join Toastmasters?
Because the club loves Bar-B-Que. And because he didn’t know that he could quickly become a CTM, a Chicken Toastmaster.

(Taking a letter from your pocket.)
I got a letter today. A love letter from a girl…And it’s addressed to all of us. That probably increases our chances of a double date.

Maria, don’t worry. Your house will never be on fire. In the Netherlands, it rains 24/7.

If we had a guest named Debra, it would’ve been great.
(After saying this, you write De Bra on the board. Actual delivery of this line got a huge laugh.)

(I write Noor, a guest’s name, in front of De and Brent, another guest’s name, next to Bra. So it looks like Noorde Brabrent.) That’s our state.

What would I make with 3D printer? A 3D speaker. (Write 3D speaker on board. Then add an R before the D to make it a 3RD speaker.)

Bogdan, told us a story, but it wasn’t a joke, it was something that actually happened to him… Bogdan, I’m sorry I pushed you.

A lot of speakers exceeded their time limits. We would have almost had enough time to finish this meeting, if we had added 11 days.

Now it’s time for you to clap. Not together. One after another.


John: Both monologues open with a call-back to the TBD comment. This is such an unusual choice (letting the audience to pick a monologue theme), that just the premise is likely to get a laugh. Bala, you’re not required to use the audience’s choice, and you don’t. I like the direction you take in the first monologue. The audience picks TWO and you say “OK, so THREE it is.” A bold choice worthy of a laugh. I took a different approach, rather than verbally denying their choice, I liked the idea of using all three choices in your answer so that no matter what number they picked, it would be included in your response.

Bala: I gave the audience three joke-format choices that everyone is familiar with, and which are funny.

“My Observational Humor Monologue is TBD. I will give you three joke formats and you will choose the one you want me to use.”
(As a call-back to one of the speeches during the meeting, just stating that premise is likely to get a laugh.)
John: I made a change to the choices you offer the audience.
First…A Toastmaster walks into a Bar.
Second…Why did the chicken cross the road?
Third…Yo Mama says.
I think YO MAMA is the funniest sounding line and the best choice for the third item in the triplet. Let the audience pick any of the three. Then I’m suggesting that you be prepared with a joke that combines all three joke formats. Note also that I changed the MAMA line to avoid the “fat joke.” I wouldn’t recommend using that joke theme unless it were being used as self-deprecation aimed at you, the presenter of the joke. That not being the case, I would choose to avoid the fat-joke.

Bala: You are right. Just the premise, by itself, was enough to get a laugh. The first choice had them laughing. I agree that making Yo Mama the third choice because it is the funniest format. And deleting the fat-joke is the safe and the right choice.

John: Right from the start I wanted to actively use the chicken and the Toastmasters theme (Because there was a Toastmasters meeting in a bar on the other side.) And then right on its heels, A Toastmaster follows a chicken and Yo Mama into the bar. And then, Justina asks everyone in the bar to give the chicken a big round of applause. The jokes tie the format-choices together and get the monologue rolling. And they paint an absurd picture (Three BLANKS Walk Into a Bar). And they provide a call-back to Justina’s applause comment.

Bala: Initially I felt that mixing the formats might be confusing to the audience, but here I feel it’s nice to mix all 3 formats. You just take the characters – Toastmaster, chicken, and Yo Mama – from the 3 formats and have them walk into the bar. Three people walking into the bar is funnier than one person walking into the bar. And Justina asking the audience to give a big round of applause for the chicken is absurd, especially when there is a Toastmaster walking in too. So, it’s funnier than the original.

John: At first, it might be confusing to the audience, but allowing them to sort things out and “get the joke” activates the superiority theory of humor and works on strengthening the joke. This works best with smart audiences.

Bala: I noticed that you include some jokes which aren’t really Observational Humor. What are your thoughts on doing that.

John: Right…the CTM joke really isn’t an observational joke. But it ties in with the TM and the Chicken theme. And it’s pretty much a one-time-use joke, and as such it has the power of an observational joke, a joke which the audience feels was written just for them. Sometimes I enrich a monologue with jokes out of the theme just for the sake of the laughs, but too much of that and you’re presenting a prepared stand-up comedy routine, and the observtional elements of your presentation lose their punch. Also, I will sparingly use a prepared line or two, fitting the circumstances, to fill in what would otherwise be a shorter observational program.

Bala: The love-letter joke works better with the “addressed to all of us” hidden until the end of the joke. The absurdity is funny.

John: I love your word-play connections of guest names with Noord Brabant and with the 3D Printer and the missing 3RD speaker. If we were having an observational dual, I would have been thinking, “I wish I had thought of that!” Brilliant links. Jokes with that type of structure come with risks. You need a smart audience to “connect the dots” and get the joke. If the audience is not sharp, the reaction you’ll get is, “Huh?” But I know that your club has the ability to recognize more sophisticated humor.

Bala: That’s the superiority theory of humor in action. The jokes got very big laughs. In the construction of the lines I had to borrow the name of Debra to make the joke work. The word DE in Dutch means the, making the line a bit edgy, but in my judgment, OK to use. The actual delivery of the line got a huge laugh. My club serves as a sharp audience. If I were in the audience, its sharpness would be diluted.

John: You tell the well-worn joke of “who pushed me into the alligator pit.” Since you’re going to confess to pushing your friend and want to drop yourself into his story, I chose to switch the joke to a real-life experience. And I switched the admission of guilt to a quick apology. And I choose an implied punchline, implying that the push was INTO THE WATER.

Bala: A lot of speakers exceeded their time limits at the meeting. Your revised monologue made light of the situation by using the punchline that an extra eleven days would ALMOST have been enough time to give the speakers the time they needed.

John: “Now it’s time for all of you to clap. Not together. One after another.” A call-back and silly suggestion. Silly is good and a nice way to close a humor monologue.

A final note: Create your own exercises by writing and editing something just for the practice. Just for your own eyes. Just for the fun of it. And don’t forget to find and use a humor buddy to bounce off your funny ideas making them even funnier.

Bala’s and John’s Blog links:


Observational Humor — Case Study #140

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

Here is another Observational Humor monologue which was presented at the end of a Toastmasters meeting. First you’ll be able to read the set-up for each joke. Then I’ll share the joke. Next I’ll briefly comment on what made the joke work. Although the examples of Observational Humor are in the context of a Toastmasters meeting, the skills apply just the same to any meeting you might be attending. It’s a useful skill to develop. When you can drop in an observational line into any presentation it makes the content of your whole talk feel fresh and original.

THE SETUP. What happened and what was said during the meeting
before the monologue was presented.

1. At the start of the meeting, the Sgt At Arms announced directions for
finding the rest rooms. “Exit the meeting room and turn right, turn
right, turn left, turn right and turn left.”

2. The emcee joked that “there will be no flash photography during the
meeting. In other words there will be no flashing.”

3. A speaker said that while he was on a picnic he tripped over an ant.

4. Bobby told a story of meeting a young man who was homeless and
had no job.

5. A speaker told of someone who retired in middle-age, and then went back to work when they got older.

6. Bill Brown, a club member, was attending the meeting.

7. Bill Lusk told us he collects Porsches.

8. We had several guests, and a larger number of members. The
average age of our members was much higher than the average age of our guests.

9. We had a near-record amount of rain fall the day of the meeting.

10. A member was assigned an impromptu speech topic on why the
average family has 2.5 children


At the beginning of the meeting, you were given confusing directions to the rest rooms. The simple directions are, if you aren’t in a room with a toilet, keep looking.
(The vague directions to the rest rooms was partly done for the sake of the humor. It got a laugh, and provided a good set up for my joke.)

I also wanted to correct the instructions at the start of the meeting. It’s OK to flash me.
(Good call back using the double meaning of the word FLASH.)

This past weekend we had a family reunion in a park. I wasn’t watching where I was going and I tripped over my uncle. No…that’s not right…I tripped over an Aunt.
(Good joke using a sound-alike word ANT/AUNT.)

Bobby, the young man who you met was just ahead of his time. He
retired first and was planning on working later.
(The joke links the job-less man with the mention of retiring early.)

If Bill Brown married Vanna White and they had a daughter…she would be Betty Beige.
(Playing with names. Look for names that have double meanings as
names and noun/verb/adjective.)

And I discovered one more thing I have in common with Bill Lusk. I also have a porch.  (Again I was playing with a sound-alike word Porsche/Porch.)

It’s wonderful to have so many guests tonight. I’m sure that those of you attending for the first time have noticed that when you join
Toastmasters…you get old.
(Self-deprecation or group-deprecation.)

We had a record rainfall yesterday. Someone started building an Arc in the parking lot. Fortunately we had half men and half women at the meeting, so it would be easy to re-populate the earth.
(Links the heavy rain with the Arc and couples, two-by-two. And this
joke also sets up the next joke.)

Then Philip arrived late and we had an odd number of people. That’s OK. We would be able to have a half child.
(This could be considered a topper, where the previous joke serves as a set up for the joke that follows. Call back to the half-a-child. Good
response made it a nice closer.)