Archive for the 'Case Studies' Category

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.)

Observational Humor — Case Study #139

Sunday, September 13th, 2015

Here are jokes used at an NSA Las Vegas chapter meeting. We’ll look at the set up.  And then look at the jokes and examine why they were funny.

THE SETUP (What happened and what was said during the meeting, before the jokes were delivered.

1. A presenter told us about a speaker’s ineffective video demo which opened with the speaker high-fiving the audience.   She said she did not recommend it as an  opening.

2. An audience member, during self-introductions, said she was
performing in her own one-woman show.

3. The President said that this year’s board was the best board ever.
Member RJ was present and we served on the board together ten years ago.

4. A speaker said that clients hire speakers for the useable content not
just to be entertained.

5. To qualify as a paid speaker, it was suggested that instead of speaking for a free dinner, pay for your dinner and invoice the client $50 for the speech.

6. Guest presenter, Terry Paulson said that he was the only Clinical Psychologist speaker who was funny.

7. A speaker said that when he says something to an audience, and they laugh, it’s a joke.

8. A speaker said that he got married 5 days before the meeting. And he said his new wife wouldn’t give him permission to speak.


(Walking to the speakers platform, I high-fived several of the members of the audience.)
I’m recording a video demo.

(I thought just the act of high-fiving would be sufficient to get a laugh.  But I was wrong. The laugh came after the demo-video comment, which I added, but which was not on the script. I needed the line to make the joke work.)

I moved to Las Vegas 15 years ago and opened my one-woman show.
( a call back with an absurdity trigger.)

Ten years ago I was on the same chapter board as RJ DiDonato. We are one of the boards that made it possible for the current board to be the best ever.
(A recycled joke from about a year ago. Excellent response.)

I’m a humorist. I have no content.
(A call back. Self-deprecation.)

Next week I’m speaking in Pahrump. They told me that their audience loves humor and likes to laugh. I told them to tell the audience not to laugh and to just pay me $50.
(A call back, slightly twisted.)

I’m going to become clinical psychologist. Then I’ll be one of only two clinical psychologists who are funny.
(The trigger is extrapolation. One plus one takes us into the future as

The truth is, I don’t do humor. I just say things. If you laugh it’s
humor. If you don’t laugh, it’s motivation.
(A call back with a twist.)

I’ve lived in Las Vegas for 15 years. During that time, many people have said, “Kinde, your are so quiet, you rarely speak. I want you to know that, as of five days ago, you’re going to be hearing more from me.  Because Marvelous Mark married my Ex.
(This implies that my Ex was not allowing me to speak, and that it was
now Mark’s problem and not mine.)

Observational Humor — Case Study # 138

Friday, August 21st, 2015

Here is another Observational Humor monologue presented at the end of a Toastmasters meeting. The principles used to create the humor are the same ones you would use to present a single joke at any meeting you might attend.

Observational Humor is usually the kind of humor where “you had to be there” for it to be funny. So, I’m preparing you for the monologue by giving you the set-up for the jokes.

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

1. Bobby said that he was getting old, but not as old as John Kinde.

2. It was a very hot day in Las Vegas. Some members, including me,
were wearing shorts.

3. Beverly jokingly said she prepared for the meeting by having a beer.

4. I had a soda bottle with me.

5. Ryan gave a speech and demonstrated Dual-Tasking. He pretended
to be brushing his teeth while doing a squatting exercise.

6. A speaker said she had burn scars on her arms.

7. We had a full-roast at our meeting six weeks ago. John Kinde was

8. One of the table topics presented was, “If your house was on fire,
what would you take with you?”

9. One of the table topics was, “Taking a trip to the Sun.”

10. One of the table topics was, “would you rather be a dog with a cat
head, or be a cat with a dog head”.

11.  A speaker joked about a member who only opened his mouth when he had something to say.

12. One of the Table Topics was, “Would you rather eat a spider or a


(I made my entrance using a walker.) I am a professional Bobby
Williams impersonator.
(Bobby setup this joke by calling me old. Good opener.)

Have you noticed…all the young people are wearing shorts?
(Joke based on the truth. Only the younger people were wearing shorts. Except for me, an older person wearing shorts. I am implying that I am a young person.)

(I entered carrying my soda bottle.)
Beverly drinks beer before the meeting. I drink beer during the meeting.
(I could have made this even more absurd saying: I drink beer while I’m speaking.)

What am I doing? Observational Humor (said while squatting).

Our club had a roast last month. Who was roasted? The person with the burn scars (pointing at my arms).

If I wake up and my house is burning, I’m going to do a Table Topic
(Reference to an impromptu speech. The trigger, absurdity and a

I’m going to vacation on the Sun. It’s cooler than Las Vegas.
(Exaggerating the heat of Las Vegas by comparing it with the sun.)

I never open my mouth unless I have something funny to say.
(Twist of a call-back.)

Question of the day. Would you rather eat a spider with a worm
head…or eat a worm with a spider head.
(Call-back and twist of two impromptu speech topics.)

Observational Humor — Case Study #136 (Video)

Monday, May 25th, 2015

Here’s another Observational Humor monologue. It was presented at a monthly meeting of the Las Vegas chapter of the National Speakers Assn, where I present the humor wrap up at the end of the meeting.

This monologue-case-study blog post includes a video recording. To get the best learning experience from the post, I would suggest reading the SET-UP information first. The SET-UP information gives you the context of the jokes and will help you to make sense of the monologue.  Then watch he video. And last, read the text of the monologue which will include my comments on the jokes.

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

1. The month before, I had opened my humor-wrap-up monologue with a beer bottle gag which received a good laugh.

2. Mike Rayburn included a top-ten list in his opening comments. “Ten Ways I knew It Was a Bad Speaking Gig.” His list included a joke about Obama using a teleprompter, one senior nudist joke, one Amish Joke, two fart jokes, and one joke about one’s fly being unzipped.

3. Jana Stanfield was the first presenter. She said that she forgot to bring her guitar, and when she had arrived at the meeting she said, “Dang. I forgot my guitar!”

4. Just up the street from the meeting venue is a huge truck stop.

5. Jana’s program included playing the guitar, singing, and a motivational message. We assumed that she ran home and picked up her guitar.

6. Jana told some funny lines about TV news anchors teasing you with minimal information about the upcoming segment, “If you don’t listen, something dangerous will happen.”

7. We were meeting in a church facility, and our meeting room was a recreation room with a big roll-up door, similar to a garage door.

8. Jana told a story and sang a song about someone spending time in South East Asia who met someone on

9. Jana said that clients hire speakers for the person they are. They don’t hire a speaker for his/her topic or subject.

10. Chad Hymas mentioned Oprah.

11. Jana said that opportunity was abundant. Speakers shouldn’t think that they can’t play the guitar and sing in their keynotes because “Jana has their slot.” Her point was that there is room for everyone.

12. Chad placed a live phone call to Mike Rayburn’s wife Tara. He asked for her favorite restaurant. She named a Thai restaurant. Chad said that Mike would be coming home tonight and bringing Thai take-out.


You have two options. The text of the monologue is presented below. We have also included a video of the presentation. The video is primarily presented to give you the feeling of “being there.” I would suggest that you read the SET-UP information first, if you haven’t already done that. It will give you the context of the humor. The video will allow you to exprience of the audience reaction to the humor.

The monologue text:

(Introduction by Mike Rayburn)

We have a few closing words from Mr John Kinde.

(Notice that the microphone picks up two people commenting that I had a beer bottle. It was actually a soda bottle, but it was a brown bottle that looked like a beer bottle. The beer-bottle gag, from the previous month’s monologue, was acting as part of the set-up for my opening joke. For those who remembered the gag from the previous month, it created anticipation for the coming joke. The anticipation increased tension and helped to magnify the joke. For those who didn’t remember previous month’s gag, who didn’t attend the month before, or who didn’t notice the bottle, Jana’s comment “forgot my guitar” was by itself a strong enough set-up to support the joke.)

I arrived here this morning, I said, “Dang, I forgot my beer.”

(Paralleled the comment: “Dang, I forgot my guitar.” Good laugh.)

So I went up to the truck stop and bought one.

(Small laugh.)

Jana was in there buying a guitar.

(The format was Joke, Joke, Topper. This line was a perfect topper. It was totally unexpected. It plays with the absurdity that a truck stop would sell guitars. Yet a touch of believability because it was a HUGE truck stop which probably sold lots of things. And it answered the question, how did she get a guitar so she could present her program. It probably helped that Jana was in the front row and really laughing. She was a great audience.)

Where is my teleprompter.

(Mike’s joke was used to poke fun at the Presidential use of the teleprompter. That allowed me to use the joke in a self-deprecation form.)

My name is John Kinde and I’m a senior nudist.

(A call back to Mike’s top-ten list. I wasn’t sure how strong the joke was, but it got a good laugh.)

I’ll be telling jokes. If you don’t listen, something dangerous will


(The weakest joke of the monologue. It surprised me that it got almost no response. After a slight pause, I just ignored the lack of response and kept moving.)

People have always said to me…for years they said, “Kinde you’re pretty good, but you’ll never speak in a church garage.”

(I wasn’t sure the joke would work. It WASN’T a garage, but had a door similar to one on a garage. I wasn’t sure the audience would make the same connection that I had made. I implied that “I had arrived.” A very good laugh.)

I signed up on and I met a man from VietNam. Now if I can only put that to music.

(The-call back received a good laugh. Then the topper, “put that to music,” got a bigger laugh. Your use of a topper should have a stucture where the topper gets a bigger laugh than the joke lines which set it up.)

I have something in common with Jana. She said that people don’t hire her for her content, for the subject. People don’t hire me either.

(The set-up implies that I also don’t get hired for my topic/subject, but stops short of saying that, suggesting that people just don’t hire me. It is a joke with some risk, because the audience is required translate what was previously said, based on the words I had left out, in order to get the joke. This activates the superiority factor. Fortunately the joke played really strong. I was also using self-deprecation.)

Mike Rayburn was a model tonight for how to use corporate humor.  Here’s the Mike Rayburn recipe for successfully using corporate humor.

Tell one nudist joke

Tell one Amish joke.

Tell two fart jokes.

And unzip your fly.

(A call back which used comic license while recalling his top-ten list jokes. My list stretched the specific content of his jokes. For example, one of his jokes was a “bean” joke, not directly a fart joke, but it was implied. And although he did a “fly” joke, he didn’t unzip one. The lines were close enough, and were increasingly funny to get good laughs.)

I knew I was having a bad gig. I took the stage with my guitar then Irealized I don’t play the guitar.

(A call-back to Mike’s top ten list theme.)

I knew it was a bad gig. I was on Oprah, and she said, “Get off of me.”

(A call-back to the Top Ten list and to Oprah. Absurdity.)

I knew it was a bad gig. I had a dream that I was speaking to 1000 people and when I woke up, I was.

(Absurdity. Very good response.)

I always wanted to be a singing keynoter, but Jana Stanfield had my slot.

(A bit of a groaner. Moderate response. But I never know for sure until I try.)

(Pretended to text Mike Rayburn’s wife on my cell phone.)

Hi Tara. What’s your favorite car. A red Lamborghini convertable?

Mike will be bringing the Thai take-out. He’ll be coming home in a Red Lamborghini convertable.

(A good call-back, humorously suggesting that Mike would have to run out and buy, rent, borrow, or steal a Lamborghini. The audience got the joke immediately, in fact sooner than I expected. They started laughing before I reached the intended punch line. Excellent response.)

Back to Mike.

The Contestant Interview–Case Study #135 (Video)

Sunday, May 10th, 2015

Here are a couple of simple observational lines I’ve used during speech contest interviews.

To be ready with an observational line when you are being interviewed after a competition, attempt to create a funny line that will answer one of the standard questions being asked of each contestant. Typical questions like, “What is your home club?” And, “Is there anybody you’d like to thank?”

At a contest last month, someone who was interviewed before me mistakenly said Los Angeles when he meant Las Vegas, our hometown.  The mistake got a big laugh.

So when I was asked, “You’re a member of Power House Pros?” My reply was, “Yes.  Power House Pros of Los Angeles.” A big laugh. A perfect line.

A simple observational line could be based on the observation that you drew the speaking position which qualified you to speak last (when that happens to be the case). And the question: “Is there someone you would like to thank?” The answer is, “Yes. I’d like to thank the other speakers for warming up the audience.” That’s good line which has worked for me in the past.

Another technique is to create several observational lines, and hope that something inspires you during the interview to use one of your prepared lines. At a typical meeting I can usually come up with eight observational lines. And the odds are good that one of them will fit into the interview if I’m alert to the opportunity.

A basic technique is that you pay close attention to the contestants being interviewed before you and look for things to which you can connect for the purpose of getting a laugh. The more recent the set-up event link is, the stronger the line will be. Being relaxed and in the moment allows you to pay attention and look for links both before and during your interview.

The contestant interview is one of my favorite parts of a contest. It ranks right after hearing my name announced as the winner. And since that’s a rare event, that puts the interview at the top of the my list.

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.