Archive for the 'Case Studies' Category

Observational Humor — Case Study #134

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

Here is another Observational Humor monologue presented at the end of an NSA Las Vegas chapter meeting. First we’ll look at the set-up. Then we will look at the joke and what triggered the humor. The strength of most observational humor is “being there.” Humor which is funny for the audience will not be nearly as funny when studied as an academic exercise. But this is presented as a humor piece which has passed the test of a live audience.

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

1. I brought a Virgil’s Soda to my NSA chapter meeting. It’s brown
glass which looks like a beer bottle.

2. Bill Bachrach set up a magic trick by planting a special cup on the
front table, asking the woman sitting at the front table to pretend that
the cup was hers. He told us about this coordination with the woman
after he did the magic trick.

3. Darren asked a question about a speaker using something another
speaker had said or had done earlier during the meeting.

4. Bill said it worked to his advantage that he was funnier than people
thought he would be.

5. Mark is always colorfully dressed. That morning he was wearing an
orange blazer and orange-color, checked pants.

6. A speaker joked that she might have a wardrobe malfunction during
the meeting.

7. Marilyn was wearing a bold-pattern pair of pants. It looked like a
print of vines, black on white.

8. Mike opened with a top-ten list: Ten Ways You Know when You’ve
Spoken too Long.

9. A speaker mentioned a comedy show, Confessions of a Showgirl.

10. The entrance to the meeting room was a large garage-style door.

11. The decor at the back of the stage was four brightly-colored doors.

12. A speaker talked about living in a room on the top floor of the
Flamingo hotel.

13. A speaker talked about the challenges of starting a new show on the
LV Strip. He said that each month he writes a check for the privilege of

14. A speaker said that when you’re starting out, you’re not great.
“The first time you’re hired to speak, you suck.”

15. A speaker told about being a speaker for Charles Schwab, and
mispronounced the word SPEAKER, like it was a difficult tongue

16. The speaking room was equipped with a FoosBall table and an Air
Hockey machine.

17. A speaker said, it’s self-defeating to think “this is as good as I’m
going to get.”

18. Bill Bachrach said, “If comfort is your goal, success is not in your


(Placing my soda bottle on the front table and speaking to the woman
sitting there.) Pretend this is your beer.

(Pefect opener. Started getting laughs just putting down the bottle. Big laugh when I delivered the line.)

(Making eye contact with Darren.) You can use that line.
(Very big laugh. The trigger was Absurdity.)

I’m funnier than I look.
(Good call back. Big laugh.)

This is a classy group. Look at how people are dressed.
(I had three outfit observations, good response although not among the better lines.)

One is dressed in an outfit that doesn’t rhyme.

(I figured this would work for an orange or a purple outfit, words that
do not rhyme.)

One is dressed in clothing from the Janet Jackson collection.
(A reference to Jackson’s Super Bowl performance several years ago.)

And one is wearing camouflaged pants worn when fighting an enemy that is color blind.
(A bold outfit attracted my attention, and I figured the attention of the
audience as well.)

Ten Ways I Can Tell I’ve Been Speaking Too Long. Or confessions of a showgirl.
(Anytime I hear a top-ten list in a program, I look for the possibility of
creating my own top-ten list on the same theme. And following with an
absurd topper call-back got a good laugh.)

I Iknew was speaking too long when I had a dream that I was speaking, and when I woke up, I was.

(Not an Observational joke, but a joke made up to fill in the top-ten

When I’m speaking in a room that looks like a garage.
(Simple observation. OK response.)

When the audience laughs uncontrollably until  I start speaking.

(Medium response.)

When I give the audience a choice of a joke behind Door number one. Door number two. Or door number three.

(Good response,)

When my funniest material is something I just made up.
(Weaker response than I expected.)

When I’m wishing I could move from my room in the Motel 6 to a room in the Flamingo.
(Big laugh.)

When I do the wrap-up humor at each monthly chapter meeting,
because I write a check.
(Good call back, implies that I pay to be on the program.)

When I continue to get hired even though I still suck.
(Self-deprecation using a call-back of a phrase used earlier in the
program by one of the speakers.)

When I’m caught looking in the bathroom mirror saying “Charles
Schwab serves speakers at the sea shore.”
(A call back of something that happened which had gotten a laugh.)

When my stiffest competition is a FoosBall game and an Air Hockey table.
(One of the weaker lines.)

You know I’ve been speaking too long when you can see my mouth
(A generic joke line for the Top Ten List which I deleted from the
monologue by accident. I like he line. Self-deprecation.)

When I start thinking: This is the funniest I’m going to get.
(Twisted a phrase used by a speaker. Adapted it to a humor theme.
Good response.)

In closing, the thought for the day: If comfort is your goal, being funny is not in your future.
(Good close. Good response.)

The Justin Bieber Roast

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Humor Techniques and Lessons-Learned From a TV Celebrity Roast.

Last Night, March 30, Justin Bieber was roasted on Comedy Central.  I commend Bieber for stepping into the ring.  It had risks and rewards.  It was a good Roast and Bieber received his share of stinging jabs.

A Celebrity Roast is traditionally made up of hard-core, nightclub-style jokes. They push the limits of good taste.  Sure, they could edit the footage and cut all the jokes about sex, body parts, and body functions.  But then they’d have to find a five-minute slot in which they could air what was left of the roast.

But if you’re not easily offended, there is much to be learned from looking at the substance and style of the Celebrity Roast.

Poking fun at yourself is one of the safest forms of humor.  Justin Bieber admitted to not being a professional funny-man.  This lowers the expectations and magnifies the surprise factor which strengthens the jokes.  A Bieber line:

“Look, I’m new to comedy, but here’s a joke: What do you get when you give a teenager $200 million? A bunch of has-beens calling you a lesbian for two hours”  He zaps the Roasters calling them a bunch of has-beens.  And he piles on by criticizing them on going over-board on the gay/lesbian jokes. Off to a nice start.

We are reminded throughout the Roast of the Comic License principle.  This is an understanding between the comic and the audience that the performer may stretch the truth, even lie, to get a laugh.  Much of what is said in a Roast is not fact, it’s just made up for the sake of the joke.  Of course the best humor has a ring of truth.  If you’re ever in a roast, you’ll find yourself saying things you know aren’t true.  So don’t plan on running for President, unless your roast performance is at the White House Correspondents Dinner.

A common line for a Roast rebuttal, since this is a celebrity roast, is to imply that a participant is NOT famous or NOT funny.  This is usually easy to do because some of the participants are  minor celebreties and some are not comedians.  Generic lines come in handy:

-        Presenter X, you were great.  But the next time you’re in a roast…be funny.

-        Presenter X, you were selected to go first on the roast…because they knew you’d make the other comics look good.

-        Presenter X, you were quite the comedian…but don’t quit your day job.

-        Presenter X, your monologue was so dull it doesn’t even need a rebuttal.

Shaquille O’Neil was a presenter.  Let’s imagine we want to write a line taking advantage of the fact that he’s not a comic.  And we don’t want to use a completely generic line.  We might use something like:  “Shaq, We’re glad you’re here, because it’s nice to have people on the agenda who aren’t funny.  Although I have to admit that you make me smile because you are always dribbling.”  Not super funny, but better than a totally generic line.

A basic humor principle is that The Truth Is Funny.  Even though much of what is said in a Roast is not true, the better lines usually have a ring of truth.

If I had been assigned to write an opening for Bieber’s rebuttal, I might have written something like:

“Tonight was a dream come true for me…to be more specific…it was a nightmare.  I realize it could have been worse.  The comics with TALENT might have been available. And not only did we have to settle for comics on the lower rungs of the comedy ladder, we still had to fill in the holes with a home decorator and a basketball player.”  This suggests:

– That the roast was a bad experience.  But hopefully it was fun.

– That the quality of the Roasters was not good, which was not true.

– That two honorable professions can be used as insults.

– That the truth is the roast was both a dream and a nightmare.

A good joke is often a blend of truth and exaggeration.  Within every comic falsehood, there is usually a ring of truth.  When we are the target of a joke, whether or not in a roast, we need to remember that it’s just a joke, and be the first to laugh.  If you have a good sense of humor and can laugh at yourself, it disarms your detractors.

And the final lesson from a roast is to close with nice words, a mini-tribute, directed to the Guest of Honor.  It leaves the participants and audience with a positive feeling.

It was a well-done roast.  I enjoyed it, although my personal preference would have been to cut back on the comedy-club edge.  In my opinion it would have been even funnier.  I enjoyed the people who presented, and Justin Bieber did a great job.  Well done Comedy Central.

Observational Humor — Case Study #133

Saturday, March 7th, 2015

Here’s another Observational Humor monologue presented at the end of a meeting. We’ll look at the set-up for the jokes, and then we’ll look at the jokes and what made them work. It’s presented for educational purposes not primarily attended as enterainment. The “you had to be there” factor is responsible for a monologue not reading as funny as is was in-the-moment when presented live.

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

1. In the Educational Moment, I suggested that to create humor, they
should look for unusual things in the room. For example on the white
board somone has written Csico 123.

2. A speaker gave a speech titled SCARS.

3. A speaker mentioned how many years he had lived in Las Vegas.

4. A speaker said that he got married 8 years ago, before he got ugly.

5. A speaker giving a technical speech on Diets, told us to assume that
each of us was a Dietary Expert.

6. A member was given an impromptu speech topic of naming the best
buffet in Las Vegas.

7. A speaker was given an impromptu speech topic of naming unique
things for tourists to do in Las Vegas.

8. Hoover Dam is a short drive from Las Vegas.

9. A speaker told of applying for a job at the company that provides
our meeting room. He got the job.

10. It was mentioned that some job applications still ask for the RACE
of the applicant.

11. It was suggested that a Safe may or may not be a good place to hide.


Welcome to the Witnesss Protection Program support group. My name is Cisco 123.

(Pretending to make sense of the code name written on the white board.)

Tonight’s program theme is SCARS. Silly Comments and Ridiculous Sarcasm.
(Acronyms can provide an easy source of humor.)

I’ve lived in Las Vegas for 15 years. I moved here before I became ugly.

Can you believe we’re in a room full of Dietary Experts? I find it easier to believe we’re in a room full of Buffet Experts.
(Poking fun at the audience, suggesting that they didn’t look like health advocates.)

On the subject of unique things for tourists to do in Las Vegas.
– One of the best things to do is take a Dam Tour.
– Another thing to do is visit the new Athletic Club at Warm Springs
and Gibson. Jim Gibson is the manager of the Gibson Gym.
(Playing with the double meaning of DAM. And using Name Play, with
a sound-alike word Jim/Gym.)

I applied for a job at Pololu. On the application there was a section
titled Race. I put 500. The interviewer questioned what I meant. I said, that’s my race. The Kinde 500.
(Again using Name Play using sound-alike words, KINDE/INDY.)

The application also asked for our greatest accomplishment. When I was younger, I always won every game of Hide & Seek. I always hid in the safe.
(This was a call back to the “hide in the safe” reference. I wasn’t sure
this would be a good line, but it received a very good laugh.)

I didn’t get the job.
(Implies that I didn’t get the job because of the two jokes above. A good closing line.)

Observational Humor — Case Study #132

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

Here’s another Observational Humor Monologue from an NSA Las Vegas chapter meeting. First we will look at the set-up. And then we’ll review the monologue and what made the jokes tick. It was an average monologue with a terrific closer.

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

1. A speaker commented that many people from North Dakota had stoic, peaceful, laid-back personalities.

2. A speaker commented on the importance of having energy in your

3. A member, in his self-introduction, joked about being in the Witness
Protection Program.

4. I’ve joked in the past that I look like Mr Rogers.

5. Walter Bond said that to be a point guard you need the right physical gift and you need to work hard.

6. Marvelous Mark said that was unique and never duplicated.

7. A speaker mentioned the Wild Birdfeeder Organization.

8. A speaker mentioned Chick Flicks.

9. A speaker mentioned Jesus.

10. A speaker mentioned Brian Williams.

11. A speaker mentioned that he had 13 professional engagements in

12. Judy Moreo was wearing black pants and a suit jacket with bold
black and white stripes. Marvelous Mark was wearing a black suit coat
and pants with bold black and white stripes.


I’m from North Dakota…where this is high energy.
(Self-deprecation. Poking fun at my easy-going personality.)

I met a famous speaker who said: “Why don’t I know you?”
The reason she didn’t know me was that I’m in the Witness Protection Program.
(A good laugh, but not a big laugh.)

Being in the Witness Protection Program is a lot of work. On each day of the week I need to be a different person:
(The Witness Protection Programs lines were set-up lines for the
following list.)

On Sundays I’m Mr Rogers.
(Good laugh.)

On Mondays I’m a point guard.
(Fair laugh.)

On Tuesdays I’m Marvelous Mark
(Good laugh.)

On Wednesdays I’m a Wild Bird Feeder.
(Fair laugh.)

On Thursdays I’m a Chick Flick Star.
(Bigger laugh.)

On Fridays I’m Jesus.
(Good laugh.)

And on Saturdays I’m Brian Williams.
(Fair laugh.)

Last month I had 13 paid gigs…in Afghanistan.
(Big laugh. This was a topper to the Brian Williams line.

I recommend arriving a our meetings early. You learn interesting
things about our members. Would Judy and Mark please stand? I was in the parking lot when Judy and Mark arrived. They shook hands. And before they entered the bulding, they shook traded jackets.
(They were dressed in a way that it appeared that Judy came to the
meeting in a Black Suit…and that Mark came to the meeting in a suit
with bold Black and White Stripes. And before they entered the
building, they traded jackets. This joke received an absolutely huge
laugh. I figured the joke would work, and that’s why I used it as a
closer. But I was pleasantly surprised how big the response was. The
factors of SURPRISE, SUPERIORITY, ABSURDITY, and probably some others, resulted in the biggest laugh I’ve had in a year. The SURPRISE factor had people thinking, “Yeah, that’s right. It’s amazing that someone made that connection.” The SUPERIORITY factor counted on the audience being able to figure out the joke for themselves. Fortunately I had a smart audience who was also attentive and put the puzzle pieces together allowing them to figure out the joke, triggering the Superiority Factor. With great reward comes great risk. This joke had the potential to totally bomb. If audience members were preoccupied and not paying close attention to, and analyzing, the lines, the joke would have never worked. And the ABSURDITY factor made the joke funny, because after they connected the dots, they then realized that trading jackets was a ridiculous thing that would have never happened. Comments after the meeting: “You hit it out of the park.” “That was the funniest thing I ever heard.” “Absolutely amazing!” And more. And as you read the monologue, you’re pobably thinking, “I didn’t think that was so funny.” You had to be there. With the power of Observational Humor…you ARE there.

Observational Humor — Case Study #131

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Here is another Observational Humor monologue presented at the end of a meeting. We’ll look at the set-up. Then we’ll examine the joke and what made the joke work.

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

1. I joked about how it was difficult to get me to smile. It became a running gag as others started to joke about it too.

2. I ran about two minutes over my 20-minute time limit. The Timer joked that DTM means Don’t Time Me.

3. I wasn’t wearing my usual denim shirt. It was cold outside and I
wore a jacket and a sweatshirt.

4. New member Sid Maestry said his name was pronounced like Pastry.

5. A speaker said we would learn something for posterity.

6. My name was mis-spelled on the agenda: KINDY.

7. Part way from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, there is a freeway exit sign
for ZZYZX Road.

8. The word-of-the-day was Esprit de l’escalier, a French phrase.

9. The Master Evaluator critiqued Jens for mis-pronouncing a member’s name.  “If you do that again Jens, we’ll have to take you out to the parking lot and have you shot.”


(Looking at notes, then looking up) Smile!
(I flashed a big phony smile. It good response from the audience.)

Don’t time me.
(I said it slowly, while looking at the Timer. Good response.)

I’m not wearing my denim shirt tonight. I’ve been placed in the witness protection program.
(A good target of humor since I almost always wore my denim shirt. Big

And Sid Maestry is our newest member. Sounds like Pastry. Our club is finally getting its just desserts.  (Good laugh.)

We’ve had several good speeches tonight. I’m sure you’ve picked up a thing or two for your posterior.
(Playing with a sound-alike word for posterity.)

My name was mis-spelled on the agenda. It’s not Kindy…it’s Kindzzyzx.  The Zs and Xs are silent.

(This spelling mistake was made a couple of months earlier, so I
recycled the joke which had worked well before adding a new topper
about the silent letters. It got a good response, but not as big as the first time I used it.)

Humor tip for the day. Do your humor with esprit de l’escalier. It will give it that certain je ne sais quoi.
(We had pronunciation challenges with the word-of-the-day earlier in
the meeting. It provided a good target for a joke.)

Jens. I’ve been designated as the person to take you out to the parking lot.
(Playing the role of the bouncer, it got a good laugh and provided a nice closer.)

Observational Humor — Case Study #130

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

It’s time for another Observational Humor Monologue presented at the end of a meeting. We will look at the set-up for the joke. Then we will look at the joke and what makes it funny.

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

1. A speaker said that giving free speeches is a good way to build your
speaking business. People will hear you and then will want to hire you.

2. A speaker said that if an agent wanted you to do a free speech, you
should do so if the agent or a member of their staff would be present at
the speech. Then the speech would serve as a showcase and encourage
the agent to book you in the future, because they would see how good
you were.

3. A market pricing strategy is to let the client “pay what they want.”

4. A speaker said that being a professional speaker isn’t about doing
the speech, it’s about getting the speech.

5. A speaker used the word PLETHORA.

6. A speaker said she had been married for 16 years…but not in a row.

7. A speaker said she can go long periods of time without drinking
water. She said she was like a camel.

8. A speaker said he was racing on a motorcycle behind a flying bat.
And some raising hit him in the face, “I hope they were raisins.”


I used to do free speeches but the Word of Mouth was killing me.
(Self-deprecation and an implied punchline that I would NOT get a
referral or repeat speech because someone had heard me…not true, but

I had an agent who asked if I could help her with a client who had a
small budget. I said I would do it for free…on the condition that she
didn’t attend.
(Self-deprecation. Not true, but funny.)

My humor style is called Laugh As You Want.
(A good twist of a callback.)

Humor is not doing a joke…it’s the audience getting the joke.
(Interesting twist of a callback. Not intended to be funny.)

I have a plethora of humor tips.   (I like making fun of clunky 25-cent words.)

I’ve been married one year…in a row.
(A funny pairing of phrases. Big laugh.)

I’d walk a mile for a camel.
(Call back of the word CAMEL. A good laugh.

Frank…Those weren’t raisins.
(Simple call back and an implied punch line.)

Observational Humor — Case Study #129

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Here’s another Observational Humor monologue presented at the end of  a meeting. In the text that follows, we will look at the set-up for the jokes.

The  monologue is provided with a short comment on what made each joke tick.

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

1. My name on the agenda was misspelled Kindy instead of Kinde.

2. There is a freeway exit sign between Las Vegas and Los Angeles
named ZZYZX Road.

3. Bill gave a speech on what he learned from three marriages.

4. A speaker talked about right/left brain, saying he was lucky to be
using half his brain.

5. A speaker told us his first crush on a girl was when he was three
years old.

6. I have a long history with three Toastmasters in the audience; Bobby,
Jens, and Bill.

7. Jens told us of a club that met four Mondays a month, but he
mis-spoke and said four Mondays a week.

8. Our club meets at Pololu Robotics.

9. Bill shared family photos with us from his first and second marriage.
The first marriage photo was in Black and White. The second marriage
photo was in color.

10. Bobby told a story about giving advice to someone with pesonal
problems. He told him, “Get a job.”


You’ll notice on the agenda my name is misspelled. It’s actually
spelled Kindzzyzx.
(Like most customized humor, this would be funny to someone who had
frequently driven past the ZZYZX Road sign. To someone who had not,
the joke would not be funny. Also, note that the response is quite large
for a small audience of only nine people.)

Bill, I’d like to refer you to a book I’ve written. Everything I know
about Women. It’s a blank book. I don’t know everything about
(This comes from a blank-book title that I saw on the internet, topped
with the common knowledge that nobody knows everything about

In fact a lot of people think I know a lot about humor. The truth is I’m a half wit.
(Combined the half-brain comment with half wit. Self-deprecation.)

My first crush on a girl I was ten years old. Imagine that.
(The truth. Funny by comparison to three years old.)

I go way back with Jens. Some of my longest acquaintances are here tonight; Bobby, Jens, and Bill.
(A set up for jokes about three specific people.)

I knew Jens when we belonged to a club in Omaha. And we met four Mondays a week.
(Applied a mis-statement to a specific club.)

Bill, you realize we are meeting at Pololu Robotics. They can make you the perfect wife. Have you noticed Ryan just got married recently to Andrea. She’s a perfect wife. There is a reason for that.

The company used to be called Stepford Robotics.
(Adding a joke to the theme. An efficient way to build humor. The
set-up is already provided.)

We learned, thanks to Bill, that color film was invented between his first
and second marriage.
(A great connection between two photographs. I assumed that the
audience would remember that the first photo was B&W and the second photo was in color. A strong line.)

Years ago Bobby said, “I try to use humor but nobody laughs at me. It just isn’t working. What can you suggest?” I looked at him and said, “Get a job.”
(A good call back. Not a huge response, but got a laugh.)

Observational Humor — Case Study #128

Monday, November 24th, 2014

Here is another Observational Humor monologue presented at the end of a meeting.  It was a small audience, only nine people, but good Observational Humor plays big even with a small audience. First, we’ll take a look at the set-up for the jokes. Then we will examine the jokes and look at what made the jokes funny.

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

1. A speaker shared two ways of waking up in the morning: – GOOD MORNING God. – GOOD GOD it’s morning.

2. A speaker meant to say BETTER but said GOODER.

3. A speaker said we had TONS of reasons to stay in Toastmasters.

4. A frequent guest, Giget Swanson, was referred to as a repeat offender.

5. Giget announced that she was starting a new club.

6. A speaker accidentally referred to Giget as Ginger.

7. The word of the day was Dipsomaniac.

8. A speaker told the joke about a child digging thru a pile of manure saying “I know there’s a pony in here somewhere.”

9. A speaker talked about The Path to Inner Peace.

10. Bobby joked about hanging around an old friend. “And the nice thing was that he was still living.”

11. Carolyn arrived at the meeting late.

12. We had a guest named Gene.

13. Member Ryan Mulligan was present.

14. During a speaker evaluation, Jens recommended that the speaker focus on speaking more loudly.

15. A speaker joked if you had an average income, you would be richer than half the country.


Good God it’s Kinde. (A call back and self-deprecation.)

They considered having someone else to do the Observational Humor, but I was the gooder choice. (A call back to a mis-use of a word.)

This is a special club. Great guests. Great members. A ton of people here. (Turning TON into a running gag.)

A frequent guest is Giget. She was defined as a repeat offender. (This was mainly a set up. But it got a laugh as a call back.)

She’s starting a new club. That’s part of what is required of you when you are a repeat offender. She is part of the witness protection program, where her name is Ginger. (Strong call back of mis-use of name. Ginger was an unexpected topper. Big laugh.)

Gidget is a great cook. She invited me for dinner and I was so excited because she is a dipsomaniac…someone who never needs Dipso Bismol. (Just saying the word of the day got a good laugh, and made the Dipso Bismol a topper. Playing with sound-alike words: Pepto and Dipso.)

I went over to her house. We sat there eating dinner, watching Jeopardy. You haven’t lived until you’ve had a Swanson’s TV Dinner. (Very big laugh. An unexpected connection.)

And what I like about Giget, when she comes to the meeting she is always saying “I know there’s a pony in here somewhere.” (Good call back of phrase. Also, it is an implied punch line. Self-deprecation of club, implied that one has to dig to find something of value at the meeting.)

As a cook, I know whenever I go to her house it’s a path to dinner peas. (A spoonerism. I wasn’t sure that this joke would work. The new words come fast, and then they’re gone. But the twist on words got a good laugh.)

And she’s comfortable in this club because as a cook she likes being around hams and turkeys. (Remember self-deprecation jokes can poke fun at you, or a group to which you belong.)

So it’s great having Giget here. It adds a lot to the meeting. We have lots of wonderful people. (Transition.)

Bobby Williams. A good guy and he’s still living. (Understatement and a call-back.)

And we have the late Carolyn Peletier. (As President of the club, it was noticed by everyone that Carolyn was late getting to the meeting.)

And we’re blessed with good genes. (Played with double meaning of name of guest. A good, positive joke honors the guest.)

And if you make a mistake we’ve got a Mulligan. (A joke revisited. A mulligan is a “do over” in golf.)

And Jens, our model of loudness. (Took an earlier suggestion and linked it to a quality posessed by the maker of the suggestion. Jens has a really full and strong voice.)

As a final motivational thought, I’d like to give you this. If you are an average humor presenter you’re funnier than half the speakers here. (Good swapping of words to make a humorous point. Using a truth to get a laugh.)

Observational Humor — Case Study #127

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

Here is another Video Blog featuring an Observational Humor monologue. It’s important to read the written Set-Up information before watching the video. Watching the video first is would be like listening to a humor monlogue of punch lines with the set-up lines hidden from view. The set-up provides the context for the jokes. Without proper context, most of the jokes won’t make sense. When a joke doesn’t make sensee, the expression is usually “you had to be there.”  Reading the set-up, in a sense, allows you to be there and helps you to understand the humor.

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

1. Tim Gard, one of the funniest people in the National Speakers Association, was the guest speaker for the Las Vegas chapter of NSA.  He presented some of his terrific signature stories, many which shared a humorous look at airline travel. If you have the chance to see him speak, don’t miss it. If you need a hilarious speaker with an impowering message, Tim is your speaker.

2. Tim’s program is a study on the use of humorous props. To keep from losing his bags on an airline flight, he has two rubber-chicken legs sticking out of his suitcase, and a large sign saying something like “this is not your bag.” To do justice to the routine, you need to see Tim at a live presentation.

3. Tim has created his own Official Rules of the Hospitality Industry.  He shares stories of creating his own rules which he uses when checking into hotels.

4. Tim uses the expressions “Woo Hoo!” and “Bummer” to express the ups and downs of travel.

5. Past speakers for the chapter have included Mike Rayburn (chapter President) and Dan Thurmon a speaker/gymnast.

6. A speaker referred to advice given by coach Ron Arden.

7. A speaker mentioned being naked to get laughs.

8. Someone mentioned eliminating the competition by killing them one by one.

9. A speaker used the technique of “turn to the person next to you and discuss…”

10. A speaker mentioned the “pull my finger gag.”

11. A speaker mentioned that he had his appendix removed 10 years ago.

12. Our meeting facility had Uni-Sex rest rooms.

13. At the start of the meeting my self-introduction was, “My name is John Kinde. I’ve come to the meeting this morning for the Uni-Sex restrooms.” This was one of the funniest lines of the entire morning.

Click here to view the monologue video.


(Physical actions with no spoken words. Arriving on the speaker’s platform. Placing on the table a briefcase with chicken legs sticking out. Audience laughter. Opening briefcase. Briefcase sign: This is not your briefcase.)

(Good laughs piggybacking on Tim’s signature story about his suitcase prop. Tim’s use of props and story is many times funnier than my short gag. I got some laughs with a simple prop call-back. This is also an example of “preparing to be spontaneous.” I came to the meeting ready with a one-time use gag. I wouldn’t use it again because the gag belongs to Tim. And I only used it because he included it in his content that morning. If he had not used his suitcase story, I would not have been able to use my briefcase gag.)

Before I get started, I’m going to read to you a few words from the Official Speaker Policy Manual.

(A good laugh. This was a set-up for the following lines.)

“Speaker Behavior and Professionalism Section 7 Paragraph 12. When a speaker at an NSA Chapter meeting follows a much funnier program speaker, a situation known as Bummer, the audience will understand this challenge and will laugh at the jokes of the lesser humorous speaker as a professional courtesy.”

(Huge laugh. Self-depecation).

Woo Hoo.

(Someone in the audience said Woo Hoo first, I said the expression anyway. Good laugh.)

Oh no, not another hilariously funny speaker.

(Self-Deprecation. Light laugh.)

I was called by the board and asked to be on the program today and I thought about it and I thought what a great idea, doing observational humor following the funniest speaker in NSA.

(Setting the context of someone following a hilarious Tim Gard program. Light laughter.)

That would be like being on the program after Mike Rayburn and playing a song on the guitar. That would be like being on a program after Dan Thurmon and doing a back flip.

(Very light response. In retrospect, I would have left these lines out. It had been many years since Dan presented his program to our chapter.)

Ron Arden said to me…you’re not funny enough to be naked.

(Very big laugh. Absurdity and self-deprecation.)

It’s a fact you may not be familiar with. There are only 141 funny speakers in NSA. Every time I meet one, I kill them. Tim, I’m your ride to the airport.

(“I kill them” received light reaction. The “ride to the airport” topper got a huge laugh. Often a weaker joke provides a great set-up for another joke which follows.)

Turn to the person next to you and pull their finger.

(A simple call back combining two obsservations. A big laugh.)

It’s been ten years since I’ve had my apendix transplant.

(Implied punchline, that the speaker was the donor of the organ. I wasn’t sure how the joke would play, but it got a good laugh. The punch line was a bit of a time-release joke. The laughs came in two waves.)

It’s been a really great program today. I’ve had a great time. I’ll see you in the restroom.

(Good call back of restroom coment from the beginning of the meeting.)

Observational Humor — Case Study #126

Friday, October 10th, 2014

Here is another VIDEO BLOG of Observational Humor presented at the end of a meeting. First we will look at the set-up for each joke.  Then we’ll hear (read) the joke. And finally, we’ll make some comments about why the joke worked.

To make sense of the video monologue, I highly suggest reading the set-up information first. Without the set-up information, it would be like watching a series of punch lines without the background context which makes the jokes understandable.

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

1. When introducing me, the emcee told the audience that I had won
first place at eight district contests.

2. A speaker accidentally said PEOPLES. He immediately corrected
himself saying, “my mouth doesn’t always work correctly.”

3. A speaker talked about accents and demonstrated more than 30
accents and dialects.

4. A speaker told of an older woman who complained about a joke the
speaker told about another woman. The speaker responded with, “but I was telling a joke about my wife.”

5. We announced the club’s next special event on December 15,
Stand-Up Comedy Night.

6. Linda Bown talked about humor used by men and women. She
suggested that humor about ED might not be a good topic.

7. A speaker was just trying to be friendly when she told a joke to a woman standing in line in front of her. The joke made the woman who was ahead of her uncomfortable and she asked the speaker not to stand so close.

8. A speaker said “I miss my wife.”

9. There was a sign in the men’s restroom which said “aim at back of urinal.”

10. At a normal club meeting we usually have 15 people. At this special
meeting we had 40.

11. A speaker joked that he had a friend who once had Juan Valdez as his roommate.

12. Darren LaCroix mentioned the hazards of using a spell checker.

13. Members of the audience included: Carolyn Pelletier, Marty Bernstein, Scott Pritchard, Linda Bown, and Melanie Hope.




[You learned from my introduction that I’ve won eight district contests.
I tell you that not impress you,] I tell you that because I’m impressed.
(The portion in brackets was lost on the video recording.)

You people’s is great.
(A simple call-back of something which had earlier received a laugh.)

I tell you that in the French accent but when ever I speak in a French accent, it turns somehow into a Norwegian accent.
(That’s the truth. And the truth is funny. When ever I do a foreign accent, it somehow slides into Norwegian. That’s probably natural for anyone who grew up in North Dakota.)

I was telling a joke about a woman. After the program an old woman came up to me and said, “I didn’t like the joke you told about that woman.” I said, “Hey, that woman is my wife.” She looked at me and said: “That woman is my daughter.” I thought she looked familiar.
(I did a call-back by repeating the story line and then throwing in the
unexpected punch line “That woman is my daughter.” I then add a topper with “I thought she looked familiar.”)

In December we’re doing stand up comedy night. That’s our special program here at Power House Pros, December 15, Stand up comedy night. Linda Bown will be doing stand up comedy on ED.
(Linda had joked about being assigned her topic for this night’s program, suggesting that she didn’t feel like an expert on the topic. So I figured, why not also assign her a topic she is uncomfortable with for December 15.)

I was in Seattle. I was in a long line waiting to speak to the gate agent. I was just standing there with nothing to do, so I thought I’d visit with the lady in front of me. I said, Did you know that the odds of there being a bomb on an airplane is 400,000 to 1. But the odds of there being TWO bombs is 3 million to one. So I always pack a bomb. The woman said. Please don’t stand so close.
(The bomb joke is one I heard ten years ago. It worked well to blend it into a story call-back with the final punch line of “Please don’t stand so close.”)

Sometimes I miss my wife. But my aim is improving.
(Another old joke. Plays on the double meaning of MISS. I did the joke
because I like the structure of the word play.)

I don’t know if you’ve been to the men’s room, they have a sign:
PLEASE AIM AT THE BACK OF URINAL. That’s why we have a
theme for our club: Power House Pros…We aim to please.
(A recycled joke. I used it about 9 months ago. But I knew with the big
audience at this program, most people had not heard it.)

So I just had to sneak into the women’s restroom to see if they had a sign. Sure enough, in every stall, there was a sign, please remain seated during performance.
(Another recycled joke.)

We’re implementing new procedures if you come to the meeting next week. To help keep the restrooms clean, if you need to use the restroom, go out the door, turn left, and use the bushes.
(The recycled jokes opened the door for this new joke about stepping
outside. The trigger is absurdity.)

Signs are a great idea. Wouldn’t it be good to have signs to help the
speakers. Do you like that idea? (APPLAUSE sign)
(I’m starting a triplet of new sign jokes.)

And Bobby, I received a great insight tonight. Bobby said that he used to speak for money but made more money unclogging toilets. So I’m going to give up observational humor and go into the business of observational toilets. (LAUGHTER sign).
( I sequenced the signs in the order that I thought would build the

This is a bigger crowd than we normally have on Monday night, a
special night. But I didn’t realize that with more people you have more butterflies when you stand up to speak (REMOVE YOUR CLOTHES sign).
(Plays with the cliche of visualizing the audience naked or in their underwear to control nervousness.)

My roommate, Juan Valdez...
(The set-up served as the punch line. Just by saying the set-up, and then saying no more, was funny.)

Daren told us about funny things with a spell check or how you can run into problems with a spell check Which is true We have a lot of
unusual names of speakers, even common names If a spell check does not have a name in memory, it will give you alternatives. If don’t pay attention, you’ll put the wrong word for example with Pelletier.
(Two days before this program, I realized that a spell checker could provide me a funny seed for a joke. And the name twists I came up with actually came from my spell-checker. I used five names of people from the audience.)

Pelletier palletized. But as humorists we want to go one step further, and link to something else. Carolyn Palletized: A speaker who, when approaching the lectern, goes BEEP BEEP BEEP.

Marty turns into martyr. Martyr Bernstein. A speaker who does jokes to die for. (Marty ad libs from the audience, “You’re killing me!”)

Pritchard. Pitchfork. Scott Pitchfork. A speaker who sells eating
utensils on QVC. Scott Pitch Fork.

Bown. Bong. Linda Bong. A speaker who will put you at ease.

Hope. Harp. Melanie Harp. Listening to her speak is like dying and
going to heaven.
(My joke structure was using the spell-checker to provide a set-up twist, and to then make a humor connection with a tag line using the twisted name.)