Archive for the 'Case Studies' Category

Observational Humor — Case Study #123

Saturday, July 26th, 2014

Here is another Observational Humor monologue presented at the end of a meeting.  First we’ll look at the set-up for the jokes.   Then we’ll look at the jokes and a brief analysis of what made the jokes work.

Read the set-up information first, then you’ll be ready to watch the video of the monologue.  You’ve heard the expression when someone shares a funny event:  “You had to be there.”  Watching the video will give you a feel for “being there.”  It will help you understand the power of Observational Humor.

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

1. A speaker said she was compelled to do something, but used the word IMPALED instead of COMPELLED.

2. My Mother was visiting and attending the meeting.

3. My mother is from Arizona.

4. At a previous meeting four guests attended, all introducing
themselves as roommates of Ethan. He shares a large house with
several people.

5. A speaker said he was entering some data into the computer but
forgot to click SAVE when he was done.

6. Two first-time guests were visiting the meeting with their two
children, one was as very small baby.

7. Carolyn was wearing a top with a black-and-white, busy, abstract
pattern.

THE MONOLOGUE

Before watching the video, it’s important that you read the seven set-up items listed above. It’s the set-up that gives the monologue the context it needs to be funny. Click to play the video.


THE ANALYSIS

LINE ONE:
I wasn’t going to be doing Observational Humor until I was impaled by the President.
(A simple call-back of a mistakenly-used word.)

LINE TWO:
If I look bothered.  I’m out of my normal routine.   I usually relax myself by imagining my audience naked. But my Mother is here tonight…

(Playing with a cliche. A very big laugh.)

LINE THREE:
She said she was from Arizona. That’s not true…she is one of Ethan’s roommates.

(The set-up for this line was something that happened a month earlier
when Ethan brought four guests to a meeting. In spite of the fact that
half the audience was not familiar with the original set-up, it got a very
big laugh. For those who didn’t know of the set-up, the absurdity of the line was probably enough of a set-up to make the joke work even for them.)

LINE FOUR:
I was on a church web site, surfing. It said, Do you believe in God?
Click Yes or No. YES! But I forgot on the bottom to check SAVED.
(Playing with the double meaning of the word SAVE. I wasn’t sure that
the joke would be clear enough to the audience, but it received a very
good response.)

LINE FIVE:
And I’ve got the solution for building our attendance. We can
immediately double it if everybody brings a cute baby. And I can think of a dozen reasons why that would help our club.
(An absurd suggestion using a baby as a call-back. The baby was
adorable and the hit of the meeting.)

 

LINE SIX:
Carolyn would you please stand up. A lot of you don’t realize that she is wearing an army uniform. This is a camouflaged uniform for people who are fighting a color-blind enemy.
(I answered the question, “What’s the story behind this very abstract
B&W blouse?”)

Observational Humor — Case Study #122

Friday, July 11th, 2014

Here is another Observational Humor monologue presented at the end of a meeting.  An Observational Humor joke does not need to be the funniest joke in the world to get a good laugh.  The factor of “being there” is what magnifies the power of the joke.  Watching the audience response teaches you the power of Observational Humor.

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

1. We had a an excellent meeting. The speeches were motivational and inspiring.

2. Ethan, one of our club members, brought 5 guests. They were all
people who share a house. The guests were introduced as his room
mates.

3. One of the guests at the meeting was from Sweden. One was from
Canada. One club member had the last name of Polish. One guest had
the first name of Happy.

4. The guests were young men and some members were referring to
them as a Boy Band.

5. A speaker told us about her Grandmother receiving her high school
diploma at age 98. On receiving her diploma, her Grandmother said:
“Oh boy, my last day of school.” And her son replied with: “Now you
have to get a job!”

6. A member was assigned to give an impromptu speech topic on the
subject of “what would he name a month if he were to name it after
himsself.”

7. A guest gave an impromptu speech about a guy in a dress who kept
calling him to be his friend.

8. Member Bobby Williams talked about how his dog reacted after he
had been absent for a long period of time. When they reunited, the dog got excited and licked him.

9. The monologue video is presented from beginning to end without any cuts or edits. As I approached the end of the monologue I had a lengthy pause as I made a decision to drop two jokes and deliver the final joke which I wasn’t sure I wanted to use. The joke related to Bobby’s dog’s response welcoming him home. As I wasn’t sure about the joke, I stumbled over my own words getting the joke started. It got a good laugh and was ok as a closer. But usually when I’m not sure about a joke I leave it out. The excessive pause and the mixing up of my words were not the highlights of my humor that evening and they were not the best way to close the monologue.

THE MONOLOGUE

Here is the entire monologue, presented at the meeting, recorded on
video. Watching the video of the monologue is the best way to see and understand the power of observational humor. A joke by itself is not nearly as strong as a joke within the context of “being there.”   Click Here to watch the video.

 

REVIEW AND ANALYSIS OF THE MONOLOGUE

LINE ONE. In the interest of having a balanced program, I will now
speak on how to have an unhappy and unfulfilled life.
(This line was set-up by a meeting with excetionally motivational and
inspiring speeches. The trigger at work is a 180 twist.)

LINE TWO. Mr Toastmaster, guests, and the one person who has never lived with Ethan.
(This line uses a cliche, formal, speech opening with a call back about
Ethan’s many roommates. The trigger is an implied exaggeration,
suggesting that EVERYONE has been a roommate of Ethan’s.)

LINE THREE. One Direction and Abba having nothing on us.
We have:
A Swedish person,
A Canadian,
We have one Polish Person
We have one person who is Happy.
(This joke starts with a reference to two bands, a Boy Band and a band from Sweden. I then list a colorful list of people who were attending the meeting.)

LINE FOUR. And I received an inspiring insight tonight. In thirty
years I can get my high school diploma…and get a job.
(An excellent call back about the diploma and the get-a-job lines which
had received huge laughs earlier in the meeting. I dropped myself into
someone else’s story. I looked at the Grandmother’s experience, and I
said “I could do that.”)

LINE FIVE. I’m not interested in naming a whole month. One day
would be sufficient. February 29. I figure that one day every four years would be enough of me. And guys would celebrate this day by putting on a dress and calling John.
(Two call backs which linked the “month” speech with the stalking
incident.)

LINE SIX. And finally, I always thought it was strange that if Bobby
hadn’t seen me for a long time, every time he would see me he would lick me.

(I had a lengthy pause and stumbled on my words as I debated whether I wanted to use this last joke. Usually when I doubt a line, I delete it. But this evening I went with it. The line got a good response but was not the best way to end the monologue. It’s also interesting to note that as time passes, the pause and the stumble are not nearly as noticable as I when I first experienced them. The lesson is that mistakes are often less noticable to the audience than they are to the speaker.)

Observational Humor — Case Study #121

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

This is a blend of Observational Humor and also jokes written for a 90th Birthday celebration. After a few opening lines, I presented most of the monologue in the format of a Question Man routine, where you first give the answer and then read the question.

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

1. Darren LaCroix recommended opening a speech with a video because it establishes credibility and builds a relationship with the audience.

2. He pointed out that Celine Dion uses an opening video even though she doesn’t need it.

3. We were told that giving away solid content encourages people to buy your educational products because they will want more of your wisdom.

4. A third of the audience, maybe more, were guests of featured speaker Burt Dubin.

5. Burt is a member of the Las Vegas, Nevada chapter and drives from Kingman, Arizona to attend meetings.

6. Recent chapter programs have featured speakers with the names Waldo, Rocco, and Bodine.

7. Burt Dubin was born on June 10, 1924.

8. Burt told us that during an economic downturn he downsized his life. Moved from a house to a condo and unloaded things he didn’t need…which included a wife.

9. This monologue was designed to honor the 90th birthday of Burt Dubin.

THE MONOLOGUE

In the interest of saving time, I won’t play my opening video.

(Moderate laughter.)

Actually I don’t have a video.
(Topper. Slightly bigger laugh.)

I use Celine Dion’s video.

(Topper. Good laugh, but I was expecting more.)

I learned today that if I don’t include content in my talk, I won’t sell any of my Celine Dion albums.
(A transition to the next joke. And continuing the Celine Dion theme.)

So here’s one humor tip. Where do you place humor in your talk? You place your humor right before the audience laughs. 

(Recycle of a good original joke which I used at a meeting two weeks before. Very good response.)

But enough about me. This is about Burt. And I’m now going to answer your questions about Burt Dubin. Many of you submitted written questions before the start of the meeting. I will give you the answer and then read your question:
(Transition into the Question Man format where I give the answer first and then read the question–made famous by Johnny Carson, Steve Allen, Ernie Kovaks, and Plato.)

The answer is: 20 to 1 .

The question is: Of the people attending today’s meeting, what is the ratio of Burt’s guests to professional speakers.

(Burt had a lot of guests. I used the trigger of exaggeration. Very big laugh.)

The answer is: The FBI opened a case file on Burt Dubin.
The question is: What happened when Burt joined the NSA Las Vegas chapter by crossing state lines.
(Recognizes Burt’s dedication attending meetings. Plays with what happens when you “cross state lines.” Moderate laugh.)

The answer is: Waldo, Rocco and Bodine
The question is: Name three people with names almost as colorful as Burt.
(Weak response, probably for three reasons: First, it was not a fresh observation, but instead was a prepared joke. Second, it may be that Burt was not the best choice to anchor this joke. John would have made a better joke (more common, ordinary, boring than Burt, which is actually a somewhat colorful name). And third, many in the audience had not attended recent meetings and we not familiar with past speaker names.)

The answer is: Don Knotts, Carol O’Conner, Truman Capote, Fess Parker, Buddy Hackett, Jack Lemmon, Marilyn Monroe, Johnny Carson, Richard Burton, and Rock Hudson.
The question is: Name ten people who were born after Burt Dubin.

(This joke was built with simple research looking for names of famous people born within 12 months after Burt’s date of birth. Big laugh.)

You may have noticed that none of these ten people are still living.
(I would suggest caution using this type of joke. I did not have it in my prepared monologue, because I wasn’t sure how it would play. On the positive side, Burt has a good sense of humor and is a very vibrant 90-year-old. I sensed that the mood of the audience, and the response of the group to the list-of-names joke was positive and that the topper line would work. It did. A good line. A big laugh. If I were doing the monologue for a guest of honor who was not in excellent health, I would not have used this joke. Awareness and caution are valuable assets.)

The answer is: The first President Bush has great respect for Burt Dubin.
The question is: What is the result of George H W Bush being two days younger than Burt Dubin.
(This joke is very similar to the previous one, except that the birthdays are very close together and involved a Presidential figure. President Bush was featured on the news relating to his birthday the week before the meeting. Moderate response.)

The answer is: It means that Burt is a practical and resourceful person.

The question is: What does it say about Burt when, in the dictionary, DUBIN comes between DUAL PURPOSE and DUCT TAPE.

(The line was prepared in advance. The trigger is the question: What comes before and after Dubin in the dictionary. The words don’t have to be immediately before or after his name, but need to be fairly close. Weak response, but I like the joke and would use it again.)

The answer is: Burt’s wedding vows.
The question is: What is To Love, To Cherish, To Unload.
(A very unexpected call back. Huge laugh. Maybe the biggest laugh of the monologue.)

The answer is: Reynolds, Lancaster, Bacharach.
The question: is Name three people with whom Burt generously agreed to share his first name.

(The trigger was the question: What famous people have the first name of Burt. Weak response.)

The answer is: Burt Dubin.
The question is: Who is Lively, Mighty, and Ninety.
(This is a joke formula, rhyming triplett which ends in ninety and includes two flattering terms. I like a closer that gets an “ahhhh isn’t that sweet” response. Excellent response.)

Observational Humor — Case Study #120

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Here is another Observational Humor Monologue presented at the end of a meeting. We will look at what was said and what happened during the meeting before the monologue was delivered. Then we’ll examine what made the joke work.

THE SETUP

1. The outside temperature was over 100 degrees. About 75 percent of our members were attending the meeting in shorts.

2. The Word Of The Day was CONTIGUOUS.

3. Member JD told the group that he was not feeling well.

4. A member gave a speech: Goals Are On Purpose.

5. A speaker used the cliche of: Thirty year’s of experience Versus one year’s experience thirty times.

6. A speaker told about his first time going solo in a plane. His instructor said “You’re on your own!”

7. The speaker continued, “I looked to my left, to my right, behind me. I WAS on my own.”

8. The speaker continued, “It was up to me to fly the plane without crashing.”

9. A speaker told of splitting up with his first wife, “I cried for two days.”

10. A speaker told of a road trip with his cat. The cat kept getting sick and throwing up in the car.

11. A speaker told us he was in the process of moving and that he had two storage lockers full of property.

THE MONOLOGUE

You can tell summer is here, not by the Temperature, but by the length of the pants.
(An observation of the truth. The truth is funny.)

JD is not feeling well tonight, but he is not contiguous.
(The humor technique is malapropism, the misuse of a word that almost sounds like the right word, but isn’t.)

This is Observational Humor…where the Humor is On Purpose.
(Twisted a call-back phrase.)

I’m your Observational Humor Master…because I’ve had one year’s
experience thirty times.
(Twisted a call back phrase.)

Thirty years ago my comedy coach pushed me out on the stage and said, “You’re on your own!”
(Making my story parallel the speakers.)

I looked to my left, to my right, behind me…I WAS on my own.
(Continuing a set-up with parallel construction.)

It was up to me to be funny without bombing.
(More parallel construction with needed changes in the words.)

I bombed and I cried for two days.
(Taking a call-back and applying it to my story.)

But the worst thing was, every time I told a joke…my cat threw up.
(Continuing my story, dropping in another call-back. Huge laugh.)

That was thirty years ago. And today I have two storage lockers full of jokes.
(Not true, but funny, and once again using a call-back.)

Observational Humor — Case Study #119

Saturday, May 24th, 2014

More Observational Humor from an excellent meeting.  We’ll look at the humor, starting with the set-ups, the jokes, and a brief examination of what made the jokes funny.

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

1. It was one of the most windy nights we’ve seen in a long time. The wind was so strong it kept blowing the front door of the building open.

2. The Club awards for Toastmaster of the Year and Spark Plug of the
Year were presented. Members were recognized for contributions to the club, including being a “Cheer Leader” for Toastmasters.

3. Guest speaker Ken reflected on the meaning of FINE. It means something is good. And it means a financial penalty for something you should not do.

4. Dawn presented a mini-humor workshop. She joked that people shouldn’t watch me during her workshop because they might see my lips moving while she was speaking.

5. Guest Steven told us he has been a member of Toastmasters for 18 years.

6. Bill Lusk is a 55 year TM member.

7. Before the meeting started, Bobby joked that he loved seeing guests because he likes seeing people he doesn’t owe money to.

8. Our Gramarian looks for filler words:  So, Ah, and other meaningless filler words. She said that Ethan had a BUT and a WELL.

9. We have been having younger members join our club. They are talented and bring great energy to the meetings.

10. Guest Nick said he was born and raised in Las Vegas.

11. A speaker told about visiting a sperm bank and seeing their donor books categorized by descriptions of the donors: Height, Ethnicity,
Education, etc.

THE MONOLOGUE

We have an announcement. If you drove to the meeting tonight…your car is now in Kansas.
(We were having the biggest wind storm I had seen in years. The first thought I had was “You’re not in Kansas anymore.” I used that line to arrive at the line I actually used. The magic is in the re-write.)

Give me a T. Give me an O. Give me a M-A-S-T-E-R. What does it spell? Toastmaster! Yea!
(I played the role of an un-talented cheer leader. I was well cast in that role.)

After the presentation of Toastmaster of the Year and Sparkplug of the Year earlier this evening, I realized I need to be more of a cheer leader.
(The line got a bigger laugh than I expected.)

Ken that was a fine speech.
(A very big laugh.  Bigger than I was expecting.  Played with a double word meaning.)

The secret is out. Now you know why you never see Dawn speaking while I’m drinking water.
(A good line which I occasionally recycle when it fits.)

We’re hoping that Steven will join our club. When we add his TM experience to that of the rest of the club, our combined experience will finally exceed the singular experience of Bill Lusk.
(Exaggeration. Honors Bill for his experience, and pokes fun at him for
his age.)

Bobby says he loves seeing guests at the meeting because he likes to see people to whom he doesn’t owe money. What Bobby doesn’t know is that Dustin and Nick are both undercover agents for the IRS.
(I asked myself, how could Bobby owe the guests money?)

I’m not sure, but I think the gramarian said that Ethan had “a butt in the well.”
(I twisted a call back)

I’ve noticed that recently our new members and our guests are young,
talented and good looking. They are making us old-timers look bad. In fact one of our new members referred to us as “you older speakers.”
(The truth is funny. The new members ARE young, talented, good looking.)

All I have to say is that one day, you younger speakers are going to look like me.
(Self deprecation. Very big laugh.)

Nick said something that surprised me. You said that you were born here. (Nick agreed.) That amazes me, because I didn’t think the building was that old.
(I took a literal statement to the extreme. I thought that Nick would confirm that he had said HERE, but he obviously he didn’t mean THIS BUILDING. A big laugh.)

Often times, a guest will tell me that they’ve seen me before. That might be because I’m in the National Speakers Association Directory. Or it might be because of my web site. Or it might be because I’m in the donor books for TALL, for SCANDANAVIAN, and for SENSE OF HUMOR.
(A call back. Good job tying me into the donor books. Good laugh.)

Family Feud Funny Failure

Saturday, May 10th, 2014

Why is a dumb answer on a game show funny? There are lots of examples on YouTube: Family Fued, Newlywed Game, Wheel of Fortune, Pyramid, PassWord.
– Superiority. The viewer feels superior.
– Tension. Release caused by the embarassment of the victim.
– Relationships. The disconnect of the given answer from a good answer. The further the disconnect from a right answer the funnier.
– Surprise. Amazement at how far off-base a contestant could be.
– Self-deprecation. The realization of the It-Could-Have-Been-Me factor.
– The Topper. The comic disconnect of the family saying “good
answer” even when it’s not. One punch line leads to another. The first
punch line is the bad answer. The topper is the family laying a “good
answer” on top of the bad answer.

Observational Humor — Case Study #118

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Here is another Observational Humor monologue presented at the end of a meeting. We will look at the setup for the jokes, then we’ll review the jokes, and finally we’ll discuss what made the jokes work.

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

1. I was using my walker when I approached the speaking platform.

2. An evaluator complimented a speaker on a “smile that draws people
in.”

3. The Observational Humor Master typically opens with one joke, and
then calls for humorous comments from the floor. The OH Master then
presents a humor monologue.

4. An evaluator complimented a speaker on the variety in his speech,
taking people up and down, emotionally. He gestured the motion of a
roller coaster, highs and lows.

5. Jesse Oakley III told the story of his name. He is widely known for
his iii suffix.

6. A speaker used a joke format, “If you’re not paying for X…
Punchline.”

7. A speaker shared data that shows we are all being snooped on.

8. A speaker commented on how competitive our club is.

9. We have several new, young members. We also had two parents and a son visiting from California. The son was young looking, and the parents still did not look old enough to be his parents.

THE MONOLOGUE

My nickname is Johnny Walker.
(Jokes about the obvious. Also a joke using name play.)

Now that my smile has drawn you in.
(Self-deprecation. I’m not an expressive person.)

Are there any Observational Humor comments from floor?
(Members shared some Observational Humor lines. My monologue
continues.)

As you noticed, the humor is like a roller coaster…up…and down.
(gesturing a roller coaster path.)
(Very good laugh, in spite of the fact that all the lines given by club
members were good. In other words there weren’t any “down” or bad
lines, and the joke still got laughs.)

Ladies and gentlemen…and especially our Past-District Gov who had a farm…JESS E I E I O.
(A perfect play on I-I-I using the Old MacDonald jingle.)

If you’re not paying for this monologue…you’ll be in this monologue.
(Big laugh. A call back twisted to fit the monologue theme.)

I couldn’t resist the “walker” line. I like to find humor in name-play.  For example if Ethan Nguyen married Woody Allen…he would be Ethan Allen.
(Good laugh.)

I heard on the news today that Las Vegas was suing Chicago. It seems that Chicago is claiming to be a windy city.
(Timely comment related to windy weather in Las Vegas.)

You may have noticed that in the men’s room, the urinals have a sign which says, “Aim for back of urinal.” Melanie, that gives me an idea for our club banner slogan. “Power House Pros–We Aim to Please.”
(A recycled joke similar to one I used many months ago.)

Nobody snoops on me. I communicate by telegraph, smoke signals and stone tablets.
(Weakest line of the monologue.)

I agree with the comment that our club has stiff competition. This is because half of our members are very competitive. And the other half look like they should be in a coffin.
(The truth is funny, albeit an exaggerated truth. A good laugh.)

But aren’t you impressed with how young our three speakers were
tonight? And our guests are so young, even the parent’s of our guests are young!
(A good line to close with because it is funny, because it’s true. And it
compliments our guests.)

Observational Humor — Case Study #116

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

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

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

1. The Sgt At Arms opened the meeting saying “Please find your seat.”

2. A speaker shared a riddle to which the answer was NOTHING.

3. The meeting was our club’s annual speech contest. We had a mix of VERY experienced speakers and one brand new speaker.

4. A speaker who was born in Vietnam gave a Tall Tales speech in which he made up “scars” of his life experiences.

5. I was raised in North Dakota.

6. A speaker mentioned being “bald as a pickle.”

7. A speaker told about wanting to fly as a boy and taking an umbrella and jumping off a porch. He also talked about racine a Porsche as a senior citizen.

8. A speaker told a story where someone referred to him as “Dear.”

9. A speaker made fun of his own singing of Over the Rainbow. And he told of asking someone “who originally sang that song.” He was told, Judy Garland.

10. Bill Lusk gave a Tall Tale about his dog who spoke German.

THE MONOLOGUE

(In an old man’s voice) I can’t find my seat!
(When the original reference was made by the Sgt At Arms, there were a couple of jokes using the double meaning of the word SEAT. It felt like it would be fun, but it turned out not to be a strong opener.)

What is worse than Observational Humor…Nothing!
(A call-back with strong audience response.)

This was a typical Toastmasters Club level speech contest. Competitors included:
– An International finalist.
– An International semi-finalist.
– A 55 year Toastmaster member.
– And a new Toastmaster giving his first speech.
(I knew this was not a strong joke, but pointed out the difference in experience of the contestants. As expected, not much laughter. I would include it again. The perspective is interesting, and Observational Humor is all about perspective.)

I was raised in North Dakota and have scars that are difficult to share with you.
(Moderate response. Used as a set up for the jokes that followed.)

I was afraid I was going to grow up to be bald as a pickle.
(Simple call back. Good response.)

And I always wanted to be like Mary Poppins. I got an umbrella and jumped off a Porsche.
(Absurdity of Mary Poppins. Call-back of umbrella. Used Porsche as a sound-alike substitute for PORCH. Very big laugh.)

My mother called me Dear…John Deere.
(The twist is John Deere. Strong response.)

I used to like to sing “Over the Rainbow”. One day I asked my mother who sings that song? She said “Over the Rainbow” is sung by Scott Pritchard.
(Very big response.)

Last week I went to lunch at Bill Lusk’s home.
(Sets up the dog lines which follow.)

His dog answered the door. “Bonjour Monsieur. Soyez le bienvenue!” I was amazed. His dog spoke French!
(Good laugh. Set-up for a series of language jokes.)

The dog then said “Mi casa es su casa!” Incredible, the dog was bilingual.
(Stronger laughter.)

By the way what are we having for lunch? The dog replied, “Wienerschnitzel und Hagen Daz.”   German? 

(Tongue-in-cheek German. Not meant to be taken seriously. A direct call back to the speech. A good laugh.)

How many languages do you speak? The dog responded: “Mot, hai…chin, muoi.” (I counted from one to ten in Vietnamese). Ten languages. Amazing!
(Very good response. I included Vietnamese because one of the speakers had a theme of Vietnam for his speech.)

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was better than nothing.
(A good closer, book-ending the speech.)

Observational Humor — Case Study #115

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Here’s another Observational Humor monologue.   We will look at the set-up, the joke, and what makes the joke work.

Observational Humor case studies are provided to help us become better at recognizing, writing, and delivering a joke when speaking from the platform.  The best kind of humor is that which is designed specifically for the audience.  Often it is a one-time-use joke which, if told later, may get weak laughter and the excuse, “You had to be there.”  When you create Observational Humor you and the audience ARE there, and the joke is often stronger than you would have expected.

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

1.  The grammarian opened his report with “John Kinde didn’t have anything,” meaning he didn’t have any errors or suggestions to report.

2.  Guest Billie Wilson was surprised to be called on to introduce herself as a guest at the meeting.  It was her first time to visit a TM club.

3.  Bobby Williams joked about how I always introduce him as the funniest person in District 33.  He said it was hard to be a funny speaker following such an introduction.  Then he suggested that I was the funniest person in the District.

4.  A speaker was praised for his use of colorful language, meaning his vibrant, descriptive language.

5.  I presented the Educational moment on the subject of copyright law. JD Smith added a lot of valuable information.  The segment was supposed to be two minutes in length and ran overtime.

6.  Jon is a new member.

7.  To locate the restrooms, the emcee suggested we should ask someone over the age of 60.

8.  A speaker was critiqued for not speaking clearly.  She said “gonna” instead of “going to.”

9.  Another speaker was critiqued for using the expression “try to.”  The evaluator said, “You never TRY you just DO.”

10. A speaker told about an armed robbery of two people, one younger and one older.  The younger person being robbed was told to get on the ground and put his hands behind his head.  The robbers knew that the younger man would have been capable of hurting them.

11.  Bill Lusk has a full head of hair at age 80.  He was introduced as having good hair genes.

12.  I was dressed in blue jeans and a denim shirt.

13.  Bill told us that he inherited a Porsche when he was young.  He eventually became a race car driver.

14.  Bill said that he and his car “became one.”

15.  My first car was a VW Bug.  It was a sporty car which I took to the drag strip.

16.  Bill said that when he completes a race, he feels like a young man.

17.  Bill was giving an inpirational speech and closed with “your life can be as full as mine.”

18.  Bobby used the expression “there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for John Kinde.”

19.  Bobby used the expression “for what it’s worth” three times.

THE MONOLOGUE

I don’t have anything.  (I start to leave the speaking platform).
(A call back.  A good opener, one which I’ve used before.  Used as a current call-back, it freshens the joke.)

To start our humor session, Billie Wilson will now present some humorous observations.  Just kidding!
(This joke had pros and cons.  A trigger was the techniaque of building tension.  Putting a guest on the spot could be a negative.  You need to remove the pressure in a timely manner, not waiting too long to deliver the Just-Kidding line.)

The only thing worse than to be introduced as the funniest person in the district…is to be introduced as the person who is funnier than the funniest person in the district.
(The truth is funny.  And it added a layer to the onion by exaggerating the original humorous line that Bobby had delivered.)

It made me want to use some colorful language.
(Played with the double meening of the word colorful.)

I have a correction to the timer’s report.  It was noted that I spoke earlier for six and a half minutes.  The correct time for the Educational Moment was that I spoke for two minutes.  And JD Smith spoke for four and a half minutes.
(The first sentence builds tension.  The final punchline runs the danger of appearing that I was belittling JD’s excellent contributions.  I had the line written into the monologue, and I think it would have received a big laugh, but I chose not to deliver it.)

Jon (pointing to him), John (pointing to me), and John (pointing to the restrooms).

I’m gonna try some Observational Humor.
(Often, when I hear advice of something NOT to do, I look for a place to do it.)

Before I start I’m going to have Ryan and Jon get down on the floor and put their hands behind their heads.  They could both hurt me.
(The first joke got a good laugh.  The topper got a weak laugh.  I feel it was a good line, but got smothered in my delivery.)

I’m proud to say I have a lot in common with Bill Lusk. 
(Sets the scene for a series of jokes.)

Hair Genes.  Blue Jeans.
(Play with rhyme.  Simple joke.  Very good laugh.)

When he was young he got a Porsche.  When I was young I got a VW Bug.
(Just a set-up.  Not intended to be a joke, although could appear as one as I go from BIG to LITTLE.)

My VW Bug and I became two.
(Silly, perhaps whimsical.  Excellent laugh.)

My bug had headers, a tachometer, and mag wheels.
I raced it at the Ontario Motor Speedway.  Bill, you probably raced there. (Bill replied, “No that race track was closed before I got down there.”)

Now that REALLY makes me feel old!
(A funny line which came to me in the moment.  The truth is funny.)

When I was done racing, I felt like I was 60 years old.
(A reversal.)

Your life can be as full as mine.  And I am full of it.
(Self-deprecation.)

There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for Bobby Williams.  And for what it’s worth, I’d like to thank Bobby for nothing.
(A call-back on Bobby’s remarks.  Good and funny closer.)

Observational Humor — Case Study #117

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

We had another excellent meeting. Two guests. Four speakers preparing for their Area Contests. We’ll look at Observational Humor, starting with the set-ups, the jokes, and a brief examination of what made the jokes funny.

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

1. It was one of the most windy nights we’ve seen in a long time. The wind was so strong it kept blowing the front door open.

2. The awards for Toastmaster of the Year and Spark Plug of the Year for the club were presented. Members were recognized for contributions to the club, including being a “Cheer Leader” for Toastmasters.

3. Before the meeting started, Bobby joked that he loved seeing guests because he likes seeing people he doesn’t owe money to.

4. Our Gramarian looks for filler words: So, Ah, and other meaningless filler words. She said that Ethan had a BUT and a WELL.

5. We have been having younger members join our club. They are talented and bring good energy to the meetings.

6. Guest Nick said he was born and raised in Las Vegas.

7. A speaker told about visiting a sperm bank and seeing their donor books categorized by descriptions of the donors: Height, Ethnicity, Education, etc.

THE MONOLOGUE

We have an announcement. If you drove to the meeting tonight…your car is now in Kansas.
(We were having the biggest wind storm I had seen in years. The first
thought I had was “You’re not in Kansas anymore.” I used that line to
arrive at the line I actually used.)

Give me a T. Give me an O. Give me a M-A-S-T-E-R. What does it
spell? Toastmaster! Yea!
(I played the role of an un-talented cheer leader. I was well cast in that role.)

After the presentation of Toastmaster of the Year and Sparkplug of the Year earlier this evening, I realized I need to be more of a cheer leader.
(The line got a bigger laugh than I expected.)

Bobby says he loves seeing guests at the meeting because he likes to see people to whom he doesn’t owe money. What Bobby doesn’t know is that Dustin and Nick are both undercover agents for the IRS.
(I asked myself, how could Bobby owe the guests money?)

I’m not sure, but I think the gramarian said that Ethan had “a butt in the well.”

(I twisted a call back using a sound-alike phrase.)

I’ve noticed that recently our new members and our guests are young, talented and good looking. They are making us old-timers look bad. In fact one of our new members referred to us as “you older speakers.”
(The truth is funny. The new members ARE young, talented, good
looking.)

All I have to say is that one day, you younger speakers are going to look like me.
(Self deprecation. Very big laugh.)

Nick said something that surprised me. You said that you were born here. (Nick agreed.) That amazes me, because I didn’t think the building was that old.
(I took a literal statement to the extreme. I thought that Nick would
confirm that he had said HERE, but he obviously he didn’t mean THIS
BUILDING. A big laugh.)

Often times, a guest will tell me that they’ve seen me before. That mightbe because I’m in the National Speakers Association Directory. Or it might be because of my web site. Or it might be because I’m in the donor books for TALL, for SCANDANAVIAN,  
and for SENSE OF HUMOR.
(A call back. Good job tying me into the donor books. I was using the “drop myself into their story” technique.  Good laugh.)