Archive for the 'Humor In Speaking' Category

Observational Humor — Case Study #157

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

Visit Bala’s Indian Humor Blog for a new Observational Humor post.  He is very talented and frequently posts monologues.  The one he posted today is excellent.

District 60 Humorous Speech Contest

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

Kenneth Cheung, DTM, posted an insightful article about the creativity of the nine contestants of the District 60 Humorous Speech Contest.  The finalists reflect on how they turned ordinary experiences unto extraordinarily funny speeches.

Happy Birthday Hillary Clinton

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

Today is Hillary’s birthday, October 26.   Bala and I have written some thoughts about the birthday event.  Bala recently competed at his Division Humor Speech Contest and took home the third-place trophy.  Bala is a talented Observational Humorist.  He regularly  presents observations at the end of his Toastmaster meetings, and he publishes them on his Blog.  Check out his educational, humor-skills Blog  at


As Hillary Clinton turns 69, Donald Trump is thrilled to be leading Hillary by 1.

Happy Birthday, Hillary Clinton. May you always keep smiling…or rather keep fake smiling.

Today is the birthday of Hillary Cinton. She completed 69. Meanwhile Bill, who is one year older, celebrated privately,

It’s Hillary Clinton’s birthday. She received 33,000  birthday emails.  Fortunately she had just enough room on her computer.

It’s Hillary Cinton’s Birthday today. She can have her cake and eat it too…because she splits the calories with  her body double Teresa Barnwell

At 69 Hillary is getting more concerned  with her health since she’s covered by Obamacare.

Hillary Clinton made her birthday wish, blew out the candles, opened her eyes, but still had pneumonia.

Today is Hillary Clinton’s birthday. Bill’s slogan for the day is “Make our relationship great again.”

Today is Hillary Clinton’s birthday. She ordered an orange-color cake and cut it into little pieces which could be eaten by someone with  tiny hands.

Today Hillary celebrated her 69th birthday by preparing invitations to her 70th birthday party at the White House,  She was happy that Donald Trump said he would host it.

Observational Humor — Case Study #149

Saturday, August 27th, 2016

The punch lines from Observational Humor often fall into the category of “you had to be there.” We will give you information on what was said and done during the meeting, to give you a sense of being there.


  1. An evaluator critiqued a speaker’s enunciation. To the evaluator it sounded like the speaker said “Panty Raid” when he actually had said something else.
  2. An audience member wanted to demonstrate something and asked the speaker’s “Permission to join you on stage?”
  3. Ed and Darren were speaking at our meeting. They brought their notes and props in suitcases with wheels, like a carry-on bag you would take on a plane.
  4. Ed told us to turn to our neighbor and tell him/her “This speaker is really good!”
  5. A speaker said she was working on a speech project titled “Leave ‘em Laughing.”


Permission to stay in my seat?

(A reversal. Or what I sometimes call 180 degrees.)

My favorite part of your speech was the panty raid.

(A call back which turned into a very strong line.)

I was excited to see that Ed and Darren brought their suitcases. I thought they were moving in.


Wake up your neighbor and say: “This speaker is pretty funny.”

{Implies that my humor is putting people to sleep.)

In closing…a humor tip: To be a successful speaker, Leave ‘em Laughing. If you can’t do that, just leave ‘em.

(Good closing line using a fragment of the speech project title.)

Observational Humor — Case Study #148

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

Here is another Observational Humor monologue presented at the end of a meeting. We’ll tell you what was said and what happened during the meeting before the monologue was presented.

TH SET-UP. We will give you enough background to help you understand the jokes.

  1. The emcee said that her three speakers tonight had not been drinking.
  2. The emcee also said that she had a crack team of evaluators.
  3. JR mentioned Pole Dancers.
  4. First-time guest Frank was given the choice of participating in the impromptu speech part if the meeting.
  5. A speaker told us that when he was born, the doctor told his mother that he would never walk. Today, he walks normally.
  6. A speaker gave a speech introducing himself to the club. He titled his speech: “It’s all about me.”
  7. A speaker was late and he said he sneaked into the meeting.


I haven’t been drinking. I always speak like this.

(Absurdity, I don’t sound drunk. Self-deprecation.)

The evaluators have not been drinking. They are a crack team.

(Double meaning of the word CRACK.)

JR didn’t tell us that Wilson is a Polish name. He comes from a long line of Pole dancers.

(Wilson isn’t a Polish name, but I made that up to support a call-back to his mention of pole dancers.)

Frank, we always ask our guests if they would like to participate in the impromptu speaking part of the meeting. We do that not to test their courage but to test their judgment.

(Implied is that impromptu speeches make us nervous.)

When I was born, the Doctor told my Mother, “John will never be funny.”

(Implies that the doctor was wrong once again.)

These jokes are all about me.

(Good call back.)

One of our members said he sneaked into the meeting. The proper conjugation of the verb sneak is: SNEAK, SNUCK, SNAKED.

(For some reason, this silly string of words popped into my head,)

Observational Humor — Case study #146

Sunday, July 10th, 2016


Here’s another Observational Humor monologue delivered at the end of a meeing. I wrote the jokes as the meeting unfolded.

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 wrote a book with the title: Why Not Today?
  3. A speaker said she speaks on organizing for dis-organized people.
  4. A speaker said, “You’re a great audience, and I don’t say that to every audience.”
  5. A speaker said that he had a part-time job not related to speaking.
  6. Speaker said his alarm goes off at 5:00 am, seven days a week.
  7. I was using a walker.
  8. A speaker listed what women find attractive in a man.
  9. David, the man in charge of our audio equipment, had started growing a goatee.
  10. A speaker shared tips about being successful in the speaking business.
  11. – Not marketing is being invisible.
  12. – Experienced speakers aren’t cheap and cheap speakers aren’t experienced.


The Bible refers to the quick and the dead. I am neither.


I speak on procrastination. I have a book titled “Why Not Tomorrow?”

(Instead off curing it, I was supposedly encouraging it.)

I do humor for people who don’t like laughing.

(A call-back substituting my theme, humor.)

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

(Another call-back again substituting a humor theme.)

I’m now working nights at Madam Tsuaads Wax Museum. I’m performing as a sculpture of Mr Rogers. Tourists say I’m almost life like.

(A call-back on a part-time job and self-deprecation.)

Every day my alarm goes off at 5:00…pm…after my afternoon nap.

(Self-deprecation by flipping am to pm.)

Women like men who are funny. Women like men who are tall. Women like men who use walkers. I made that up.

(Rule of three and self-deprecation.)

I’m pleased to see that David received his Abraham Lincoln starter kit.

(David is a young person and “starter kit” was a funny and appropriate description.)

We have a special guest today. Would you please stand, Hillary Clinton.

(Politics was big in the news and a member looks like Hillary.)

To wrap things up: Two tips to help you understand the speaking business: 

Not being funny is being invisible.

Know that funny speeches aren’t cheap…and cheap speeches aren’t funny.

(Twisting previous advice and again dropping in the humor theme.)

Getting Older

Saturday, June 25th, 2016

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

Observational Humor — Case Study #145

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

(Having some fun with an earlier suggestion.)

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


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

(A call back and self-deprecation.)

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

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

It’s now time to seat the late people.

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

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

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

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

(Absurd but funny.)


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

Trying Too Hard

Sunday, December 27th, 2015

We recently reveived a good comment from Adam Floyd (
about one of the jokes in the Observational Humor — Case Study #142.  His Comment: “Correct me if I’m wrong, but ‘I’ve written eight books. No…I ate my first book. I was hungry,’ felt a little try hard. If I heard it, I would think it was random and forced.”

Good point Adam. You’re right. As a stand-alone joke it isn’t especially clever. But it passed the most important test. It got a good laugh. One clue is that I only publish monologue jokes that get a good response. Not necessarily rolling-in-the-aisles humor, but better than a titter, a chuckle, or a groan. Occasionally I’ll publish a less-than-desired humor response reaction to a joke for the purpose of examining a failed joke and using it to make learning points. I know that in this case the joke worked because I printed it, without mentioning that it was a failed joke.

A reason that an Observational Humor joke works well is that the joke is supported by common experience of the audience. They heard that the guest speaker had written eight books. That gave context to the joke, helping make sense of why I used it.

I feel that an Observational Humor joke, supported by the connection to what went before, adds two points to the effectiveness of the joke. A weak joke response, rated a six, would be bumped up to an eight, very good on my arbitrary scale, because it was relevant to something which had been said or which had happened earlier in the meeting.

Some other triggers supporting the joke, most likely made a simple joke a keeper. “I’ve written eight books. No…I ate my first book. I was hungry.” If a joke is supported by more than one trigger, if one trigger misses, another may connect with the audience.

– A call-back to the mention of the speaker having written eight books.  This connection answers the audience member’s question, “Why is he making this simple joke? Why is the comment relevant?”

– A sound-alike connection between the words eight and ate.

– An implied punch line. I ate my first book implies that I was not
successful and that as a starving artist I ate my work. I immediatelyfollowed that by stating what I had just implied, feeling a need to make that clear.

– Self-deprecation. Stating that I was not a multi-published author, but closer to being a starving-artist.

– Using several connections that require some work on the part of the audience, kicks in the superiority factor.

– Coming at a simple joke from several directions can turn a “trying
too hard joke” into one that actually works. And the old saying is
probably true, that for it to be funny…you probably had to be there.

– But that’s NOT to say that EVERYBODY thought the joke was funny. humor is very subjective. But I know that the joke registered with the majority of those in the audience because I didn’t delete it from the published monologue. Thanks for sharing a good point with us Adam.

The Cliche

Sunday, December 13th, 2015

Avoid clichés like the plague.  So advises William Safire in Rules For Writers.  When a writer or speaker uses a cliché, it’s often with the intent of being descriptive or creative.  However, the effect of using a cliché is often the opposite of what is intended.

By its very nature, a cliché is a tired descriptive choice which lacks creativity.  Any phrase used by a bunch, loses its punch.  If you’re going to use a cliché…be the first.  If you use it first, you claim the fame.  Use it second, you’re blamed as lame.  In other words, create the fresh, catchy expression which other people will copy, and maybe making it a cliché. It’s like a multi-level-marketing opportunity.  The first to create the concept and the first to jump on the band wagon, are the ones who will profit he most.  Late comers to an MLM opportunity are like late adapters of a cliché.

This applies to all of your content.  Originality rules.  A well-worn joke can give your entire speech or routine the illusion of staleness.  Fast track your road to success with original content and humor.

A cliché may be a poor choice:

– When you are using it because you think it’s descriptive or creative.  The more over-used the expression is, the more poor the choice.

– When it’s the easy or lazy choice.  Don’t take a creative cop out.   Instead, make your target an original, creative, brilliant, catchy thought that’s destined to become a cliché.  Create a brilliant way of expressing something that has your fingerprints all over it.

A cliché may be a good choice:

– When used as a crystal clear set up for a joke.

– When it serves as a disguise to hide a punchline or to set a false expectation.  What may be considered as a hack choice of words, a cliché, may actually be hiding an unexpected punch line. Its familiarity may be just the short-cut you need set up the perfect joke.  Cliché camouflaging it a useful humor tool.

Break through the staleness factor of a cliché by increasing your cliché awareness. When you want to say that your fans are old, “What I’m saying is my fans don’t buy green bananas.”  A cliché.  An old joke which was funny the first time you heard it.  Look for a colorful and interesting way to say that you have older fans: “I’d have more fans here tonight if we had more charging stations for scooters.”

Set a goal to be the creator of clichés.  Be the first to write and deliver something so magnetic that it will attract other writers and speakers to copy it, and in time turning your expression into a cliché.