The intellectual equivalent of a ham sandwich.

I’m working on the Entertaining Speaker series for Toastmasters and I recently completed speech number three: Make Them Laugh. I ended up going a fairly different direction than what I wrote here … but I’m too lazy to re-write this for the sake of the blog. Just know that a large part of the speech was the terrible joke at the end, which I have NOT written out because: 1, I already knew it, and 2, if I ever meet someone in person and they make the mistake of asking me to tell this joke to them I will relish the opportunity. It is truly a terrible joke, and I love telling a very long version of it.

Enjoy the speech?

 

Make Them Laugh?

This speech is for ‘make them laugh’ from the entertaining speaker series, and frankly, I find that ridiculous. Make them laugh!? Make them LAUGH? As though that is not perpetually my objective.

As someone who strives to be funny more often than not, I can tell you that it warms my heart when I get a good laugh, it makes me happy in the moment and later. But, I’ll add, as someone who strives to be funny, I have been not funny … A LOT.

A lot a lot.

Part of that is sense of humor – it’s a subjective thing, and I have something of an odd one.

I can’t tell you any secrets behind humor, or how to make a speech funny, but I can tell you two things: first, times I have thought, ‘this’ll be good’ … and it wasn’t, and having experienced that particularly cruel silence after a failed joke MANY TIMES, I can also tell you how to handle it like a champ.

I

I had managed, somehow, to successfully interview for something called the Engineering Leadership Development Program at my last company. It was competitive, and a fair amount of work. The program lasted three years, and during that time you worked your regular job, and then took night classes, and got a master’s, and had a big work project that was all on your own time. One week every year we had a conference where all these type A high-strung, highly competitive people would get together, take classes, and size each other up.

And also, I was there too.

The program was oriented towards young engineers, I think you had to have less than five years of experience to join. In one of the conference classes the instructor was telling us how we really had more experience than we thought … I found the lesson corny.

He had everyone say how much experience we had and then he wrote the number on a flip chart. ‘Four years, 1 year, 2 years, etc.’ Up went the numbers. Then he asked, with the skills of a very unmotivational motivational speaker, ‘and how much experience does that add up to?!’

I immediately answered, ‘three?’ Because that was SO CLEARLY the wrong answer … and that’s the joke. Right? (big sigh)

Welp. Instead he replied, with the tone of voice you’d expect someone to use on the slow kid in class, ‘oh, it’s higher than that, keep counting, buddy!’

There’s a bright note, though. Which is that I find it very funny, now, that I told a joke that failed so miserably in such an annoyingly competitive environment.

II

And my failures at humor continue to this day. Toastmasters speeches have provided me plenty of opportunities to reflect, after I leave the stage, and think, ‘huh, no one laughed at that.’

My favorite example of that was my Tall Tales competition speech. I know that is a unique environment because everyone is competing and it’s a tense situation … but I really wanted people to, most of all, find my speech quirky and amusing. In my speech I talked about my grandpa and I spotting a bunch of aliens coming to Earth, us going to investigate, and then, what do you know, I’m involved in an intergalactic dance off. And part of that I ACTUALLY DANCED.

I thought, ‘this is so weird! And strange! And fun! The audience will really enjoy this change of pace!’

In the back of the room were Liz, Melanie, Jodi, and my wife, smiling and offering encouraging vibes. But eeeeeeeveryone in front of them? Not so much. I found myself dancing, doing the ‘string knees’ as I stared out into pair of eyes after pair of eyes staring blankly at me.

It was very strange, and I am happy I got to experience that.

III

Generally my failed jokes aren’t in classrooms, or during speeches. The vast majority are conversational. When I told my wife about this speech idea I said, ‘I’m trying to think of times I told a joke and no one laughed’ and she said, ‘oh yeah! There was a terrible one you told the other day!’ She said that excitedly. Love, eh?

The good news is – there are ways to handle these situations.

You could take a sort of … aggressive, quickly fading to a small, simmering self-pep talk approach … ‘That was funny!! That was funny. Right? That was funny.’

You can try to join in with everyone else in not enjoying the joke … even though you just told it. (Step to the side.) ‘Dude … lame joke.’

How about a diversion? (Point like you’re following a bird flying by) ‘Is that a change of subject?’

And of course any combination of weird noises … (Clear throat weirdly for a bit) ‘Hairball.’

IV

My point! If I even have one … Is that humor is ridiculous. ‘Make them laugh’ is ridiculous. There are tried and true ways to go for safe humor, any sitcom can show you that. A lot of those jokes rely on stereotypes and tropes that you’re already so familiar with that you can predict how a joke will end.

That’s not a bad thing, either. Sometimes it’s fun to go for a ride to the punch line even when you know it’s coming.

BUT! You also have to be true to yourself. If you don’t find your speech funny, how will others? Make them laugh is a gamble, make yourself laugh is much more fun. With that in mind, I’m going to close with a joke.

Let me warn you, I have told this joke a few times, and it has NEVER gotten a laugh. It’s gotten a few amused hmph’s … but no outright laughter. But I love this joke, and you all are stuck sitting there listening to me.

<high school prom joke>

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Die Hand

Germany … you’re an odd place. And here’s why I say that.

The German word for neck is hals. The word for back is zurück. And ear is ohr. Eye is auge.

Distinct, unique. Clearly words the Germans had thought, ‘we should make words for these things.’

But here’s where they lose me.

The German word for hand … is hand.

The German word for arm … is arm.

The German word for finger … is finger.

It’s like they just completely forgot about those body parts until one day some Germans were hanging out with some English and the Germans realized, ‘oh crap … we don’t have names for any of the stuff connect to our brust (which means chest) … we should come up with names.’

Englishman: ‘and what do you guys call hands?’

German: ‘die hand.’

Englishman: ‘…no, like, in your language.’

German: ‘yah, hand … is hand.’

I would’ve been a pretty skeptical Englishman if I had heard, in sequence, that the German’s words for arm, hand and finger were … arm, hand and finger. And it’s not like the Germans forgot about appendages altogether. Leg is bein, foot is Fuß, and toe is zehe.

Germans, eh, they’re an odd bunch.

Flag of Germany.svg
Public Domain, Link

 

Attn: Ellen (8/15/18)

Front

Ellen361a

 

Back (apologies for my handwriting!)

Ellen361b

 

The text of the postcard is

Dear Ellen,

What’s more terrifying? Waking up in a creepy, unsettlingly sterile room like on this postcard, or a seedy motel room? 3rd option, waking up naked in the Disney castle.

Sincerely,
DumbFunnery.com OR
@DumbFunnery

Why am I doing this?

 

July 2018 Haiku

July 1 (Sunday)
Wife leaves tomorrow
And taking the kid with her
It’s zany dad time!

July 2 (Monday)
Zany dad day 1:
Post work: mowed lawn, did chores
Awwww hell yea, what up

July 3 (Tuesday)
Zany dad day 2:
Woke up early to swim laps
Schooled by ten year olds

July 4 (Wednesday)
Flying to Houston
“I haven’t seen you in years!”
NO TIME – WHERE’S MY SON!

#itHadBeenAWholeTwoDays

July 5 (Thursday)
Son’s first day at beach
Sat in surf playing with sand
Pasty, happy kid

July 6 (Friday)
Met up with some friends
Who also now have a babe!
Oh how life changes

July 7 (Saturday)
Mother-in-law hosts
Party to show off grandson
He’s game … Til naptime

July 8 (Sunday)
Flying home today
Peek-a-boos well with others
I serve as rock wall

#littleClimber

July 9 (Monday)
It’s morning. Kid on lap.
Spazzy arm movement gets me –
Cornea SCRATCHED

July 10 (Tuesday)
Big day for dad, son
Son gets ear tubes put in (yay!)
Eye doc says ‘still … BAD’

July 11 (Wednesday)
No eye pain today!!!
Sis and her fam are in town …
I’m world’s worst host

July 12 (Thursday)
Back at work today!
Eye covered with hand, shades on
I’m productive? Ish?

July 13 (Friday)
Home away from home
Not work – but the eye doctor’s
Eye getting better!

July 14 (Saturday)
If reading, TV
Bother eyes … What do you do?
Sensible bedtime!

July 15 (Sunday)
Quiet house again
Sister’s visit came and went
In blink of an … eye

#seeWhatDidThere

July 16 (Monday)
Sippy cup progress
Kiddo gets tilting cup up!
(Like chugging frat boy)

July 17 (Tuesday)
Band-aid contact OUT!
This doc lacks first doc’s soft touch
Felt like eye poked out

July 18 (Wednesday)
Latest code release
Keeps revealing new problems
No jokes. Just plain stinks.

July 19 (Thursday)
Hey sports fans, great news!
Now you can sport your sport drink
Tastes ‘eh,’ and sporty!

July 20 (Friday)
New video game
I’d forgotten what a fun
Time suck these can be

July 21 (Saturday)
Hello Saturday
Sunday’s less responsible
(And more fun) brother

July 22 (Sunday)
First jog after break
Come on body, you like this!
… I. Said. YOU. LIKE. THIS.

July 23 (Monday)
A kid named Monday
You think he’d be boring, right?
Nope! She’s a nudist.

July 24 (Tuesday)
Went to the eye doc
He gave me swimming advice!
(Also talked eye stuff)

July 25 (Wednesday)
Finished watching Glow
Keep up the good work, Netflix!
(When’s season 3 out?)

July 26 (Thursday)
Nuclear Pregnancy
Act 1, Scene 1: “Look at you!
“Such joy, you’re glowing!”

July 27 (Friday)
Kid learned to sit down!
(Used to stand up, think ‘oh no!’
Then squawk angrily)

July 28 (Saturday)
Went to restaurant
And ordered food for kiddo!!
(First time doing that)

July 29 (Sunday)
Playing game with son
Sorta hide/chase/peek-a-boo
Makes me so happy

July 30 (Monday)
Why aren’t scientists
Making advanced octopi
That give massages

July 31 (Tuesday)
How bout a crime show
It’s kids who sing, and do crime
And it’s called ‘Crime Bop’

We here at DumbFunnery often get questions and asked for advice about a number of topics. Today’s question comes from an avid reader. (Aren’t they all!?!)

‘Recently we found a very large spider in our house – what should we do?’

This is a tough question because I would like to ask a number of follow-up questions, so I’ll just answer for a few different cases.

 

You Saw the Spider, You Didn’t Interact with the Spider, the Spider Didn’t See You

This is fine. Do nothing, or call an exterminator. Either way is OK. But, when you call the exterminator, call from work or away from your house, and don’t be home when the exterminator does his or her thing. Also, when you get home after the exterminator has been there, say things like, ‘I can’t believe a stranger broke in!’ or ‘oh no, what did that evil stranger do!?’

 

You Saw the Spider, You Tried to Kill the Spider, the Spider May or May Not be Dead

Oh, you idiot. The spider has EVERYTHING on you. It knows your name, your home, your favorite shows (probably not important information but knowledge is power and spiders have 8 legs which means they are likely 4x more crafty than a human so we can’t even CONCEIVE of the ways the spider will use this information against you). I’d recommend moving, but odds are the spider will move with you which is an absolute alpha move and you’ll show up at your new house, go to bed in your new sheets (you’ll want to replace your sheets – the spider has … done things … to your old ones), and the spider will walk across your face as you sleep.

Have you considered giving up all your personal possessions and becoming a monk? This is your best option.

 

You Saw the Spider, You Didn’t Interact with the Spider, the Spider Saw You

The spider has established dominance. If the spider sees you, you must kill it swiftly. It now knows your character, and it finds you to be weak. Congratulations, you are now renting from a spider landlord. Your life is but a toy for the spider to play with. Just humor the spider, and you’ll live a mostly normal life.

Good luck, dear reader.

Need Other Brilliant Advice?

I Know You’re Not a Doctor, But …

I Know You’re Not a Doctor, But … (Part II)

What To Do If You Find Yourself in a Riot

DumbFunnery Doles With the Best, Part I

Tips For Recent Grads – Your Big Trip

Congratulations, Graduates! Welcome to the Next 40 Years

Faking Football Knowledge

Attn: Ellen (8/8/18)

Front

Ellen360a

 

Back (apologies for my handwriting!)

Ellen360b

 

The text of the postcard is

Dear Ellen,

I’m calling it now – if Trump gets a second term he’s going to have NASA stamp his name on the moon in giant text.

Sincerely,
DumbFunnery.com OR
@DumbFunnery

Why am I doing this?

 

Music Monday

 

 

 

 

This playlist here.

All Music Monday’s here.

 

 

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