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Toastmasters – Make Them Laugh

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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Take 5

Monday morning last week my sweet kiddo scratched my eye, so no blogging for this blurry-visioned fool! I’m sure you’ll miss my nonsense dearly. (Five eye doc visits in five days, what a rush!)

Back to your regularly scheduled silliness next week with Monday, Wednesday and Friday posts. Will Ellen continue to ignore me? Undoubtedly! Will I write about my child? Likely! Will I have some other filler post because I have not had any creative thoughts? Yeah, seems about right.

Tune in next week to find out more!

He is Risen

I’m So, So Sorry

Apologies, friends.

Sorry, especially, to Jesus.

But whenever I see ‘He is Risen’ (which I saw a lot of recently when I went to a flea market in town looking at children’s books … so many Christian children’s books, but zero Babar).

Anywho … I see those and think.

Could I write a book? A self-help book for parents of teenagers. It encourages fun weekend or summer activities, anything to get your kid up and out of bed.

‘He is Risen: A Guide to Waking Up Your Teen.’

Again … apologies. Apologies not only for something that is probably blasphemous, but also kind of a bad joke.

But I can imagine a nice, young Christian mom getting home with her new book. Opening it up, rolling her eyes, being frustrated and disappointed, and then seeing her child and thinking, ‘eh, might as well hold on to this for when he’s older.’

Musical Monday

Apple sure can pick some catchy tunes for their ads. Here are four such tunes.

 

 

 

 

Check out this playlist

Check out all the Music Mondays

When News Breaks …

At DumbFunnery, we take journalistic integrity as the value of highest importance. So when news breaks – we’ll be there with duct tape!

(No. No, that’s not what that phrase means.)

Ah! DumbFunnery, a bastion of ethics and go-get-em-ics, is ready to hide a lock pick and a shiv in a home-baked cake to help BREAK OUT that news!

(What on Earth? That’s worse. Definitely not that. Just give me a sec and I’ll explain …)

DumbFunnery, armed with a pen, a love of the truth, and a cardboard box, is around for breaking news. Lay down a beat, do the cabbage patch, and let’s breakdance the news.

(…I don’t understand. How are you so unaware of what breaking news means?)

DumbFunnery never takes their foot off the gas, charging hard and fast until – SCREEEEEEEEE – it’s time to brake … for news?

(That’s somehow the most wrong, and the closest?)

DumbFunnery, grabbing the blanket of journalism and a cup of hot tea of hard-hitting questions, is here to help you get back to feeling ready to take on the world. Because sure, news broke up with you, but hang in there tiger, it’s just a bit of breaking news.

(Fine. Let’s go with that.)

When news breaks (up) … DumbFunnery is here to watch Love Actually, maybe call your ex and make funny noises until your ex hangs up, and perhaps even … win a Pulitzer?

Music Monday

 

 

 

Trying to make sure I’ve got all the dance moves set for a wedding next month

 

This Playlist

All Songs in One Playlist

Dear Avid Fan

I’ve been sick this past week (thank you germ factory that is daycare) and when I’m sick creative and weird thoughts are quick to go … as is a desire to accomplish anything.

Next week tune back in for drivel, the kind of drivel only a man-child could deliver.

Also you’ll be delighted to know I’ll update you about my sickness in the 8 month blog post about the kiddo!

Til later, fan.

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