Humor for Speakers

Three Basic Rules On Polishing Your Humor for an Audience

by John Cantu ©

Here are three basic rules on polishing your humor for an audience (there are many more polishing tips to come in future issues). If you want to use a mnemonic device to remember these three valuable principles, you can use the word 'PLeaSe'. You can 'PleaSe' your audience better if you: Personalize, Localize, or Specify.

"P" is for personalize: Tie your story, joke, or piece of humor directly to you by making yourself the featured performer of the story. If that is inappropriate, then tie it to a family member, friend, co-worker, etc. Not "A man goes to the doctor." But "The other day I went to the doctor."Or "My boss went to the doctor."Or "My neighbor went to the doctor." Not "A woman goes shopping." But "I went shopping." Or "My wife went shopping."Or "My daughter went shopping."

Localize: Adapt your humor bits to locations, businesses, and/or events that your listeners identify with. A comedian friend of mine, Tony DePaul's first out of town booking was in Anchorage, Alaska. He had a bit about all the weird people he saw in a local San Francisco diner Zim's. But when he started the chunk with his standard question, "How many of you have been to Zim's at 2:00 a.m.?" he lost the crowd because there are no Zim's in Alaska. He found out that there WAS a local diner, Betty's Diner open 24 hours and the next night when he started with, "How many of you have been to Betty's at 2:00 a.m.?" He got laughs with the bit.

Specify: And finally if you can't personalize or localize then specify. Use specific people rather than character types. Instead of "A minister and politician were talking," use "Reverend Billy Graham and President Bush were talking."

You will increase the humor quotient of your material immensely if you remember these three principles. Bob Hope was a master of these principles. If you study Bob Hope's jokes, you will realize his jokes are not as funny as you might think compared to the laughs they would generate - but boy did he know how to PleaSe his listeners.

NEXT: Adapt Jokes in Anticipation of Pending Events and File Them for Topical Use in the Future

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