Since I put my name forward to compete in a Toastmaster’s “Humorous Speech Contest,” a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been working on the dilemma of material. Or, lack of it. The race has been on to write something funny.

I have spent days wondering what I should write about.

My hairdresser came over to give me a trim. She has her aging parents living with her, one of whom is blind, while the other has Alzheimer’s. The stories she told, of the mishaps going on in their household, had both of us nearly crying with laughter. I thought, ‘this stuff is priceless.’

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I thought about my own family’s hilarious stories, about my mother, and her dementia. I put it to the arbiters of taste in my circle. The resounding answer was, ‘No, don’t go there. Mothers are sacrosanct.’ Then, I read an article the other day, in which a woman, whose mother had died with Alzheimer’s, decried another guy, who had written a piece about his mother “going mad.” She said, it was ‘cruel and inconsiderate’ to mock those whose parents had dementia.

I realized that my first two ideas were hot-button topics! I decided “not to go there.” In a contest situation, the idea is to appeal to the audience, not turn people away.

What is funny?

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I have wracked my brain, and done a bit of research.

I’ve learned from reading various comedian’s blogs that humour comes from the unexpected. We laugh because we’re led to expect one thing but are given the opposite instead.

I began to experiment. Going back to the subject of raising kids for my subject matter, I wrote a short speech.

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According to what I read, one’s success with a “humorous speech” depends less on content than on the delivery. In the latest Toastmasters magazine, it was reported that the speaker, Palmo Carpino advised, if you want to go from good to great, is “It’s not so much about building a library as it is about building your reflexes.” Paul, who is active with the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers, says, “This is what usually separates the “ok attempts” scribed into a written speech from the “memorable point illustrated in a memorable manner.”

The next time I saw my nephew, I tried out some of the so-called “funny bits” in my speech on him. He gave me one of those face-spreading smiles you give, when something isn’t really funny. My jokes had flat-lined.

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I reworked the speech completely, remembering the rule of the unexpected. I practiced it again and again, by standing up, marching about and testing the delivery, the pauses, the inflections.

That’s what you have to get just right, the sound and timing of your material.

I tried rearranging each piece so as to take the audience in one direction then, casting about for the punch line which turns the listeners in a different direction. Bouncing it off myself and others.

I’ve received some great tips and ideas from people. The top two would have to be, ‘Just be yourself and let your character shine through.’ A great resource, according to a writer/artist friend of mine, Steve Attkisson, is Gene Perret’s Ten Commandments of Comedy. This is ‘one book that has been instructive and entertaining.’ I intend to withdraw this book from the library, to read next. I know I need help.

Will the audience laugh? Only time will tell!

In the end, I’ll get it right. Meantime, I thought the lessons I’m learning along the way might be valuable. As I figure out how to write a humorous speech, hopefully, what I share via my blog might also benefit someone else. Ain’t the internet cool?

How do you write funny? Any tips to share? Send help. Please. Or chocolate.

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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My advice? You wanna look 20 years younger? Stand further away. ~ Jeff Green

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Comments
  1. davidprosser says:

    Sorry Yvette, I ‘er lost my chocolate on the way here.
    If you get the chance to read the Deric Longden story Lost for Words or get the chance to see the TV film that was made starring Dame Thora Hird you’ll see that the subject of dementia can be dealt with i a funny, charming yet sympathetic way. Because we see the humour in a situation doesn’t make us uncaring towards people suffering that illness, it just means the particular situation was funny.
    Go for it and have a wonderful time.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. yvettecarol says:

    Thank you, my friend. You’re most generous. I’ll link to your blog, too.
    ((hugs)) 🙂

    Like

  3. Jenny Hansen says:

    I totally think funny is about the every day moments. (I’m sure you know this from reading More Cowbell.) And I think Jeanne Robertson does this really well talking about her husband, “Left Brain.” It’s people relating that make her so funny.

    Or my brother, the Bag Whore. It’s all just normal stuff. I’ll bet you have plenty of kid stories that would have them in stitches, particularly how you reacted to the kid stories.

    https://jennyhansenauthor.wordpress.com/2011/12/12/my-brother-is-a-bag-whore/

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      I love that sort of stuff, too, Jenny. Exactly. Funny is about the stuff we can relate to because it goes on in our own lives. I decided to target my kids. On the go-ahead from my “arbiters of taste,” we decided our children are “open-season.” I was worrying about this decision this morning, as you do. I thought, but what about all the people in the audience who don’t have kids? Nevertheless, I’ve stabbed away at the keyboard this morning. Thanks for the new input. I will go check out these links!! Thank you a thousand times over, all dressed in different underpants, for your contribution!!! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Wow. Jeanne Robertson is the amazeballs! I laughed till I cried. I’m inspired and also utterly humbled. I admire her from the perspective of the narrative she used… Great stuff. What a star!

      I also really enjoyed your blog post about your brother. What a character! He’s awesome. If you were in Toasters, you’d be using him as material, for sure!
      Thanks so much, Jenny! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes, I would listen to standup comedians. I would talk about personal stuff, like living with your cat, your dog, a man, teenage sons. Being the only woman in a house of 5 sons and one husband. Verses two husbands and 2 sons. I would tell jokes about my girlfriend who’s from the maritimes. Newfies and PEI folk are hysterical. I call my girlfriend from PEI and tell her Irish jokes. She says she’s forced to wear Depends now. You’re funny, Yvette. Look for the humour nearest you. What makes YOU laugh?

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Thanks, Joylene. Those are really great tips. So funny about your girlfriend needing Depends! haha.
      I looked at the speech I’d put together, yesterday, and thought it’s just a bunch of jokes strung together, it doesn’t have a narrative. I like the story jokes, where it’s built up and then you laugh more and more as it comes together. So, you’ve reminded me, that’s what I need to work on next. Thanks again!! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Bun Karyudo says:

    I’m not entirely sure how to be funny. The advice someone gave about being yourself seems sensible, though. Taking things in unexpected directions sounds like a good tip too. Not always going with the first joke you come up with regarding a topic can be helpful, I think. Sometimes it can be reworked a little to make it even funnier. Anyway, good luck with your speech. You’ve done amazingly well so far. Speaking in public is one of those things I find very difficult, so I’m full of admiration for you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Thanks, Bun. You know what, your tip to ‘not go with the first joke’ is a good one. I think my first attempts were way too obvious. I could tell they were “off” when I tried to say them aloud. I could almost hear them falling flat! Gah. I loved that thing you did in your post too, where you set it up in the way we thought we knew the answer, with your wife asking, “Do you believe in staying true to your promises?” and then saying, “Well, I promised him you’d do it, so you need to follow through.” I liked that you phrased it a certain way without telling us everything, to lead us in the wrong direction. I thought I’d try and use that ploy, but we’ll see if it works or not!! My brain is working overtime. Ha ha!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bun Karyudo says:

        I think you’ll be great! I know I’ve said it before, but I’m very impressed that you’re willing and able to stand up there in front of other people and deliver a speech. That takes a lot of courage. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. yvettecarol says:

    Thank you!!!
    You can say it as many times as you like, Bun. I promise I won’t count 🙂

    Like

  7. […] was like I was competing against myself. So, I poured weeks into figuring out how to write humor, Funny, Me? And Funny, Me! And, I didn’t just pay lip service, I utilised all the advice given. I followed […]

    Like

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