Here's a joke for you:


Laughter is the best medicine!

Unless you're treating diarrhea.

Friday, May 18, 2012

It’s all about the delivery

Isn’t delivery the same as timing? No! Pay attention! Timing is how fast or slowly you pace your joke, and when and how quickly you get to the punchline.

Delivery is about HOW you tell your joke.

A joke that tells a ridiculous story is funnier if you tell it as if the story was the most normal, believable thing in the world.

A joke that contains wild elements can be more fun if you tell it calmly, or maybe it will be more fun if you tell it more wildly than is necessary. A silly joke might be more fun if you tell it seriously, or wildly.

Usually, wild joke-telling with lots of laughter and zaniness is not good.

We talked in another post about punch lines. Part of delivery is to remember the point of the joke, carefully hit the important points, make sure the set-up is understood, and then drop the punch line like a bomb.

Yes, it’s possible to do this in a number of ways. You can appear zany, or serious, or matter of fact. But appear to not believe the premise of the joke yourself, the joke will fail.

A sub-section of delivery is relevance. If you’ve never been to England, and if your audience doesn’t contain any people from England, then jokes about England and English people wouldn’t be as funny.

One very important rule about delivery is this: Never, never, never announce your joke. Don’t say, “Hey everybody, I’ve got a joke to tell! Gather around and listen to me!” Just start and see who pays attention.

One of the finest skills that a talented joke teller has is the ability to share a joke at just the right moment. A lull in the conversation, a reference to a subject that relates to your joke. A lot of this skill is just knowing when it’s your turn to talk. That’s the most important part of proper delivery.
Practice that.

Jack was living in Arizona during a heat wave.
"It's just too hot to wear clothes today," complained Jack as he stepped out of the shower.
"Honey, what do you think the neighbors would think if I mowed the lawn like this?"
"Probably that I married you for your money."

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Are you telling us that we aren’t good at telling jokes?

That’s exactly what I’m saying. Did that hurt your feelings? Well good, it’s about time someone told you the truth.
Holy cow! If I have to sit through one more stupid joke, I’m going to scream! There are just so many of you telling bad jokes that it’s just overwhelming. And it’s not always a situation where the joke itself is bad, the joke is just being told badly.

Most people struggle a little bit with joke telling and there are a number of reasons for this.

The first is PRACTICE. Most jokes are told ‘off the cuff’. That’s the way jokes are supposed to sound. But in reality when we tell jokes, we need to be prepared.
Jokes need to be thought through thoroughly. Write them down, diagram them out.
But remember, no amount of writing and reading is going to make your jokes funny. Jokes need to be practiced. You’ve got to tell your jokes to someone, out loud.
Tell your jokes to your mother first. Your mom isn’t going to judge you too harshly, but she probably isn’t going to get your jokes right away either.
Then try the same joke with friends and other family members. Then tell your mother again. If you don’t have to explain your joke to your mother, you’re making progress.

The second problem with joke telling is the use of or lack of brevity. Most people drag out jokes WAY too long.
Get to the point.
Make your premise clear, and then SMACK! Hit us with the punch line.
Now, there are jokes that are built around the premise of a long, drawn out set up. These jokes require a huge degree of experience. But joke telling is like boxing. It would be better right now if you practiced, short, quick, hard hitting jokes.

The third problem with joke telling is self-control. People get too wound up when they tell a joke. They want to tell us when the funny part is coming. They want to emphasis how crazy the situation is.
Joke tellers need to trust their audience more. We get it! Or at least we will. Eventually.
Part of the problem of self-control is wanting to tell everybody that we’re going to tell a joke, and assuring everybody that it’s really funny, and then telling them when the funny part is coming.

So practice your jokes, and stay to the point.

In return, we’ll all laugh, and we won’t groan.

Here’s one you can practice:

A young boy enters a barber shop and the barber whispers to his customer, “This is the dumbest kid in the world. Watch while I prove it to you.”
The barber puts a dollar bill in one hand and two quarters in the other, then calls the boy over and asks, “Which do you want, son?”
The boy takes the quarters and leaves.
“What did I tell you?” said the barber. “That kid never learns!”
Later, when the customer leaves, he sees the same young boy coming out of the ice cream store.
“Hey, son! May I ask you a question? Why did you take the quarters instead of the dollar bill?”
The boy licked his cone and replied, “Because the day I take the dollar, the game is over!”

Friday, April 27, 2012

Start a collection

You want to tell better jokes, but how many jokes do you know? Sometimes it’s frustrating when people are telling jokes, and you can’t remember your favorite jokes. Don’t worry, we all get stumped sometimes when it’s time to tell jokes. You’ll never memorize every joke you hear.

So go get some jokes, and then learn them. Where will you find your jokes? Don’t people tell you jokes? Pay attention when you hear jokes. Write them down. You think you’ll remember the jokes you hear, and you’ll be able to recite them on demand when the opportunity arises, but it will never happen. You’ll forget. Write them down.

A second good place to find jokes is in a book store or library. Yes, there are many joke books available. Sadly, they are mostly full of really bad jokes. But if you’ll take the time to carefully study these books, you’ll find a treasure of funny jokes, and some potentially funny jokes that just need a little re-working. Remember EACH joke you find that is a good joke, is a treasure.

Remember, MOST of the jokes you find will be really bad.

And finally, you can find jokes on the internet. Still, most of the jokes on the internet will be really bad, but there will be LOTS and LOTS of jokes on the internet. As with everything else, you’ll find great treasures of jokes on Facebook and Twitter.

Now organize your jokes. Put the jokes about mothers together. Put the short ones together. Keep them in a file. Keep them in a notebook. When you’re out and about with friends or family, transfer some of your favorite jokes, or jokes you’ve been practicing, onto some recipe cards.

Recipe cards? Absolutely. Be prepared. Practice. The appearance that the jokes flow from the top of your head will come with time.

Here’s a joke for your collection:

One day a reporter visited the prison. The warden showed him around and then took him to the dayroom where guys were gathered. They were sitting around, taking turns talking.

The first guy gets up and says, “32.”  All the guys laugh.
The next guy stands up and says, “16.”   The men laugh harder.
A third man gets up and says, “49.”  They laugh hardest.
"What gives?", the reporter asks.
The warden explained that there was only one book at the prision. It was a joke book. People had read it so often that they memorized each joke on each page and now all they have to do is recite the page number. The men remember the joke and then they laugh.
The reporter nodded and walked up to the men and said: “4.”   No laughs.
He tries again: “26.”    Silence.
The reporter is stumped. He turns to the warden with an embarrassed shrug.
The warden said: “Well, some guys can tell a joke and some guyscan’t.”

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Punch Lines

A punch line is what comes at the end of a joke to tie it all together and make us laugh. But a punch line is much more than that, and punch lines aren’t confined to joke telling. Punch lines are everywhere. Punch lines are what life is all about.

Punch lines are a clearly part of timing. We’ve all heard jokes that were ruined because a punch line was delivered at the wrong time, or too quickly or too slowly. There is a stupid old joke that says:

Why can’t lawyers/blondes/Americans/whomever tell good jokes timing?

And it’s true. Punch lines need good timing.

If a joke is delivered quickly, then a punch line can be fast. Fast punch lines like this catch people off guard. They surprise people. They are unexpected. A fast joke doesn’t give the audience time to ponder the joke and consider how elements of the set up are ridiculous.

Other punch lines need to be held back a little for emphasis. A relaxed punch line gives us the chance to think the joke through. Your audience may be trying to guess the punch line. And that’s okay, if the joke is meant to get the audience guessing.

No punch line should ever be announced. If your audience isn’t paying attention, if they’re too stupid to understand, then they don’t deserve to enjoy your funny joke. Don’t tell them when the punch line is coming. Don’t clue them in with a gesture, or an expression, or by wiggling your eyebrows. Deliver your punch line naturally, with an appropriate amount of emphasis, or deliver it in an off-handed way if the joke warrants such a delivery. But that’s all a part of advanced joke-telling, and we’ll discuss that subject another time.

Punch lines are a part of all communication. Whether you are giving a presentation to the board, telling about your Aunt Tilly’s funeral, or explaining your business proposal to a banker, you’ll eventually have to get to the point. It may not be funny, but your communication will have a set up, and then you’ll make a point. All information has a punch line. No matter how much filler there is in what you have to say, there is still a point. There’s a set up, and a punch line. Anything else is mindless blather, no matter how important you think it is.

That’s the great thing that comes from learning to tell jokes. You learn to think about the information in your set up. What does your audience, or listener, need to know so that they will understand the punch line? Are you saying anything that is unimportant? Is some of your information blocking the path to the punch line? And of course you learn the best way to deliver your punch line. And it’s that final point that will make or break any information you are trying to share. There is great value in learning to tell jokes properly.

Everything you’re saying, whether or not you’re telling a joke, is a set up. You’re painting a picture with words so that you can make a point. That point is the punch line.

Remember what the punch line is, no matter what you’re saying. Hit it hard, and then let its impact sink in.

Let’s see if you learned anything today:

“What makes a good punch line?

Good punch, ice, and no one is pushing or shoving.”

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Take a chance!

I tell a lot of jokes. Because I tell so many jokes, I frequently wind up with my foot in my mouth. Some of my quips and jokes in the course of a day are a little edgy. I feel like I have a talent for telling jokes, so I’m willing to take a chance.

I’ve offended more than a few people. I once told a joke about a man who was hit and killed by a train. I can no longer remember how the joke went, only that it wasn’t particularly offensive or dark or pointed. But there was a young lady present whose father had been hit and killed by a train. Now I had no way of knowing this, and I certainly would never have purposely told a joke meant to hurt anyone.

But some of the people there chided me for always joking around. I was told then, and have been told since, that jokes and joking are silly and unnecessary and even inappropriate. That’s what people think when a joke misfires. But when a joke is good, when it’s funny, when it makes a relevant and good point, then the teller is a sage.

But like I said, I certainly would never want to hurt someone’s feelings with a joke. But I won’t give up my sense of humor because some people are dull and hypersensitive. It’s a dangerous road, being a joke teller. I remember how painful it was to overhear some of those friends talking about my joke that backfired. One of the girls said:

“That Darrell Mangum! He thinks he’s SOOO funny!!”

Well, hey. OF COURSE I DO!!!!

Here’s a joke that’s edgy:

A widow goes to the funeral home to review the preparations for her husband’s funeral. When she sees her husband in his coffin, she becomes very upset.
“I didn’t want him buried in a black suit! He always said that he didn’t want to be buried in black! He wanted to be buried in blue! He should be in a blue suit!”
The mortician felt very bad about this and promised to look into the situation. He explained that black suits were standard procedure for a funeral when the family didn’t provide burial clothing. But the bereaved widow went home crying.
The next day the widow goes back to the funeral home, and to her great relief, her husband is dressed in a blue suit!
“How did you do it?” she asked gratefully.
“Well, something wonderful happened. We are preparing for the funeral of another man, and his family brought him to us dressed in a blue suit. His widow was unhappy with the blue suit. She decided that black would be more fitting.”
“So that man was wearing blue, and my husband was in black!”
“Exactly!” smiled the mortician as he casually sat at his desk.
“At that point it was simply a matter of switching around the heads.”

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Throw it away!

People take jokes and joke telling too seriously. They’re JOKES, for heaven’s sake. Don’t tell your jokes as if you were some kind of clown. If you build it up too much, then it really falls flat if you bomb.

Throw it away! Tell your joke as if it doesn’t matter too much. It’s just an observation, just a quick anecdote, just some trivial information you want to share.

A joke isn’t a trombone solo in the jr. high school band program. Your mom’s not waiting with her camera for you to tell a joke. Don’t try to make it something important.

That’s what makes a joke funny. It’s something ridiculous that is thrown into everyday conversation. It must be thrown in as if it were as natural as the last thing that was said.

This means watching for an appropriate moment, a relevant moment, and then slipping in your joke.

Practice with this one:

A lady goes to the local newspaper to submit an obituary. She fills out the form and hands it to the man behind the counter. He reads aloud.
“Harold Robertson died.”
The man scratches his head and gently addressed the widow.
“Don’t you want to say a little more about your husband than this?”
The widow shakes her head.
“That’s what happened.”
The man searches for the right words to explain.
“Well, ma’am, don’t forget that the first six words are free!”
The widow considers this for a moment and then takes the form back. When she finishes she hands it back to the man behind the counter who reads:
“Harold Robertson died. Boat for sale.”

Sunday, January 29, 2012

How NOT to tell a joke:

“Stop me if you’ve heard this one!”

“Wait! Wait! I’ve got a joke! Give me a second! Here goes!”

Never announce your jokes. But be ready when you have the opportunity to tell a joke.

Jokes are best when we are fooled into thinking that the joke teller is just adding a regular comment to the conversation, or sharing a true anecdote.

None of us owes anything to the joke teller. If you’re not ready, if you don’t know your joke by heart, we’re not going to laugh. We’re not your mommy. Be ready.

Don’t laugh and prepare your audience. Don’t tell us when you’ve reached the funny part. We’ll laugh if it’s funny.

Don’t over-explain the set up or the punch line. We’re smart enough to figure it out.

If we don’t get it, or if we don’t think your joke is funny, then drop it. Don’t try to rescue your joke. Sometimes a joke becomes funny when it bombs, and the teller forgets it as if he never said anything.

Don’t tell your joke like a crazy person. Funny is sane. Jokes are best when told as if they were gospel fact.

Practice with the following joke. Change so that it’s about someone you actually know (invent someone). Don’t say that it’s happening to “some guy” or “this guy”. Or you can even say that it’s about you. Change the place to some other place that could be a lonesome, boring place to live. Change the marriage part to taking in a roommate. Change it up and make it work:

A man hears from his doctor that he has cancer and only has six months to live. The doctor recommends that he marry an accountant and move to Montana. The man asks, "Will this cure my cancer?" "No," said the doctor, "but the six months will seem much much longer!"

Friday, January 27, 2012

A new way to promote my speaking.

I've created a facebook page just for my speaking.

You Must Be Joking! Facebook page.

I'll be talking about all my speaking on this page.
There will be FREQUENT jokes,
And updates on my weight training,
And new insights I learn about TEACH A MAN TO FISH.

Since this page is all about joking, here's an old one, but a good one:

A man isn't feeling well, so he goes to see his doctor. The doctor examines him, and then asks to speak with his wife. The doctor tells his wife that her husband has a serious, stress related illness that is quickly killing him. The wife asks "can he be cured?"
The doctor replies "there's a chance we can cure him with chemotherapy, but you will need to take care of him every day for the next year -- cooking all his favorite meals, pampering him, making sure he has no stress or responsibilities around the house. You need to give him back rubs, and let him just sit and watch his favorite shows on tv. Never argue or disagree with him. By doing all this, you’ll save his life." When the wife comes out to the waiting room, the husband asks her what the doctor said.
The wife answers,  "he said that you're going to die".