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The Hump Day Humor-Gram July 21, 2004 Issue #99

In this issue . . .

1. The Art of the Joke
2. Mike’s Fun at Work Tip
3. Quote of the Week
4. It’s a Wacky, Wacky World
SPECIAL NOT TO HUMPDAYERS: This is the last issue for
several weeks, as the entire publishing division of the
Hump Day will be taking its much needed mid-summer vacation.
Have a great summer and we will drop by again in
late August! Keep laughing!
1. The Art of the Joke

“Dying is easy, comedy is hard,” Edmund Gwenn once said.
And according to a survey in Psychology Today, only 2% of
the respondents said they were any good at telling jokes.

But don’t despair! If you want to be able to confidently throw
out the occasional one-liner to loosen up a tense meeting, break
the ice at a schmooze-fest or liven up a talk, then just be
prepared for a bit of practice. Telling a joke is, after all,
an art form.

Here are a few joke-telling tips to help that next
quip go down smoothly:

1. Start by memorizing two or three of your favorite,
CLEAN, safe jokes that are appropriate for any business
audience. Write them down to help you remember them.
(A business luncheon “joke” club in Silicon Valley used to
meet once a month and folks would exchange jokes, keep track
of them by summarizing them in a notepad, and award a prize
each lunch for the best joke).

2. Keep them short as possible. Brevity = levity.

3. Use specific words to paint a stronger and funnier image.
Instead of saying “car”, say “Buick”; instead of “fruit”,
say “banana”.

4. As Jack Benny said, “Timing isn’t knowing when to speak,
it’s knowing when to pause.” Pause slightly before the punch
line, and if you’re doing a talk, pause afterwards so you don’t
“step on the laughter.”

5. Never add anything after the actual punch line. This
sounds obvious, but people sometimes put in a few unneeded
words after the final punch, or add an unnecessary
aside, which only serves to diminish the impact of the humor.

6. Change details if possible (without impacting the humor) to
make the joke more relevant to your workplace or town. Change
an ethnic joke to a work group, for example, so the joke
becomes “A pair of engineers walk into the bar . . .” .
Or change a detail to a local reference point, so the joke
becomes, ” A pair of engineer’s walk into Al’s Steakhouse. . .”.

7. Never, ever let people know you are going to tell a joke
or tell a funny story. This only gets people’s resistance up
(this better be funny), reduces the surprise element (oh,
a corny joke is on its way) and puts you more on the spot to
perform. So just launch right into it!

8. Practice, practice, practise. Practice with a safe audience
like friends and family (keeping in mind that they can be
the harshest critics!). Again though, don’t line them up
on the couch and announce you are going to practice being funny,
just slip into the dinner conversation pr party.

9. Don’t “try to be funny.” Just be yourself, that’s rule number
one. As Jerry Seinfeld himself once said, “The whole object
of comedy is to be yourself, and the closer to that you get the
funnier you will be.”

Best of luck with your next joke! (And if it falls flat, just
remember the number one rule of comedy: blame it on the audience.)
2. Mike’s Fun at Work Tip

Take a page from the Silicon Valley folks and start your
own joke lunch for fellow employees or business folks
in your community.

– Establish a few simple guidelines (no ethnic, religious or
sexist jokes, for example, might be a good starting point).

– Have everyone bring a certain number of jokes to each meeting,
three would work great.

– Keep a file system, notepad system to record the jokes and keep track
Of them.

– Award a prize for the best new joke of the month.
3. Quote of the Week

“An onion can make people cry, but there has never been a
vegetable that can make people laugh.” Will Rogers
4. It’s a Wacky, Wacky World

It’s payback time for some primates at a Chicago Zoo. The chimps
at the zoo have gotten used to the goofy idiots on the other side
of the glass making faces at them, pounding the glass and doing
assorted other weird things to get their attention.

Now, the chimps have a chance to poke fun at the humans. A panel,
hidden from view of the public, allows the chimps to touch a button
that will blast a shot of air at the nosy voyeurs. The zoo keepers
are hoping this will give the chimps a safe outlet for their
mischief, which in the past has included spitting or throwing
things at zoo visitors.
Copyright Michael Kerr, 2004

Back issues of the Hump Day Express can be
found at

International speaker Michael Kerr, “The Workplace Energizer” is
the author of five books, including When Do You Let the Animals
Out? and You Can’t Be Serious! Putting Humor to Work. Michael
delivers keynote talks and workshops on humor in the workplace,
business creativity and public speaking skills.

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