Increase the humor content (and laughs) of your professional presentations, informal business talks, and every day conversation.
Now, we are going to start a four column list. This is what you should have done with the lamp joke. Don't do it now but you should have used the four column method to start. And I'm going to demonstrate this. Do you have the notes that I just handed out?
Let's go to page one, Page iii in here, Introduction. To backtrack for a minute because this is real important. Some people get hung up on the term joke. Some people come in and say, I don't want to write jokes. Jokes are what Henny Youngman does. I want to do REAL humor. And then they'll tell me they want to do real humor like Mark Twain. I want to do real humor like Jerry Seinfield. I don't want to do jokes.
A joke is any humorous thought, idea, concept, funny mental imagery conceived by one person and by the use of verbal or written words recreated in the mind of another person.
Anybody who does humor uses jokes. Good comedians and good comedy writers disguise their jokes so you don't think they're using jokes but they use jokes. Bad comedians, bad comedy writers and hacks don't know how to hide them. Have you ever had the luxury of seeing Woody Allen perform live or if you've heard his double album? I thought Woody Allen was one of the greatest comedians that I ever heard in my life because he doesn't do jokes! He's just got this wild wacky original way of looking at the world.
Two things: When I got involved in comedy writing and started studying the principles I realized he does do jokes. Just like everybody else. He also admits he does jokes. He says, I'm a one-liner comedian like Henny Youngman. My jokes might be a little bit more connected than Henny Youngman but they're jokes, set-ups and punchlines.
And number two, what surprised me was Woody Allen went to comedy school. He study at the NBC School of Comedy Writing under Danny Simon. He's publically acknowledged Danny Simon as being his instructor for comedy writing. Danny Simon also taught Neil Simon. Danny Simon is Neil Simon's brother. Brilliant comedy writer, brilliant comedy writer.
All comedians use jokes. I say here:
"Jokes are never out of style. What is out of style are old unimagitive clique setups. Contrast this ancient setup - 'A funny thing happened to me on the way to the theater'."
It was very common to hear a comedian say that in the 20's and 30's. You wouldn't hear that today because number one, comedians don't perform in theaters and number two, it's old. Oh, he's doing a joke. It's an old joke.
But comedians will come out and start - 'did you every notice...' Did you ever notice how dumb commercials are...; Did you ever notice how politicians always say this when they want to get notice...
'Did you ever notice' to me is just as much a hack clique as 'A funny thing happened to me on the way to the theater.' Particularly if you work in a comedy club as much I do. It just drives me nuts.
Or 'who likes...' Who likes spinach. How can spinach manufacturers stay in business. Who makes... George Carlin does a bit about fake vomit. "Who makes this? Who designs this?" Very common stock 'hip observation' to start your chunk out with Who does... Who makes... Who would use...
It's not the joke it's how you lead into it. It's the structure that makes it seem old or new...