"Numerous researchers have indicated that a sense of humor is one of the most significant characteristics of executives or people in leadership roles." Humor, the Magic of Genie by Jeanne Robertson
Excerpted from Cantu’s Comedy Wit & Humor Wisdom (soon to be republished)
It is quite common for art students to take a masterpiece and attempt to duplicate as an exercise to see how the master used paint, brush strokes, shadowing, etc. to create the original. The copying is done not to mimic, but to learn. Public speakers can do the same thing when adding humor to ther speeches.
May I suggest that you, in your speeches and presentations, apply the same principle to humor. The main point of the exercises in this article "Do Not Be Afraid of Jokes: Non-comedy world examples of one liners" was to realize that essentially all humor (with an occasional exception) is either a one liner or joke or series of one liners or jokes strung together in some sort of logical format.
The major difference between comedians and other types of humor professionals - comedians edit down and others expand out. Most speakers add camouflage to a joke so if it bombs, 'Well, it really wasn't supposed to be funny'. And in writing, very few humorists have the courage to create such out and out piss-in-your pants-funny jokes as Dave Barry. This is not a value judgement, it is a statement of fact.
That is why comedians make the big bucks ($100k performance - Bob Hope when he was still active; $75k for 75 minutes - Jay Leno). You stand and punch it out with the audience with no cover, no protection, no shield. You're getting a laugh every 10-20-30- seconds or you're dying.
So what you can do is to learn not to fear jokes but learn to use jokes. From now on, when you hear, read or see a piece of funny stuff, see if you can deconstruct it. Try to strip away the camouflage and see it in its most basic format as a one liner or joke or series of one liners or jokes. Use the Weight Watchers method for studying humor: Reduce it, reduce it, reduce it.
Then when you have it reduced to its tightest possible format but where it still makes sense, rewrite it as if you were going to present it. Remember this is only an exercise in studying humor construction. You should never ever use your version of someone's else's material.
What you should gain from the exercise are three skills:
The ability to recognize the multitude of jokes and one liners that you have been hearing and reading and yet not recognizing as one liners and jokes.
This should lead to a reduced fear of using jokes and one liners. Obviously if Larry Lecturer uses jokes and Siumi Speaker uses jokes and Consuela Columnist uses jokes, well hey you should be comfortable to use jokes as well.
Which should lead to the ability to start to put one liners and/or jokes together to make a seemingly seamless piece of 'real humor'.
Michael Pritchard, speaker on humor and health, humor and self-esteem once said to me, "Cantu, tell your students never to forget to sprinkle some jokes throughout their material. That's where the laughs are." Don't be afraid to use jokes. Just observe, study, and learn how non-comedian pros use them it in disguise.
"The exercises in this article..."
John gathered some jokes from a variety of non-stand up sources and put the humor in one-liner form. Then he interspersed comedian's jokes with the 'non-joke real humor'.
The assignment is to go through the jokes and see if you can separate the comics' one-liners from the 'non-joke real humor' examples. The original sources are at the end of the article.