Feb 25

Confessions of a Comedy Snob

Ok alright I admit, I’m a comedy snob. You dragged it out of me. There are you happy? I really wanted to get into Bo Selecta, but I couldn’t.

I admired what Leigh Francis did, but as for actual physical laughs… none were to be found from me.  I did laugh once, and it was a short one, when the “neck-brace guy character” described Kelly Osbourne as having a lot of face.

I really wanted to be in the hip crowd that dug The Mighty Boosh, (or The Boosh if you prefer). But I couldn’t do it. Just sat and stared at many episodes trying to work out ways to fake my own death. I was at a party and saw a girl dressed as one of their characters… just…. Why? She ended up going the same way as Fredo.

My Joke Stories Contradiction

You might be thinking “you’re a fine one to talk, you like joke stories. Jokes told by the likes of Mike Reid, Jimmy Jones or any of those other guys from “The Comedians”.

Fine, I do like joke stories (also known as street jokes). I won’t lie. That doesn’t mean that I’m a fan of the content that you get from many of those comedians just mentioned.

You don’t have to use them if you don’t want to. You can go ahead and capture your own sense of humour. But you can add joke stories if you wish.

It’s fine to use them if you’re a speaker, but, please, spare us from some of the more fantastical ones. Those ones with the obvious contrivances like the woman who owns two dogs called Freeshow and Seymour. She goes naked into the garden, calls her dogs and what does she shout…?

I once worked for a guy who loved puns. Every time someone left he ALWAYS gave a little thank-you/goodbye speech with many awful displays of wordplay. Many were crowbarred in.

Hot Cross Puns (sorry)

Now, I admit it, I have been a fan of puns before now. I have theorised on whether singer Alicia Keyes had family members called Florida and House.

I’ve mused on why no-one ever catches milk thieves if they go past your eyes. I’m not saying that people should be punished for their paronomasia any more than I should be punished for every pun-I-shed.

I also admire comedians like Tim Vine and Tommy Cooper for their use of this form of humour. But to use them all the time does require skill. These guys clearly have it.

Even if you occasionally use a pun, it’d better be a damned good one. Like Bill Hicks when he was talking about a report of anti-Castro pigeons going “coup, coup, coup”

What to do with a Funny Presentation

If you’re going to furnish a presentation with a few choice joke stories (and I think it’s a perfectly legitimate thing to do given that you’re probably not looking to establish yourself as a professional speaker), please make sure that they’re strong and that they relate to your content.

By using joke stories that have a lot of fantastical elements like the lady with the dogs or words that will make your audience groan instead of laugh, then you’re doing yourself a disservice.

Using humour in speech can do wondrous things like… make you taller, slimmer and fantastic in bed. Okay, fine that’s not strictly true. But it will help your audience remember your points and enjoy their time in your company.

It will take some work because many authors going for the saturation approach to joke stories. You can buy books will hundreds or even thousands of jokes in them. The problem is that they’re not always very funny. You have to pan for the comedy gold.

Here are some down and dirty tips for selecting joke stories:

1. Do they relate to your speech’s topic? (self explanatory)

2. Do they make you laugh? (I mean actually laugh, not smile, not nod in recognition that it’s funny but laugh).

3. How long is it? (I mean the joke and not some Frankie Howerd-esque suggestion. The shorter it is the less editing you’ll have to do)

4. If it can’t be edited can you at least add extra punchlines? Just use your own sense of humour to do this.

5. Is anyone going to be upset? Check out my last post for my thoughts on this.

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