Sep 29

Frankie Howerd and the rule of Toastmasters

Frankie Howerd clip; 2m 21 sec

(Above is a clip of late British comedian Frankie Howerd on the chat show Parkinson).

I got asked at a humour workshop that I ran recently the following question:

“How far can you push risque humour before it becomes too much at Toastmasters?”

It’s a very good question. Most Toastmasters reading this blog will know that you should avoid topics such as sex, religion and politics at Toastmasters. Even though the International Law of Freedom of Speech permits it, it’s probably best to avoid such subjects as you have to be careful about levels of taste and potentially alienating fellow members. This question specifically relates to the subject of sex. Ooh, no missus. No. How far can you go with jokes of this nature?

I would suggest that if you are unsure then it’s probably best to avoid it entirely. If in doubt, leave it out!

I recently was working on developing a speech about failing to lose my virginity in Sweden when I was 18. Whilst it made for a potentially interesting speech, I found it difficult to progress with it due to the nature of the topic. I could have gone the route of innuendo and suggestion, but it could’ve made it uncomfortable with certain members of the audience.

You have to understand and get a feel for your audience. Are the members of your club be accepting of innuendo humour? Or are they like to be offended? Only you can really know the answer.

Not only that but for the Humorous Speech contest, this could in fact lost you points. Obviously this is not the object of the game.

All I can suggest is that you might be able to “get away” with the odd innuendo here and there, but it’s probably not wise for an entire speech to be full of innuendo and suggestion. Unless you’re Frankie Howerd, but then again Frankie was never a member of Toastmasters. At least I don’t think he was.

1 comment

  1. Jeremy Jacobs

    Great stuff from Frankie.

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