Public speaking has been ranked the number one fear, ahead of death. And since death is the inevitable, it makes sense to conquer your fear of public speaking and even become a successful public speaker! This public speaking blog aims to give you insightful and easy-to-apply tips on various aspects of public speaking that includes overcoming your fear of public speaking, writing speeches, delivering speeches, excelling in presentations, adding humor and much more!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Ten Comedy Secrets of Becoming Absolutely Hilarious on Stage - Part 1

I recently got hold of the 2001 Champion Speaker - Darren La Croix's CD on how to become absolutely hilarious on stage. I shall present to you the first three with my thoughts on it.

1. It is a process

CREATE AND TEST. CREATE AND TEST. CREATE AND TEST. In my opinion, this is the most useful tip one needs to know. You do not have to be born funny. It helps but not a must. The process starts with writing the funny lines, giving the funny lines and then reviewing the funny lines. For lines that aren't funny (i.e doesn't create any laughter), remove them and add in a new line to test. For lines that are funny, see if you can make them funnier. Say out of 100 lines, you have only one line that is funny. Keep that and write another 99. Test them. Keep the funny lines. Add new lines. Test them.. you get what I mean. In no time, you will have 100 funny lines. Remember my friends, it is a process!

2. You need stage time

Building on the first tip, you never know if your line is funny unless you test it, which explains the stage time. A very important advice: What you think is funny may not necessarily be funny for your audience. And since your job is to make them laugh, they are the boss! (grins)

One way of testing your funny lines or jokes is to incorporate them into your everyday conversation. Do not even tell your friends that you are testing a funny story or that a joke is coming their way. Make it come naturally and see what happens. This is usually the most effective and there is significantly less bias. You will then get a chance to objectively test your "perceived funny" lines.

3. Setup and Punchline (Audience laughed when they are successfully tricked)

This is a little technical but I will try my best to simplify it.

Fundamentally, a line is funny because it creates an element of surprise. I like how Darren describes it. You lead them down the track with your setup, only to derail them with your punchline. That, my friend, causes the humor. Take this for example.

Take my wife....... please!!!

When he says "Take my wife", we expected that he wanted to take his wife somewhere (he lead us to believing so - the setup)
BUT... he tricked us when he gave his punchline "PLEASE!!!"

Let me give you another example of my recent humorous speech - There's something about Singapore where I lead my audience down several tracks, only to derail them at the end.

Singapore is extremely small. It's about 16 miles from North to South and 14 miles from East to West... about the size of Bill Gates' living room. (laughter)

Let me help you paint a clearer picture.

Imagine this building (i.e. 60th storey high building) is USA. You will know big Singapore is when you...visit the Men's Room. (laughter)... third cubicle (laughter)...under the toilet seat (laughter)...

For the first part "it's about 16 miles.... east to west..." I made the audience believe that I was being serious by giving them all the numbers. And then I surprised them by comparing Singapore with Bill Gate's living room which of course is an exaggeration. And that causes surprise which leads to laughter!

Then we have the comparison with the 60th storey building with the cubicle. That itself is funny on its own. But my audience has no idea that I am not done with it. So when I said "third cubicle", it creates even more surprise and they laugh harder. And I did it again with "under the toilet seat"... fully milking the joke and emphasizing my point of how Singapore is. (by the way it is true! We are freaking small!)

So the next time you intend to incorporate humor in your speech, see if you can come up with a setup-punchline structure. Remember, audience laugh becaused they are tricked. No a usual reaction so take full advantage of it! :)

More comedy secrets coming up in the next few posts. So watch this space!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"When he says "Take my wife", we expected that he wanted to take his wife somewhere"

I beg to differ. The expression, "Take my wife" in this particular instance usually means to consider as in "You're trying to be funny, I take it?" The funny part being he actually wants you to take his wife somewhere other than where he is. :)

7:50 AM  

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