Old Humor is Good Humor
Using humor to merge entertainment and emphasis of a significant point
is another skill I teach in my public speaking course.
Humor is only old if your audience has heard it before and if they
remember it. Most people don't remember the exact details of jokes,
one-liners, and stories. This is not contradictory to the fact that
one of the uses of humor is to make your points more memorable. Also
most people don't mind hearing jokes again if they were funny and are
One of the reasons people don't remember jokes and other pieces
of humor is that the humor is usually heard out of context. The
humor was not used in conjunction with a point which is the way you
should use it in a speaking engagement. The humor was used for entertainment
value only and was enjoyed and quickly forgotten.
When you bring back some of this old humor, you will be connecting
it to your point which makes it acceptable to use in the first place.
In the second place, even if some audience members recognize the humor,
they probably don't remember the punch line. If you tell it well, even
these people will enjoy hearing it again.
The way to tell a very old joke or story is to tell the
audience it is old. This is the one time when you might want to tell
the audience you have a joke or story coming. If you don't tell them
you know it is old, they will likely think you are out of touch.
If you tell them you are going to tell an old story or joke, you are
telling them you know it's old, but it makes the point so well
that you think it is worth telling again.
You will come across some jokes and stories you can update. Some
can be updated as easily as adding a current name. Here is an old
Joe the politician said he was so surprised about his nomination that
his acceptance speech fell out of his pocket.
All you have to do to update this one is to change the name from
Joe to the current politician or association member you want to tease.You could also make this a joke on yourself if you know you are going
to be nominated for something. I was so surprised about this
nomination that MY acceptance speech fell out of my pocket.
Here is another one that can be used for presidents, or to tease
any business boss:
"A man was alone in a rowboat on the Potomac shouting No! No! No!
Someone on the riverbank said, 'Is that guy crazy or what?'
Another man fishing said, 'No. That's just one of President Clinton'sYes Men on vacation."
All you have to do on this one is to change the name of the
river and substitute your BIG TARGET where you see President Clinton.
When using what you learned in your public speaking course a little old humor used
properly never hurts.
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