The Creative Spark!—Make’em Giggle

Do you want to stir smiles when you present your research?  Make an audience burst into giggles at a planned pause?  Have a happy crowd surround you after your speech, begging to know your speaking fees?  Of course you do! Everyone wants a warm audience.  But sometimes we face self-doubts: yes, the what ifs of doom.  So, here are five what ifs answered to stir a whoopla from your crowd.

What if no-one laughs at your jokes? One friend of mine did stand-up and no one laughed.  So he cursed the audience.  To his surprise, the audience howled.  He then laid insult after insult on the crowd and the room shook with laughter.  It made a lasting impression on the comedian.  So, if your audience doesn’t laugh at your funnies, think of him.

But what if you feel ashamed about your on-stage appearance?  At a disability film festival, I saw a comedy act performed by a guy with a disfigured face.  He joked he didn’t have bad hair days, just bad face days.  I howled.  But he had a twinge of anger whenever the audience laughed.  So, if, like me, you’ve got a third eye sticking out of your forehead, you’ve found your punchline.

What if your humorous presentation gets an F?  Well, Trump makes me howl.  And he rounds up full stadiums with lineups stretched for miles.  Despite this, celebrities, the media, and leftists hate him.  The moral? To achieve more than most, you can’t conform.  So, picture Trump’s foes should your crowd grow chilly.

What if your research has no aha moments or scientific breakthroughs?  Resort to comedy!  I love watching Ted Talks.  I even toyed with the idea of doing a Ted Talk myself.  But what if I have nothing novel to share?  Well, the most watched Ted Talk relied on jokes—yet, in my opinion, said little.  So, if your speech lacks highbrow, lift it with humor.

Or better yet, sprinkle in a formula revealed by Ramakrishna Reddy, author of Connect Using Humor and Story: How I Got 18 Laughs 3 Applauses in a 7 Minute Persuasive Speech:

  • The formula for a funny speech consists of four parts: “Premise + Pause + Punch Line + Pause = Laughter” (p. 14 of 104, 16%).
  • The premise is plain Jane: “The premise is the information needed for an audience to understand or appreciate the punchline … The premise must be believable … not be funny … [but] create anticipation” (p. 15 of 104, 17%).
  • Silence builds tension: “Pause 1 is needed to build tension. Pause 1 must … be long enough to create tension” (p.  15 of 104, 17%).
  • After the tense moments, pull the punch line: “Punch line … is a word or phrase that follows the pause that triggers laughter” (p. 15 of 104, 17%).
  • And a final silence relieves tension through laughter: “Pause 2 … gives the audience time to laugh … during this pause for laughter, you can get most out of it by using gestures or even a deadpan expression to maximize the effect” (p. 16 of 104, 19%).
  • But how do you create the punchline? First find your topic.
  • Then, find the attitude. In other words, answer the following four complaints and pick the most fitting answer:
    • “What is hard about it?
    • What is weird about it?
    • What is stupid about it?
    • What is scary about it?” (p. 20 of 104, 22%).
  • After that, find your point of view. Point of view is the “reason why you are complaining” (p.  21 of 104, 23%).
  • Then find the humor trigger “by highlighting the exact word or phrase that you think is having the funny quotient” (p. 21 of 104, 24%).

What if your life-changing idea won’t stir laughter?  Then, cap it with a funny image.  As an example, I recently had an epiphany: the cure for global warming.  As background, one Ted Talk claimed cow farts fuel global warming—more than oil and gas combined.  But unhealthy diets (and antibiotics) give most anyone, especially cows, rotten farts.  The solution?  Let cows both graze healthier diets and roam.  Global warming solved! 

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