Sunday, November 5, 2017

Humorous Speech Writing Techniques

It is easy to write a speech, but it is very hard to make it humorous. If you are wondering, "How to make a speech humorous"... don't worry, this article will give you tips to induce humor in the speeches and get a few (if not more!) laughs. There are a number of techniques available to inject humor in the speeches. I am not a humorist either and the wisdom shared in this article is a collection of information sourced from various educational sessions, blogs and podcasts.

1. The Literal Meaning

You can use the actual meaning of some words, to trigger humor.

  • I was always an outstanding student in my class. Yes, dear friends... my teacher always makes me to stand outside of the classroom. 
  • Almost everyone looked up to me in my college, because I was the tallest guy in the class 

2. Self-Deprecating  

The easiest way to make people laugh is to use self-deprecating humor. Never attempt to make fun of others. Also, stay away from taboo topics such as sex, religion and politics. Using these topics will make you and your speech look cheap.
  • Once upon a time, I used to have a small face to wash and lots of hair to comb. Today, I've more face to wash, and less hair to comb 
  • Some day, I thought I'll be like Arnold Schwarzenegger. I worked out really hard... and finally, after several failed attempts I did become like Arnold. Wait wait wait... not like the Arnold in his 20s, but like the Arnold in his 60s. 

3. Exaggeration

Exaggeration enables audience to visualize .. and that triggers humor immediately.

  • Chennai looks like Venice during rainy seasons. And you would need a boat, not a car. 
  • I got a new Credit Card to my wife. She spent so much in a month, that she got into the Master Card Hall of Fame. 

4. Compare / Contrast

Comparisons help you to tie two unrelated things / situations / people. Comparisons help you to highlight your frustration, which triggers humor.

  • I was looking for a perfect better half. But, I wasn't lucky. The ones who looked like Aishwarya Rai, hadn't crossed 10th grade and the ones who had completed Ph.D looked like a 40 year old. 
  • My friend is like a radio... if she starts talking she wouldn't stop. The only difference between her and the radio is, she doesn't even give commercial breaks in between.  
  • Who said finding God is difficult, try searching for a plumber on a weekend.

5. Word Play 

This is the most (ab)used form of humor. You can use word play like spices on the soup, and not as the main ingredient.
  • The moment I told my friend that I am going to get married, he said "Congratulations on the termination of your isolation and may I express an appreciation of your determination to end the desperation and frustration" 

  • A man was hit by a coke can, but he wasn't injured at all... because it was a "soft" drink.

6. Twisting quotes 

Quotes = Inspiration.  Over usage of quotes have irritated people more than inspiring them. That provides you an opportunity to twist some quotes, to trigger humor.
  • If you are talking about your mom and wife, you can say Behind every successful man, there is a woman... and behind every unsuccessful man, there is two. 
  • If one door closes and another one opens, probably your house is haunted

7. Setup / Pause / Punch 

This is the most effective technique to trigger humor. When you setup the situation, you are actually making the audience to think in a particular direction.. and immediately, you pause and surprise them with the punch.

  • The classic joke "Take my wife ... PLEASE !

  • As you all might know, I’m a very organized person. Immediately after the marriage, I wanted to prepare myself for a successful married life. The first thing that I did was I bought the book “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus”. I read the book page by page, line by line, word after word. After reading the book, I thought I’ve mastered the art of “understanding a women”. I thought I had learned all the tricks to keep my wife happy. A few months into the marriage, I realized “Men are from Mars, my wife is not from Venus”.

8. Obvious Statements

Sometimes, an obvious statement would trigger humor.

  • A warning label on a baby stroller: "Remove child before folding". 

  • My boss said "Have a good day"... and I went home
  • I went to the grocery shop... and I saw this sign on the glass door "Open the door before entering"
9. Rule of Three

Rule of Three is very similar to the setup / pause / punch technique, but will help you to do the "setup" in a more systematic manner. 
  • Judges in contests are always consistent. They are consistently punctual, consistently sincere and consistently pick the most undeserving person as the winner. 
  • The best part of getting married in Las Vegas is you'll get everything that you need at one place - music, flowers and divorce document
If you know of other techniques, please post here as a comment.

(Also read: 11 mistakes to avoid in a Humorous Speech Contest)

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