Everyone loves a humorous speaker, but most of us have to admit we’re not stand-up comedians. Fortunately, many televised comedians have developed funny, recognizable routines that you can easily adapt to your speech topic. These three routines have great potential:
- The Late Show’s “Top Ten”: David Letterman’s “Top Ten” list is one of the most recognizable and adaptable routines. You can make a Top Ten list for just about any presentation topic. Examples: “Top Ten Reasons Patients Love Our Nurses,” “Top Ten Things You Don’t Want to Hear at a Company Retreat” and “Top Ten Rejected Wedding First-Dance Songs.” Of course, while your list should be related to your speech material, it also should be humorous. Put informative details elsewhere in your presentation.
- Jeff Foxworthy’s “You might be a redneck if …”: Connect with your audience by creating a Foxworthy-style list about the group to which you’re presenting. Examples: “You might be a tax accountant if …,” “You might be an Olympian-in-training if …” or “You might be a George Washington Elementary School teacher if …” Note: Foxworthy’s skits work, in part, because he identifies with the group he’s parodying. If he was from New York City, the jokes would be more offensive than funny. Keep that in mind as you write your list. If, for example, you’re presenting to an audience of stay-at-home moms, but you’ve never been a stay-at-home mom, be wary of jokes that the audience may consider condescending or ignorant.
- Demetri Martin’s “Good, Bad, Interesting”: This format isn’t as recognizable as the first two, and it’s probably a little more challenging to pull off, but it has the potential to be the funniest. Example: “The ‘family-friendly’ company picnic—Good: You bring your children. Bad: You bring your fraternity brothers. Interesting: You bring your Great Aunt Gert’s ashes. ” I recommend presenting a series of three to five “Good, Bad, Interesting” lists in a row. That way you have enough time to familiarize your audience with the format, but you won’t provide so many that they will grow tired of them.
Bonus: Adapting the routines to your subject matter is a great exercise in creativity. It might lead you to see your topic from a fresh perspective.
What other comedy skits can you imagine adapting to a speech? (Feel free to include the URL to an example in your comment.)