The Perfect Joke
Smart Jokes. Exceptional Punchlines.
What is a Joke?
“A joke is anything that makes people smile or laugh.”
You need more of a definition? Fine.
“A joke is a generous and playful attempt to provide a moment of levity sharing something you think is amusing.”
It can be a personal anecdote (your own or someone else’s), a short comedic story or joke, a visual image (cartoon, photo or meme), or what presenters call a “presentation prop” like a rubber human brain.
In other words, it can be anything.
What jokes are not limited to are stories that begin with
“A Lawyer, Doctor and a Rabbi go into a bar…”
An easy way to let your audience know that you have a sense of humor is before you even begin to speak present a few slides showing a series of funny cartoons /memes/ or quotes. This will let everyone know your talk is not going to be a total borefest and you plan to keep things lively.
Another technique to connect on a humanizing personal level with your audience is at some point in your talk share a funny photo of you from your life.
HumorPoint Founder, Robert Bostick, loves to share these likable photos of himself. The story he shares with the photo is next to the photo.
“This is me hitchhiking in my early twenties across the U.S. Remarkably people pulled over at 80 mph and picked me up in every state. Mainly mothers.”
Then he makes the point, “When you reach a fork in the road, it is important to know what your goals are.”
“This is my fourth grade class school picture. I created this “Wanted Poster” to talk about my years on the run after running a popsicle stand crime ring in 4th grade…in my mind.”
Then he makes the point, “It is important to have a vivid imagination to envision your success at any age.”
So go ahead and have fun finding a ‘classic’ photo of yourself.
But remember. whether it be a cartoon, a humorous image, a well-written joke, or a photo of you and an accompanying short, funny personal story, you always want to make a point with your humor.
Because if it fails to make people smile at least the point you made was of relevant interest. They don’t even need to know you were attempting to deliver a moment of humor. By making an important point you can stay in stride in your presentation without being disappointed while you seemlessly move on to your next important point.
But let’s get serious now.
We never want to minimize the universal truth that people have lots of fears about sharing their sense of humor.
The #1 fear being, “I’m not funny.”
I can hear you now, “I’m not! I don’t get half the jokes people tell me. I forget punchlines. People look at me and they forget punchlines. I am the Terminator of Humor.”
The secret to sharing humor is not to try to “be funny.” It is to have fun trying to put a smile on your audience’s face.
It’s the writing that makes a joke exceptional. Here are Three Jokes written perfectly.
In the world of stand-up comedy a joke is so tied to the performer telling the joke that it might make no sense if someone else is telling it. But what makes a really good joke great is anyone can tell it. Even you.
Here are three exceptionally well written jokes with great punchlines that anyone can tell.
Joke Story #1
An Interesting Case
A story to emphazize the importance of timing.
A police officer jumps into his squad car and calls the station.
“I have an interesting case here,” he says.
“A woman shot her husband for stepping
on the floor she just mopped.”
“Have you arrested her?” asks the sergeant.
“No, not yet. The floor’s still wet.”
Joke Story #2
A story to emphazize the importance of listening.
Two psychiatrists each had their practice in the same building for twenty-five years, but had never spoken. After a quarter-century in practice, one still appeared young and upbeat. The other looked old and beat up. One day, they found themselves in the elevator together. Unable to contain his curiosity, the prematurely-aged psychiatrist began a conversation with his colleague. “I’ve got to know,” he began. “How can you spend twenty-five years listening to people’s problems and still look so bright and cheerful?”
“Who listens?”…was the reply.
Joke Story #3
A story to emphazize the importance of seeking the lowest cost solution
A woman’s husband of 60 years died. She decided to put an obituary in the local newspaper to let everyone know. She called the paper and the woman at the newspaper said, “Obituaries cost five dollars a word.” “Five dollars a word? That’s ridiculous! Just write, Fred, Dead!” “I’m sorry, but for an obituary, there is a five-word minimum.”
“A five-word minimum?!!
Fine! Then write, “Fred Dead…Cadillac for Sale.”
If you prefer to tell a humorous short story from your own life rather than a pre-written joke what could be a personal anecdote you could tell that might be funny?”
A great place to look is whatever we do for the first time.
Examples might be setting up the audiovisual system with everyone watching and waiting….or waterskiing for the first time…or trying to catch a skunk in our basement.
I’m sure you have your own favorite first embarrassing failures.
Usually, they’re not so funny at the time, but with the formula
“pain + time = laughter” telling your story later can make for a wonderful ice-breaking, relatable, personal entertaining anecdote that’s easy to tell because it’s a true story from your life. Most funny stories from our life are self-deprecating which means you won’t offend anyone because it’s all about you.
Doug Stevenson offers excellent self-deprecating humor guidance in his article, Funny how a sense of humor helps get your point across. Here is what he says:
“Get this — you are a walking, talking, breathing joke waiting to happen. Every day you make silly mistakes and do dumb things. In trying to get your act together, it occasionally falls apart. You stumble into tables and chairs and drop things. You miss freeway exits and drop your soda in your lap while talking on the cell phone. You run off to a meeting and forget the contract that you were hoping to get signed. What makes you funny is that you are completely and totally fallible and human.You can be neurotic too. Embrace it. Share it. It’s your funny and nobody can do it quite like you.”
Another place to look for self-deprecating humor is our quirks:
- Are you a neat freak? Make fun of your tendency to organize.
- Dependably tardy? Make a joke about the one time you were on time.
- A control freak? Have fun with your fondness for delegating.”
#1 Humor Etiquette Advice
If you ain’t one of em, don’t make fun of em.
Make a hundred jokes about yourself before
you do a joke about someone else.
Sammy Obeid, Comedian
One last tip on jokes.
Stear clear of word play jokes.
Usually all they deliver is a courtesy laugh. And courtesy laughs don’t help you connect with your audience. Or them with you.
The reason is simple. Word play jokes are “cerebral.” They make you think, not feel. And the purpose of humor when used in business is to make people feel. Feel good. Feel good about you, and your ideas, and your company.
Having warned you about using cerebral jokes in a presentation, I’ll admit, they can be fun to read:
The past, present and future walked into a bar. It was tense.
What do dentists call their x-rays? Tooth pics!
What did one toilet say to the other? You look a little flushed.
What do you call a typo on a tombstone? A grave mistake.
It’s not who you know, it’s whom you know.
I have a lot of jokes about unemployed people but none of them work.
“Can I be trusted? Absolutely! I give you my Wordle.”
Ok, now you are ready to share a great personal story or pre-written joke that is sure to make your audience smile and feel great about doing business with you. Or hire you. Or join you in your important mission. Or take advantage of all you have to offer to enhance and contribute to their success.
Now you have the humor communication advantage.
That should make you smile.