Sunday, November 16, 2008

Humor & Presentation Workshop

I have just attended a 3-hour "Humor & Presentation" Workshop by Mr Christian Chua, at Whampoa Community Club. Also at the workshop was my mentor Yetti. Boy, I was also thrilled to see other familiar faces including Christine, Lawrence and Kwan Fong (hope I got your name correctly, apologies if it's wrong) who have so kindly volunteered their services to be our speech evaluators at earlier chapter meetings of my toastmaster club, Kowloon-Singapore.

Back to Christian. He blew my mind away. First of all, I have to say that he has given an impressive presentation. This is the second presentation by Mr Christian Chua that I have attended. The first one was on a different topic. Nevertheless, both were equally excellent. Unlike the Chinese "see fus" who always deliberately keep some secrets so that their disciples will not surpass them, Christian was very generous with his teachings. Yes, just like my mentor Yetti :)

I have a couple of takeaways which I would like to blog about which were mostly from Christian's slides.

When presenting humor,

Do:- Test the audience
- Keep your jokes currently
- Tell your jokes with confidence
- Tell them like it is the first time you are telling them with enthusiasm
- Understand your audiences' profile and craft your humor that is suitable for them to comprehend
- Test your jokes or funny ancedotes on your friends first. Note which part of the joke/story causes your friends to laugh and get their feedback.

- Laugh at your own jokes
- Repeat the joke if the audience didn't get it (Try a brief explanation to rescue the moment, else say something smart like "I think I will bury that joke from here on."
- Repeat your joke if it is funny, just savor the moment and move on
- Tell jokes that have been over used
- Present anything that could be offensive
- Present humor with long build-ups (use 3-4 lines as a guide)
- Tell audience that a joke is coming (eg. I have a funny story to tell you or this one is very, very funny.)

Next, some strategies for humor:

1. Exaggeration. eg. I used to be so fat that the Great Wall of China is not the only thing that one can see from outer space.

2. Double Talk. This technique requires audience to read in between the lines. Eg. My wife made me a millionaire, before that I was a multi-millionaire.

3. Word Play. This is the one I found most powerful. It is something like association technique. This is how it goes. Take note of your surrounding. Select one or several words on the subject words. Map a web of associated words. And find the funny and construct the humor. Then respond with wit. The example that we worked through in the workshop was ERP - Gantry, CBD, Payment, Fine, Tool, IU. ERP can stand for "Express Retirement Plan". In short, your creativity is the limit.

4. Irony. That is something totally opposite.

5. Pun. Basically, a play with words. One example used is grenade and granite as Christian shared on his army jokes.

6. Spoofs, Animation and Accentuation I will term these as higher-order techniques which I will go into when I am more comfortable with the earlier techniques. Basically, we try to act out different people speaking with animated moves.

7. Incongruity/ Reverse Point of View. This refers to humor derived from a twist, shock, mis-match, embarrassment. An example is how many sides do a circle have? Two sides - inside and outside.

8. Lifesavers Some examples are 1. you have mavelous self-control, 2. Joe, this is the last time I am going to use your joke. 3. Not everyone is good at telling jokes, I am one of them. 4. Are your guys from Microsoft. No. But you are giving me the Microsoft look - not responding. 5. If you trip, you could say "Are there any questions from the floor?"

Besides the above, he has also invited two speakers to talk and made us think on our feet on how to inject humor in their speech. It has been a very fulfilling afternoon though I was a bit braindead. Not exactly knowing how to go about apply the techniques. Practice makes perfect and for a start, I shall have a comedy bank to deposit my humor dollars for future consumption.

For those of you who are of a higher calibre, Christian recommended this website which you may want to browse through.

Have fun talking :)

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