Joke Ninja

Conversational Jokes and One-liners

Jokes can be a non-threatening way to open conversations with strangers, add a ray of sunshine to a friend’s day or just share a funny moment with those who are closest to you. Are there not times you wish you could be like a Joke Ninja – landing back on your feet with one funny or hilarious story after another, when you are trying to create some good, clean fun? Remembering great “one-liners” or coming up with fresh comedy material for your next party can be difficult to do, unless you have access to your own comedy writers.

The Internet a Great Source, But Do Not Restrict Yourself

With the Internet, it’s easier to find jokes you haven’t heard before, regardless of the subject matter. It can be difficult to come up with appropriate funnies for younger audiences, but there are plenty of clean, humorous anecdotes to be found or created, and some have been put in writing. There are some people who just seem to have a knack for thinking up short, amusing stories, whether based on real people, or not. There seems to be an endless supply of the “a ______walked into a bar” or “knock-knock” jokes, but those can get worn out as quickly as “blond” or “fat” “one-liners”, depending on your audience.

A Joke Ninja

A Joke Ninja can be defined as a person who knows how to gear their material to their audience, so it won’t be offensive, and they know how to tell it so it makes people laugh. There are some people who just don’t get good jokes and others can take them downright personally. Knowing your audience helps a lot, if you decide to tell any types of stereotypical “one-liners“, such as those about seniors, religion or political sectors, sports or occupations, for example.

You can find plenty of material that’s clean enough to tell your grandmother or your kids, but there are all different kinds of categories, when it comes to looking for humorous and funny material. Everyone thinks they can become a comedian if they can remember the punch line, when it comes time to deliver. Those that might be considered a Joke Ninja will have a full range of humorous material, but they will be able to read and command their audience, using the basic concepts of comedy. And just like the Japanese warriors of old, each thrust will be perfectly timed taking the listener(s) off guard.

Delivering different kinds of funny, short stories or performing hilarious impersonations could be considered “stand-up” or “slapstick”, but even if you write your own material, you have to admit that delivery is the key factor. There is an art to humor and just because you have some funny material does not mean you won’t cause a classic, “one-liner” to become a flop, if you don’t make people laugh when telling it.

Master The Joke(s) First

Mastering the telling of jokes is a task that a Joke Ninja, such as professional entertainers or comedians, have learned to consistently incorporate. If you want to make people laugh and become the life of the party, you need to consider joke delivery, besides audience-appropriate material. Sometimes to become funny it is necessary to be most serious, and as some comedians have discovered a serious business can be hilariously funny. Practice, practice and practice the secret of any professional. Putting together new ideas in funny ways can help you be more successful in making people laugh! Get the right material, learn the lines and then make the delivery professional. Lastly, you too should enjoy the fun!

Is It a Good Idea to Start a Speech With a Joke?

In my presentation skills training programs, people often ask me, “Is it a good idea to start my presentation with a joke?” My immediate response is “No!”

Now I’m a fan of humor as much as anyone – and in fact, probably more than most people, since I’ve been performing onstage with an improv comedy group for the last 6 years and I’ve incorporated improv comedy rules and ideas into my communication skills/leadership training programs.

(Improv does not involve telling memorized jokes, however, but instead requires you to be in the moment and spontaneously respond to audience suggestions and whatever your fellow performers on stage have offered. Applied to speaking, improv helps you connect with the audience, remain fully in the moment and trust that you’ve prepared enough to handle the unexpected – from a technical glitch to an unanticipated question to a fire alarm.)

So here are 4 reasons why I don’t recommend starting a presentation by telling a memorized joke:

1. A joke is difficult to get right.
Great jokes are all about timing and delivery. Expert comedians like Jerry Seinfeld work for hours to perfect a joke and decide which words to use, where to put the emphasis and how long to pause before delivering the punch line. Telling a joke right is a lot of pressure to put on yourself at the start of the speech, especially when you already are feeling nervous.

If you’re a stand-up comedian performing for 15 minutes, you can afford to flub a few jokes. However, if you’re giving a presentation and the joke is your opening, it’s hard to recover from a joke gone wrong and from that awkward silence during which the audience wonders if they’re supposed to laugh.

Speaking is not about perfection – it’s about communication – and perfection is unrealistic and unnecessary. But jokes require you to be near-perfect, especially if it’s your opening line and your only joke.

2. They’ve heard it before.
Unless you have your own personal joke writer (and if you’d like to hire someone to write funny lines for you, I recommend speakers/comedians/humorists David Glickman and Ron Culberson ), you probably get your jokes from the Internet. And if it’s a funny joke, that probably means that someone in your audience has read it in their email inbox. And if the joke is specific to a particular industry, the chance is even greater that many people have read it or heard it before.

A key element of humor is the element of surprise, whether it’s an unexpected juxtaposition of words or events, a twist in the ending of the story or an unanticipated punchline. If people in the audience have heard the joke before, you lose the power of surprise. And telling a stale joke could brand you as “same old, same old” rather than as a unique individual with a fresh perspective on the topic.

3. You will offend someone.
While you probably wouldn’t start your presentation with “a rabbi, a minister and a priest walk into a bar…” because of its obvious inappropriateness for most audiences, there are few jokes and types of humor that are universally inoffensive. Especially given the cultural, religious and ethnic diversity of our audiences, it’s difficult to imagine a clean, funny and appropriate joke that is a safe bet for every audience.

And there’s no real way to know if people are offended by your joke, unless they tell you. Just because people laugh doesn’t mean they are not offended or hurt by the joke – sometimes, they give in to the social pressure to laugh, while inwardly feeling upset and even angry.

Beginning your presentation by alienating people in the audience will not help you communicate effectively.

4. Even if you get it right AND they haven’t heard it before AND it doesn’t offend anyone, it might be irrelevant.
Even if all else goes well, your joke might be viewed by the audience as irrelevant. They may laugh, but be unsure why you told it and how it relates to your message. Even if you think it’s obviously and directly relevant to your presentation, they still might be confused about its purpose. And it’s never a good idea to start off by confusing the audience.

So the next time you have to give a presentation, remember these 4 concerns. And unless, you can successfully address all of them, resist the urge to start with a joke you found online and you’ll have a better chance of being effective.

You Must Be Joking? Incorporating Humor Into A Speech Or Presentation

Using humor in a speech or presentation can help to add an air of authority to your content because everyone loves to laugh! One of the ways to use humour in a speech is to incorporate a joke that is relevant to your content.

Now, in order for that joke to work you need to edit it down and interpret in your own way. Don’t feel that you’re not qualified to do this. You are don’t worry. As long as you can speak and paraphrase you’re going to be fine at editing a joke. I understand that it may be difficult to understand the process of editing a joke, but I’m going to do my best.

The point of this article is not to turn you into a comedian. It’s to help you spice up your content with humor so that you can connect with your audience and have them feel confident with your ability as a speaker or presenter.

Firstly, make sure you’re on your own. Like… sitting in front of your computer. Okay, take your joke and say it out loud. You will probably stumble over the words because jokes that you find in books or on the internet have extraneous words because they help with the reading of the jokes. But these words aren’t necessary for the actual spoken delivery of the line.

Most jokes have a small story element to them and so that’s what is included. For example they will contain words like: “One day…” or “…and says”. Those are structures that we are used to and that help us when we are reading the joke. But they are not at all helpful when you have to deliver that joke.

So read the joke out loud a few times to familiarize yourself with it. Then put it to one side and repeat it a few more times. Just give yourself a bit of “rehearsal” with it. What will begin to happen slowly is that you’ll forget bits of the joke and, as a result, paraphrase the joke into your own words.

You’ll naturally make shortcuts. Believe me, this is not a bad thing. This is exactly what you want to happen. As you do this try to cut out the storytelling elements. Try to get straight to the meat of the joke. For instance if the joke begins: “one day a CEO turns to one of his employees and says sternly…” You can edit the joke so that it reads: “A CEO turns to an employee and says…”

You cut the word sternly because you should say what the CEO says to the employee in a stern manner. You don’t need to tell your listeners how the CEO is speaking because you pretend to be the CEO. So that’s 6 words that have been cut and 1 word that has been added.

It’s also better to keep the joke in the present tense. Even if it’s happened in the past. You’ll say something like “last year…” then the tense will immediately change as if it’s happening right now. That street joke has got to unfold in front of your audience like it’s happening in the here and now. It makes it more immediate for the listener.

How do you know what will make the joke work? Well, the punchline is pretty important. The set-up is important as well, but that can usually do with a bit of trimming. The punchlines are the bit at the end that gets the laugh. Sorry if I’m stating the obvious for some of you, I just want to make sure we’re all on the same page.

I’m going to refer to a joke that I’m sure we all know: “why did the chicken cross the road? to get to the other side”. The punchline in this case is “to get to the other side” so this is important to keep because that’s the line that will generate the laugh.

That said, the set up line is also very important because if you just said the line “to get to the other side” you will get a lot of blank stares. So you need: “why did the chicken cross the road?”. But what you have to be careful of is to make sure that all the important details are there. The chicken is important as is what the chicken is doing.

Remember that editing and delivering a joke are fused together at the hip. You need to practice the joke out loud again and again so you are familiar with it and it flows naturally.

You should also make sure that you personalize the joke if you can. Don’t make it any CEO if you can safely make it your CEO. But obviously you have to be careful that you don’t offend anybody and risk losing your job. The best thing to do is to make yourself the butt of your jokes. By laughing at yourself you are more likely to win the audience over to your side.

So to re-cap: Find a joke that is relevant to your theme or topic in a broad way. If you cannot find jokes specifically about the Human Resources Department, maybe there are jokes on a broader scale. Exactly what point are you making about H.R.? That they’re really organized? That they’re incompetent?

Then you need to say your joke over and over again out loud so that you become familiar with it. By doing this you will naturally edit bits of the joke out that don’t work for you because you will forget bits. Next go through the joke with a fine-toothed comb edit out any story elements. Finally, make the joke personal and in the present tense.