Public Speaking Course:
Old Humor is Good Humor
I also teach in my public speaking course how to use funny material to
combine entertainment and emphasis of a key point
during your presentation.
Humor is only old if your audience has heard it before and if they
remember it. Most people don't remember the details of jokes,
one-liners, or stories they have heard. And most people don't mind hearing
those jokes again if they were funny and told
One of the reasons most people don't remember jokes and other pieces of humor is that the
joke is usually heard out of context. It wasn't told while making a point,
which makes it memorable and is how you will use it in
your presentation. The joke was simply used for entertainment
value to be enjoyed and quickly forgotten.
When you use some of this old humor, you will be connecting
it to the point being made which makes it acceptable to use. Even if some audience members recognize the humor,
they probably don't remember the punch line. And even if they do, if you tell it
well those people will enjoy hearing it again.
The way to tell a very old joke or story is to let the audience know it is
old, not try to pass it off as new. This is the one time when you might want to tell
the audience you have a joke or story coming. If you don't tell them
that you know it is old, they will likely think you are out of touch
with current life. If you tell them you are going to tell an old story or joke, you are
telling them you know it's old, but it makes the point so well that you think it is worth
You will also come across jokes and stories that you can update to
fit your presentation. Some
can be updated as easily as adding a current name. Here is an old politician joke:
John the politician said he was so surprised about his nomination that
his acceptance speech fell out of his pocket.
All you have to do to update this one is to change the name from John to the current politician or association member you want to tease.
You could also make this a joke on yourself if you know you are going to be nominated for something. I was so surprised about this nomination that MY acceptance speech fell out of my pocket.
Here is another one that can be used to tease any business boss:
"A man was alone in a rowboat on the Potomac shouting No! No! No!
Someone on the riverbank said, 'Is that guy crazy or what?'
Another man fishing said, 'No. That's just one of President Clinton's
Yes Men on vacation."
All you have to do on this one is to change the name of the
river and substitute your BIG TARGET where you see President Clinton.
When using what you learned in your public speaking course a little old humor used
properly never hurts.