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Public Speaking Course: 

Deadpan Expression

I recently went to a meeting of the National Capital Area Speakers Association. The speaker doing the presentation was not funny, but still got plenty of laughs from the crowd. He used an irregular form of humor which is taught in my public speaking course.

He began speaking very seriously, . . . presenting his material slowly, . . . and
kept a low tone of voice. I thought to myself, 'this is going to be a long day.' Then, without cracking a smile, a totally out of character line came out of his mouth. He was going over his material which talked about thinkers, doers etc, and said, "A thinker is a person who.........is thinking about something." The whole room completely cracked up. This is
called using a 'deadpan' expression.

Deadpan expression is a skill where you combine a serious
demeanor with a funny line. The line typically gets a bigger laugh than
the same line delivered with a lighthearted expression or smile. The
contrast and surprise is what  begins the laughter, and knowing how to
create this expression should be mastered while during  your public speaking course.

The most recent and famous example of this is the comedian Steven
Wright who NEVER breaks character to smile. He says lines like,
"My dog is confused. I named him STAY. . . Then I say come STAY."

A more animated version of this is Rodney Dangerfield who pretends to be serious about his goofy life. He says, "I am an earth sign and my wife is a water sign ... ...Together we make mud." hahahaha

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