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July 2004 - Developing Your Own Repertoire of Humor

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John A. Kline, PhD jkline@klinespeak.com
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July 2004

Developing Your Own Repertoire of Humor

The title of my January 2001 column was: Make Them Laugh. In March 2003 I told: Why Humor is Effective. I’m often asked, “Where do you get the humor you use in speeches?" Through the years I’ve developed my own repertoire. If you are serious about developing your own repertoire or collection of humor to use in presentations, here’s how to do it. Create your own file. You can do this with a traditional file cabinet and file folders with headings that make sense to you, but a computerized file is best. I have more than 100 categories including such things as: attitude, perseverance, workplace humor, marriage, focus, vision, and optimism. The point is that you determine the categories; they are yours. Put a good illustration or piece of humor into more than one folder. Of course, if you forget where you filed it electronically, go to the search function and enter a few words of the story and your computer will locate it for you.

Each time you hear good humor, write it down. Revise it. Adapt it to your style. Practice it with different people until you get the response you want. The more you use it, the more natural it will become. Copy and save good stories people send you through e-mail. Also, use the common computer search engines—Google, Yahoo, and such—to locate literally thousands of “joke” sites. Find ones that provide your style of humor. When you find a good story, copy it and put it in your file. A word of caution: most of the stuff you’ll find is probably not worth using. Don’t save it unless you believe you can use it is a future presentation.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Collect stories, illustrations, humor regularly.
  • Don’t trust your memory, write it down and get it in your files as soon as possible.
  • Review your files from time to time to remember what you have.
  • Back up your story files often—as you should with any important documents.
  • If electronic, carry your files when on a disc or CD when you travel. That way you’ll never be caught without them.
  • Once you find a good source on the Internet, keep it in your list of favorites. Here are a couple of mine: www.rd.com (Readers Digest) http://FunnyCleanJokes.com (subscribe to this one free; it comes five days a week). Also, just use one of the search engines and ask for “clean jokes,” “college humor," "redneck jokes," or whatever you want. But cull judiciously. And if you wonder if the joke is appropriate, it probably isn’t.

John Kline
Montgomery, Alabama

July 2004 - Developing Your Own Repertoire of Humor
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