Customized Humor? How can you be sure it is funny? | Brad Montgomery

Check out this YouTube video footage of me testing my jokes and humor in Minnesota at the Mayo Clinic

In my job as a motivational speaker, I feel strongly that customized humor is an CRUCIAL way to “connect” with the audience.

The following article was written (and posted at Speaker Net News) for speakers who are eager to learn how to “foolproof” customized humor. The truth, of course, is that there is no substitute for experience and humor “chops.” But, having said that, there are ways to make sure your humor is funny before you go on stage.

The best shortcut to connecting with any audience are jokes or short stories about them — meaning your audience. Their venue, their industry, their lunch, their hotel, their whatever. If you can make a current, fresh joke about them you win.

When you start with a fresh and topical joke they know cannot have been written in advance, they appreciate the joke — and you — more than any other type of material.

In other words, new, topical and customized humor has a lower bar for success, and greater chance for huge payoffs.

Of course the biggest problem is that you don’t know if it IS funny or not. Good news folks… I’ve got a system for testing these jokes, and you can learn it faster than you can say, “I’m Scared To Try New Humor for $500, Alex!”

Here’s the deal: as the audience files into the room, mingle with them. Test your story, your joke, your quip. Don’t tell them you’re testing it, just do it. For example, if you all had some
chicken dish for lunch and you want to joke about it, now is the time to get a feel for it.

If your first group laughs you know you have a keeper. If not, move to the next group and massage the joke a bit. Take mental notes and move on. If you do it right, you might get to try that material several times.

When you hit the platform with that killer joke about the chicken lunch, you’ve got a joke (or story/bit/line…. whatever) that you’ve tested several times. And now you KNOW it’s good.

And that confidence will help you deliver on stage!

Get it? You can try out (tell) those fresh stories and jokes and bits you just thought of a few minutes ago. And you can audience-test them by using small portions of the audience. And you can do it last minute (for VERY topical stuff.) And in the end, you are brilliantly funny…. even if you aren’t.

Looking for a comedian motivational speaker? I’d love to be your guy. Learn more here.

4 replies
  1. Jason Peck
    Jason Peck says:

    Hey Brad,

    I love this post. This stuff really works because I’ve been doing this on and off for years. Anyone reading this post who has an interest in testing out humorous material before including it in their speech, this is one sure-fire way of doing it!



  2. bobbe white
    bobbe white says:

    Hey Brad,
    Loved the video from Huntsville! I spoke there last year and I there are a lot of planes, shuttles, rockets, etc. I spoke to Healthy Woman group, so not too many acronyms there!

    Also, just tried some topical humor, as you suggest, and while people waited for lunch I met three women sitting together who introduced themselves as follows: Frita, Theta, and Rita. Oh, yes, and their fourth friend with whom they play cards, eat and travel with was standing a few steps away, called, Anita! You can’t make that stuff up and if we don’t mingle, we never flush out the good stuff. Thanks again for the reminder!

    In laughter & levity,

  3. Brad Montgomery
    Brad Montgomery says:

    What a crack up. Frita! This technique for how to be a motivational speaker and use humor works. I just did it w/ a bunch of hospice folks. The main thing is to just mingle and ask questions. Plop in anything you think is funny and see how it goes. Worst case scenario is you get to meet some of your audience. Best case is that you find new joke, and practice the ones you have. Very cool.

    Who else has a good story of something they learned from the audience and then used it on stage?


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