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Chapter 18. Ever Hear the One About…?: U... > Jokes That Never Work - Pg. 152

Ever Hear the One About...?: Using Humor · · · · · · · · · · · Race Sexuality Intelligence Birthplaces Handicaps Ethnicity Sexual orientation Religious leaders Childlessness Physical appearance Political leanings 152 Speech of the Devil Speakers almost never have the chance to try their material out in front of a real audience. Is it worth the gamble that you might upset your audience with an offensive joke? Nope. These jokes have a way of blowing up in your face, even if they are genuinely funny. Here's an example of what I mean: The first speaker asks, "John, why do people take such an immediate dislike to me?" The second speaker answers, "Because it saves time." This is funny, but it's also nasty--and being nasty usually doesn't make it, either. What is acceptable at a roast, for example, won't cut it at a commencement speech. The fact that insulting material has been written, rehearsed, and performed to an appreciatively laughing audience would seem to give it some legitimacy. You might be tempted to use one of these jokes. "After all," our beginning speaker might think, "it worked on television, so it should work in my speech." What you don't see is the stack of irate letters from viewers, the scores of enraged telephone calls, and the list of canceled advertisements. Play it safe. The Least You Need to Know · Successful jokes are built on a common frame of reference. · Your humor must fit your audience, purpose, topic, and personal style. · Avoid any joke that demeans, insults, or might make anyone in the audience uncomfortable. · If you're still uneasy about making an attempt to be funny, you're better off using relatively little humor in your speeches.