Monday, October 6, 2008

Why Clean Jokes Only, No Blue Ones

When it comes to Table Topics, new Toastmasters are preached, "Don't talk about politics, religion, race and sex".

The famous Beatle John Lennon who sang about a world peace would surely agree with these exclusions of "no politics, no religion, no race" except perhaps for "no sex".

But nothing makes the audience burst into laughter when we touched on the off-color topics and embarrasing taboos like restrooms, human anatomy and undergarments. Why are we depriving ourselves as Toastmasters?

Well, everyone seemed to laughing and having a great time about the fat woman, the bald man and the lying lawyer. Except for these three persons in the audience.

The old cliche is that it is all right to joke about yourself but not at the expense of others, agree?

Yes, it may be all right to make unflattering remarks about oneself if one is fat, bald or always connying, deceiving and lying. But suddenly all the humor has disappeared.

Who would want to go on stage and make a fool of themselves except for those highly paid comedians and television show hosts.

Perhaps the exceptions are those valiant Toastmasters vying for those priceless trophies that says "Humorous Speech Contest - Champion, 1st Runner-up, 2nd Runner-up" and high quality printed paper of "Certificate of Participation"

If you go the book store, all the biggest jokes are usually blue or highly discriminatory. In the end, many of us Toastmasters will go for the "safer topics " like "Before vs After Marriage", "Mars vs Venus" humor which may be straight from the internet but the winning ones are those cleverly repackaged, personalized with new found twists.

Dr. Ralph C Smedly once wrote that people will remember by what you say.
(I guess that extend to what you write on the blogs too. A gentle reminder to myself).

Some "enlightened" contest judges may mark down the judging points of contestants if their jokes are too explicit, too graphic or too insensitive.

Here the Chief Judge during the Judges Briefing can provide a balancing role. There is nothing in the contest rule for disqualification of "hilarous but real gutter" humor. After all, humor, in all forms, is another freedom of expression.

One may argue that everyone must be over 18 to join Toastmasters International. So we are sharing our humor with only a matured adult audience during club meetings.

But remember that our Humorous Speech Contests are open to the public of all walks of life, all ages and all sizes and mindsets.

There lies the challenge of a great humorist to understand the audience and to tickle their funny bones without being offensive to almost all.

Good luck to all this year's Humorist Speech Contestants. You will need it, LOL.

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