Speech II:  HUMOR

breaking down communication barriers with laughter...



Day 1:  Monday, March 9, 2015

Unit Question: What makes people laugh?

1.) Discussed: What makes YOU laugh?  What do you find funny & why?

2.) Discussed WHY we’re doing a humorous speech as one of our speech projects:

        a.)  because humor is pervasive & universal (all cultures & languages laugh)

        b.)  because humor is beneficial to our mental/physical health (laughter increases quality of life)

        c.)  because humor makes people LISTEN (breaks down communication barriers!)

3.)  Discussed:  Humor typically comes when:

        a.)  a situation is a VIOLATION but BENIGN

        b.)  to understand more about this humor theory, watch the video below:

4.)  Discussed how time and distance makes the stories from our own life funnier... (Humor = tragedy + time)

5.)  Listened to a story by Horace H.B. Sanders and discussed what made it funny (content & delivery).  To listen to this story, click HERE and then click “Listen”.


Be ready to turn in a TEDtalk tomorrow!  (No TEDtalk speeches tomorrow)

Day 2:  Tuesday, March 10, 2015

TEDtalk Tuesday!

Day 3:  Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Unit Question: What makes people laugh?

1.)  Reviewed “benign violation” & watched humorous sketch:


2.) Reviewed:  Humor = “Tragedy” + Time

3.)  Listened to a story by Micaela Blei (“War Games”).  Click HERE then the “Listen” link.

3.)  Watched a video by Chris Bliss (start at 3:20) and discussed main ideas he shared about comedy.

  1. comedy is funnier when it’s grounded in truth/fact

  2. comedy can break down peoples’ walls (verbal magic trick)

  3. comedy is best when stated simply (verbal economy)

  4. all good comedy is inherently viral

4.)  Discussed how comedy sometimes reaches people...even with serious issues...better than logic and why. 

5.)  Discussed next assignment:  Humorous Speech (click HERE for assignment/rubric)

6.)  Discussed options for a speech:  observations, issues, stories, etc., then watched a clip by Steven Colbert about the topic of wikipedia, and discussed how he used a real topic/issue and made it humorous for his audience (and how).


Be an observer in life to help you determine a story, topic, or idea for your humorous speech.

Day 4:  Thursday, March 12, 2015

Unit Question: What makes people laugh?

1.)  Reviewed process & topic options for humorous speech:

2.)  Listened to a story by Diana Spechler (“Real Love”).  Click HERE then the “Listen” link.

3.) Discussed the prevalence of 3’s in our culture:

4.)  Learned about the Rule of 3’s” in Comedy:  Deliver a list of 3 things...BUT make the third unexpected!  Listened to the different times, in Diana Spechler’s story, that she did this, and how it elicited laughter from the audience each time.

  1. example #1:  “writing a novel (benign)...about aliens (somewhat silly)...involved in a bank heist (unexpected, therefore funny)

  2. example #2:  “super symmetrical face...dimples...glossy finish (unexpected, therefore funny)

  3. example #3:  “doing Andrew’s laundry...making him lasagna...editing his alien novel (unexpected)

5.)  Discussed other funny techniques & “unexpected” moments in Diana Spechler’s story/timing.

  1. example of unexpected & timing:  “she sounds like a porn star [waits for laughter to die down] ...who’s also a genius.”

  2. other:  How Diana repeated Andrew’s cliches (they were funny b/c 1. they were ridiculously cliche, 2. they were delivered with comedic timing involving pause, and 3. they were revisited throughout the story (i.e. a “running joke”)

Day 5:  Friday, March 13, 2015

Unit Question: What makes people laugh?

(Friday Forum)

Day 6:  Monday, March 16, 2015

Unit Question: What makes people laugh?

(Students shared the things they brought that made them laugh - as a class we discussed WHY for each.  What elements made each funny?)

Day 7:  Tuesday, March 17, 2015

TEDtalk Tuesday!

Day 8:  Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Unit Question: What makes people laugh?

1.)  Reviewed our class-generated list of what makes things funny.

2.)  Reviewed experts’ opinions of what makes things funny.

3.)  Reviewed options for Humorous speech, and the process for creating a humorous speech.

4.)  Listened to two clips by Louie C.K. (clip #1 & clip #2) and discussed “finding the funny in the truths” and “finding the truths in the funny”.  Reviewed how humor can “disarm” its listeners.

5.)  Listened to a story by Andy Christie entitled “The Ghost of Christmas Presents” (click HERE then “Listen” link)

6.)  Discussed:  SPECIFIC is always more funny.  Looked at examples in Andy Christie’s story:

  1. When describing the present... he didn’t just say it was “big” or “small”...he helped us see it from his 8-year-old perspective and was specific, describing it in these ways:  “freakishly unequal” / “I can tell I’m getting burned before I even open it” / “my brother had to literally walk around his present” / “it was a magical formless shapeless present - no box could ever hold the wonder that’s inside.”

  2. When describing his book...

  3. When describing the bed sheets...

7.)  Discussed “VERBAL ECONOMY”:  When writing, people want to use MORE words.  DON’T do this when speaking!  Being specific is NOT adding more adjectives (as it is in writing).  Being specific (in speaking) is about using FEWER, more carefully chosen words, in order to get to the “funny” faster.  One way to do this is through COMPARISON / METAPHOR.

8.)  Looked at examples of comparisons in stories we’ve already heard.

9.)  Discussed VERBAL ECONOMY in tweets...and how shorter is often funnier.  (More descriptive through adjective is NOT funny.)


1.)  Bring a tweet or FB post that you find funny.

2.)  Have your Humorous Speech topic chosen by Friday.  (story, issue, or observation)

(On Friday we will conference about both speeches - TED talk & Humorous speech)

Day 9:  Friday, March 20, 2015

Unit Question: What makes people laugh?

1.) Students shared topics & tweets

2.) Ms. Price conferenced with students about developing their TED topics.


1.)  Bring a tweet or FB post that you find funny.

2.)  TED talk speech due March 31!