Adapting Humor to Make It Your Own

On the television broadcast of the Macy’s parade on Thanksgiving, one of the performers was pop singer Chris Isaak. He said that he told his mother that he was performing at the Macy’s Parade and her response was, “Do they know that?” 

This is a punch line that a speaker could make his or her own. For example, as you begin your speech you could include in your opening remarks,  “I told my husband that I was the keynote speaker for [the organization you are speaking to], and his response was ‘Do they know that?’” 

This punch line adapted to your situation accomplishes several things. You poke fun at yourself and an audience enjoys that. You creatively name the organization that you are speaking to, and you show your audience they will have some fun even if you have a serious topic.

As speakers, observe others who have content that people enjoy. Think about how you can adapt, not copy, material to your own speaking situation. If you hear a good punch line, think of ways you might make it your own.

Steve Boyd
Steve Boyd
Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. Steve won the Toastmasters International Speech Contest in 1970 and was chosen Outstanding Professor of the Year at NKU in 1984, among other awards and honors. Since retiring, he volunteers with nonprofits, spends time with family, travels, preaches occasionally, and enjoys reading and writing. Contact Steve at (859) 866-5693 or at

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