Nov 14, 2019


How to Write a Funny Speech

What i learned about humor after analyzing dozens of comedians, from stephen colbert to ali wong.


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How to Write a Funny Speech

Last Updated: March 13, 2023 References

This article was co-authored by Patrick Muñoz . Patrick is an internationally recognized Voice & Speech Coach, focusing on public speaking, vocal power, accent and dialects, accent reduction, voiceover, acting and speech therapy. He has worked with clients such as Penelope Cruz, Eva Longoria, and Roselyn Sanchez. He was voted LA's Favorite Voice and Dialect Coach by BACKSTAGE, is the voice and speech coach for Disney and Turner Classic Movies, and is a member of Voice and Speech Trainers Association. There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 156,186 times.

Writing a speech is already a challenge, so why bother adding humor? Successful humor will relax the audience, making them more attentive and receptive. It can break down perceived barriers between you and the audience, fostering a sense of camaraderie with the audience. Read on to learn how to use humor to your advantage when giving a speech. [1] X Research source

Choosing Your Topic

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Writing Your Speech

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Incorporating Humor

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Delivering Your Speech

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The Great Speech Consultancy

How to be funny in a speech (when you’re not that funny in real life).

by Kolarele Sonaike

how to write a funny speech about someone

According to a Hertfordshire University study , this is the funniest joke in the world.

“Two hunters are out in the woods when  one of them collapses. He doesn’t seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps, “My friend is dead! What can I do?” The operator says, “Calm down. I can help. First, let’s make sure he’s dead.” There is a silence; then a gun shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says, “OK, now what?”

Hmm. OK, once you’ve finished laughing, picked yourself up from the floor and wiped away those tears of laughter, lets examine the subject of humour.

There is no lonelier place on the planet, than on stage after a bad joke.

It is possibly the single most painful experience for any public speaker.

Comedians know this, which is why they work so hard at their craft. Comedians aren’t funny in real life. Like any other profession, funny is what they do, not what they are. Comedians work and struggle just like the rest of us to be good at their jobs. Ellen, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock – all the greatest comics write, rewrite and rehearse their routines with incredible care, diligence and attention to detail. They try out material for months, sometimes years in advance, on audiences – sifting out the stuff that doesn’t work, and doubling down on the lines that do.

how to write a funny speech about someone

(Getty Images)

So why, oh why, do so many of us as public speakers always assume that we can just shoehorn a couple of lame one liners (found on the internet) into a barely rehearsed speech, and get big laughs from our audience? This is guaranteed to fail every time, reminding us of the words of writer, Quentin Crisp:

if at first you don’t succeed, failure may be your style – Quentin Crisp

( If you’re pushed for time, you can download the Free Checklist of this article:  Dos & Donts of giving funny speeches )

Being funny in a speech is hard to pull off. But like most hard things, with a little study, much practice, and a healthy dose of chutzpah, anyone can do it. So lets examine the anatomy of a joke in the next section helpfully called “Anatomy of a Joke”

Anatomy of a Joke

All comedy, whether a one liner, long anecdote, or even an entire movie, is basically comprised of two parts: The Set Up and the Pay Off (also known as The Punchline).

how to write a funny speech about someone

With the Set Up, you are setting the scene by giving the audience all the information they need to know so that they will be amused by the Pay Off.

1) Set Up: Knock Knock. Who’s there? Dozen. Dozen who?

2) Set Up: In the movie “Some like it hot” eccentric millionaire, Osgood Fielding III, spends the whole movie chasing Tony Curtis’ character, Jerry (dressed in drag pretending to be a woman).

3) Set Up: Dr Evil (Austin Powers) has been cryogenically frozen for 30 years, so when he meets his evil colleagues, he lays out his plan to extort the world for a huge sum of money.

4) Set Up (in the world’s funniest joke) The hunter dies in the woods and his panicking friend calls the emergency services.

The mistake that most public speakers make that leads to them giving unfunny speeches, is to concentrate all their effort almost entirely on finding that Pay Off, asking themselves ‘what’s the funny line that I can say here?’ Whereas the key to humour is to focus on creating a compelling Set Up so that the right Pay Off just reveals itself.

how to write a funny speech about someone

To create a great  Set Up:

1) Take a subject (ideally one with which you are very familiar)

2) Examine it from all angles looking for the surprising contradictions and unexpected anomalies within the subject.

3) Work out how you can exaggerate those contradictions and anomalies almost to the point of a humorous absurdity. Can you connect one seemingly unconnected topic with another? Can you take a particular approach that will highlight these funny contradictions?

The humour lies in those unexpected findings and exaggeration that are nevertheless real. It’s why you find yourself muttering ‘that’s so true’ through your tears of laughter when listening to a hilarious comedian nail her routine. It’s why a Best Man’s speech works best when it skates on the edge of decency by revealing just enough of the groom’s true nature to the audience (and the Bride).

When you work hard on your Set Up, the Pay Off comes pretty easily because the punchline that ties it altogether seems to reveal itself.

1) Pay Off: Doz-anybody want to let me in?

2) Pay Off: (Some like it hot) Tony Curtis finally comes clean and declares to millionaire Osgood,”I’m a man!” To which Osgood simply replies “Well, nobody’s perfect”

3) Pay Off: (Austin Powers) Dr Evil demands…. 1 Million Dollars

4) Pay Off: (The funniest joke in the world) The friend shoots his collapsed hunter friend.

how to write a funny speech about someone

A very effective method of creating a compelling Set Up is to use a hook or theme that drives the narrative forward.

A great example is the ‘Shit’ sketch by Finnish comedian, Ismo Leikola .  In this hilarious skit, he talks about how he always though there was just one definition or meaning of the word ‘shit’.  But when he went to the US, he realised there were many more meanings like ‘you ain’t shit’, ‘I don’t give a shit’, ‘leave my shit alone’. Because he had found a great hook for the narrative, finding the humour was quite easy.

So, when you’re giving a speech about a serious subject like ‘How the Financial Markets work’, but you want to introduce a little humour to ease the way, consider what are the eccentricities of the financial markets? What parts make little sense if you stand back and look at it? What would your 8 year old son or your 80 year old grandmother make of the way traders?

Or giving a presentation at a small business forum, what eccentricities do entrepreneurs have? What challenges do they all face that you can highlight in a funny way? What mistake does nearly every small business make, which no one admits do, but every one knows?

This is where you’ll find your humour – in the careful analysis of the contradictions within your subject . Once you tap into that zone, a whole new world will open up and the Pay Offs will almost trip off your tongue.

Finally, a few dos and donts to send you on your way

how to write a funny speech about someone

maria bamford (Getty Images)

1) Don’t tell them you are going to be funny.

Anytime I receive an an email with the subject line: “This is funny”, I delete it. It never is. If you’re going to be funny, then be funny.  Don’t announce it.

2) Do have a purpose

As one of the greatest and funniest public speakers, the late Sir Peter Ustinov reminds us

 Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious – Sir Peter Ustinov

Don’t make jokes just for the sake of making joke. Stay focused on the reason you are giving your speech, and use humour to help achieve that objective.

3) Don’t copy. Adapt.

The best jokes are original. Your own material, born of your own experience will always be superior to something copied off

But originality can be hard. So, if you do have to use someone else’s material, approach it like Amy Winehouse covering the song ‘Valerie’ originally by the Zutons (bet you hadnt even heard of the Zuton’s version), and not like a teenage X Factor contestant doing yet another cover of Whitney Houston’s ‘I will always love you’ (which itself was a cover of Dolly Parton’s original song).

Put your own spin on it. Make it your own and it will feel fresh.

4) Do tailor your jokes to your audience

What works for a university fraternity will probably not work for an accountant’s convention. Lawyers love a good naughty joke (it makes us feel dangerous), but you should probably avoid sexist jokes if you’re presenting to the Women’s Institute.

5) Don’t take yourself too seriously

If you can make jokes at your own expense, you’ve got a far better chance of making your audience laugh, than if you are joking about someone else.

Never be afraid to laugh at yourself, after all, you could be missing out on the joke of the century – And Barry Humphries

And when it comes to your delivery, you want to use your voice to help paint a picture of your ideas in the minds of your audience. Treat it as a song or melody you are singing to your audience. The things you want to think about are:

how to write a funny speech about someone

Go forth, and be funny!

(Grab the full Checklist of 12 Dos & Donts for giving a funny speech )

Kolarele Sonaike

p.s. Grab your slot for a 1 hour communication skills coaching call with me. It’s free and pretty transformative. Click here to book your slot.

“ The session with Kola had a huge impact. He helped me tap into the passion that is central to my work and message. At an emotional level this showed me how I could start working with a different sense of authenticity, which would be founded upon a new level of confidence and commitment. The session really ‘gave the green light’ for me to tell my story in my approach so I could in turn create genuine impact the people I work with.” – Richard, Performance Coach

“The strategy session with Kolarele was great. In only one hour he was able to provide me with tools to work with to overcome some of my fears and improve my communication skills. I feel I have already made progress. I can only imagine what transformation will look like once we continue working together.” – Belinda, Co Founder

“Understanding how my presentation skills could be improved required me to understand my own long held inhibitions. Identifying this was both scary and enlightening, but seriously made me feel that I could give, not only a great presentation, but achieve my bigger goals. Thank you” – Yves, Marketing & PR (Embassy Liaison) Manager

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7 Tips On How To Deliver A Funny Speech That Engages Your Audience

Funny Speech

Why Give A Funny Speech?

Humor can be a very subjective thing and this makes delivering a funny speech difficult. The reason you might want to try using humor is because it is a great way to deliver your message.

Humorous Speaking Is a Serious Business

“Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.”

As a longtime member of Toastmasters  I regularly hear entertaining speeches . This has taught me that the best humorous speeches not only entertain me but often teach me a valuable life lesson. They can achieve this because the speaker has engaged me and I am always interested to hear how the story unfolds.

I often marvel at how effortlessly the best speakers deliver a funny speech. It appears so easy for them almost as if they are saying it for the first time. I know this is not the case and the best speakers rehearse their speeches and are constantly perfecting their techniques.

Having observed others and delivered many speeches myself I have developed a list of tips I use when I have to give a funny speech.

1) Remember Who Your Audience Is

The first and most important tip is to know who you audience is. Humor can be incredibly subjective in nature. What works with your friends could shock your grandmother for example. What works with granny might bore your work colleges. Think carefully who you are speaking to and adjust your humor accordingly. The more you know about your audience the easier it will be to use humor that they will appreciate and engage with.

2) Start With A Bang

When delivering a funny speech start it the way you intend to continue and open with a bang. Use a funny short story to grab your audience’s attention.

This signals to your audience you are a speaker worth listening to and not only will they learn something they will also enjoy the process.

3) Build It Around A Story

The best way to deliver a funny speech is to weave it around one or more stories. Stories are great because they bring ideas together and help your audience get the message you are trying to deliver.

4) Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously

Ideally when delivering a humorous speech it is a good idea to use some deprecating humor in your speech. This shows your audience you do not take yourself too seriously and helps them to empathize with you. When this humor is based on stories they can easily relate to it and this will help them engage with your message.  

5) No Reaction, Move On

Even when you know your audience, you sometimes get it wrong. They fail to see the funny side of what you are saying. This is a time to keep a cool head and move on. Hopefully your next bit of humor will elicit the response you want.

6) Pause For Effect

When you get your humor right your audience will react, this is the time to pause and let your audience enjoy the moment.

7) Leave Them Laughing

While it is important to start with a bang it is just as important to finish on a high. Plan the end of your funny speech carefully so as to leave your audience laughing. Remember people remember the end and the start of your speech most. It is at these critical moments that your audience will subsequently judge your content.  

Make An Impression That Counts

“The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.”

Humor done well has the ability to take people into your world. Your audiences will remember a funny speech done well long after you have left the room.

Westside Toastmasters is located in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, California

How to add humor to any speech.

Article Index

Learn how to make people laugh. You'll have more fun, and the listeners will too!

Listeners appreciate a little humor, even in a serious speech. Done incorrectly, humor can be a disaster. Executed correctly, humor lightens the load, eases the burden and releases tension. There are three basic methods for adding humor to a speech: Tell a canned joke, tell an original joke or simply make a wry observation.

Method #1: Canned Jokes

The beauty of a canned joke is that it has usually withstood the test of time. For someone just starting to add humor, this is the best technique. By telling an old standby, you can concentrate on timing and delivery - two of the major keys to being funny.

Timing and Delivery:

This refers to the way you present a joke. These two ideas may be the most important aspects of humor. As Toastmasters, we know that communication is more than just words. When you deliver a joke, your attitude alone can make or break the punch line.

But you have to get over the idea that you have to be perfect. Your audience wants you to succeed, and they want to laugh.

One of our newer members served as Toastmaster for the first time. She opened with a joke, stumbling through it. Even though she had to read the joke and even apologized to us ahead of time for her lack of experience, she told the joke with a smile and a wink. We laughed!

Audacity and an air of confidence can overcome your worst fears."

Audacity and an air of confidence can overcome your worst fears. Just say to yourself, "Okay, I'm terrified. I might botch the punch line, I might forget the entire joke; maybe no one will laugh. But I'm going to do it anyway. It will be hard this first time, but easier the next and the next and the next."

The basic keys to adding humor to your speech are:

Let's say you were doing a talk about ESPN or sports fanatics or even just sports in general. You might try the following "used" joke:

"A sports-buff showed up at the sold-out football game. He took his seat on the 50-yard line and then gently placed a woman's coat and an extra ticket on the seat next to him. The spectator behind him asked, "Are you saving that seat for someone?"

The man said, "No. It would have been for my wife, but she's passed on."

"Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that," the spectator said. Then he added, "Gosh, why didn't you give that extra ticket to a friend?"

The man turned around with a surprised look on his face and said, "All my friends are at the funeral."

This joke is obviously relevant to a sports-oriented talk. It sets the theme of the speech and warms up the audience.

The insight is that we sometimes get so wrapped up in our own stuff that we forget about other people. We all do it. This guy just did it bigger and that makes it funny.

Try out this joke (or any other) on several friends. Practice timing the punch line. Try different wording to make it your own. Try out different pacing, pausing in various places for emphasis. Like any other skill, you learn to tell a joke by practicing. Most people who claim they don't know any jokes are simply saying that they haven't practiced any.

Most canned jokes are generic and you don't have to attribute your source. However, if you are relating something specific to a certain comedian, you should give proper credit. Use your best judgment. You may want to say something like, "As Steve Martin so aptly put it: 'The new phone book is here! The new phone book is here!'" But don't start your joke with "I got this off the Internet..." Just launch into it.

Once you become comfortable telling jokes you've found from other sources, take your humor up a notch by trying out some original material.

Method #2: New Material

There is a basic three-point structure you can follow to create your own, original material:

Here's how it works: First, come up with a topic. For example, if you are a parent, you might want to make a joke about being a father or a mother. Here's a caveat. If you are a woman, don't choose the topic of being a father. The audience won't be able to relate through you.

"Sometimes a witty observation will produce no more than a smile or a twinkle in someone's eye. That's enough."

Next, create a premise. Let's say you are making a joke about being a dad. Your premise might be that it's hard to be a dad. Or, that having kids makes men a bit stupid. Or weird. Or that having kids is scary.

Comedy trainer Judy Carter uses those four specific words when she is training people to be funny. She calls them "attitude" words. When you are just beginning to experiment with writing your own material, it is best to stick with the basics:

The third part is the hard part. You have to bring in the unexpected. For instance, if you are working with "skateboarding on the highway is stupid," and you were being serious, you might finish with how dangerous it is. For a joke, look for insight. Look for pain.

Now, let's look at a concrete example:

Maybe your answer is that you have to be more mature.

Now, think of a way to twist that around to surprise the audience. Here is how I used this topic to open my speech on traveling.

"Traveling with kids is hard! You gotta be tough, you know?

We just got back from Disney World. We spent all day walking and it was hot and it was like, 'I need a drink of water, and 'I'm tired,' and 'I need to go potty.'

Finally, my six-year old put her hands on her hips and said, 'Dad, quit whining.'"

Timing and Delivery, Part II. Practice makes perfect. Although great material always sounds like it is impromptu, it rarely is. With jokes, more than with anything else, practice is imperative. You have to practice until it sounds as if you are just making it up on the spot.

Record your joke delivery and then listen. After a while, you will get a good feel for the pace. You will hear where the pauses work and where they don't. Along the way, you'll memorize the joke. It will also stop sounding funny to you. Don't worry; your audience has never heard it.

In my travelogue about Florida, I tell a story about my five-year old.

"Kids are wise, aren't they? My five-year old son played in the sprinklers at the park and on the ride back to our condo, he took off all his clothes. He got out of the car and everyone stared at him as he walked down the street, naked as can be. JoAnn and I were mortified, of course, but he just looked around and said, 'Well, at least I'm wearing sun block!'"

This story stopped being funny to me a long time ago, but whenever I tell it, everyone guffaws.

The Rule of Three

Three is an inherently funny number. Just make a list of three things. Throw out the last one and replace it with something outlandish. A word, a phrase. A dead fish.

Let's take the simple topic of sun block and play it out.

"Sun block is weird. (notice the attitude word) My wife packs SPF 44. Sun protection factor 44. Do you know what that means? That means that we can stay out in the sun 44 times longer with it on. Where are we going anyway? The Mojave Desert? The Sahara? The planet Mercury?"

Take your humor up another notch...act it out. Now take your rant against sun block and play it out even further:

"Have you ever noticed that the companies that make sun block make bug repellent too? You have to have both because they make the sun block smell like Pina Coladas. Of course it's going to attract bugs. They're like 'Yeah baby! It's cocktail hour!'"

Surviving the Joke

If you've practiced your jokes and bounced them off the right people ahead of time, you're sure to get some laughs. Even so, the day will come when the audience just doesn't get it. There are two ways to deal with the "bomb:"

One is the "saver." Powerhouse speaker J.R. Ridinger sometimes gets going so fast and furious that he leaves the audience behind. His favorite saver: "Maybe that one will catch you on the way home."

The other technique is to just keep on keeping on. One of my all-time favorite inspirational speakers once gave a sermon on sex. The funny quotes she told at the beginning left the audience speechless. She handled her choice of material like a true professional, never missing a beat, though I squirmed and turned a bit red.

Listening to this professional also showed me how confidence and audacity can pull off a joke that a less confident person could never get away with.

Method #3: Wry Observations

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.

- Mark Twain

One of the great masters of the witty statements, Mark Twain once said that electric lights were to humor as lightning was to wit. In other words, unlike a joke that has a story-line, natural wit usually comes out as a pointed, wry observation.

Use the triple-A method to develop your ability to make witty statements. First, be A ware, then add A ttitude and A llow yourself to grow.

Be aware by understanding that humor comes from understanding shared experiences, especially painful ones. In order to fully cultivate your own sense of humor, you have to stop seeing your life as completely tragic. We all have troubles. Open your eyes and your mind and watch for the irony and the contrast in life.

Your attitude will help you be funny. Watch any great comedian, male or female. Some are gutsy and loud, some are meek and shy. You have to develop an attitude that fits you and then you have to let it shine.

"You have to develop an attitude that fits you and then you have to let it shine."

Finally, allow yourself to be funny. Open your mouth and try. Toastmasters is the perfect place to nurture your inner comic. Occasionally you may tell a stinker. Get over it and try again. Progress only comes with practice in front of real people.

You don't have to elicit a roar of laughter from your audience. Sometimes a witty observation will produce no more than a smile or a twinkle in someone's eye.

That's enough.

Remember that Toastmasters is a learning organization. Give yourself permission to try, and trust that your fellow members are either (a) wishing they were as brave as you and respecting you for it, (b) about in the same place on the progress curve as you are and respecting you for it, or (c) re-living the time they first tried humor and respecting you for doing the same.

Now, get out there. Be yourself, be happy and be confident. Long after your listeners have forgotten the content of your speech, they will still remember how you made them feel.

By Joe _ Cooke

Tools for Comics

Share your favorite joke with other speakers by posting it to and check out the following bonus links:

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5 Key Ways To Make Your Next Corporate Speech Hilarious

How To Make A Speech Funny

We all know at least a few people in our lives that are inherently funny . These are the kinds of people that can make others laugh without even trying! However, for a lot of us, it’s not always so effortless.

Especially when it comes to a corporate speech, it’s normal to feel some nerves. But at the same time, you really want to leave the impression of a funny and intriguing host. So how can you successfully give a speech that’s both entertaining and humorous?

We’ll let you know what to do for your next corporate speech to leave your audience laughing.

See Related:  60 Dad Jokes To Impress Your Kids

Main Aspects For A Humorous Speech

1. Be Original!

There’s nothing less funny than hearing a joke you’ve already been told. Nowadays, social media is full of new memes and antics every day – so make sure you’re not just copying your joke from the internet .

Don’t Copy A Joke From Online

Even if you don’t spend abundant time online, many people in your audience probably do. And you won’t be able to get away with simply pulling a one-liner or funny story from social media.

Seriously – don’t even try!

Make sure your material is original as if you thought of it on your own accord. Better yet, draw from an inside joke floating around the office or a personal experience only you can speak on.

Remember, you should never resort to making jokes at someone else’s expense, either. Make sure you’re also careful with self-deprecating jokes. 

Sometimes, your audience won’t know if it’s appropriate to laugh or not. And that can be really awkward.

These are surefire ways to wipe the smile off your audience’s face.

What If I Can’t Figure It Out Alone?

Originality is critical, but it’s also one of the most complex parts to implement when delivering a funny speech. It can even seem stressful at times to try to understand what to do to bring out laughter from your audience.

That’s where Clean Comedians comes in. We know exactly how to make a speech hilarious and leave your audience laughing!

Humor speeches mark twain talk presentation humour kids words example humor

We tailor our material to your unique company and brand, without resorting to uncomfortable or inappropriate topics. So look no further if you’re needing some hilarious content for your corporate event – we’ve got you covered!

2. Tailor Your Content To Your Audience

Not everyone will laugh at the same jokes when it comes to comedy. Your audience might not find humor in every single punch line, especially if they don’t get it (duh).

Maybe that sounds a little daunting. So how can you really know what will make them laugh?

Luckily, there’s a simple way to both capture your audience’s attention and give them a good laugh.

People Laugh At What They Can Relate To

Most of the jokes out there are vague and can apply to everyone in the entire world. So in theory, it seems like these simple jokes are a safe way to bring some smiles. But that won’t cut it.

The best way to create a killer speech is to make humorous content that is unique to your audience. Give a speech that only your audience will get!

Because this is where things can get really funny!

A Funny Speech Is A Personal Speech

A unique and catchy speech is personal to either your own experiences or your audience’s experiences.

A great way to start is by telling an inside joke only your team will understand. You can also use funny stories from around the office to relive some hilarious memories!

But steer clear of jokes that will exclude certain members of the audience. That only serves to divide people rather than connect them.

So, make your jokes unique to your industry or company. Remember, jokes that might be funny for a law firm probably won’t bring the same laughs from a group of architects. Reflect on what your company is all about, and build on it!

Bonus:  10 Best Jugglers Throughout History & Which Ones To Invite To Your Next Corporate Event

3. Don’t Take It So Seriously

If you’re writing a funny speech for a corporate event , it will make sense not to be exceptionally serious about it. Humour isn’t an exact science – it’s an art.

Adding humor to your speech should be fun and exciting! Don’t think of it as a corporate presentation, but instead, like you’re just speaking with friends.

Add humor family member speeches humor example hear deliver mark twain example

Your priority is to connect with people and have a good time with your audience. So, relax and feel confident in your material.

Don’t Force A Humorous Speech – Let It Happen

There’s nothing less funny than someone trying to force a dead joke. If your audience doesn’t laugh at a joke, move on.

Get comfortable with the possibility that a joke might not be funny. And that’s okay!

It’s important to recognize these key points:

4. Humorous Speeches Are Told Correctly

Let’s say you’re giving a speech. You prepared the best joke. It’s catchy, not offensive, and you’re sure you’ll make your audience laugh.

But when it comes time actually to tell it, you don’t get a reaction. No laughter, nothing .

So, where did you go wrong?

Delivery Is Key

It’s not enough to just write a good joke . Your words need to be delivered in a way that impacts your audience.

After you create your own material for a funny speech, you need to decide how you will tell it. You’ll need to consider your tone, body language, and intonation.

You can quickly grasp your audience’s attention by being confident and excited as a speaker. Your voice should reflect the lighthearted and open nature of your message.

Remember, how you tell the joke is just as important as the joke itself.

How To Make A Speech Funny With Your Voice

It’s no surprise that you can’t tell a joke in a monotone or bland voice and expect to get a lot of laughs. Delivery can be challenging for many people when giving a humorous speech.

Speeches humorous stories notice kids break practice point humor speeches talk

Here’s what you should keep in mind:

Most people struggle to know how to deliver a joke in a funny speech. But sometimes, all it takes is practice!

Confidence as a speaker will come much easier if you are comfortable with your material. So make sure you know your stuff. You can even record your speech, then play it back to it to see how it sounds.

5. Draw In Your Audience

If you’re trying to bring some laughs out of your audience, you will need to make it something that tickles their mind. Of course, the primary goal of your speech is to make your audience giggle, but first, you need to set them up .

The beginning of your speech should be comprised of content that will captivate your audience. You’ll need ideas of material that will hook them from the very start.

Build Your Speech Around A Story

Storytelling has been around for centuries as an effective way to communicate and entertain those around us. So telling a story is a timeless and reliable way to begin your funny speech.

The best stories are the ones where it’s hard to find other examples because great content is original and based on your own experience.

Humor life speaking comedy audiences word play other skill speeches humor

Find some ideas for a funny story by diving into some hilarious memories from your past. (Bonus if they’re work-related, so your corporate audience can relate!)

Find Ways To Connect With Your Audience

One of the best ways to intrigue your audience and set them up for a hilarious speech is by connecting with them. If what you’re saying is something they can relate to, they will want to listen!

Find some common ground, then build on it. Spin it into an entertaining story, and then add your joke. There are many different types of jokes out there, but don’t get too caught up in the technicalities of it all.

The main thing to remember is that your joke should flow with the story you’re creating. Make sure your speech is conversational and feels natural to tell! And keep in mind, what reads well on paper might not always sound good as a speech.

So, when it comes time to deliver your funny speech, ensure you pay attention to all these details. But of course, have fun with it! Laughter is contagious – if you’re having a good time, your audience will too.

Keep Reading:  7 Tips On How To Become A Funny Keynote Speaker

Adam Christing  is a professional comedy magician, virtual MC, and the founder of . He is a member of the world-famous Magic Castle in Hollywood and a popular  corporate entertainer , magician, and virtual speaker.

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Humorous Speech: 14 Tips to Leave Them Rolling in the Aisles


Have you every been thoroughly entertained by someone giving a humorous speech? Maybe you enjoy watching stand-up comedians on stage.

Laughter is a definite stress reliever – one of the best medicines, as the saying goes!

People love to laugh. Whether it’s improv, observational, word play, dark humour or something else, there are may ways to see levity in the world we live in.

And, there are many ways to deliver a funny presentation .

In Toastmasters , learning how to give a humorous speech is going to be one of the most gratifying adventures you’ll have as a member.

So, take heart, even if you’re not a natural, you can be that person on stage getting the laughs!

Let’s get started by looking at the prep work.

Before you Begin Your Funny Speech

As with any type of speech in Toastmasters, you want to do your best.

Starting with a little self-reflection and practice will help you figure out your strategy. Here’s how to proceed:


Remember what you found funny

Not everyone has the same sense of humour. In fact, for some people jokes go right over their heads while others find the same ones side-splittingly funny.

Consider what kind of humour resonates with you.

Do you laugh at silly costumes and clown noses? Or, do you find the physical humour of someone failing miserably at a juggling act comical?

Perhaps puns that exploit the meaning of certain words make you smile.

Think about what you enjoy in a humorous speech and you’re guaranteed that others will find it hilarious too. That’s the type of content you’ll want to incorporate into your presentation.

Play to your strengths

Are you known for telling self-deprecating anecdotes? Do you find fun it re-telling entertaining family stories?

Maybe you weren’t the class clown at school or have never been the life of the party, encouraging others to join in some fun activity.


Even so, you likely display some behaviour that tickles the funny bones of others. Therefore, keep that in mind as you decide how to craft your speech.

Try out your stuff

While you’re sorting out what you want to give a humorous talk about, try your hand at getting a laugh or two from others.

This will give you a little informal practice, and help you decide which route to take in your presentation.

Here’s a few ways to do this:

Explain the funny in your day   – Look for anything out-of-the-ordinary in your day and deliver it in a short, comical anecdote at work, or at home around the dinner table.

Did you see a dog wearing a hilarious-looking jacket? Was there someone with a loud snore napping on your bus?

One you start looking for the funny in the day, it’s not hard to find!   

Try kid-friendly humour   – Kids love jokes. If there’s a child in your life tell them a knock-knock joke, or something along those lines.

Many adults get a kick out of kid-friendly humour as well. Try out a silly groaner joke on one of the adults in your life.


Volunteer for Jokemaster – Take advantage of this ready-made opportunity for you to hone your joke-telling skills at your next Toastmasters club meeting .

After you get a little experience spreading humour, you’ll begin to feel more comfortable in the comedian role. Plus, you’ll find out where you’re getting the laughs.

Watch the experts

As a Toastmaster, you have a ringside seat to speakers of all skill levels.

Notice what grabs your attention in how others present their topic, and the ways they use humour – this goes for any speech, not just the intentionally funny ones!

Search out humorous TED Talks and study what the speaker does to be humorous. In addition, watch different comedians and figure out what they do to get a few belly laughs.

What you’ll find is that, no matter what type of humour is used, a successful performance is all about the delivery.

Crafting a Comical Speech

There are a few things to be mindful of when writing a humorous presentation.

Find the funny  

First, you need to pick a topic to talk about.

When it comes down to it, you can use almost any subject matter for a humorous speech.

Some of the greatest material to use comes from personal stories. You could spin a story from a personal anecdote, or talk about the trials and tribulations of a friend or family member.


How many times have you heard stand-up comics regale an audience with the escapades of their children, or expose the comical side of the relationship they have with their spouse?

This is the stuff that works because people can relate to it, and may see themselves in your stories. It’s always funnier when some misadventure happens to someone else!

Write to amuse

When you’re writing your speech, start to think about your delivery.

Is there a particular turn of phrase, amusing alliteration or other play on words that’s sure to make the listeners smile?

Jot those down where they’re likely to have the biggest impact. Will delivering this content in the opening, as you finish up or somewhere else in between work best?

Remember to follow the formula for crafting any Toastmasters speech with a captivating opening, an interesting body and a memorable closing. 

14 Tips for Nailing a Humorous Speech

Here’s where the fun begins!

With a well-crafted speech designed to tell your tale in the funniest way, it’s time to focus on your delivery.

There are a range of tactics for engaging your audience no matter what type of talk you’re giving. Some of these can be applied, with a little modification.

Here are 14 terrific ways to deliver a humorous speech:

1. Pace perfectly

Proper pacing in any presentation is important. And, as you can appreciate, this is a critical component of giving a funny talk.

People need a bit of time to get the joke, right?

Leave a little dead air just after you’ve said something humorous. Some people might be chuckling right away while others will need more time to comprehend.

Either way, pausing strategically after a punch line is necessary for the humour to land well.

2. Funny fashion

Dressing up in an unusual outfit, or wearing a silly hat, is another way to amuse your audience.

This signals that they’re in for some original fun.

For instance, if you’re going to tell the story of a hysterical summer vacation you might consider coming on stage in shorts and sandals with a beach towel slung over your shoulder – if you have a snorkel and swimming fins you can wear, even better.

Just watch that you don’t trip, unless you’re going for a laugh for that too!

If your goal is to keep giving humorous speeches, wearing something funny could become your signature move.


One example is the comedian Steve Martin who became memorable for wearing what looked like an arrow through his head.

Anyway, you get the picture. This type of absurd humor can set you up for some laughs right away.

3. Present props

Props are another standard approach to holding an audience’s attention when giving a talk.

When presenting a humorous speech, you don’t have to necessarily bring something on stage that people laugh at immediately.

That’s one way to go, but the trick to being amusing is really in how you use the prop.

Maybe you’ve got a laughable tale about your pet parrot.

Rather than trying to incorporate the bird itself into your talk – which can be problematic on several levels – you could take a toy parrot on a perch with you on stage. Interacting with the fake bird will increase the comic value of your speech.

Another way to use props is to use them to demonstrate an activity.

For example, an amusing story about driving a car can be enhanced if you’re pretending to drive with an actual steering wheel between your hands.

4. Surprise with sound

There are several ways to use sound in a humorous speech.

The most obvious one may be to find a noise maker that has a novel sound. The selection here is endless, and only limited by what you’re able to find.

If you want to use a bell, there are dinner bells, bicycle bells, cow bells and other bells. Some different options are horns, shakers, kazoos, hand clappers and maracas.


You might also find a few items around your home that you can improvise with.

The other choice is to use your voice to make a sound effect. Getting back to that example of a driving anecdote, making ‘vroom, vroom’ sounds when you’re pretending to drive can add humour.

Again, the key here is in how you use sound. While the particular noise might be funny on its own, you’ll get more laughs if you time it appropriately in your speech.

If you plan to use the sound repeatedly to create more hilarity, just don’t overdo it!

5. Exaggerate expressions

Funny facial expressions are another tool for telling a funny tale.

An exaggerated look of surprise, with raised eyebrows and an open mouth, can make your delivery all the more uproarious.

Help your listeners really visualize what you went through in the anecdote you’re relating by emphasizing your reactions, and they’ll be laughing right along with you.

A shake of the head and a shoulder shrug can be added for extra effect.

6. Give grand gestures

This is along the same lines as really playing up your facial expressions .

Grand gestures, like throwing your arms out or reaching your hands high above you head, can add comedy to your speech.


Stretching your arms forward with open palms to the audience can show them that you’re imploring them to see things from your perspective.

As with other methods, such gestures should be well-timed during your talk to add the maximum amount of drama.

7. Perfect a posture

Body language can also be uproarious.

Think about what you want to communicate with your posture that will add to the humour in your presentation.

It could be that you want to express indignation, or incredulity, by standing with your hands on your hips. A slouching position could be used to indicate resignation.

Then again, you might want to come up with a uniquely funny posture that’s all your own.

Whatever you choose, be sure that it’s a posture that will make your speech all the more hysterical.

8. Woo with words

There are so many ingenious ways to employ language for added impact here.

Witty plays on words include alliterations, puns, phonetic mix-ups, obscure words, unusual sayings and more.

An intentional slip of the tongue, for example, like referring to a “funny story” as a “sunny foray” will initially catch people unawares.

However, once they’ve grasped the play on words, they’ll find it amusing and will be paying close attention to catch other examples.

Another move to try is to incorporate pet language for people or situations. Maybe you’re talking about a mischievous child and calling them “the little dickens” brings a smile.

You could also make up words, like calling your spouse the “nagagator” of your trip rather than the “navigator” if she keeps complaining that you’re not following her directions.

9. Vary voice volume

Here’s a strategy that you’ve probably found to be effective in other types of speeches.

Changing your voice volume for emphasis is a tried-and-true way to hold your listeners’ attention.

Modulate your voice to match what you’re saying at the time, and people will connect with the funny faster.

10. Act it out

Go through the motions of your story to show the comical side.

When you’re acting out a riotous routine, it can be very engaging for those present.

Make sure to move around and use the whole stage, and consider actually getting down into the theatre aisles beside the audience if it serves your purpose.

Pause your speech for a few moments while you complete the actions to make things more hysterical. If you’ve ever watched improv, you’ll know how well this can work.

Acting it out can include imitating voices to relate a conversation between two people.

You may have seen comedians do this to add hilarity when talking about an argument they had with their partner, for instance.

11. Display distraction

Here’s a more original idea to bring some fun to your presentation.

Try acting a little distracted. You may be thinking that this is exactly what not to do during a speech!


But if it’s used in a controlled fashion it can amp up the laughter.

One way is to just wander out on stage seemingly lost in your thoughts.

You could pretend to be reading something or talking aloud to yourself and then notice, with a start, that you’re not alone. You have an audience!

Another example is getting distracted a few times in the middle of your speech by something you see around you – like complementing an audience member on the colour of her sweater.

12. Make outlandish comparisons

This is a great way to use exaggeration to encourage your listeners to see the laughable side of things.

Making outlandish comparisons demonstrates your frustration, or extreme surprise, with the situation you’re explaining.

Say you’re talking about having to deal with a lot of dirty laundry. You could say that it was as though a landside had happened indoor with laundry overflowing out of the hamper and down the stairs.

A simpler example is saying that traffic was moving so slowly on the highway that it seemed you were driving backwards.

13. Use the rule of three

The rule of three can be employed several ways to increase the funny factor.

Basically, you can link three thoughts or ideas together. You might say that having children has taught you to appreciate life more, how to calm a crying baby and that your favourite activity is napping.

Make the last point a twist in an unexpected direction.

Creating a presentation that takes your audience through three similar occurrences is another way to use this method.

Maybe you want to tell a fishing story and each experience of trying to land a fish during your day out on the water builds on the last one. 

14. Be unexpected

Anything that’s weird, absurd or nonsensical falls into this category.

It should be quite unconnected to the talk you’re giving and is designed simply to get a laugh.

The best place for this is right at the beginning of your talk to prime the audience to be amused. You could also finish off with something unexpected to get a last laugh.

A few behavioural examples of this are funny walks, dancing and acrobatic tricks like riding a unicycle.

unicycle for speaking

Other ways to use the unexpected are to have dramatic music playing as you enter the stage or throw rose petals out into the audience.

A final tip is to harness the power of repetition.

It’s not just using the same noise makers a few times during your talk that can bump up the laughs. You can repeat a few of these other ideas as well.

Take care to use the right dosage of one or more of these ideas. Repeating what listeners found funny the first time, if done in moderation, can cause them to laugh even louder the next time.

Closing Comments on Delivery a Humorous Speech

Granted, there’s a lot to consider in performing a humorous speech.

So, take your time, do your research, select a good topic for your talk and get to work writing your best speech.

Practice is really important in preparing to deliver this sort of speech. That’s where you can try out one or more of the delivery approaches and see what seems to fit best.

Having said that, plan to step outside your comfort zone a bit and experiment with different ways to deliver your presentation.

After all, being brave and stretching your skills is what Toastmasters is all about!

Be advised, the rewards can be remarkable when you see what joy and downright laugh-out-loud humor your speech has brought to people. Related: How to Write a Tall Tale Speech



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