What You’re about to see is Dan Kennedy’s list of 3 Sources Of Funny Material and 24 Comedy Structures & Types Of Jokes You Can Use Within The Writing/Presenting Of Your Small Business Marketing Strategies That Have Paved The Way For Him To Make Millions And Millions Of Dollars

Hey You,

Cartoon Dan used in this chapter


Lewis LaLanne a.k.a. Note Taking Nerd #2 a.k.a. L.L. Cool Nerd.

If you can make people laugh and you’re serving them useful information that helps them solves their toughest problems and move towards their greatest desires, they’ll always want to listen to what you have to say.

And listening to what you have to say is the first step in getting them to trade you their money for your value.

What I’ve done for you today is painfully laid out a chapter of an entire book Dan recently wrote on how to lower people’s sales resistance barriers in your marketing messages with laughter.

Now I’ll let Dan, and Chapter 2 of his book “Make ‘Em Laugh & Take Their Money” answer the question of . . .


We’ll list some of what’s funny here. Get into depth in subsequent chapters. But first, some bad news. Few things are inherently funny.

Visual Humor – a monkey smoking a cigar, a squirrel surfboarding, a man – preferably a fat man slipping on a banana peel. But beyond ‘Funniest Videos’, what’s funny from the platform is made funny from the platform.

So if you’re hoping you can find things that are funny to carry your water for you, they’re in short supply. A monkey smoking a cigar is that, but traveling with him a real pain in the ass.

There, are, however, categories of source material to work from, in which to find good fodder for humor:

Stupidity. People laugh at stupid criminals, stupid politicians, stupidity in their own industry or field, and stupid shared experiences.

A perfect example is Lewis Black’s bit about the nuclear attack drills all of us
children of the 50’s went through at school … where, with a giant flaming
ball of atomic Armageddon roaring toward us, we were told to seek refuge
under our desks. Little wood desks. Black says it was at that moment he
decided never to pay any attention to instructions from authority figures

That piece of business works as pure humor because it showcases stupidity: the stupidity of government, of educators, and of our own silly behavior. This same bit could be used by the speaker to not only get laughs and get an audience on his side with shared experience, but also to connect to any number of points.

You could connect it to taking a poke at corporate management (always popular with the troops) or to highlight the virtues of independent thought.

I might point out, though, this is made funnier by good delivery than it is written on the printed page, and I italicized those words for a reason.

Rants. People like angry comics who are mad at the shared stupidity
and aggravations everybody suffers.

The rant-er is saying what everybody wants to say. Dennis Miller made his career with rants …. “/ don’t want to go off on a rant here, but … ‘:

Sam Kinison’s very, very angry and bitter rant about the women who broke his heart and took his money expressed most men’s private thoughts and emotions, so they cheered on his rage. You don’t have to go to Sam’s extremes to use a rant.

Talking about what ticks you off about airline travel…voicemail hell…bad customer service … employees …. or some ‘enemy’ of your particular audience in a humorous way will work just fine and can be linked to points for a selling argument.

You may have heard or read my often used rant about cell phones, centered on idiot men talking on them while simultaneously standing at urinals and peeing.

I also incorporate little rants in sales copy I write for myself or clients, and in my opening monologues in the No B.S. Marketing Letter, in my books, and in my political columns published at BusinessAndMedia.org.

I’ve included some examples in Appendix I of this book. If you’re a reasonably alert human with an IQ above 12 and you at least occasionally leave your house, there must be things that really piss you off. You probably rant about them now, to spouse, friends, dog or – if you live alone and are a certain sort of person, your plants.

Your rant is likely repetitive too. Just get it down on paper and then make it funny.

Shared, Common Experiences.

In speaking or writing to persuade, you are seeking rapport and trust. Nothing gets you there better than shared life experiences.

Sure, if you and your prospect, reader or audience share, say, Midwest upbringing, that provides a certain level of automatic rapport. But if you can good-naturedly describe the putting away of all the summer clothes in basement or attic, the dragging out of the big, bulky winter clothes, and her switching to her big, bulky, flannel and wool pajamas so that the curve of female anatomy disappears from view at home or abroad from November until May; if you can speak to the fish sticks on Fridays doled out by the gigantic cafeteria lady with the snaggle tooth and hair net … or the
never-ending road projects, the hundreds of thousands of orange traffic cones blocking off miles and miles of roadway, narrowing to one lane of bumper to bumper traffic, with no one actually working on the road anywhere in sight – only one sadist with day-glo vest and shovel to lean on as he watches you creep, creep, creep by …. you get a leg up with fellow Midwesterners.

“My wife is an interior decorator. She wants to get rid of me
because I clash with the drapes. “

Morey Amsterdam

The shared experience is love and marriage – 52% of the average
audience is married, another 30% divorced or moving toward marriage in
a relation-ship. Everybody gets it. And everybody has the same experiences, the same frustrations with each other.

The war of the thermostat. The same argument conducted with the exact same out-come for 20 years. Tip: just assign it a number. You say #36, I say #36, and that’s the end of it.

I tell audiences that were it not for the institution of marriage, golf
would never have been invented. Think about it: men volunteering to


walk miles up and down hills to whack at a tiny ball with sticks trying to do the impossible and drive the ball into a tiny, distant hole.

The same guy who’s just too exhausted to take a bag of trash out Friday night is up at 6:00 A.M. Saturday morning for a long walk in the woods, in the rain, dragging a bag of sticks. Who’s kidding who?

Golf was invented by married men as the only way to get out of the
house their wives would allow – because it seems to gals like stupidity,
which they believe systemic with husbands, and misery, which they like
inflicting on husbands – they know we’ve done something to deserve
punishment even if they aren’t sure what it is.

See, if four guys tell their wives they want to go hang out with their
buddies at the strip club for four hours to smoke cigars, drink, and tell
filthy jokes and complain about their wives, who’s getting out of the

But if four guys tell their wives they want to lug a bag of heavy sticks around for four hours, frantically trying to hit little balls up hills
into little holes only to come home pissed off and embarrassed and tired,
they say “Have a nice time, dear.”

You can deliver that ‘soft’, sort of conversational, in fun, or as a rant. Either way it works.

If you want to connect it to something, you have choices – for example,
how we invent cumbersome, complicated, frustrating ways of doing things
in our businesses too. Pogo said, “We have met the enemy and they is us”,
the bridge from such a story, to the making of things more difficult than
they need be and making ourselves miserable in the process, to the solution
you offer, your easy-button, your pleasant, utopian ‘walk unspoiled.’

THIS IS FROM AN INTERVIEW in Cigar Aficionado Magazine with
actor/Paul Harvey stand-in/ former Senator/briefly, presidential candidate Fred Thompson and his considerably younger wife Jeri, in their home …

.. . Jeri is asked about Thompson’s shortcomings as a husband.
She smiles and without hesitation, says, “There’s not a lot of help
around the house. It just doesn’t occur to him.”

Thompson, seemingly absorbed in his salad, doesn’t miss a beat.
Looking up, he says, deadpan, ‘1 resent that, “pauses, then offers
the zinger. “It does occur to me. Don’t confuse lack of awareness
with the lack of willingness to do something about it.”

And there is very old, very evergreen material about marriage finding
its way into what I’m guessing is a polished comedy act by this pair, she
the straight-man, he the wit. Circa 2009.

Wives have been complaining about husbands not doing anything around the house since everybody lived in caves, and cartoonists and comedians have used it since the first cave dweller’s stand-up act the original Improv.

Kids offer shared experience humor, too. Thanks to Catholics still relying on the rhythm method and the difficulty of getting an orchestra into the bedroom at 3:00 A.M. (bada-boom. Sorry. Dad’s joke.) and an apparent shortage of condoms plus marriage or other relationship arrangements seem to produce kids. Even Britney Spears was able to produce some.

So just about everybody has ’em or has had ’em, or at least hangs around people who have ’em.

Art Linkletter, who I had the pleasure of working with a bit in 2007, made himself famous with his TV shows and books – “Kids Say The Darndest Things. ”

Every issue of Readers Digest includes at least several amusing stories of parents and kid trouble. Dennis The Menace is one of the longest running, if not the longest running, newspaper comic in America. It has endured while countless others have come and gone, despite lacking any edginess whatsoever, because it represents universally shared experience.

Pets, another opportunity. They are the new kids, and while they may
have an ‘accident’ in the house, they rarely need bailed out of jail or require
mortgaging your house for their four year degree in feminist studies and

Most people know somebody who spoils their dog or cat, if they’re not guilty themselves, so when I talk about our Million Dollar Dog, everybody identifies and is amused by my silly behavior.

As you may know, the Million Dollar Dog does not stay in an ordinary kennel i.e. prison camp when we travel. She usually stays at The Barkley Pet Hotel and Spa. Get it? BARK-ly. There are four choices of private suites to choose from including those with pool view, dinners from menu – including steak delivered from a near-by Morton’s, TV’s, optional limo rides to get some fresh air, and, of course, play time.

Unfortunately, the Million Dollar Dog, originally Carla’s and graced with her pleasant personality, has, since hanging around me, become just a bit territorial. No longer plays well with others. Flunked the required initial evaluation by the doggie shrink and is not permitted to go to doggie day camp with the other visiting pups.

So we must pay for her extra private play-times. Belly rubs. And reading of a bedtime story and tucking in. If I could fit in the ‘suite’, I’d consider checking myself into this place the next time Carla goes out of town. At a certain age, perhaps permanently.

The Million Dollar Dog didn’t start out as such, but the little princess has become pretty high maintenance since Carla and I got back together
and I started spoiling the little furball. She even has her own leopard-print
couch with two matching pillows, about $800.00.

She now knows the difference between the approach to the regular airport terminal or the turnoff to the private terminal, and lets her objection to the first be heard. She prefers strolling up onto the plane, getting treats from the pilots and having her choice of seats.

Everybody can appreciate these Million Dollar Dog stories.

Whether they think the stories are exaggerated for effect or not doesn’t matter. And just for the record, they’re not. Last week, the Million Dollar Dog called a family meeting and brought her lawyer, to talk about our wills. With the full support of Obama’s nut-case Science Czar, who has actually advocated, in writing, that animals be represented by attorneys and welcomed in court with lawsuits against people. Trees, too.

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosper, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a man and a dog.
– Mark Twain


9:45 A.M.

My people have been making too much noise so I have gotten up. My dish is empty. This is not starting well.

10:20 A.M.

That big, bushy-haired brown thing they call a squirrel has dared to come into my lawn behind my deck. I have barked and chased the little bugger back into the woods where he belongs. Now, where’s my treat?


My nap has been disturbed by the big guy lumbering up from the basement, but it’s okay. He does this about this time everyday and gets food, and I sit and eat with him.

12:10 P.M.

I have raced downstairs and barked and reminded the big guy to feed that gray box-shaped animal in the corner. It eats paper. I like to chew paper but I wouldn’t eat it. To each his own.

12:45 P.M.

I have checked on my main dog feeder person in her office
and she seems fine.

1:20 P.M.

I have just taken a well-earned, very satisfying dump.

2:40 P.M.

That damn squirrel disturbed my afternoon nap. Eternal vigilance.

4:1O P.M.

I am waiting at the top of the stairs for the big guy. It is
past play time. He’s got a hundred clocks down there, you’d
think he could get up here on time.

4:25 P.M.

Play time.

6:00 P.M.

Dinner. Seems like I have to remind them everyday.

6:30 P.M.

I’m taking my people out for a walk. The Million Dollar Dog’s work is never done.

Anybody can develop and productively use shared experience humor.

It happens all around you, everyday. If you have kids or pets or annoying
neighbors or got snookered into trying to win a stuffed bear at a carnival
ring toss game and $412.00 later collapsed from exhaustion only to see
an 8 year old girl hit three for three on her first try or have been on
every goofy diet you can name and actually gained weight eating cabbage
soup and tofu Pop Tarts, you’ve got plenty of material. It just has to
be developed. You match it up with a sales point you can use, work
backwards from that point to structure and perfect and polish the story, write it out, memorize it, and you’ve got schtick.

Maybe the most interesting humor, though, is in the category of
guilty laughter – the stuff people feel guilty laughing at, but do. This is a unique kind of shared experience itself. We see or hear something we know we’re not supposed to find funny, but we do.

Woody Allen had a story in his old stand-up act about going to pick
up a girl for a first date, and waiting in her apartment’s small living room
while she finished getting ready. Waiting with her little dog. Bored, he
found a ball, bounced it; the dog fetched it; again; again; then, too much
on the ball, it bounced right out the window – and the dog gamely
followed it. From twenty-eight floors up.

If you tell this you will see people, mostly women, horrified at this tale. You will see disapproving looks on their faces. The punch line is: the woman comes out ready to go and Woody says, “You know, your dog seemed a little depressed.” The same people who were horrified laugh or chuckle. Guiltily.

Woody’s joke is a sophisticated version of a joke Zig Ziglar skillfully
used for years, that also created slightly guilty laughter. People knew it
was insensitive, but it was funny.

It’s the one about the neighbor asked to watch over the other’s house, feed the pet cat and even check on Grandma while they were away for a few days. The cat escaped and was run over by a car. When calling in to check on things, the neighbor was told “Cat’s dead.” The horrified caller said, “Oh my God! You couldn’t have broken that to me more gently? You could have told me the cat ran out the door, and up a tall tree. How you tried to get the cat down. How it leapt over to the roof. Slipped on a loose tile. Fell out into the street.” After a pause, the neighbor then asked, “Well, how’s Grandma?”
“She’s …… on the roof.”

To construct jokes, you need to see that Zig’s joke and Woody’s joke are the same joke. It gets the same sort of response. And either could be used with persuasive purpose.

Let me make that point about structure again. Just as direct-response
copywriters rely on certain formulaic structures for ads or sales letters, such as problem-agitate-solve or attention-interest-desire-action, comedy writers have their own portfolio of stock, off the shelf structures for jokes and stories.

If you are going to create humor for your own purposes, you need to grow
familiar with these common structures and be able to fit your own ideas or
experiences to them.

The structure of the joke told by Woody and the joke told by Zig might best be described as . . .  build-up with common, ordinary experience everyone can identify with + things suddenly go badly awry + awkwardly insensitive response by person caught in the tragedy.

Abbreviated: ordinary experience/ disaster/inappropriate response.

So, who hasn’t been tasked with watching somebody’s house, kid or pet and had chaos or disaster ensue? Who hasn’t had a first date head south early?

This, incidentally, is thecomedy structure behind the entire Curb Your Enthusiasm show on HBO, put together by and starring the hapless Larry David as himself It is also the foundation of a popular series of funny TV commercials used throughout 2009 by Southwest Airlines, all ending with the question: want to get away?

One shows a person snooping in a medicine cabinet and having all the
shelves suddenly collapse, noisily spilling everything out onto the floor with
a crash. Who hasn’t snooped in a medicine cabinet? Who hasn’t had some
embarrassing event occur, when they just wanted to get away?

My Franz-the-circus-midget story gets the same sort of reaction.
Growing horror. Guilty laughter. That little bit of schtick came, by the
way, courtesy of an actual news report on CNN, and my immediate,
inappropriate thoughts about it being funny. Quickly jotting them
down. Thank you CNN, and my condolences to Franz’ family.

These kind of jokes are a way of letting the audience into a wink-and-nod
with you, a conspiracy of sorts; that, together, today or tonight, we’re
going to be a little naughty, a little insensitive, a little politically incorrect
in our examination of the human condition. It’s a way of bonding.

When Larry The Cable guy tells one of these, he challenges his audience
with – “I don’t care who you are, now, that’s funny”, or he lowers his head in mock sorrow, saying “Oh my God. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. It’s just not right.” By about the third or fourth time he trots that out, the audience is on to him, and laughs as soon as he starts it.

Larry is, incidentally, a gimmick comic, in that his character is wholly fabricated and not him. His name isn’t Larry, he’s never worked as a cable repairman, and he’s not a hick. He is one of the richest comedians, period.

Pie In Somebody Else’s Face Is Funny

A special kind of humor-we-ought-not-laugh-at-but-do is the situation that’s funny only when it happens to the other guy.

When Pete Lillo (PeteThePrinter.com) called to tell me his tale of woe, of a flooded basement, ruined documents and computers, renting of pumps and so forth. I said: if it had to happen to one of us, better you than me.

Joan Rivers, of whom I am an enormous fan, even more so after working with her, admits that, walking down a New York street near ground zero the day after 9-11, she was thinking of jokes and how soon it might be possible to use them.

The first thing this reveals is that people who are funny think funny. Compulsively. We see comedy in just about everything, even when others would judge it wholly inappropriate.

Second, it reveals a fundamental truth: tragedy is comedy. Sometimes separated from itself by time. Sometimes when it happens to the other guy. Comedy and tragedy are very close kin, and there are only these two things separating them from each other: time, and who is at the receiving end.

There are few dark incidents for which humor can never be accepted.

9-11 might just be one of them. But deadly wildfires in California wiping
out peoples’ homes and treasured belongings have been fodder for jokes
by Leno, a very un-edgy, deliberately gentle and likeable personality. The
tragic series of events that led to the destruction of a much admired sports
hero’s life; the violent murders of two people; finally, the disgraced hero
engaged in a stupid incident in which he and a room full of scum bags
fought over his memorabilia, leading to his sentence to 8+ years in prison,
this no comedian has even thought twice about reveling in – yet tragedy
it is and has been.


Question/Answer. How Fat Was She? She Was So Fat That. ____ . Egs: How cold is it? It was so cold in Central Park that I saw squirrels with frost on their nuts. (That’s ancient, but Letterman used it this year.)

Switch. A story appearing to head in one direction, that switches abruptly at punch line. Egs.: A son says to his mother: ‘I don’t want to go to school today. No one at school likes me. The kids make fun of me. The teachers shun me. I don’t want to go. ” His mother says: “You have to go. You’re not sick. You have no excuse. And you’re 46 years old and you’re the principal” To use that, you would put a lead-in in front of it: Egs.: Sometimes we all have things we just don’t want to do, right? Like the son telling his mother …. – and afterward, you’d bridge from it to your point: maturity is doing things we don’t necessarily like or feel like doing in order to pursue objectives we really want. Another egs.: My husband is a wiz at
fixing thing; around the house. Saturday he fixed six martinis.

Chain-of-If’s. This was a very common structure used by humorous writers in the 30’s and 40’s. Egs: I had dinner last night at that new gourmet restaurant. If the oysters had been as ice-cold as the soup, if the soup had been as warm as the wine, if the wine as old as the chicken, and if the chicken as young as the waitress, it would have been terrific. Egs.: I found this Post-It Note on the Bible in the hotel nightstand drawer: If in trouble, see Psalm 50, verse 15. If unhappy, Ecclesiastes 7:3. If lonesome, Jeremiah 29: 13. If still lonesome, call 416-8740 and ask for Bambi.

Count Me Out’ isms. The most famous of these is Groucho Marx’s “I do not wish to belong to any club that would have me as a member.” Robert Benchley claimed to have applied to his bank for a loan, been approved and promptly closed all his accounts, saying “How could I trust my money with a bank that would make a loan to somebody like me?”

Definitions – Alternate Definitions. Egs.: The consummate
negative thinker is: a person who smells fresh flowers and immediately
starts looking around for the coffin. Egs. of alternate definition: Everybody knows that M.B.A. stands for More Bad Advice. But there’s a new designation: MBA- WAS. Stands for an MBA who’s Working At Starbucks.

Allusive Quotation. A familiar saying attributed (without regard
to accuracy) to a historical or famous figure, that association
providing the humor. Egs.: As Methuselah said, ‘The first hundred
years are the toughest. ‘ Or was it Joan Rivers who said that? I forget.

Analogy. I swiped these from Bob Orben to describe the manufacturing company I once ran: No two snowflakes are exactly alike. We have a production line with that same problem. It’s hard to describe our operation – picture a nervous breakdown with paychecks.

Up-Dated Situations. Egs.: They just don’t make Westerns like they used to. That new one out in the theaters is a disappointment. The
bandits rob the stage, get caught, beat the rap in court because they weren’t properly read their rights. Then they’re tried and convicted on tax evasion.

News Bulletins. Fake headlines or news stories. On stage, can be read from notes taped inside newspapers and magazines, providing props and relieving need for memorization. Another way to use the gag is with “this just in” news reports occurring throughout a speech or seminar – they can be brought to you by a messenger, or have yourself interrupted by announcer on the P.A. system.

One-Liners. The King of One-Liners was comedian Henny Youngman, and if you’re serious about using them, you need to track down a Henny Youngman jokebook. One-line jokes. Just punch lines. Hardest for non-pros to write and make work. Often delivered one right after the other by pro comedians. Egs. of mine: I was raised Lutheran – that’s Catholic without confession. We gave up saints for Lent. Short person’s: I failed to make the high school chess team because of my height. And from the great Henny Youngman: “The horse I bet on was so late getting home, he tip-toed into the stable. “

Optimist’s Statement. Optimism (and pessimism) has been the
basis for humor forever. The simplest use is a single sentence or answer given by the overt optimist. Egs. from Mark Victor Hansen: “I went in to get a loan. The banker asked for my statement. I said I was optimistic.”

Optimist-Pessimist. Structure is simple – what one says, what the other says. Egs.: The pessimistic business owner was whining about how bad things had gotten – “so bad I can’t even pay my bills.” The optimist said, “well, there’s something to be thankful for, that you’re not one of your creditors.” Egs.: Two partners owned the store, one an optimist, the other a pessimist. The store’s Saturday had been a record-breaker. “Gotta tell ya, ” the optimist says, “we’ve had more customers through here today than in any good week before.” Pessimist says: “Yeah, and if it keeps up, we’ll have to replace the damn door hinges and the carpet’ll be worn out in no time. “

Paradox. A statement in conflict with itself. Egs.: The President said: I am committed that, from now on, this government will live within our means – even if we have to borrow to do it. Longer egs.: They want you buy an airline ticket to fly to California, and stay in a pricey resort for 3 days to attend a $3,000.00 metaphysical seminar titled ‘There’s More To Life Than Money.

Quadrigrams. Four ideas, observations or instructions tied together. Egs.: Go to experts for assistance, to friends for sympathy, to strangers for charity, and to relatives – for nothing. Egs.: Magicians can live without air for minutes. Camels can go without water for days. Bears can go months without food. He’s been able to go his entire life without ideas.

Who’s The Boss~Marriage Jokes.

Egs.: Guy’s interviewing a
new executive assistant, and she’s fabulous. Can type at lightning speed with no errors, speaks three languages, used to be a travel agent, she’s perfect – except she also looks like Angelina lolie. He says: “you’ve got the job – if you’ve got a really bad driver’s license photo I can show my wife.” At a party months later, she introduces herself to the wife – ‘Tm his executive assistant.” Tom’s wife says: “Oh, were you?”
Egs: The best way to tell if a man is having fun at a party is to look at his wife’s face.

Skeptic’s Comeuppance. This can be particularly useful for
motivational/business speakers. The set-up has someone pitching an idea, a product, etc.; the skeptic reacts badly; the end has the idea man victorious. An old favorite of mine: Guy goes to see the Hollywood talent agent on audition day. The agents says : “Okay, kid, what do you do?” Guy says he does the best bird imitations of anybody who’s ever set foot on stage. The agent tells him that Ed Sullivan is dead, there’s no place for a bird imitator’s act, and to get the hell out of the office. At which point the guy flies out the window.

Time/Place, Mocked. A lot of humor comes from making fun of a place – the small town you grew up in, the place you just visited, etc. – and it is often done by using time. Egs.: They move very slowly in the Bahamas. Takes a bit of adjusting. If you ask somebody what time it is, he says: June. Egs.: I spent a year in that town one weekend. Egs.: Alaska. Guy on trial there for murder gets asked: and where were you on the night of October 23rd to March 4th? Lewis Black’s bit about the long flight to Australia is this.

Twisted Proverbs. Egs: Edison proved that the road to success is
paved with good inventions.
Egs.: If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you create a new customer for Cabela’s. Egs.: Familiarity breeds.

Story/joke with Twisted Proverb as punch line. Egs.: I was briefly a boxer. After getting beaten to a pulp and almost killed, my manager said: don’t worry about this. I’ll get you a re-match if it’s the last thing you do.

Famous Persons’ Mallapropisms & Twisted Proverbs. Egs.:From Yogi Berra: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” From
Sam Goldwyn: “It’s an impossible situation, but it has possibilities.”

Embellishment. Taking something that actually happened and turning it into a “tall tale”, enhanced with details and exaggerations to make it funny. My house-on-fire story in my basic, million dollar speech selling Magnetic Marketing is example.

Exaggerations. Egs.: My new puppy is so smart, while I was paper
training him, he learned to read.

Dark Comedy. Usually short jokes about murder, death, disaster with punch lines as likely to get gasps as laughs. Egs.: “I was married twice, ” the guy told the man next to him at the bar. “My first wife dead from eating poison mushrooms.” The other fellow acknowledges that was a horrible tragedy, then asks about his second wife. “She died too. From a fractured skull. Which she got when – she wouldn’t eat her mushrooms.”

Unlikely Situations. Mike Vance’s story about the nun on the bobsled. Usually, structurally, the entire situation described is ridiculous, then there’s a punch line of final absurdity. Woody Allen’s story about accidentally hitting a moose while en-route to a costume party, dressed as a moose; tying the moose to the fender; it coming to, coming into the party, and losing the costume contest to another person in a moose costume. Lenny Bruce used to tell a story about a child abandoned by his parents in Yellowstone National Park, raised by a pack of wild dogs, found, years later,
walking on all fours and eating raw meat … rescued … put in school
where he shocked the world by breezing through, graduating high school early, going to college and getting his Ph.D. – but tragically dying the day he graduated. Killed – chasing a car.

Comedy Has Context

Comedy has context. A guy slipping on a banana peel is funny. People
have laughed at it for 100 years. Will tomorrow. It’s funny to everybody
but the guy slipping on it.

You can show a film clip at a seminar of one person after another slipping on a peel, wildly flailing about and crashing,sliding, flopping to the ground and the audience will roar with laughter.

Or you could show video clips of ‘sports bloopers’: race car crashes, or
people being thrown off uncooperative horses, and get big laughs. Unless
you did it at a program where Christopher Reeve was speaking. Then it’s
not funny at all. But ‘it’ didn’t change. The context did.

I spoke on about 30 or 35 events where the paralyzed, wheel-chair confined
‘Superman’-actor Christopher Reeve spoke. I was very happy
that there was always one or two speakers after him, between him and

Without their buffer, I’d have had a much tougher time doing what I did at the very beginning, to stop the mass exit of the audience with humor, and to get going with humor. He made just about all humor inappropriate if immediately following him. But video of people slipping and falling definitely would have been inappropriate.

Only a few things stay off limits forever. Sam Kinison is the only stand-up comic I’ve ever heard do JFK jokes – and rather viscious ones. 40 years after the fact, JFK is not funny.

Clinton, however, is the Rodney Dangerfield of Presidents. He gets no respect. You can say he threw away right to it himself. But you could also do jokes about pretty much the same behavior in both Presidents, although JFK had better taste.

And, as far as we know, his activities involved no Cuban cigars. Cuba yes, but no cigars. Tragic death is therefore a context, as is enduring popularity
with the public.

Race makes certain things dangerous. You can make fun of Sarah
Palin for goofy, witless remarks, and outright call her stupid – and offend
only diehard conservative supporters of hers. But if you do the same with Barack Obama, say for his assertion that if we all just kept our tires properly inflated, there’d be no need to drill for oil and our energy crisis
would be solved, or for his umbilical cord connected to tele-prompters, and you run risks beyond offending; you risk being presumed and labeled a racist. Race, therefore, is a context.

“There’s something dangerous about what’s funny. Jarring and disconcerting. There is a connection between funny and scary.”

– Christopher Walken

Another context is what the audience expects from you and how they
relate to you. Rickles’ act is dangerous by today’s standards, but Rickles is beloved by his audiences; they know what to expect; they go in hopes
of being insulted. We went to see the big, tall guy from Everybody Loves
Raymond in Las Vegas and to our dismay found he’d stolen Rickles’ act
and did it dirtier and more viciously, with less humanity. Worse, none of
us expected anything like it from him. We didn’t laugh much. We were
uncomfortable. We left with a bad taste in our mouths.

In my world, it’s never just about getting laughs.

That’s easier than what I do, and what you probably need to do. If all you want is an audience convulsed in laughter, you can work dirty. Or you can just deliver schtick, like “You Might Be A Redneck If” – with no concern
whatsoever about offending anybody in the audience who does live in
a trailer park or who does come from Appalachia.

Or you can do fat chick jokes like Larry The Cable Guy, and if there are a few overweight women and their husbands sacrificed in a crowd of a thousand, so what?

But we use humor for the purpose of advancing a sale, for the purpose of persuading people to embrace certain ideas, so the risk of offense or alienation has to be considered, and whether or not the humor moves the
case being made forward has to be top priority.

For us, there is that extra context to consider – the context of the sales
presentation. With rare exception, nothing belongs in a sales presentation that doesn’t somehow advance the making of the sale.

You can’t just stick your favorite story in because it’s your favorite story and you tell it well; it has to contribute to the making of the sale you are tasked with making. Obviously, then, anything that might detract or distract from advancing the sale almost certainly does not belong and needs jettisoned  or avoided.

Figuring out what’s funny and then writing or talking about it in a funny way is important, but, while a comedian’s job may stop with that, ours does not.

We must figure out what’s funny and that can be used to advance the sale and does not distract from or endanger the sale, then write or talk about it in a funny way that advances the sale and does not distract from or endanger the sale.


THERE’S A SPOT in my AI The Plumber story* where, after describing him in suit, carrying attaché case, I say that nothing about him resembles a plumber except the little cloth patch sewn on his suit coat pocket that says Al. That always gets a laugh. I’ve never been sure that I understand why.

But as soon as it did, I altered the voice inflection and pauses to give it even more emphasis – and it gets bigger laughs. That’s one of the things you have to do as a speaker using humor: try things out and let the audience tell you what they find funny.

Anytime they do, then work on that little bit of material and the way you deliver it to make it funnier. (*See this story in print, pages 382-386 of My Unfinished Business, Glazer-Kennedy/Advantage edition.)


Dan is very, very, very good at getting people to laugh and connect with him and leading them to listen very closely to what he says and buy his shit when he asks them to. I’ve admired his skills for years. But he’d never talked about how important it was to master this skill and how to do go about doing it in this kind of depth.

Well, now he has and if you do any kind of content marketing, you need this book, “Make ‘Em Laugh & Take Their Money’s” wisdom deposited into your bank of knowledge.

You might not think you’re a funny person but rest assured, he’s thought of that and has answers to this inside the book. No marketer has any excuse not to seize the opportunities waiting for them in this resource.

What I’d a love to seen was a live seminar where he’s delivering all these examples and showing the importance of timing and how you can master it. I’m sure it’ll make it into some special info-summit special presentation someday.

That’s all for today. You’ve got book buying or book reading (if you already own this) to get on and I’ve got more work to do.

Talk soon,

Lewis LaLanne a.k.a. Note Taking Nerd #2 a.k.a. L.L. Cool Nerd.

PS. At Dan Kennedy’s Influential Writing seminar he didn’t get to go deep on humor but he did talk for almost 2 days about the other different kinds of stories you need to be including in your small business marketing strategies. and you can click here now to see the full notes on this $12, 500 dollar seminar.

insert the stephen king link in here somewhere too.