Humor Speech at IHOP: Comedy, Leadership, and Pancakes

Humor Speech at IHOP: Comedy, Leadership, and Pancakes


I recently gave a speech on writing humor at the International House of Pancakes. Being a leader of humor is always fun, because people universally love comedy; however all humor isn’t created equal. Here are the top 3 things I learned from sharing my message on humor at the IHOP.


1.      People Love Humor

This gig was for the California Writer’s Club, and apparently my topic drew a large crowd. One man came over to me and said that he doesn’t usually come to these meetings but when he saw that the speaker would be sharing a humor message, he wanted to come. A few others would look at me as a source of info in terms of a “how-to” speaker, which is fine. I understood that many of the speakers for a group like this speak on publishing, marketing, using social media, and other “business-of-a-successful-writer” type subjects, but my speech was designed to be different. It was meant to give insight and encouragement on how we can inject humor into our work, and why we would want to do this in the first place.


2.      Doing a Speech on Humor is Often Similar to Doing Stand-Up

Just like in a comedy club, I had an audience that was constantly judging me, and I had to judge them back just the same. Most of the folks came to laugh, be entertained, or at least learn more about how to generate laughs in their writing projects. Just like at a comedy club I had people come over to me and share their favorite jokes or comics. I even had one heckler.

While you would expect this audience to be more polite and courteous than, say, a room full of drunks at a dive bar (and they definitely were), I had one guy that told me what he really felt, after the speech. As I was mingling with folks afterwards, I walked over to a gentleman who looked as though he had just received an unfavorable diagnosis from his doctor. I started off asking, “I hope you got something out of that speech?” He looked at me and said, “Well, I can give you some feedback if you want. Do you really want some feedback?”

At this point I knew that what was about to come would not be pretty. I prepared myself mentally to get trashed. So, he proceeded to let me know all the things that were bad about the presentation. He said it was boring, full of rambling, not interactive enough, used handouts which were distractions, that I was a performer and I didn’t perform, and used my examples poorly (among other things). I nodded, smiled, and thanked him for letting me know. While he didn’t say anything during the speech, I realized this was the closest thing to having a heckler for this particular gig. Like any heckler, I had to shake it off. A few moments later I spoke to the meeting facilitator, Lisa, who saw what was happening and assured me that she sort of expected that from that particular individual. No big deal, there’s always going to be one person who doesn’t like what you do.

3.      Make the Most of Your References

One of the points of the speech was to relate to your audience. While I mainly used references to performers, shows, and authors that I felt were fairly safe, every so often I knew I probably was stretching. This was mainly an “over 40” crowd and so I was careful not to talk about Lady Gaga, Conan O’Brien, Miley Cyrus, or the like. I did make reference to Family Guy which might have been unknown to some of my audience, however I spoke about it to illustrate my point about the beauty of extreme absurdity, and frankly, there is no better example out there over the past decade that I think speaks to that subject. When I spoke about parody, I used Weird Al as the example, but afterward someone asked me what parody was and then she told me she didn’t know who he was, and I realized that he wasn’t as universally known as I originally thought (even though I argue he has been infused in pop culture quite often over the past 30 years).  Still, sticking to references like Seinfeld is ideal because if he isn’t a household name, I don’t know who is.

Overall, leading the topic of humor to a group of writers at the IHOP was a good experience. How many comedians can say they have performed at the International House of Pancakes? Honestly, this is something I am proud to have on my resume. I hope that wherever I might be in the future, I’ll be able to continue to share the message of using humor—it’s an important message, and one that could, even if only slightly, make the world a better place.

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Maple Syrup on Pancakes


One Response to Humor Speech at IHOP: Comedy, Leadership, and Pancakes

  1. Chris says:

    Way to put it out there! Comedy is the hardest art form to master and has a funny way (no pun intended LOL) of weening people out of the business.

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