Saver Lines are what you say when your supposedly humorous statement does not get a laugh. You shouldn't be ashamed to have to use saver lines. The top comedians in the world need them and some purposely make mistakes so they can get a laugh from the saver line. Johnny Carson was an expert at this. After a poor response to a joke he would say a comically insulting line like, "May an aroused herd of Yaks make an everlasting commitment to your sister" or "This is the kind of crowd that would watch Bambi through a sniper scope." When it comes to saver lines there are two schools of thought:
THE FIRST SCHOOL OF THOUGHT is used more by comics and speakers who use a very high percentage of humor. This method is most effective when a speaker shows a high confidence level and is fairly experienced. Say a witty, mildly attacking line to force them to laugh after they didn't laugh at your joke or one-liner.
=> Do any of you out there speak English?
=> I've got a book for sale outside that explains these jokes. You may want to pick up a copy.
=> (If one person is laughing) Will you be kind enough to run around the room so it looks like everyone is having fun?
=> You have marvelous self-control.
=> I've got 20 more bad jokes just like that one and no one gets out until you start laughing.
=> [Pick out a well-known person in the crowd] Joe that's the last time I'm using one of your jokes.
=> I know you're out there, I can hear you breathing.
=> I was waiting on you a little on that one.
=> That was a Polaroid joke. It takes one minute to get it.
=> Everyone doesn't have to be funny all the time and I just proved it.
THE SECOND SCHOOL OF THOUGHT is used by less experienced speakers and speakers who don't use much humor anyway.
If you don't use a high percentage of humor, the audience may not realize what you said was meant to be funny. All you have to do is keep right on talking and delivering your message (do give them a short pause to give them a chance to laugh). As long as your humor is making a point, you will be forgiven if it is not tremendously funny.
TRICK: (advanced technique): Purposely set up a mistake or marginally funny joke so you can use a saver line.
TRICK: If no one laughs, you laugh. They think they are stupid because they didn't laugh. Then they laugh.