Monday, February 06, 2012

Presenation Tips - Ethnic Expressions Are Funny Only If You Are Ethnic

Another well-known humorist, Doc Blakely, does a dialect bit that has been very successful, but he is extremely good at it. When using dialects, if you are not good at the particular dialect, it appears you are mocking the ethnic group to which it belongs.

There are lots of funny ethnic sayings and words. Try to resist using them unless you are making fun of your own background. In a business setting, it is much too risky to joke about another person's race, religion, or dialect.

If you are Polish, it may be OK to tell a Polish joke now and then. If you are Jewish, you are the only one who really knows about matzo balls, schmatas and schnooks. Remember both Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butts and Secretary of the Interior James Watt were forced to resign because of "Jokes that were deemed insensitive and insulting to minorities." If you want to use ethnic humor, use Outer Slobovia or some other OBVIOUSLY comic, nonexistent country in your jokes.

You certainly cannot get away with any profanity or off-color (blue humor) jokes in a professional presentation. The most serious consequence I ever heard of with regard to using off-color humor was reported in the July 7, 1996 issue of the Washington Post. It seems that Captain Ernie Blanchard, a career military man with a virtually perfect record and no apparent emotional problems, committed suicide after telling a dozen or so dirty jokes at a Coast Guard Academy dinner in 1995. The initial investigation, which apparently drove him to his end, concluded that telling those jokes to 117 people constituted willful sexual harassment. This is obviously an extreme case, but it is representative of a politically correct atmosphere that must never be forgotten when you are the one at the microphone.

Along the same lines, you will never be invited back to speak if you use any jokes that make fun of a person's disability. Jokes on the subjects of stuttering, lisping, or amputees will no longer be tolerated and the consequences to your career can be devastating.

Techniques for making more money per speech.

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