We all appreciate people who can reliably bring the funny. Most of us can bring the funny ourselves, occasionally.
But humour is like a bird in the wild. It sings when it thinks it’s alone. When it knows it’s being watched, when it senses a performance is expected of it, it clams up.
The easiest way to kill an otherwise funny newspaper column is to run it under the section head “Humour.” Or worse: “The Rib Tickler,” or some such.
“Hey Uncle George, do that funny thing with your ears!” my sisters and I would often say when the poor man visited, grabbing him by the lapels of his ill-fitting suit. “Oh, I don’t do that any more,” he’d say — proceeding, then, of course, to do it. (He could wiggle his ears. Don’t ask me how.) George just needed to ratchet down the pressure.
Professional nightclub comedians must have the cojones of Navy Seals as they get up and face a paying crowd sitting with their arms crossed, like: ‘make me friggen’ laugh.’
Fortunately, Toastmasters isn’t like that. It’s a supportive environment. Everyone wants you to be successful, they want you to be funny, they’re primed to guffaw at anything issuing from your mouth that’s even remotely amusing.
But even at that, “humorous speech” contests are among the most daunting gig in the TM arsenal. So each of the participants in this week’s VanCore’s humorous speech contest deserved medals for bravery.
The early money was on Niki for her speech about a Thanksgiving turkey that put up a fight. But she unfortunately went beyond her allotted time and was dq’d. (The TM clock is a cruel mistress.)
In the Table Topics portion of the contest, contestants Lorne, Patrick, Niki, Angela and Mary Lou tackled the question: “If you could change one thing about Vancouver, what would it be?”
Four outside judges — three from the Declarations club and one from Earth Aware – as well as our own head judge Connie declared Angela the winner.
In theory, Angela now moves on to represent Vancore in the Area contest next week. But since Angela can’t make it, Niki will appear in her stead — possibly going another round with that turkey.
The Area Contest takes place Oct 1, 7pm, at the Roundhouse.