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Re-Engineer Your Communication Strategies – Leaders With A Sense Of Humor…You Have To Be Joking!

Dave Hill, The Re-Engineered Engineer. Speaker, Trainer, Author, and Speech Coach

Dave Hill, The Re-Engineered Engineer. Speaker, Trainer, Author, and Speech Coach

Leading with humor

  • Make use of levity to get your point across
  • A leader’s humorous remarks can diffuse tension

According to a Robert Half International survey, 91% of executives agree that a sense of humor is important for career advancement; 84% believed that people with a good sense of humor do a better job.

A Bell Leadership study revealed that the two most desirable traits in a leader were a strong work ethic and a healthy sense of humor.

Successful communication in the business world includes delivering information in a format that will convince people to agree and take action. Creating a tone in the room to enhance candor, participation, and collaboration can drive success.  The following are two examples of leaders capitalizing on the use of levity.

1) A friend was travelling to the corporate office to convince senior executives to spend $20+ million on equipment upgrades.  When I met him the evening after his presentation he was glowing with success.  His presentation went extremely well and he was successful in gaining consensus.

My friend confessed that about 15 minutes before his presentation, he became very nervous.  He only relaxed when one of the executives started the conversation with some witty, humorous remarks – a great example of leading by setting a relaxed tone that facilitated open communication.

As a leader, wouldn’t you want your employees to feel that they can be candid and provide you with all the pro’s and con’s of a situation? Imagine if meeting participants are intimidated to the point that they give you the information that they feel you would like to hear rather than the possible negative outcomes.

2) Another example of incorporating humor was at a technical engineering meeting.  Highly technical and opinionated engineers had flown in from around the world to decide what research programs would be funded.   Nearly one million dollars was available for the research, although that would only be enough to fund a few of the projects.   After hearing presentations that outlined the benefits of each research program, the technical experts would be wheeling and dealing to make sure funding votes went toward programs that would benefit their needs.

Before the meeting started, the president of the research company had an unusual request of the 50 or so attendees:  Introduce yourself and tell what your first-ever job was.   Engineers chuckled about being dishwashers in restaurants, farm hands and landscapers.  There was laughter when someone pointed out a notable trend of the Irish in the group having worked in pubs before college. This simple icebreaker, which identified common ground and humble beginnings, set the stage for cordial dialogue during tough negotiations.

WHAT EASY THINGS CAN YOU DO TO ENHANCE THE SUCCESS OF MEETINGS?

Think about the things that you can do to incorporate levity, relax the atmosphere, and encourage cordial interaction among the participants. Some options include:

  1. Turn up early for meetings to have casual conversations with others who arrive early.
  2. Incorporate icebreaker activities that are appropriate for your audience and the occasion.
  3. Start the meeting with an amusing story that relates to the content of the meeting and that the audience can relate to.
  4. Poke fun at yourself or a situation.

How Sniffing Shoes Helps Me Make Great Decisions!

 

Dave Hill – Speaker, Author, Trainer, and Speech Coach

Visualize a crowded, noisy, hole-in-the-wall restaurant in in Louisiana, USA. The pretty waitress comes over to the table and starts taking the drink orders. I order a local beer and she asks if I would like the small one or a large one. My friends look at me and smile with the knowledge that a large beer is going to be my obvious choice. I hummed and hawed with a smile on my face, and then said to the waitress, “If my shoe smells I will have a large one.” I simultaneously took off my shoe, pretended to sniff it, looked at the waitress and stated, “Looks like I will be having a large beer tonight!” The table erupted in laughter while the waitress shook her head with an “I can’t believe you just did that” expression on her face.

Fast forward six months and I am in a hotel bar with a group of project engineers. Prior to dinner, I was making small talk with the middle-aged African-American barmaid. I was telling her that I am a proud Irishman, but I have also acquired Canadian citizenship when I lived in Canada, and that I had recently become an American citizen. I told her that I consider myself a proud Irish-Amer-a-Canadian. She smiled and then I went on to state that I really want a fourth citizenship, that I really want to be African-Irish. The very dark skinned barmaid doubled over with laughter, stumbling away from the bar, laughing hysterically with tears rolling down her eyes. She then shouted playfully to my coworkers, “You guys can explain it to him!” 

If there is one thing I love, it is making people laugh. It is a character trait that has evolved over a period of 30 years. People sometimes say that that they are not very funny. I assure them that developing the ability to make people laugh is a process, and the easiest starting point is to try safe humor by making fun of themselves or of situations. One of the easiest ways of finding humor is to use amusing anecdotes or stories to portray your physical characteristics or character traits. The following are my brainstorming examples with videos that demonstrate the techniques in action.

My Physical Appearance

  1. Overweight
    • If I am trying out new trousers, I will ask my wife the obvious question: “Do these make my rear end look fat?”
  2. Bald
  3. Short
    • If I am standing behind a lectern I might say, “Can you see me now, can you see me now?”
  4. Glasses
  5. Grey hair
  6. Multi-cultural
    • The vignette at the beginning of this article demonstrates how I incorporate levity with my Irish-Amer-a-Canadian citizenships)

My Character Traits

  1. Frugal
    • I tell people that in frugal Ireland we would sit around a candle in winter to keep warm. When it got very cold, my dad would light it!
  2. Humorous
  3. Irish
    • In my speech introduction I sometimes tell people that I am originally from an island off of Texas.
    • If it is raining I joke that it is like a summer’s day in Ireland. I tell people that we would be on the beach on a light rain day like today.
  4. Storyteller
  5. Tough
  6. Tenacious
  7. Detailed
  8. Bad listener
    • When I try and remember the short grocery list my wife gives me I sometimes forget by the time I reach the store, so I just buy a six pack of beer. I joke that if you are going to be in the doghouse, you may as well be in the doghouse with beer!
  9. Emotional
    • While zip lining in Costa Rica my kids discovered I scream loudly, like a little girl!
  10. Bad memory
    • When bringing my wife’s car to the muffler shop many years ago I got 3 miles from home and discovered I was driving my car. I do not do errands in a caffeine deficient state anymore!
  11. Personable
  12. Helpful
  13. Colorblind
  14. Beer drinker
  15. I make mistakes
  16. I pack for business trips at the last minute
  17. Mischief
    • The family goal is to try and get my brother in law to eat a Brussels sprout, and we use disguise methods such as dipping them in chocolate.
  18. Terrible at buying gifts for my wife

Poking Fun at Yourself Using a Contrary Point of View

At the National Speakers Association of North Texas (NSA/NT) meeting in 2012 we were privileged to have Stand-Up Comedienne Judy Carter teach us some humor development techniques. She suggested that you identify the most embarrassing thing that people might be commenting about you behind your back, and to find humor by identifying the advantages of this defect. In stand-up comedy this technique is commonly known as the Contrary Point of View.

If I take my physical characteristic of being short I can brainstorm to find some levity that I could potentially put to use:

  1. Being short is great; when I stand up on most airplanes my head does not touch the overhead luggage rack. At last there is an advantage to being short.
  2. I like it when polite people use the cliché, “Good things come in small packages”. This misconception helps me get away with being evil at times!
  3. I love being short with small feet. At 50+ years old I still buy shoes in the “young men’s” section of the store.
  4. I love being short. When I see a sign that says “mind your head” I smile thinking that this is just another way the world punishes tall people!
  5. Being short is exciting. I feel a sense of adventure and achievement when I manage to retrieve crockery from the top shelf of a kitchen cupboard without injury.
  6. Being short is practical. When I go back to the family house in Ireland I still fit in the same bed that I had when I was 5 years old!

 What are the forums that you can poke fun at yourself?

Before I use humor or witticisms, I ask myself the question, “Is this a suitable place and time to incorporate levity? Is it appropriate for the occasion and the audience?”

  1. Use any occasion to get a chuckle out of people: in the elevator, at the water cooler, while having lunch etc.
  2. Turning up at meetings and presentations early to build rapport with people as they arrive helps build likeability.
  3. During meetings and presentations, use humor to illuminate points and to try and deflect any negative comments or potential hostility.
  4. Incorporating levity to technical or other serious subjects can help keep people engaged.

Exercise:

To find some potentially humorous content, make a list of everything relating to your:

1)      Physical appearance & character traits

2)      Identify any anecdotes that relate to these characteristics

3)      Use the contrary point of view to identify the advantages of your “defect”

4)      Practice telling the anecdotes or witticisms and take note of the ones that are most effective

5)      Use any appropriate opportunity to try these out (friends, family, meetings, presentations)

 

When Engineers Try to be Funny!

Dave Hill – Speaker, Trainer, Author, and Speech Coach

If I was to ask you to visualize an engineer presenting clearly and concisely, illuminating his points with stories and humor you would probably scowl with skepticism. The following is an example of an engineer who is dedicated to being an exceptional presenter.

In February 2012 an African engineer was presenting to his peers on a technical subject. He was new to the company and wanted to make a good impression.

He opened his presentation with a funny anecdote of when he was in the US army in Afghanistan. While driving the army Hummer, there was an American officer in the passenger seat. They were in the danger zone of a remote area when the Hummer’s engine overheated and steam billowed out the front. The officer shouted out, “Pop the hood” but was surprised when the African engineer frantically put on his gas mask while shouting out, “Gas, gas, gas,” and simultaneously making the gas alert signal with his arms.

In colonial Africa, the hood of a car is called the bonnet. The African engineer in a moment of panic concluded that the term “pop the hood” meant put on your gas mask and protective hood.

The audience of engineers laughed loudly and the engineer then transitioned into his technical presentation. He used the analogy of the human body parts utilized to safely cross the road to depict the components of a computerized safety system that manage industrial chemical plant hazards.

 

Why was this engineer successful?

  • He was fully prepared for his presentation from development to delivery.
  • He got input from his boss beforehand who advised him to cut out many of the slides.
  • He discussed his presentation with someone who would be in the audience and learned that some people would not be familiar with the technical terms associated with the components. That led him to using the analogy of someone crossing the road in traffic to explain the various components of a computerized safety control system.
  • He used an amusing story at the beginning of his presentation that helped him engage his audience and build his likeability.
  • He practiced his presentation to get feedback on his delivery skills.
  • His slides were illuminated with pictures and easy to read headline-type statements. He minimized the use of wordy sentences and bullet points.
  • He broke down the technical data and converted it into information chunks that could easily be visualized and understood.

 

Leading With Humor

Dave Hill – Presentation skills Excellence

One of the most unusual stories I have heard regarding Leading With Humor was at a technology exchange conference. A senior executive did the opening keynote. During his speech he emphasized the need to take risks, to push the barriers of technology, and to make the incredible credible. He stated that this will unfortunately result in some mishaps. He went on to say that for any leading edge technology firm to excel, risks must be taken, and mistakes need to be tolerated.

He then told three anecdotes that depicted some of the errors he had made during his career. At the end of each vignette he took a raw egg out of his pocket, put it on the palm of his hand, and smashed it on his forehead to symbolize “egg on his face”.

Presentation skills excellence in the business world includes delivering information in a format that will convince people to agree and act. What sometimes gets forgotten is the need to incorporate a tone in the room that will enhance your ability to succeed. The following are two examples where executives capitalized on the utilization of levity:

1) An acquaintance was asked to travel to the corporate office to present to senior executives. They wanted him to explain why he needed to spend $75 million on specific equipment upgrades. His allotted presentation time was to be about 1 hour. He told me that he spent a lot of time on the presentation and initially developed over 100 PowerPoint slides! After coaching he understood what the content of his presentation should contain and that all he needed was about 10 slides (some other slides would be available as back-up slides if they needed additional details).

I met my acquaintance the evening after his presentation and he was glowing with success. His presentation went extremely well and he was successful in convincing them of the need to upgrade the aging equipment.

He confessed that about 15 minutes before his presentation, he became very nervous. He stated that he only relaxed when one of the executives started off the conversation with some witty remarks.

This example of an executive literally leading with lighthearted humor, led to a more relaxed and open communication.

2) Another example of an executive using lighthearted humor to set the stage for cordial communication was at a technical engineering meeting that I attended. Highly technical and opinionated engineers had flown in from all around the world to decide what research programs would be funded the next year. There was nearly $1 million available for the research; however it would only be enough to fund a few of the projects. There would be presentations outlining the benefits of each of the research programs. Following the presentations, the technical experts would be wheeling and dealing to make sure funding votes went towards programs that would benefit their specific needs.

Before the meeting started, the president of the research company asked the 50 + attendees to introduce themselves, and also had an unusual request. He asked that everyone disclose what their first ever job was. As people introduced themselves, they talked about being dish washers in restaurants, farm hands, landscapers, and there was also a notable trend that the Irish worked in pubs before going to college! The atmosphere in the room became somewhat lighthearted, and this simple icebreaker exercise identified common and humble grounding amongst the group.

If you are presenting or if someone is presenting to you, think about the things you can do to relax the atmosphere and encourage cordial interaction amongst the participants.

  • What icebreaker activities would be appropriate for your audience?
  • Could you open up the meeting with an amusing story that somehow relates to the content of the meeting and that the audience can relate to?
  • Can you poke fun at yourself or a situation?

Use Humor When Presenting To Upper Management? You have to be Kidding!

In March 2011, I was presenting a one-hour keynote on presentation skills for technical people. I was asked a great question: “Is it appropriate to use humor when delivering presentations to upper management?” The answer is yes.

I asked Michael Kerr, award-winning Hall of Fame speaker, author, and the North American expert on humor in the workplace to put together some detailed guidance on this subject. The following are his words of wisdom:

How to Use Humor with Managers – Without Getting Fired!

People often ask me if it’s appropriate to use humor in business presentations, to which my response is always, “Only if you want to be effective and successful.”

When used appropriately, incorporating humor in any presentation helps you keep the audience not just awake (always a good thing), but fully engaged.

Humor can help you come across as more authentic, which in turn helps the audience like and trust you more. Remember, if the audience is going to buy your message, they have to first buy you. (There’s a reason, after all, that Jon Stewart of The Daily Show tops polls as “the most trustworthy journalist.”)

Because humor creates an emotional response, chances are your audience will retain the information longer. It increases the likelihood that people will act on the information you deliver. Humor can also be an amazing reframing tool, helping both you and your audience to see old ideas in new ways.

Finally, humor is one of the best ways to manage your nerves. Sharing a little humor is one of the best ways to beat the butterflies, boost your confidence, and keep you relaxed, spontaneous and in the moment. The more relaxed you are, the more relaxed and receptive the audience will be.

“But what about using humor when my boss is in the audience? And my boss’s boss? And the entire head honcho team from corporate office? Isn’t there a chance I’ll come across as not taking the talk seriously?”

When people ask me this question I always remind them that, chances are, their senior management team is comprised of real human beings. In other words, all the benefits of using humor apply regardless of who’s in the audience. In fact, using smart, effective humor could make you stand out and shine in front of your boss. And if senior managers realize how effective your approach is with the entire audience, they might just be persuaded to practice a little less déjà moo (“the feeling you’ve heard this bull before”) and lighten up themselves the next time they have to present.

And I’m not suggesting for a moment you take either the audience or the topic lightly – it’s largely about taking yourself lightly in order to take your audience and talk seriously.

Now, having said that, here are three R’s to keep in mind when you flex your funny bone in the presence of your managers:

Respect Your Audience. Important in any talk, this is doubly important when senior managers are present. Which means when it comes to humor, stay even further away than you normally would from any off-color jokes. So no racist, sexist, ethnic, religious, sarcastic, or political humor.

Rule number one with any presentation is “know thy audience.” So know that senior managers tend to be extra sensitive about inappropriate use of humor. The good news is that when I’m talking about using humor in your presentation, I’m not suggesting you turn your talk into a night club act and start cracking jokes. There is an entire universe of funny research stats, hilarious quotes, funny anecdotes, funny cartoons, or even funny props that involve safe, clean, harmless humor.

Also be respectful of your boss’s position, especially when their boss is also present. Maybe you have the kind of relationship where you are comfortable kidding around with your boss when it’s just you and her, but others in the room may not know that and an offhand comment taken in the spirit of fun by your boss might be viewed as suspect by others in the room.

Be Real. Ninety percent of the battle when it comes to public speaking is simply being comfortable in your own skin. You’re not giving a performance; in fact, it might help to remind yourself that you’re not even giving a speech. All you’re doing is having a conversation with a roomful of folks.

Whenever I’ve coached senior leaders, it amazes me to see the difference in their posture, tone of voice and entire demeanor when they slip up and laugh at themselves. Humor, as one of the most human characteristics of all, helps us come across as more authentic. And if you come across more real in the presence of managers, you’ll also come across as more confident and competent.

Now, making jokes about a core competency related to your position on the topic at hand might just make you come across as insecure or incompetent, not always the best career move when speaking in front of your senior managers. However, laughing at your receding hairline or cracking a joke when you lose your place in your talk can help you come across as humble and honest.

Be Relevant. You are there to deliver a message that is relevant to the particular audience in front of you, not to entertain them. Humor is simply one of the delivery vehicles you’re using to make sure the relevant information gets imparted effectively.

You’ll score big points with senior managers when you take the time to understand their concerns and deliver a talk that is targeted specifically to them. So always plan your presentation around what your key messages are, and then look for ways to enhance it by incorporating relevant humor.

Several studies suggest that when presenters use humor even with dry subject matter such as university level statistic courses, audiences rate speakers’ credibility higher when the humor they used was relevant to the topic. Using relevant humor shows that you understand the subject matter so well that you can play with it to find the humor buried inside it.

The bonus of using relevant humor effectively is that by getting your audience to laugh and think at the same time, you are effectively killing two birds with one rubber chicken. So even if the humor doesn’t produce the laugh you were hoping for, it doesn’t matter because you’ve still delivered your point if you focus first and foremost on the message you’re trying to deliver. The humor is simply the icing on the cake.

If done right, relevant humor will also get you the biggest laughs in your talk. I constantly see “Bob from accounting” get huge laughs at conferences I am speaking at because Bob has referred to some inside joke that only the people in that room understand. So doing a little research and finding some insider humor that will resonate with the managers in the audience will pay off in spades.

And if you do dig up some insider humor that involves one of your managers but you’re not entirely sure if it falls under the category of “safe humor,” then err on the side of caution by asking permission before hand. Most managers see the benefit of being included in the humor because, like politicians who scramble to appear on late night comedy shows, they recognize that it helps humanize them in front of all the employees.

If you’re serious about being a more polished and persuasive presenter and want to incorporate more relevant humor in your talks, then start a few humor files related to the different topics you speak on. Collect funny newspaper articles, magazine clippings, weird trivia, or amazing stats related to the different topics. Once you start a few humor files, selective perception kicks in and you’ll start seeing more humor everywhere in your day to day life.

Michael Kerr is an award-winning Hall of Fame speaker and the author of “Putting Humor to Work.”  For more resources and articles, cruise on over to www.humoratwork.com or contact Michael directly at mike@mikekerr.com

 

 

Understanding Your Personal Sense of Humor – The First Irish Rocket Ship

Dave Hill – Presentation Skills Excellence

My youngest brother is an example of someone who has developed a strong, zany sense of wit. The understatement of the day is that he is personable and finds the funny and crazy side of day to day happenings.

One of the best examples of him in top form was when we were visiting the Guinness Brewery in Ireland several years ago. While in one of the main brewery buildings, we noticed a group of tourists with a guide who was telling them the historical details of when the brewery started producing Guinness in1759. Behind the guide was a huge copper vat, a piece of old brewing equipment that would have been used over 100 years ago. It was a large, bulbous vat tapering off at the top into a narrower section. On the upper part of the narrow section was an observation port that looked a bit like a ship’s porthole. This might have been something the brewer used to observe the brewing process or to add ingredients, such as hops.

Before you could blink an eye, my brother was standing in front of the crowd, blocking the view of the guide behind him, and he had taken over the historical talk. The crowd stood in fascination as he told them that the copper vessel was in fact the first Irish spaceship and the window at the top was where the astronaut sat on a deckchair drinking Guinness during takeoff. The crowds of tourists were frowning at first, wondering what had happened to the guide and who this stranger was. Then they realized that they were being taken for a ride by an Irishman with a wacky sense of humor. As he continued his Blarney (Irish slang for nonsense talk) he got them rolling in laughter and his historical depictions got wilder and wilder.

We then worked our way up to the drinking section of the brewery where there is a glass cube-type structure high above the city of Dublin; there were people from all over the world to chat to, and pretty smiling barmaids handing out free Guinness. They call this area the Gravity Bar. For any Irishman this was like dying and going to heaven, and my first words to the barmaid were, “Are you an angel?!” She smiled, chuckled, shook her head in fake annoyance, and started pouring nice creamy pints of Guinness. Life is good!

Finding Your Unique Sense of Humor and Nourishing It:
Making a decision to commit to learning the process of developing and delivering humor is a step you will never regret. It takes dedication and a lot of trial and error, and there will be times that you say to yourself, “That was funny, why did the audience not laugh at that?” and there will be times that they laugh at things that you consider innocuous and you think to yourself, “OK, now why did they find that funny?” The day you step in front of an audience to try out humorous material and you get them rolling with laughter, is a day you will never forget. Imagine you have just delivered a humorous story, the audience is laughing, and you consciously have to let them continue to laugh before you speak your next line. You are focusing on keeping a straight face and you feel the elation from success. As the laughter starts to dissipate you continue, and the audience erupts into an even bigger frenzy. The humor you develop can be honed and you will find that much of it can be used over and over again with different audiences, and can be used to illuminate different points.

One of the initial steps is to gain an understanding of what makes you laugh. If you are delivering material that you do not find particularly funny, why should you expect your audience to laugh?

The following are some of my day to day chuckles, humor, or motivational occurrences that I have been writing down anytime they come to mind. I have been writing them in Twitter (davehillspeaks) which forces me to catch the essence of the vignette in a 140 character online forum. It is important to understand that the “seed” for humor typically starts off at the chuckle level. It can then be turned into humor through careful wording choice and incorporating enhancements such as vivid visual descriptions.

The following exercise is to help you identify what kind of things you find amusing and why. Another thing to watch out for is what you find somewhat offensive. Only use humor that you are comfortable delivering, and what is appropriate for the audience and the occasion.

1) Circle the ones you find amusing and write down why.
For Example – “My dog had cancer surgery. My mother in law said that $840 was a lot to spend on an old dog. My mother in law is 80…and needs hip surgery!” The reason someone might like this is because they can relate to an elderly person making an off the cuff remark that can be viewed another way.
2) Circle the ones you find inappropriate or eyebrow raising and write down why.
For Example – “My Canadian-Hungarian wife has a Christmas tradition of baby Jesus bringing gifts. In Ireland it’s Santa Claus. Is Jesus-Claus a compromise?”
3) Start capturing your own daily chuckle observations.
This process will help your brain become alert to life’s humor that you might not otherwise notice. The importance of this should not be underestimated and it requires very little effort. You just need a system to capture the essence of your observations to start this process. I use tiny Post It Notes that are in my wallet, in my car, and on my kitchen table for immediate note taking. I then transcribe them into other filing systems, including Twitter.

Some reasons you might have a preference for specific vignettes might be:
1. Relating to the content through your own experiences – Example: On the airport rental-car bus & the idiot driver was peering at his computer & swerving. I asked him if I could change my rental car to a hearse.
2. Making fun of yourself – Example: I told the presentation skills class to avoid walking through the projector light. Tried to demonstrate, but I was too short to block the light!
3. Visual images are strong – Example: Canadian research shows that if you run at a bear, it will run away 9 out of 10 times. I wonder how much they pay the poor intern to find out.
4. Wordplay (the meaning of a word in used in a different context) – Example: My son & his friends make a human wall to block the soccer ball during a shot at their goal. He is 1 ft shorter & more of a curb than a wall!
5. Absurd – Example: A friend went into Wal-Mart at 5 am. She turned into an aisle & saw a man naked from the waist down, trying on camouflage trousers. Weird!
6. Ridiculous – Example: My dad asked my brother to plant the lettuce plants. He was furious when he found them in one hole with the elastic band still attached.
7. Healthy embarrassment – Example: Today I was given a gold star by my dentist for “most punctual patient”. I had arrived a day early. Turned 50 in Feb, every day is exciting!
8. Paradoxical – Example: Irish religious/positive thinking perspective on flights getting delayed and getting stuck at the airport…”God wants me to drink beer!”
9. Element of surprise – Example: Bali coffee plantation 2008 – drank coffee & saw caged Civet cat-size animals. Learnt my coffee came from excreted Civet coffee beans – Yuck.Discovering

Your Unique Sense of Humor – Which of These Make You Smile & Why?
1. My Canadian-Hungarian wife has a Christmas tradition of baby Jesus bringing gifts. In Ireland it’s Santa Claus. Is Jesus-Claus a compromise?
2. Sitting outside on my doorstep enjoying the sunny morning & watching my leaves blowing and rolling onto my neighbor’s lawn – go leaves go…!
3. Christmas season is here & wife impulse shopping drives me crazy. To stay out of trouble I apply the “don’t ask, don’t tell” shopping policy!
4. Bali coffee plantation 2008 – drank coffee & saw caged Civet cat-size animals. Learnt my coffee came from excreted Civet coffee beans – Yuck
5. The southern air hostess asked what I wanted to drink. I said water. She repeated 3 times not understanding. A nearby teen shouted waa-terr!
6. Cooked my 1st turkey for Thanksgiving & friends in 1994. Was carving 2nds & asked my wife “Did you stuff the turkey?” I had cut into a bag of giblets!
7. Cashier girl at the wine store asked me if I wanted sex. I was dumbfounded. I then noticed she was pointing to the paper bag wine “sacks!”
8. Sister in law was doing a Skype video call to her mum in China. In view of the webcam I mischievously modeled her bright red bra – trouble!!
9. Told the presentation skills class to avoid walking through the projector light. Tried to demonstrate but was too short to block the light!
10. At a 3 day cancer charity walk there was a competition for the most decorated tent. The winners had lots of colored bra’s hanging outside!!!
11. At the grocery store checkout I had a bladder as big as Canada. The little old lady in front of me searched in her giant purse for coupons!
12. 1990 trip to India – went on a guided open top jeep tour looking for Bengal Tigers. Noticed that our guide only had a stick as a “weapon”.
13. My big old Irish Setter dog gets confused. Walked past a car with open doors. She thought it was our car & tried to jump in to go for a ride.
14. Southwest Air steward gave gate #’s for connecting SWA flights as we landed. He chuckled, “If you are with another airline…we don’t care!”
15. My short son came home happy after his school team won at basketball. He exclaimed that he & his two tall friends the “twin towers” scored.
16. Employee was told to check/delete files from an old PC. Photo of a naked woman popped up. Was trying to delete it as her male boss walked in.
17. Wife did clean-up community service. She lifted up a big flat piece of wood & saw a huge curled up snake. Texas outdoors is too dangerous!
18. Friends sent a family-photo Christmas card in 2009. Ecstatic kids, euphoric parents, & male dog sitting, showing off his…… “excitement”.
19. On the airport rental-car bus & idiot driver was peering at his computer & swerving. I asked him if I could change my rental car to a hearse.
20. A friend went into Wal-Mart at 5 am. She turned into an aisle & saw a man naked from the waist down, trying on camouflage trousers. Weird!
21. Saw a 40+ year old man jogging in a really tight black leotard. He was running “weirdly” & I told my daughter he needs a bathroom really soon!
22. My daughter saw the paper-cut I got at the corporate office. I said, “I hope you realize the suffering I go through to pay for your college!”
23. Rescued a baby squirrel from the grasp of a cat. The squirrel bit me & my wife sent me to the doctor. Doctor laughed & sent me back home.
24. At my son’s soccer game the Texas parents were wrapped up in blankets, sleeping bags & duvets. Looked like a scene from hurricane Katrina!
25. My big old Irish Setter dog was snuggled up on the couch at 6am. I brought her dog treats (breakfast in bed). She considers me fully trained.
26. Nights are cool & I saw a Facebook discussion where women were exhilarated about wearing flannel pajamas. Turn up the heat & wear lingerie!
27. My son & his friends make a human wall to block the soccer ball during a shot at their goal. He is 1 ft shorter & more of a curb than a wall.
28. Canadian research shows that if you run at a bear it will run away 9 out of 10 times. I wonder how much they pay the poor intern to find out.
29. My great grandfather spent his life in a wheelchair & had 7 children. My funny mum joked, “He certainly got out for his exercise, didn’t he?”
30. My elderly mother has a chrome frame installed around her toilet to help steady herself. She jokes that it is “her special Olympics toilet”.
31. Built a sub-fence to keep my big dog from the muddy bits. 3 trips to the hardware store & $$$. My dog went outside & bounded over the fence!
32. Work trip to Brazil & found very smart engineers. I gave them the ok sign to show my appreciation. Was told to stop…it is a rude gesture!
33. Soccer son is with his team. I ask my cruel daughter to call him off so we can get her to ballet. She shouts “Eric..we need to go to ballet!”
34. Today I was given a gold star by my dentist for “most punctual patient”. I had arrived a day early. Turned 50 in Feb, every day is exciting!
35. Memory of being 11 Y.O. in the car with dad. Car was in first gear/high revs & noisy. He sheepishly asked, “Do you know the facts of life?”
36. Memory of my mum dozing in the rear seat of our car between our 3 Y.O. son & 5 Y.O. daughter. My son asked, “Why does Granny have a mustache?”
37. Did an exact parallel park with my car. “I should get a prize for that,” I said thinking my wife was near me. Random stranger smiled/red face.
38. My frugal Irish dad bought a hearing aid. It was annoying to see him put his hand to his ear & turn it on mid-conversation to save batteries.
39. My wife spent 20 years training me to replace the toilet roll when just the tube remains. They now produce tubeless TP. I need retraining!
40. Memory of Sunday drives as a kid with my chain smoking parents. My siblings would take bets on whether the dog or I would get carsick first.
41. Southwest Air flight & the pretty hostess found out it was an 80 Y.O. man’s birthday. She sang happy birthday “Marilyn Monroe to JFK” style!
42. Irish religious/positive thinking perspective on flights getting delayed and getting stuck at the airport…”God wants me to drink beer!”
43. Shopping with my wife & I saw a stand of wigs. I put one on to surprise her & give her a laugh. Checkout girls saw me & laughed (red face)!
44. In 1971 my brother won a Raleigh Chopper bicycle in a competition. He slid on cow dung, went over the handlebars & had $5,000 in dentist bills!
45. After our wedding in Canada we saw a picture of a gay parade in the newspaper with two gay men wearing the same dresses as our bridesmaids!
46. Lake dock 2001 – our four year old son had Cheerios in one hand & fish food in the other. He inadvertently ate the fish food & threw Cheerios to the fish.
47. My son came home from school late & angry. He was getting ready to cycle home & found that a not so smart kid had locked both bikes together.
48. Low caffeine morning. Dropped an apple into my mug of coffee. It fit perfectly! Paperwork & my favorite shirt were hit by a caffeine tsunami.
49. Fire school panic – with SCBA air tank whistle alarms blowing, we dragged the dummy out of the burning building with a rope around its neck!
50. With the kids’ ice-cream in the car I had to do my annual shirt shopping since my $20 coupon was expiring. 10 mins +12 shirts = man shopping!
51. Built a homemade roof-rack for 3 kayaks out of PVC & metal piping. If you see a Honda CRV with 3 kayaks on top, move out of the way quickly!
52. Playing hockey & saw feathers on the ground. Showed them to another player & told her the heat is causing my feather underwear to fall apart.
53. Elderly woman friend was leaving her store at night & could not find her car keys. She went outside & found her car had been idling all day.
54. I heard one stewardess say to the other, “I will work for Southwest Airways for 2 years & then I should have enough money for rodeo school.”
55. Proud of the fact I can pack in 5 minutes for a week long trip. I got dressed on my last day to discover a pair of my son’s tiny underwear.
56. I took off my $400 eye glasses so I would not scratch them while helping my son catch a lizard in the shrub. I stepped back & stood on them!
57. Memory of my son sneezing with a mouth full of spaghetti. Visualize a long piece of spaghetti simultaneously hanging out his mouth & nose!
58. The light was on in the kitchen window & the moths were landing on the screen. The lizards were chasing & eating them. No need for a TV!
59. I heard the dental hygienist asking a 16 Y.O. girl about boyfriends. Parents could pay extra to find out what their teen daughter is up to!
60. While in Ireland I convinced my 13 Y.O. son to hand feed grass to a cow. As he nervously held out his hand I screamed, “Look out, its a bull!”
61. My wife has over 100 Tai Chi self defense moves. It’s hilarious to see my 13 year old son “disabling her”, tickling her with a single finger!
62. As my wife shopped for shoes I wandered off. I found some blond wigs & tried one on to give her a chuckle. The cashier saw me & she laughed!
63. At work I let a group of women get on the elevator first. I lost focus & the doors closed without me. I heard them laughing all the way up!
64. Our car gets mud and grass from our soccer kids. My brother flew in to see us, opened the car door & said, “Do you carry sheep in this car?”
65. My son was seven & I was angry with him because he would not eat his corn on the cob. He sobbed & said, “But daddy, I have no front teeth!”
66. At our Catholic wedding we each lit a candle symbolizing eternal marriage. Church candle was blown out by priest & extinguished our candles!
67. Low caffeine moment driving to the auto shop to get the muffler fixed on my wife’s car. Three miles from home I noticed I was driving my car!
68. My dad asked my brother to plant the lettuce plants. He was furious when he found them in one hole with the elastic band still attached.
69. A dove was sleeping on the sidewalk in the morning sunlight. It flipped open one eye to see my Irish Setter dog’s smiling face 1 inch away.
70. A local kid was asked to attach a watering hose one dark evening. He grabbed the black hose & it wriggled. It was a large, black rat snake!
71. Had a full bladder driving back from a restaurant. Made the error of telling my teenagers. They shook 1/2 full water bottles to torment me!
72. Came out of the nurse’s office after having a flu shot. I mischievously scowled & limped. The woman waiting outside looked at me in a panic.
73. My Hungarian mother in law speaks broken English. Dinner went on the table and she stated, “If you don’t like it… you can leave!
74. I cut my scalp playing hockey. Doctor stitched me & said, “Come back on Sun. before 3 pm, because that’s when the mower mishaps arrive!”
75. The teacher was telling the class about burning coal. He asked, “what else do we burn?” My funny teen daughter shouted out, “We burn witches!”
76. My dog had cancer surgery. My mother in law said that $840 was a lot to spend on an old dog. My mother in law is 80…and needs hip surgery!

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