Writing funny speeches: The dos and don’ts

It’s one of the greatest fears—and myths—about speechmaking: Speakers have to be funny.

Why oh why do speakers put extra pressure on themselves to be the next stand-up comedian? Why do some insist that every speech open with a joke?

He began with a joke about wanting to exaggerate his accomplishments then follows it up with another that signals he’s not there to dodge the question of his retirement.

” … to those here tonight who feel the need to contradict my memories with the truth, remember I was there, too. I have stories on all of you, photos on many, and I know a Rolling Stone reporter.”

He follows in a long list of public figures who have used humor to disarm their critics. President Reagan was a master at it. For those who thought his advanced age was a problem, he would deliver a version of this joke: “Thomas Jefferson once said, ‘We should never judge a president by his age, only by his works.’ And ever since he told me that, I stopped worrying.

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