Public Speaking Course:
Recently at a meeting of the National Capital Area Speakers Association a
public speaker was giving a presentation using a different style of humor. This
form of humor is taught in my public speaking course.
He began his speech very slowly, with a serious expression, while
keeping a low tone of voice. I remember thinking, 'man this is going to be a
long day.' Then, while keeping a straight face, a funny line came out of his
mouth. He was talking about thinkers, doers etc, and had said, "A thinker
is a person..... who is thinking about something." The whole room cracked
up laughing. The technique he used is called a 'deadpan' expression.
Using a deadpan expression is when you combine a serious demeanor with a
funny line. The line typically gets a bigger laugh than if it had been said with
a lighthearted expression or smile. The contrast and surprise is what
begins the laughter, and knowing how to create this expression should be
mastered while during your public speaking course.
A famous example of this is the comedian Steven Wright who NEVER breaks
character to smile. He says lines like, "My dog is confused. I named him
STAY. . . Then I say come STAY."