Addressing Taboo Topics in your Speech with Humor

Speech Jokes for Controversial Topics

Since it is Good Friday and Earth Day today, it seemed like today would be a good time to talk about how to approach sensitive issues with humor in your speech. For the record I’m not saying Good Friday or Earth Day are taboo, but they are tied to two subjects that people tend to have strong opinions about: religion, and climate change. Unless you are giving a speech directly addressing one of those subjects you probably don’t want to say anything too controversial. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make a joke about a highly debated topic.

Why make a joke in your speech about a controversial topic?

In the case of Earth Day or Good Friday, everyone knows that today is “their day”, making a joke about it makes your speech look topical. Also, as mentioned before most people have strong feelings about those issues, and if done properly you can get the audience’s attention without alienating those in attendance.

How do you create a public-speaking joke about something controversial without being controversial?

This is the tough part. First, don’t take a stance in your joke. You are better off alluding to the issue then giving your particular thoughts on the issue. Second, use some perspective, think about how that joke would make you feel from all the possible perspectives, if your instinct tells you a certain part of the crowd will be offended stay away from it. But if you truly believe your public speaking humor is clean and safe, go ahead and use it. And finally, make sure your speech joke is funny! People are a lot more receptive when they are laughing.

Here are a few sample, non-controversial speech jokes, on controversial subjects.

Climate Change (Earth Day Joke)- With today being Earth Day I am going to try to be more respectful of our planet’s climate. Therefore, as a change from my usual protocol, during this speech I will not be burning tires on stage tonight.

Religion (Good Friday Joke)- As most of you are probably aware of, today is good Friday. If (insert favorite sports team) wins tonight, I’ll have to upgrade it to “Great Friday”!

Politics (2012 Presidential Election Joke)- People are already talking about the 2012 presidential election, I have to be honest I’m not all that up to date on my politics, but from what I read in the old newspapers in my garage, I don’t think this Michael Dukakis guy has a chance.

Economics (Stock Market Joke)- A lot of people have been talking about the volatility in the market lately, I might not be an economist, but I will tell you my plan of investing in McDonald’s Monopoly game has been paying off… I’ve already won four free Egg McMuffins…. Retirement here I come!

These jokes are meant for anyone to use, please feel free to use them in your speech as you see fit. If you do use them, you are encouraged to change the wording to make the jokes feel comfortable to you. If you would like some jokes created specifically for your speech, you can order them here.

There you have it, four jokes on four (sometimes) touchy subjects. The jokes work for general audiences because they are clean, mention the issue without saying what is right or wrong, and leave little room for interpretation that you are taking a wider stance.

Make EVERYONE Laugh!


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