love Joanna Lumley. But her monologue at last night’s BAFTA awards just goes to
show that even those of us who usually know how to draw a laugh out of any room
can still get it all horribly wrong.
Jokes are awkward things because they aren’t universally funny. The reaction to the same joke told in the same way in the same venue can vary from night to night.
on about ‘relevance’ – and nowhere is this more crucial than in judging whether
your humour is the right one for that audience on that night. It’s a call that can, at best, make you the
act of the night or, at worst, just the subject of disappointed head-shaking
and awkward looks.
character as Patsy, Lumley is used to delivering a stream of abrasive one
liners to great effect. But a sit com is probably the best example of ‘the
right place and the right time’.
awards show in an environment of extreme political correctness calls for a
different approach altogether. In that
light, jokes about the (Klu Klux) Klan Film Festival was never going to work. Although it’s a clever pun.
at Richard E Grant fell completely flat too. Not because it wasn’t witty, but
because audiences at award ceremonies generally like a speaker to be
self-deprecating rather than picking on others in the room.
your speech is bombing, making jokes about bad speeches and jokes – as she did
last night – doesn’t work either.
no doubt that the speech failed. But not
many of the jokes were awful. It was a
great example of a bad start, followed by an inappropriate reference or
two. Which is when the audience decides
it won’t look good to laugh. And the
tumbleweed starts to drift across the stage.
Which all goes to show that the best of us can have a bad day, but when we put the audience first and start well, bad days can generally be avoided!
If you’ve got a speech coming up, we’d love to help you make it memorable… for the right reasons. Give us a call on +44 (0)20 8245 8999 or email firstname.lastname@example.org