Funny Motivational Speaker Shares An Easy Joke Formula

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Motivational Speaker Kelly Swanson is an award-winning storyteller, author, and comedian who teaches you how to harness the power of your story to connect, engage, and get results. In this blog, Kelly focuses on the business of professional speaking. Kelly’s post day is Friday. If you aren't sure how to comment on this story, click here.

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One Easy Formula To Help a Funny Motivational Speaker Write Hundreds of Jokes

As a motivational speaker, I spend a lot of time looking for humor and preparing it for the stage.  Writing funny stories are easy for me, but writing a joke is extremely hard for me. So I need formulas. And there’s one formula that works every time – the rule of threes. It’s not my formula, and I’ve heard so many share it, that I’m not sure where it started. But it works.

Humor is really about the element of surprise – setting your audience up to think you will say one thing, and then you say something else. You surprise them. That’s the concept behind the rule of threes – you are surprising them at the end.

In the rule of threes you list two serious things, and then make the third thing outrageous and surprising to the audience. On the third thing, you say what the audience does not expect you to say.

You can do it with any subject.   You just have to find three things to say about it – and try to make the third as outrageous and exaggerated as you can. The more absurd, the funnier it will be.

Here are some examples:

When I was young I was afraid of snakes, the boogey man, and failing in school. Now that I’m older, I’m afraid of taxes, inflation, and pee’ing when I sneeze. 

I’m from the South which means I like my tea sweet, I’m used to hot weather, and I’m pretty sure lard is a food group.

Being in a relationship is hard – you have to look nice, be on your best behavior,  and hope they don’t find out you live with your mother.

I’m a performer which means I love the stage, I love the lights, and I’m about one bounced check away from living out of my car.

When you’re a mom, there are three things you should remember: too much sugar makes them hyper, don’t give them water before bed, and breastfeeding at the salad bar is not a good idea.

So there you go. An easy formula to get laughs. Have fun!






  • Gotta love that rule of threes! I comes up everywhere and apparently works with bringing the funny too :)

    Your examples made me snort at the office! Great start to the day Kelly – thanks!