In case you missed it, my Facebook Status on the 1st announced that my wife was pregnant with our 7th child. This IS not true - but is our annual prank on our family, and I think we've even done it on Facebook in the past. It was meant to be funny, the ultimate Speak but NOT Deliver, but it was an EPIC FAIL, because so many people believed it, and didn't really find it humorous that we lied about it!
Why was it an EPIC FAIL?
1. Too Realistic - we already have six, so what's a seventh, right? If I'd said she was pregnant with triplets, the exaggeration would have tipped people off, perhaps. If you're joking about something that isn't obviously funny, it may just not be received as funny.
2. Wrong Crowd - with over 2500 friends, most don't know me well enough to tell I was joking. Why would they risk offending me by challenging the joke? Since it was too realistic, and they didn't have enough of a knowledge base about me and my family, they did the logical thing, and congratulated us, leading more and more people in the wrong direction. Lesson - subtle, inside humor doesn't work on the wrong audiences.
3. Distracting - since it succeeded to fool so many, it actually became a distraction, requiring multiple clarifications by both myself and my wife. We didn't attend church that morning, and our study group actually prayed for the pregnancy! Its success made it a failure.
4. Delivery - on the internet, it's tough to determine tone without any verbal or visual cues to accompany the words on the page. I didn't add any emoticons or funny pictures to match the announcement, leaving people with less room to doubt the veracity of my statement. If you want people to laugh, give them clues and cues!
Ironically, Kristi pulled this prank back in 2004 on her father, who did not take kindly to it. I'm not sure who got the last laugh on that one, since it turned out she really WAS pregnant, and didn't know it yet!
So, humor doesn't always work, even when used by a speaker who uses it constantly on stage. Them's the breaks as they say. So I'm doing 'penance' by making all my posts this month relate to using humor properly, one way or another. Practice makes perfect, right?
By the way, my book, Go Ahead and Laugh, is back in print - and tomorrow will be available for purchase directly from me, and then on Amazon later this week. Stay tuned for details! Until then, watch your humor, as you Speak...& Deliver!