There’s a saying in the marketing world when it comes to professional speakers who actually get paid to wax poetic from stage: Be funny, make more money.
Ditto for political speeches.
Humor can be VERY powerful in making your stump speeches memorable and persuasive. But that does NOT mean you have to be a “comedian” who stands up there telling jokes.
In fact, that’s the WRONG thing to try to do. Lord knows, in today’s PC culture you can’t tell a joke about ANYONE without offending SOMEONE. Except maybe lawyers.
Instead, you should focus on telling humorous stories that your audience can relate to and tie them to your overall campaign messaging.
Here’s an example from The Great Communicator himself, Ronald Reagan…
You know, it’s a real pleasure to come here to Raleigh and drive in the gold spike for Express ’88, the train that’ll take us all the way to victory on November 8th. It’s quite a treat for an old hand like me because I remember when being a Republican in North Carolina felt like being Gary Cooper in “High Noon” — [laughter] — outnumbered in a big way.
That reminds me of a story — when you’re my age, everything reminds you of a story. [Laughter]
You know, in those previous times, there was a Tarheel who was running for office as a Republican. And he was out in the rural area, and he saw a farm there and decided to step in and do a little campaigning. And he announced who he was to the farmer, who said, “Wait right here till I get Ma. She’s never seen a Republican before!” [Laughter]
While he was gone getting Ma the candidate looked around for something. He thought he’d give them a little speech and looked for something in the nature of a platform. And all he could find was a pile of that stuff Bess Truman took 35 years getting Harry to call fertilizer. [Laughter]
And there he was, ready to speak. When the farmer came back, he gave them a little Republican pitch. When he was finished the farmer said, “That’s the first Republican speech I ever heard.”
And the candidate replied, “Well, that’s the first time I ever made a Republican speech…from a Democratic platform.” [Laughter]
I repeat that anecdote often when speaking to conservative audiences – always crediting the Gipper for it. Never fails to get a laugh. Give it try.
Dr. Chuck Muth, PsD
THE CAMPAIGN DOCTOR
Professor of Psephology*
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* Psephology (see-follow-gee): The study of campaigns and elections