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Public Speaking Course: 

Deadpan Expression

I recently attended a meeting of the National Capital Area Speakers Association. The public speaker that was doing the presentation did not use traditional humor, but still got laughs from the crowd. He used a different form of humor taught in my public speaking course.

He began giving his speech with a very serious demeanor, . . . presenting slowly, . . . and
keeping a low tone of voice. I remember thinking, 'man this is going to be a long day.' Then, without cracking a smile, a totally funny line came out of his mouth. He was talking about thinkers, doers etc, and said with a serious face, "A thinker is a person..... who is thinking about something." The whole room cracked up laughing. The technique he used is called a 'deadpan' expression.

Deadpan expression is achieved by combining a serious demeanor with a funny line. The line typically gets a bigger laugh than if it had been said with a lighthearted expression or smile. The contrast and surprise is what  begins the laughter, and knowing how to create this expression should be mastered while during  your public speaking course.

A famous example of this is the comedian Steven Wright who NEVER breaks character to smile. He says lines like, "My dog is confused. I named him STAY. . . Then I say come STAY."

A more animated version of using deadpan would be Rodney Dangerfield who pretends to be serious about his goofy life. He says, "I am an earth sign and my wife is a water sign ... ...Together we make
mud." hahahaha

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