It is conventional in this encyclopedia for articles to have a little something above the Table of Contents, and to inspire the reader with levity. However, in view of the subject matter, perhaps this article will simply be "the exception that proves the rule."
Now considered as an established tradition, the introduction joke is the premise of all good speeches, presentations, conferences and keynotes. Its role is multiple: it helps to relax the audience and increase its attention, also giving the impression that the guy who's going to talk for two hours about the debt of Greece is as funny as Groucho Marx, especially in a speech in a change to economic policy, or announcing the nation's surrender to an occupying Army.
Not convinced? Well let's take a few examples.
With or without introduction joke
The Reverend King’s Speech
You see? Having start his speech right away with no introduction joke, Martin Luther King Jr. has totally lost his audience. Now let’s give him another chance:
You see what happened? Starting with a hilarious introduction joke, this speech became so famous that people decided to name some streets after Martin Luther King Jr. Sometimes celebrity is only a matter of words. You want some more examples? No problem folks, I’m here to serve you.
Remember this one:
“Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British fleet would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the new world, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”
OH… MY… GOD… Third sentence and boom, I fell asleep. What’s the point of this thing, Winston? You want to bore people to death? This is typically the speech which needs a good comedy writer able to make a funny introduction joke. Now let’s try again:
“Hey guys, you know why Hitler became a dictator and not an actor despite his great Charlie Chaplin’s impersonation? Well, he never was able to find a non-Jew producer! Ah ah ah! Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule blah blah blah…”
THAT's the way to win World War II!
Try again, JFK
As the former examples show, mastering the introduction joke is particularly difficult for politics. Most of the time, they don’t even care but sometimes, they try and fail. One of the most famous stories regarding this matter took place in 1962 when JFK made an attempt to amuse is audience before a speech everyone forgot. Unfortunately, his sense of humor was pretty bad and as he didn’t want to use the help of a comedy writer, the joke happened to be not funny at all.
Noticing the public was not laughing– and who could blame them? – he tried to hide the vacuity of his joke using a common artificial trick: the German translation.
And the crowd elected to applaud rather than trying to understand the joke. Well done JFK. By the way have you noticed the same audience attends both MLK's and JFK's speeches? I wonder what these fellows were doing in Berlin but anyway...
This is a nonsense.