Learning 3Cs of Comedy with Mel

Yesterday I attended a humour workshop run by Mel at the Munich Prostmasters Toastmasters club.

I have always been amazed by the energy that Mel brings to the stage and his ability to break the ice with audience from different cultures. Yesterday was no different.

He discussed the different comedy structures with the audience. They came up quite a few of them.

You knew that you were dealing with room of eager learners of humour!


I liked the part where he explained how to set up the premise, step 1 (positive), step 2 (very positive) and step 3 (negative). My group came up this joke:

“The United States has produced amazing Presidents.

Abraham Lincolm with the Gettysburg address

John F Kennedy with ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’


Donald Trump with ‘Make America great again'”

We did not get many laughs. We had complicated the simple structure. The premise was that the USA had produced amazing Presidents. The step 1 and 2 was complex with the name of the President and the speech they were famous for. Step 3 was very predicatable so it did not get many laughs.

We realised that writing humour is NOT easy. It was interesting to see the different groups trying their hand adding humour with the “rule of three” structure.


This was the first time I heard about Uptalking and Downtalking.

Mel helped us practice multiple times with Uptalk and Downtalk. It was interesting to see how using conscious intonation when needed made such a big difference to the confidence projected.


Mel helped us understand the value behind calling a room. That is addressing a disturbance in the room and not just assuming that it did not happen.

We had a lot of fun disturbing the speakers while they were talking and waiting for them to address us and get us to stop.

The other strategies of Smiling, using Names, asking questions were also used by the speakers on stage.

All in all, I learnt the 3Cs of Comedy from Mel yesterday and I am raring to give it a go with my next speech!


About – Mel Kelly

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Two Left Feet

Two left feet

I was born a great dancer.
Let me show you some sexy steps.
Contest chair, fellow toastmasters and guests!
I firmly believed I was a great dancer.
Don’t you think so?

In the last year of university, we had one chance to dance with women.
The dance that we had to do was a step to the left and step to the right.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it!
This is how, it looked on me.
Step to the left and step to the right.
Step to the left and step to the right.
Step to the left and step to the right.
Every time I took a step to the left, my right went along.
The dance club members made fun of me and said –
No, you cannot dance. You have two left feet.
They even called my dance moves “the duck walk”.
Until then I thought I could even do the moon walk.
Thank you.
Has anyone told you that you can’t dance, that you can’t do something that you love?

After university, I moved to Germany and I got a job.
In IT.
Like all Indians.
My love life was going nowhere.
How would it? In India, my mother would have found a woman for me.
My friend told me that you can meet women in dance schools.
I signed up for the basic course in Salsa, which would make me dance like Antonio Banderas.
The guy signing us up for the courses gave me one look and said:
No, you cannot dance. You do not have a dance partner.
In walked an Italian goddess. She was the teacher.
She looked at me and said – You look cute. You can dance with me. I know, I used to look cute when I was much younger.
She gave me a chance to dance.
Every time my right foot moved to the left, she moved to my right. When I saw her move to right, my right foot magically moved to the right too.
She had fixed my two left feet. It is amazing what Italian women can fix for you.

Charged with Italian charm, I went to dance in a bar to try out my moves.
I walked across the room, to a woman and asked her – Would you like to dance?
She told me she was thirsty and having a break.
Then I was looking out for somebody who did not look thirsty.
I walked to another woman and asked her – Would you like to dance?
She told me that the room was too hot to dance.
And I said, is it hot in here or is it just you? She didn’t seem to like that line. I don’t know why!
Finally, one woman took pity and danced with me. Halfway through the dance she stopped dancing with me. I don’t know why!
That crushed my male ego!
I took a LONG LONG break from dancing.
Did you take a break from something you loved and never got back to it?

Two years passed. I had forgotten the pain. I went back to another dance school.
There was no Italian teacher, but I saw this woman standing alone looking for a dance partner.
She had a drink, so she was not thirsty.
The air conditioning was on, so she was not feeling hot.
I asked her – Would you like to dance?
She looked down and said that she had two left feet.
Really! – “That is my line”.
Come on, let us try to dance.
Step to the left, step to the right.
Step to the left, step to the right.
This was working.
German women can fix things too!
Step to the left, step to the right.
Do four left feet make two right feet?
In our case it did, and we are still dancing.
Two people with two left feet got together and made it right.
 “Go out there, find your dance and give your dance a chance”


I´d worked a very long time to get where I was in life. I studied hard, graduated from university and had reached my dream. Jobless.

Contest chair, fellow Toastmasters, guests and those who have been jobless at some point in your life.

I was an Indian, with a masters of IT – there were two options:

  • stay in India and become a Service Desk operator – hello, I am John and how may I help you?
  • go to Europe and open an Indian restaurant – Would you like the chicken tikka masala, sir?

I had done a few jobs during the holidays, but none of them went well:

  • The first one was in an orange juice factory. They began squeezing me, then I got canned because I couldn’t concentrate.
  • Then I was a woodcutter. I couldn’t hack it so they gave me the axe.
  • I tried to be a tailor, but I wasn’t really suited for that.

My first attempt at finding a proper job was in the last semester of university.

Day 1 – 50% of my classmates found a job. Except me.

I told myself your first job is not your last job. The first woman you meet is not your wife. I wish I had got that job on the first day.

Day 2 – 75% of my friends found a job. Except me.

Gold was gone, silver slipped away – maybe I was born for Bronze.

Day 3 – 99% of my classmates found a job. Except me.

A place on the podium was long gone.

Things could not get worse than this or could they?

Everybody walked up to me with pitiful eyes. Ranjith, you will get that job. “Loser”

Even the cook in our canteen told me. Ranjith, eat up. You will need the strength for the days to come.

I DID need it. After University, I walked the streets of India for three months trying to get a job. I was fed up. Maybe I did not belong to the promised land of software, and I should get back to making curry!

But then, a friend of mine talked to me and suggested I get an internship instead. Internships. I thought internships was for losers or for those who were interested in the white house.

I got an internship and at the first day at work I witnessed this:

Anna was smoking away in front of the company and a colleague asked her if she read the warning that “Smoking was bad to health”. Anna said, “I am a programmer. I do not worry about warnings, I only worry about bugs”.

I looked at that and I realised that I understood that conversation. This was a place where I belonged.

From a place where I belonged, I decided to go all the way to Germany. Was it for the Beer, the Bratwurst or the blonde Bombshells? No, I was a teetotalling, vegetarian virgin till I came to Germany.

I started belonging after I came to Germany.

I lost my first job in three months’ time, not knowing the difference between permanent and probation period.

But then I started to like my future jobs and belong in them.

I joined a wine tasting group even though I did not know the difference between a Riesling and Rioja. Did I belong amongst these professional wine tasters? I must have. I met my future wife in this group and also someone who liked my curries.

Life sometimes takes you through challenges, but you end up in a place where you feel like you belong. Like all the shy speakers, sociable speakers and sensational speakers who feel like they belong at Toastmasters.

Go out there make curry, try internships, work on jobs, drink wine, find a life partner! Go out there and belong!