Snackification is Here to Stay

posted Mar 19, 2017, 5:37 PM by BergenMeisters Toastmasters

YouTube Video

Here Comes Da Judge

posted Sep 18, 2016, 9:30 AM by Michael Varma

Founder's District TV's Helpful Host Michael Varma, DTM, interviews the Judges Bureau Avis French.

May the Best Woman Win

posted Aug 19, 2016, 10:16 PM by Michael Varma

Josephine Lee

Founder's District International Speech Contest winner, Josephine Lee wins 1st place at the Semi-Finals competition in Washington D.C. on Thursday, August 18, 2016. Lee, now among the top ten best speakers in the world this year will be competing for the title of World Champion of Public Speaking on Saturday August 20, 2016.

Two viewing parties are available for you to attend this Saturday August 20. Show your club pride and come out to watch and root for our district competitor. You'll need to RSVP because space is limited.

Join us in Pasadena at the Parsons Corporation, 100 W. Walnut St, Pasadena, CA, ($5 to attend) with refreshments - pastries, fruit, orange juice and coffee - as we watch the World Champion of Public Speaking On Demand Video, from Toastmasters International Convention being held in Washington DC that very morning!!!

She Never Gives Up

posted Aug 5, 2016, 10:14 PM by Michael Varma   [ updated Aug 5, 2016, 10:20 PM ]

FDTV's Helpful Host Michael Varma, DTM, interviews BergenMeisters member and published author LaVerne Allen, CC, about her book, "Triumphing over Seemingly Terminal Situations: Never Give Up."

Hip Hip Parade

posted Jul 9, 2016, 8:37 PM by Michael Varma   [ updated Jul 9, 2016, 8:46 PM ]

Hundreds of Lake Forest residents lined the streets for the city’s annual Fourth of July parade. Themed "Red, White and Blue and 25 Too!" the parade also celebrates Lake Forest’s 25th year as an incorporated city.

Toastmasters Michael Varma and Kevin Graham cheered participants of the 5K run/walk at 7:30 a.m. hosted by the city and El Toro High Parent Student Teacher Organization then entertained the crowd for nearly two hours as they announced the 91 parade float entries.

Bicyclists, horse-led vehicles, classic cars, El Toro High’s Blue Regimen and even a guitarist playing while riding a skateboard, entertained the crowd along the approximately 1-mile route.

You, too, can put your speaking skills into action at work or play. Contact


Old Dog New Schtick

posted Jun 18, 2016, 12:22 PM by Michael Varma   [ updated Jun 26, 2016, 12:54 PM ]

Michael Varma, DTM, announces awards at the Special Olympics Southern California 2016 Summer Games (photo by Steve Varma)
After 30 years of staging athletes for their races and being the Track and Field Venue Director (Bull Pen 2) for the Special Olympics Southern California Summer Games, Michael Varma – a Toastmaster and an old dog – applied his talents to a new schtick: Awards Announcer.

 On June 11 and 12 the human spirit was on full display at the 2016 Summer Games at California State University, Long Beach, attracting more than 1,100 athletes from across Southern California. The Summer Games is one of two annual championships held at the conclusion of each sport season, with athletes coming together from throughout Southern California featuring six summer sports — aquatics, athletics (track & field), basketball, bocce, golf, and gymnastics.

Special Olympics Southern California 2016 Summer Games (photo by Steve Varma)

Law enforcement and celebrities presented the awards as Varma announced the winners of 750 gold medals, 635 silver medals, 475 bronze medals, and 590 ribbons to the athletes.

Cheering on Varma was his old friend Santa Claus:

Santa Claus and Michael Varma at Special Olympics Southern California Summer Games 2016

Famous Laugh Words

posted Apr 26, 2016, 11:47 AM by BergenMeisters Toastmasters   [ updated Apr 26, 2016, 8:43 PM by Michael Varma ]

Several new and experienced Toastmasters filmed more than two dozen brief jokes and clever puns at iWink Studios for Founder’s District TV (FDTV) and learned that famous laugh words are the last words, for example:

I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose.” ~Woody Allen

Seven days without laughter makes one weak.” ~Mort Walker

Laughter is an instant vacation.” ~ Milton Berle

If the crowd can’t hear the last word of Uncle Miltie’s efficient humorous quote (vacation) then what’s said becomes an incomplete sentence, your humor implodes, and you will make your audience angry. This key comedic communication technique requires you to annunciate and articulate both parts of the joke: the setup and the punch line.

Karen Thompson, ACS, CL, of Well Said Toastmasters #5372

Karen Thompson, ACS, CL, (Well Said Toastmasters #5372), and her husband Mark, enjoyed watching other members deliver their lines that instead of reciting her two assigned jokes she said, “I want to do [jokes] #3, 12, 13, 14, and 19, too!”

Michael Varma, DTM, of BergenMeisters Club #7493

“Selecting the right joke makes a huge difference,” explains Michael Varma, DTM and 2016 Host of FDTV, (BergenMeisters #7493) “You don’t want tell a knock-knock joke to an auditorium of people because it’s not designed for impromptu questions and answers.” 

While Varma loves a good pun to make his audiences groan with delight, he cautions speakers from using homonyms that require too much brainpower to quickly understand the humor. Walker’s example above uses weak versus week and may be better suited for readers than listeners. “A more appropriate pun,” continues Varma, “Is a nun who says nightly prayers in the shower does so out of habit.”

Lourdes Ortiz, ATMB, CL, of Whittier Wordcrafters #1456

“Exaggerate your gestures and you’ll have a stronger delivery,” says Lourdes Ortiz, ATMB, CL, (Whittier Wordcrafters #1456). It’s suggested that you hold your final pose for three seconds because it takes you one second to say your final word with matching gesture, one second for your audience to hear it, and one final second to comprehend what you said and match it to your visual cue.

Ortiz’s favorite joke of the session was recorded in both English and Spanish: “Studies show women who carry a little extra weight live longer than men who mention it!

Jon Hartowicz, ACB, ALB, of Christian Century Toastmasters #100

I'm usually behind the FDTV cameras filming the talent, but this time I was the talent," said Jon Hartowicz, ACB, ALB, (Christian Century Toastmasters #100, Achievers Toastmasters #9331). “It was quite the memorable experience rehearsing in front of the camera. I saw a noticeable improvement over multiple takes as I incorporated suggestions by the crew."

Hartowicz's favorite line: "
Kids today don't know how easy they have it. When I was young, I had to walk 9 feet through shag carpet to change the TV channel.

Dan Cossack, DTM and FDTV Executive Producer/Sound Engineer, of Lensmasters #2982484

“The most memorable part of the film shoot was watching Jon [Hartowicz] take a shot at telling some jokes,” said Dan Cossack, DTM and FDTV Executive Producer/Sound Engineer, (Lensmasters #2982484) “He's not the type of person who is usually funny but he seemed to really have fun at it, and I could tell he was really improving his timing and delivery the more he did it.”

FDTV recommends:

1.     Humorously Speaking (Item 226O)

2.     The Entertaining Speaker (Item 226A)

3.     Communicating on Video (Item 226J)

Remember the best humor, puns, jokes, or stories, always provides an unexpected twist at the end. And for our famous last words…

A chicken crossing the road is called poultry in motion.”


Rubes Chick Crossing the Road

One, Two, Three, Four then give me MORE!

posted Apr 17, 2016, 9:56 AM by Michael Varma

Comedy Made Easy
Want to get better at writing and delivering funny, original jokes? To get started, follow these four rules of humor.

1. If there is no surprise ... humor dies.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, “The secret of humor is surprise.” One of the primary reasons people laugh is because of surprise, and what causes surprise is the unexpected.

A joke is a tale of two stories. One story has everyone walk- ing down Main Street and turning right on Elm Street. In the second story, you are the only person to turn left, thus creating surprise.

An example of how this works comes from the comic genius Rodney Dangerfield. “My wife and I were happy for twenty years ... and then we met.” When Dangerfield pauses before the second phrase, the audience is left thinking that the next line (or the right turn) will be about how happy he and his wife were together. But the next line comes as a surprise, “and then we met.” That’s the left turn.

2. If they only hear half ... they will never laugh.

All too often we hear the first half of a story and we miss the second part. In a speech, that second part of the story is called the punch word, or phrase. In humor it’s called the punch line.

Take my yoga teacher, for example. She barks out instructions for an entire hour, telling her students how to move, stand and hold postures. Every person in the room can hear her. Yet at the beginning of the class, when she gives us her name, most people can’t hear her. I think it’s because she’s calling attention to herself, and that makes her shy.

I’ve done the same thing when asking for a date. At that criti- cal moment when I’d ask, “Would you like to go out with me?” my voice would drop, causing the woman to ask me to repeat the question.

Make sure that everyone in the room can hear every word that you say, especially the punch line.

3. When you say it last ... they have a blast.

Put the punch line at the very end. If you don’t, you will be talking while your audience is laughing and they won’t be able to hear what you say next. This is known as “stepping on your laughs;” it trains your audience not to laugh.

This also applies in a speech. To have more impact, and to be more memorable, say the most important line—or punch phrase—last. Take Dangerfield’s joke (mentioned earlier), for example, “My wife and I were happy for twenty years ... and then we met.” If he had continued, by saying, “and we lived in a three-bedroom house,” the joke no longer works.

4. If there is no pause ... there won't be applause.

I remember first hearing about about comic timing, and how some comedians have it while others don’t. The truth of the matter is that it isn’t that difficult to do, and it can easily be learned.

Three pauses go into comedic timing. One comes prior to the joke; another is inserted right before the punch line; and a third comes after the punch line is delivered. The first pause draws attention, implying that something important is about to be said.

The second pause sets up of the joke. It alerts your audience that there is something good coming next. It also builds tension, which will be released later by your punch line.

The third and final pause comes at the end. It’s there so that you don’t step on the audience’s laughter. I have delivered jokes that didn’t get a laugh initially, but once I paused, the laughs came because I had given the audience time to think about what I had said. Another reason for pausing at the end is to prolong, or milk the laughter. And that’s a good way to end.

These four tips will get you started writing funnier speeches, and it will make you funnier in all areas of your life.

DAVID KLINE LOVETT, DTM, is the president of the Leaders in Action club in Huntington Beach, California. You can read more humor tips in his book Comedy Made Easy, or visit his website at See the reprinted article in the attached PDF from the February 2016 Toastmasters Magazine.

Calling All Funny Folks

posted Mar 20, 2016, 5:32 PM by Michael Varma

BergenMeisters and FDTV are sponsoring all things punny. That’s P-U-N-N-Y. A pun is a type of joke that takes advantage of words that sound similar but have different meanings.

We want local volunteers to come down to iWink Studios and say a funny one-liner. The script is ready and we need YOU to step up and say a few works. 

For date, time, and location please RSVP to

Volunteers Needed to Tell a Joke

Treats for Toastmasters

posted Feb 23, 2016, 7:13 PM by Michael Varma

Come and get your pizza! 

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