In General
Three Clowns welcoming passengers at Dabolim airport,Panaji,Goa. December 2019.

2005. My first visit to Bangkok.

As my cab from the airport was navigating the crowded streets to reach my hotel,I noticed auto rickshaws known as tuk-tuks of varied colours whizzing past. Noticing my curiosity,my cabbie warned me, “Be careful. These tuk-tuks follow the 3T rule,” and went on to elaborate, “they turn left, they turn right and they turn over.”

I thought ‘they turn left’ was normal. Again, there was nothing unusual in ‘they turn right’ but ‘they turn over’ was the twist that derailed my thoughts with a smile.

In his own charming way, the cabbie taught me an important lesson in humor, the rule of three. Somehow,the number 3 has historic significance. Brahma,Vishnu,Maheshwara. Father, Son and the Holy Ghost. And Aristotle talks about logos,ethos and pathos being the three modes of persuasion.

And when I read up on the subject, the rule of three had become a favourite pattern for speakers, writers, singers, scriptwriters, preachers and many more.

“At its most basic, the Rule of 3 establishes a pattern then ends with something unexpected. This derailment, a break away from the pattern created by the first two items, builds tension, and creates surprise usually resulting in loud laughter.” – Humorist David Nihill

An important tip in public speaking is again the 3 T Rule

1. Tell them what you want to tell them

2. Tell them.

3. Tell them what you’ve told them.

I started looking for examples of triad in humor and when I decided to conduct humor workshops for Toastmasters in Abu Dhabi, I thought of this catchy caption – Stand up, Speak up and Shut up! The title and the workshop continue to attract both attention and involvement since then.

My first workshop titled Stand up,Speak up and Shut up at Abu Dhabi.

Here’s how I justified the title- Stand up by overcoming your fear, Speak up using techniques taught in the workshop and Shut up before the audience asks you to!

I noticed that the Rule of 3 establishes a pattern and dislodges you with a twist creating mirth and laughter.

Here are some of my favourite examples of the Rule of 3.

To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone, and a funnybone – Reba McEntire, Country Crooner in Readers Digest

There are three ways to get things done;

1. Do it yourself.

2. Tell someone else to do it.

3. Tell your kids not to do it.

There are three sides to an argument- Your side, my side and the right side!

Here’s an excellent example of the ‘rule of three’, ‘build and burst’ and the element of surprise by Davy Kaye.

” On our 40th wedding anniversary I was in a generous mood and offered my wife, ‘ ask me anything you want.’ I will give you anything you ask for’.

Do you want a Rolls Royce car ?

No. I don’t want a Rolls Royce car.

Do you want a diamond pendant, a yacht or a penthouse on the Riviera?. I will give you anything you want.

No. I don’t need any of those things.

Then what do you want ?

I want a divorce.

To tell you the truth, I wasn’t thinking of spending that much !”

To announce a break during a meeting of Bangalore Toastmasters when I was the MC,I used this quip which was well received:
Cabin crew to Passenger: Would you like some coffee ?
Passenger: NO COFFEE !
CC: Some tea ?
CC: Some whisky and soda ?

A lady describing her husband to her neighbour: “ My husband is not the type to run behind women. He’s too fine, too decent and too old!

My all-time favourite use of the Rule of 3 is by Toastmaster Willie Jones, 1997 World Champion of Public Speaking in his speech titled ‘ A Warm Boot.’

TM Willie Jones World Champion of Public Speaking 1997

Urging his audience not to be discouraged by failure, he said, “Don’t fear failure. As a matter of fact the way you should treat failure is like the preacher did when he gave his first sermon in front of the big preacher in the Church one day. And the sermon was real bad. The Right Reverend got up and humiliated the preacher in front of the whole audience. The preacher assured the audience he’d do better next week.

He said, “my fellow parishioners, I can fail, you can fail and the Reverend can fail.

I can sin, you can sin and the Reverend can sin.

I can go to hell, you can go to hell and …….”

The audience screamed in laughter and didn’t allow him to complete the sentence 😎😜. It wasn’t necessary!

Please share your examples and enrich my Rule of 3 storehouse.

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Showing 2 comments
  • Sharmistha N Paliwal

    Sir love reading your blogs. Today infact I read one out to my 13 year old daughter too. Please keep writing and sharing. Thankyou.

    • Chendil Kumar

      Thank you,Sharmistha! I’m glad you found it worthy of reading it out to your daughter!

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