Don't open with a joke. there will be killjoys in the crowd.
Get their attention...make them add?
Eight-seven too uninteresting a number:
Seven dozen and three years ago?
Eight nines and fifteen years ago?
One sesquicentennial minus sixty-three years ago?
On "all men are created equal", consider "all persons are equal people," or "all guys and gals are goers." (Alliteration too much for a battlefield dedication?)
Remember, the audience is moronic. Even though we're standing on a battlefield, mention the Civil War.
"Dedicate," "consecrate," "hallow": use one but not all three!!!
Throw in a parrot joke?
Good idea to mention that no one will remember this speech. It will make them remember it.
Idea for gag: mid-speech, take drink of water, say, "That's a tall drink o' water and so am I!" Or, take off stovepipe hat, turn upside down, let chicken feather fall to ground, say nothing, put hat back on.
Can we say "...under God"?
If speech feels too long, cut "...you know, as I look into your faces, and some of these faces need looking into, I'm thinking that this nation, indivisible, united as a kangaroo and her joey, shall never swaver (Is this a word? Look up), shall never coagulate into a hard gel of indifference. That on this battlefield today, right after I'm done speaking, I'm hosting cocktails and wieners, and hope for a really good three-legged race."
Of, by, for?
By, for, of?
For, by, of?
Of, for, by?
For, of, by?
By, of, for?
For, for, for? (Doesn't work.)
Bow, remove hat. (Make running gag of chicken feather? If so, would have to load second feather during initial chicken-feather bit.)
...shall not perish from the parish. (Love this! Too hip for the room?)
Don't forget to smile!
New Yorker Magazine, May 17, 1999