Since we’re kicking off the new year,

then maybe I should elaborate about kicking off with your jokes. Last week I talked about getting people to like you from the get-go, and one of my tips was to start off with a common subject. So I thought I’d give you a dozen common subjects that 90% of your crowd will resonate with regardless of age or demographics (for the most part).

These are not in any particular order.

1. Popular/hit TV shows

2. Pets

3. Friends

4. Kids/Nieces/Nephews

5. Parents

6. Big news items that are in the media. Right now these would include things such as the fiscal cliff, and health care reform. The first jokes out of the box probably shouldn’t be about gun control or some other touchy subject in the news.

7. School – you can be generic and refer to “school.” You don’t have to be specific and say college as some people might not have gone to college.

8. Crazy relatives – everyone has at least one.

9. Technology – we’re either young and developing it or we’re old and don’t get it

10. The weather – we’re all experiencing it in the moment, so you can talk about it.

11. Health/exercise/dieting – this used to be a mostly-women topic, but now men are getting on the band wagon with the dieting thing, so it’s safe.

12. Something that just happened in the moment that everyone just experienced.

10 topics you might not want to kick off with:

1. Death – we’ve all experienced having someone we know/love die, but it’s such a downer that you might want to wait until they like you to address it

2. Divorce – for the same reason as above.

3. Sex – same as divorce

4. Drugs – same as sex

5. A joke against one either males or females – unless that’s your act. I used to open with a make-up joke. It rocked (and still does), but I got paranoid that I might be turning off the guys in the group or make them think that this was going to be a “women-ey” act, so I stopped opening with it. Remember, they’re judging you from the very first joke, so if it’s against men or woman, or if it’s slanted towards one sex or the other (power tools or makeup), then you might be leading your audience astray.

Of course remember

there are no hard and fast rules, and you can make exceptions to all of these tips depending on the type of group you’re in front of or the situation.