How To Be Funny Without Trying
Humor is something we all love and enjoy. It has the ability to transcend linguistic, cultural and sexual barriers. It is an integral part of how we interact with and relate to others. Without humor, life would be a sad and sordid affair. It’s the spin we can place on tragedies and hardships that make life more fun and enjoyable.
As a species, we clearly encourage and appreciate humor. We are able to make fun of serious issues concerning society and often in doing so, improve our understanding and widen our perspective.
Although every person is familiar with the concept of humor, there are some people who are naturally funnier than others. In a society that appreciates humor, this can have major advantages; primarily, attracting beautiful women. Humor can make you appear fun, interesting and enjoyable to be around. You are far more likely to garner the attention of beautiful women if people feel naturally drawn to you.
It can defuse awkward situations and turn a temporary moment of weakness into a playful joke. It smooths out interaction between strangers and helps keep conversations fresh and enjoyable. Humor can even be used as a defense mechanism against competing males. Anger is hard to maintain in the face of friendly humor.
Sure being funny is awesome, but how does someone who is not funny become funny?
Having The Right Comedy Influences
People’s ability to interpret and produce humor is largely due to the environment they grew up in.
If you grew up with a family of comedians then chances are you will also end up being something of a comedian yourself. If those around you have a humorous and analytical outlook then you are likely to learn those attributes in kind. That doesn’t mean that only the children of funny people will be funny because experience has taught us otherwise.
There are many sources of “inspiration” when it comes to having a sense of humor. They can be friends, relatives or even just TV or radio personalities. It is important to immerse yourself in humor if you want to understand and replicate it.
People who are proactively interested in humor and go out of their way to watch comedians and funny television shows also tend to become funnier, because their interest and appreciation of humor has given them appropriate perspective.
Be that as it may, some popular television shows are not an appropriate source of conversational humor. Shows such as South Park or Dave Chepelle, for example, cater to a very specific type of audience. Although these are successful and entertaining mediums, the humor one would learn from such shows would only be appropriate in a select number of situations. If you’re keen on ripping out jokes that some may find offensive, make sure you have made a solid evaluation of your audience first. In civilised company, one must be wary of what is appropriate humor for a mixed crowd.
Therefore, if you are aspiring to appeal to the greater audience as a man of humor then you will be better off pro-actively selecting comedic influences which appeal to mainstream society (such as Seinfeld or Futurama for example) and finding a particular style or niche of comedy that is congruent to you personally.
Knowing Your Intellectual Limitations
As harsh as this may sound it is absolutely necessary… a big factor of comedy is intelligence. You might be studying Advanced Theoretical Physics at Oxford but that doesn’t mean that you have the social intelligence or quick wit to spin off awesome one liners like Richard Prior or Bill Hicks.
If you ARE determined to get better at being funny then you can develop your social intelligence by ’working out’ the appropriate areas of your brain. Mental exercises such as improvisational acting can gradually improve your on-the-spot thinking although, depending on how witty you naturally are, it could take a very long time. You might be better off just finding a style of humor that works for you.
If you are looking for an easier and simpler solution to becoming funny then you are best off finding a style of comedy that works with your natural personality. There’s no point trying to emulate comedians that seem like they’re on crack if you are normally a docile on introverted person.
If you are a slow thinker but an animated story teller, then memorising long but funny jokes could be a simple way to appear funny, although if you’re not accustomed to telling jokes you will need to practice your delivery because the words on their own are simply not enough.
If you’re a hyperactive person with a poor memory then you will be more suited to ‘one liners’. These equate to memorised phrases or anecdotes which can be readily applied to appropriate dialogue in order to produce a humorous outcome.
This type of comedy revolves around creating an expectation in the listener by leading them in one direction, then by presenting a contrary piece of information. It breaks the expectation and this is funny.
A group of friends are discussing death, a usually morbid topic when you chime in with…
‘When I die, I want it to be peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather…’
Pause for affect.
‘…Not screaming and yelling like the passengers on the bus he was driving.’
One liners such as these do not require a lot of thought or effort, you already have them stored up in your head and you are just waiting for the opportunity to use them. If used at the right times and delivered with confidence they will give the user a reputation of being a funny person. Try to use something new and original. Dated jokes are less likely to earn you laughs and more likely to earn a resounding groan from your audience.
The Art Of Irony And Sarcasm
If you are bad at telling stories and bad at remembering one liners and not naturally funny, then you might want to try being ironic or sarcastic.
Irony is one of the most commonly misunderstood words in the English language, yet one of the most commonly used forms of humor.
For instance, Alanis Morisettes song ‘Ironic’, is ironic in the fact that the lyrics of the song itself are not actually ironic so therefore it is the opposite of it’s literal meaning and therefore the song is ironic but the lyrics are not.
Confused? You should be.
The best example of irony is when two sets of information are present that create a kind of contradiction. For example, if you were reading an article about the importance of having good grammar which was actually full of grammatical errors, that would be ironic. In this example, because the article has failed to achieve the grammar it lectured about, it is ironically humorous. On the other hand, although it would be ironic to hit a dog while driving to take your own dog to the vet, it would not be funny.
Due to the complex nature of irony we have provided you with two examples of everyday irony, you may or may not have realised were ironic.
Peter: ”So in one week my dog died, my house burnt down and the IRS have decided to randomly audit me”
Paul: “From now on I am going to call you ‘Lucky’”
This is ironic because Peter was actually very unlucky yet Paul has insinuated that he is lucky. By intentionally using the opposite meaning, Paul is being humorously ironic.
Peter: “Hello, nice to meet you, my name is Peter Black”
Paul: “Yet you are clearly a Caucasian white male, how ironic”
This is ironic because Paul has taken Peter’s last name as a physically descriptive word, which is in fact the opposite of his physical appearance.
On the other hand, there are many examples of situations that appear to be ironic but do not meet the criteria. Many people are confused by irony and will think they are being ironic when they are not. Do this in conversation and you will probably look rather stupid:
“It’s like rain on your wedding day”
“It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid”
“It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take”
These things are not ironic. They are just crappy things to happen to someone.
Irony and sarcasm are very similar because they challenge people in an indirect manner based upon literary untruths. However the biggest difference is that irony is often appreciated yet sarcasm, if used incorrectly or in excess, can be very annoying and construed as negative.
The most effective way to use sarcasm as a form of humour is to vocally play out hypothetical situations which are inspired by someone else’s idiocy.
Peter and Paul are walking along the street one day when they both see a homeless man begging for change.
Peter: “Man, why doesn’t that hobo just go get a job.”
Paul: “Yeah I guess he should just go have a shower at his non-existent apartment, pull out one of those Hugo Boss suits he’s got stashed in his trolley full of hubcaps and resume his career as a qualified accountant!”
Peter and Paul are getting ready to go out for a night on the town.
Peter: “Hey Paul, do you think this shirt looks good on me”
Paul: “Mothers lock up your daughters because Peter and his pink polo shirt are on the town!”
Sarcasm can be a very funny form of humor but it really comes down to the intention of the user. If somebody is being sarcastic in a negative or derogatory manner then people will often get irritated. Yet if sarcasm is used in a light or playful way then it is often enjoyable and funny.
It’s important not to go into too much detail because dragging out sarcasm can seem facetious and rude. You are often playing off the mistakes or conversational gaffs of others, so making too much of it can come across as insulting. With all humor you need a build up and punchline so keeping it short and sweet is the way to go.
Another literary word play which is considered good humor is the use of Puns (your grandparents love that shit)
Pun’s are one of the oldest forms of popular wit and are simply a play of words which create multiple meanings. Sometimes these multiple meanings can form humourous anecdotes.
I work at the scarf factory, it is a very tight-knit community.
Two astronauts who were dating broke up because they needed their space.
Pun’s can be quite difficult to come up with at times but they are also one of the most widely accepted forms of humor so they go down well with most crowds. However, keep in mind that it is usually a bit ‘tongue in cheek’. Puns are usually considered a bit lame by younger generations so they are often accompanied by a mock laugh by the teller or a funny accent to let the listener know you’re not completely serious. Make it known that you understand puns are silly, otherwise you may come across as just lamey.
If you are still yet to find your niche in any of the prior examples then there is still one type of humour that can work well for some and be abso-fucking-lutely hilarious. But it can also be quite dangerous in that it is very easy to majorly offend people if you don’t get the delivery right or you pick the wrong audience.
Shock Value Humor, For Those Who Know No Bounds
Shock value humor is very popular among stand up comedians. It requires big balls and high risks but like most things with high risks it can also have a big payment. The laughs you will get from shock value humor are unequivocal to anything else in comedy, that’s why it’s normally left up to the experts.
Shock value humor requires a lot of common sense because you need to be able to deliberate between getting as close to over the top as possible and actually going over the top and offending your audience.
Shock value humor usually has undertones of sexism, racism and just about any other ‘ism’ you can think of. In other words shock value humor is usually riddled with vulgarity; it touches on taboos that contemporary society are too afraid to touch and that is why we love it.
The key to being a funny person is to make it appear as if you are not trying too hard to be funny. If you say something that you think is funny and your audience does not laugh, don’t re-tell the joke or explain it. If they don’t get it that is their problem, and if they did get it but they didn’t find it funny then persisting in a bad joke will make you look like a fool.
Telling a joke is mostly about the delivery; if you can get the delivery right you can make almost anything seem funny and the best way to do this is to practice your delivery on your own until you get it right, make use of your bathroom mirror or video camera.
A good delivery often requires the teller of the joke to become physically animated to assist their audience with visualization. You may notice that all good comedians will use their hands and their body language to convey a lot of the joke itself. It involves as much acting as it does public speaking because when you are telling a joke you are more or less telling a story. You need to punctuate the right moments and work the joke as best you can… make it appear as funny to others as it is to you.
One big mistake people make when trying to be funny is they will often quote television shows and movies that are funny and expect it to be funny to other people. Although this can sometimes work, it is generally not advisable unless you are exceptional at translating the television joke into a verbal joke, which is actually quite difficult.
When reciting TV shows or movies, it is important to keep in mind that they have an expiry date of about one year for comedic value. Borat for instance was initially hilarious when it first came out and lots of people everywhere were quoting him. For the first year after it’s release it was still fresh and funny but now when people still quote Borat it just seems lame and outdated. (Never ever quote the Simpsons, that stopped being funny over a decade ago)
All jokes have an expiry date, they do their circulations and no matter how good it was the first time around, the more people hear them the more they drop the jokes value in their minds. If you keep telling the same jokes then it doesn’t matter how funny they once were, they will have the opposite effect after a while.
One thing you want to remember with comedy is that the closer to the truth you can keep it, the better. The saying “it’s funny because it’s true” exemplifies this perfectly. We like to laugh at real things or things we believe to be true.This is why stereotypes are so often used in comedy. The more outlandish and far-fetched your humor is, the harder it will be to sell it. English comedian Ross Noble is a prime example. His humor often descends into strange and unrelated tangents but his animated and enthusiastic delivery is what makes him successful. His kind of humor would not be something to emulate in a social situation, it’s simply too out there.
An important key to becoming funny is to remember to smile and never take yourself too seriously. It is okay to laugh at yourself and it can even be endearing. If you can do this then even if you are trying to get laughs and failing you can even use that in itself to get laughs… “Wow, I’m just about as funny as your Mom’s syphilis” or “Well that one went down like a fart in nunnery”. Even the funniest people will occasionally drop the ball with their jokes… but you won’t see them falter. They are comfortable with their failure will come off all the better by making light of it.
Simply put, you can’t take yourself seriously and be funny. Serious and funny don’t go together, so learn to enjoy yourself and roll with the blows and if you see an opportunity to be funny and it’s appropriate, then don’t be afraid to take it. Beautiful women love funny men.