We love funny people. Whether they’re truth tellers or just joke makers, the truly funny individuals in our lives deliver much-needed, crucial relief as important as any physician’s treatment.
But how do you avoid being “that” person: the one who makes others cringe at the very prospect of them cracking a joke.
The one who laughs loudest at their own (perceived) comedic brilliance?
We all know that type, and most of us can feel our innards clench as soon as they open their mouths because we know how uncomfortable and awful their jokes are going to be.
…and then, there are those people who can walk into any room, scan it briefly, and make an observation so funny one would think it had been planned.
You want to become one of those people. Here’s how:
Gauge The Room
Humor doesn’t force itself into a space. It observes, and in that observing it asks permission. Good humor is always participatory.
Did the embalmer accidentally give Uncle Fred a jaunty grin and closed-eye squint, making his final resting face look as though he’s smirking about something filthy?
Perhaps it’s best to wait till some time after the funeral to bring up this observation.
Also reconsider any and all decisions to try humorous political/scatological/sexual ice-breakers on the crowd when you’re visiting your child’s schoolroom during career day.
Humor that serves only to draw attention to you is what’s known in grade school circles as “showing off,” so it’s also a good idea to indulge in a little self-analysis.
Knowing why you want to make light of something is just as important as knowing when and how to do so.
Lower Your Shields
The ability to laugh at our own human foibles is vital to psychological wellbeing, so it’s no surprise that effortlessly humorous people seem extremely comfortable in their own skins.
Trying to be funny while simultaneously being defensive is about as effective and well received as, say, a president tweeting on par with a 13 year-old in a junior high lunchroom. #OhHoneyDon’t
People like to feel in on the joke, rather than hostages of attempts at comedic glory.
If you’re recounting something funny, interrupt yourself to invite input; start a sentence and allow someone else to finish it. Lead them to the punch line… then fail to deliver the blow.
The best comedy often leaves just enough to the imagination for the receiver to fill in the blanks, thereby becoming part of the experience. A shared laugh is the best laugh.
Expand Your Consciousness
Is everything funny? That’s a tricky one. Can everything be funny? Now that one has possibilities!
At its most basic, humor is our safety valve. It makes the horrific manageable, the tragic relatable, and the unjust surreal.
Seeing the connections between the disparate, often wildly opposing conjunctions of life, and pointing out their underlying absurdity, shows openness of mind: an openness appreciated by those trying their best to also make sense of this world.
Don’t attempt to make everything funny, but do see the humor of a universe controlled by an imp in its knickers behind a velvet curtain.
What would you say if you were told comedians are often the most empathetic people in the room?
Scoff and curse, perhaps?
Think of this then: If you have a funny friend, have you noticed they’re actually sensitive to your moods and needs? Have you noticed that… they care?
People know when you’re being fake in trying to force humor into a situation you don’t care about. If you’re going to bring the funny, it’s best to bring the heart as well.
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Know Your Medium
Writing is not talking is not performing. “Funny” shapeshifts its way between these distinct modes in order to maximize its message.
Not-funny tries to ram its intent into whatever medium is handy like some intangible Large Hadron Collider of Mirth.
This is how timelines get split. Or people automatically reverse their magnetic attraction to you.
Don’t be the Large Hadron Collider of Mirth.
Know Your Limits
Isn’t it funny how people say “This goes without saying,” and then say it? Like now…
It goes without saying, but just because it’s funny to you doesn’t mean it will be funny to everyone.
Practice tailoring your message to the mode of delivery. People are generally more patient with the written word, more comfortable with the feeling of being spoken to one-on-one, and thrilled at being considered pieces of performance art.
Respecting the limits of what you’ll say, how best to say it, and how much to say leads to repeat sessions of smiles and laughter.
Don’t Be Mean
There’s an expression in humor: “punching down.” Punching down is going for the quick, mean, easy laugh meant to humiliate someone perceived to be “lesser.”
What this technique actually does is reveal the practitioner’s sensibilities as lesser. Being mean-spirited, overly bilious or caustic is the province of shock jocks, juveniles, and whatever Daniel Tosh is.
Here’s a phrase to keep in mind: those who point out their inferiors, don’t have any.
Don’t Overdo It
Know when to let a joke go.
We’ve all seen someone bludgeon others with a bit of humor the teller thought deserved a riotous reaction, oblivious to the fact that they’re just met with blank stares and attempts to back away, avoiding eye contact.
Never be that someone.
Humor is so much like making love. Foreplay is nice. Getting to the deed is good. Extensive flopping like a fish on a greased dock not only chafes, but leaves one’s partner feeling slightly murderous.
Embrace The Big Reveal
The biggest way to be funny without being fake is (wait for it): Don’t Be Fake.
No one has to fit in all the time, and no one needs to be funny all the time.
There’s no shame in not having a ready quip, trenchant observation, or blisteringly amusing anecdote at every turn.
What many fail to realize about comedy is that it reveals less about the topic of the joke than it illuminates the character of the deliverer.
Always keep in mind that a joke is a shared thing. It is someone opening themselves up to the lunacy of existence and hoping you’ll see something in there to help both of you make sense of things, even if just for one brilliant, ridiculous moment.
Find Out What’s So Funny
When you stop to think about it, laughter’s an odd thing.
We look like manically enraged baboons while engaged in it. It sometimes makes us snort, hoot, or piss ourselves.
How’s that for attractive, romantic qualities?
Yet a sense of humor always ranks high on the list of attributes needed for any of us to consider hopping into bed with others, let alone letting them into our worlds as life mates.
The best part of being funny is that everybody is funny in different ways.
The “fake” aspect occurs when trying to be funny in a way that’s alien to their nature.
Not everybody tells great jokes. Not everybody masters the humorous anecdote, or even communicates funny insights with blinding clarity using nothing but slight facial expressions and body movements.
But everybody can open their eyes and connect things that, at first glance, might not seem to belong together, especially when reality is far more absurd than fiction could ever attempt to be.