How to Be Funnier
Are you wondering how to be funny? If you’re naturally socially anxious, it might feel as though you’ll never be someone who can easily make others laugh.
While you might never be the life of the party, being able to make other people laugh is a skill that will carry you through life. For this reason, it’s absolutely worth learning.
Being able to make people laugh helps you to connect. It makes bad situations feel better.
But it’s also important to tap into your own unique sense of humor. There’s no point in spouting one-liners for quick laughs if it doesn’t fit your persona.
People will find it funnier when your humor is a good match for your personality.
How to Make a Joke
You will find that the key to making an effective joke lies in the element of surprise. This is what most jokes have in common.
While you could simply recite a pun like “I have a few jokes about unemployed people, but none of them work,” you’re more likely to sound like a stand-up comedian than a funny person.
However, when you do try to be funny, make sure to incorporate the element of surprise. Puns and one-liners make use of this tool.
In effect, what you are doing is setting up your audience to expect one thing (or you find yourself in a situation where one thing is expected), and then you flip the script and do or say something completely unexpected.
What this does is give your audience a little jolt of dopamine, or a little dose of pleasure. It’s really as simple as that if you want to make people laugh with a joke!
But how exactly do you weave that into regular conversation? Here are a few ideas:
- Give the opposite answer to what is expected (if the expected answer is yes, answer no, but then laugh). For example, if you’re asked if being a brain surgeon is a difficult job, you would answer “no, not really that hard.”
- Set someone up to expect you to say one thing, and then switch to the unexpected. For example, say “We had a small wedding. There were only about 150 people there.”
- Follow the rule of threes, by giving two things that are expected, and one thing that isn’t. For example, “On the holiday I wore red, white, and baby spit-up.”
- Use a character switch, where you describe two people as having reversed roles. For example, if someone tells you that your English is improving, you could turn to a friend who is a native English speaker and say, “yes, her English is getting very good.”
Giving people something they aren’t expecting causes their brain to perk up, provides a moment of tension, and then a release of surprise.
Observational humor is what a lot of standup comedians use, such as Jerry Seinfeld.
This type of humor requires you to tell stories and turn them into jokes. One way to get started with this is to write down funny things that happen to you in your own life.
These can later become the content of your funny stories. The best part about telling stories is that even if people don’t laugh, you can still pass it off as a story and nothing more.
Whatever you do, make sure that you keep the funny part until the very end. For example, if you’re telling a story about your dog and the funny part is that there was a dog at the park, the very last line of your story would be, “And at the park, there was a dog.”
Say this instead of “There was as a dog at the park.” You’re creating a bit of suspense and tension when you reword it like this, which is what humor is all about.
When you can master the timing of the funny part of your story, then people will find it funny. Good timing will make up for not being the greatest story teller.
Another way to tell a funny story is to reference an earlier part of the story when you finally say the punchline.
You do this by going back and referencing items that got a laugh earlier in your story. You see comedians do this all the time.
This takes a bit more preparation and skill. But it’s well worth it for the reaction you will get.
How to Be Funny In Conversation
I’m sure you are thinking this is all well and good—but what if I don’t want to tell jokes or stories? How can I be funny just in everyday conversation?
Well, you could do what I outlined above in everyday conversation. That’s actually the point.
But if you’re not comfortable with that, here are some more ideas for every day conversation:
- Have a go-to joke that you can use in most situations.
- Make light of something about the situation that you are in. It’s often easier to find things that make you laugh in serious or boring situations.
- Tell a joke about yourself or make fun of yourself. For example, Rodney Dangerfield is known for constantly cracking jokes about himself. But, don’t make jokes about your actual insecurities. Stick to things that are just a little bit odd about you, but that you aren’t really bothered about.
In general, if you feel like you just aren’t a funny person, it might help to start paying attention to what you find funny.
Listen to funny people, funny podcasts, funny TV shows, funny comedians, etc.
If you worry that you aren’t quick enough with your jokes or aren’t good at speaking in general, try practicing walking around your house saying the names of things. This will help to make you quicker with your words.
Finally, stop trying so hard. Not everything you say needs to be funny. And you don’t have to tell the perfect joke. It’s okay to mess up the punchline.
Never use humor at the expense of other people (not that you would do that).
If you’re really stuck, come up with a catchphrase that people know you for. It could be a phrase from your favorite movie. Use it at times that seem appropriate.
For example, the movie Caddyshack features the line, “I don’t think the heavy stuff is going to come down for a while,” while the character is standing in a tornado. I’ve used this line to break the tension when in a difficult situation.
Most importantly, find your own style of humor. Not everyone who is funny is naturally funny. Some people use humor as a way to hide their insecurities or to cover up anxiety or depression.
Above all else, you need to be yourself. But, there’s nothing wrong with trying to lighten up the mood and stop taking yourself so seriously.
So, lock up that inner critic in a box, and try out some funny jokes or funny stories on people you know are likely to be receptive.
It’s true as they say that practice makes perfect. You might not be ready for an improv class or a wedding toast, but surely you can tell a joke or two when among the people you trust most.
Related Articles about Social Skills
- How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward
- Why Are You So Quiet? (What to Say)
- How to Manage Conversation Anxiety
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