On Being Funny
November 7, 2009 6:24 AM   Subscribe

This is a strange question because I'm not sure whether this is something that can be developed or whether it is an innate quality that a person is born with. Here goes, is it possible to become funny? I notice that almost everyone I interact with has a great sense of humor and has the ability to make other people laugh. Is this something that can be cultivated withing someone? I would like to learn to develop the ability to make others laugh and to learn how to have a better sense of humor. Does anyone have any ideas on this? If this is a skill that can be developed, how would one go about developing this? I have a strong feeling that this involves looking at life in a different way, and I'm open to doing this. Please list some ideas if you have any strategies that have worked for you or any other suggestions/thoughts.
posted by Garden to Human Relations (43 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Yes. You already have the ability to appreciate and understand humor, and you like it. If there's a comedy club in your area, call to see if they offer classes. Lots of fun. Practice. Tell a few jokes, and understand that many jokes bomb. Avoid mean, racist, sexist, etc., humor, because it's mean, and because it's more likely to cause trouble, and therefore not a good learning experience.

Get some audio (podcasts, cd, etc) of great comedians. George Carlin, Steve Martin, Lily Tomlin. Listen, and realize that they worked really hard on that material. Video is olkay, but audio alone seems to make it easier to analyse. It's okay for you to practice your jokes and a few funny stories in private before you use them.

This should be fun; don't focus on failures. Listen, and you'll realize that others tell stories that sink. Learn and move on.
posted by theora55 at 6:38 AM on November 7, 2009

Watch a lot of comedy, figure out what you like and dissect/analyze that (note: this may be boring). Hang out with funny people and try to make jokes. Fail often. Etc.

I figure it's gotta be like any other skill, right?
posted by dubitable at 6:39 AM on November 7, 2009

Learn to laugh at yourself.
posted by Lorc at 6:56 AM on November 7, 2009 [3 favorites]

The secret to a being fu... TIMING!

Watch Comedian or Punchline for a feel of how much work goes into being funny.
posted by nedpwolf at 6:56 AM on November 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Both laughing and making others laugh in casual social situations or at work tends to be a coping mechanism. Being funny is a lot of work, and it can actual raise tension levels.

Later on in life (30 years +) good communication skills are valued more. You can be serious, but if you can get your point across it more important than making others laugh.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:02 AM on November 7, 2009 [3 favorites]

I do not think you can learn to be funny by emulating professional comics. Instead, I would say you should emulate your funniest friends. But I think the trick is to amuse yourself (not just laugh at yourself) and then express that amusement, to find an authentic place for humor in your own approach to life. When you feel yourself getting pissed off, make it into a joke. Bored? Classically funny from a certain perspective. Wired? Go crazy. (Be careful around romantic situations, however.)

I've told this story on Mefi before, I think, but a very well known American musician (famous for miserable songs and a miserable personal life that ended in early death from addiction, and possessed of a very dour demeanor, although a wicked sense of humor) once said to me: "my problem is, I can't stop being funny." He meant it.

Real comedy comes from pain. Don't be so sure you want to go there.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:05 AM on November 7, 2009 [4 favorites]

"Being funny onstage with jokes that you have practiced" is such a different skill than "being able to crack up your friends and acquaintances". A big part of cracking up friends is being able to think quickly on your feet, so I will suggest taking some improv classes.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:21 AM on November 7, 2009 [4 favorites]

I notice that almost everyone I interact with has a great sense of humor and has the ability to make other people laugh.

You don't say this directly -- do you laugh when people make jokes? Or does it seem like the whole humor thing is something other people "get"?

If you enjoy other people's jokes, then that's your entry point. Think about what you liked about them. And think about how the person might have put the pieces together to make the joke work. Then start making jokes. It'll be like any other skill -- you'll make bad jokes at first. That's OK. Keep practicing, and over time you'll get better. Taking an improv class is also a good suggestion -- they'll show you how to combine unfunny elements to make something that is funny.

On the other hand, if you feel like you're on the outside looking in when other people are making jokes and laughing at them, then comedy might not be the thing for you. Again, try taking an improv class. If you enjoy it, then see the previous paragraph.

People say I'm pretty funny. I remember as a kid listening to my brother make jokes and thinking "I want to make jokes like that." I imitated him, tried to figure out his process, then tried to do it on my own. It took time. Lots of jokes fell flat (and they still do). Part of making jokes is being able to live with the awkward silence that follows a bad one. (It's not that bad, really, and it always passes quickly. Unless you're doing standup, but that's another story.)
posted by PlusDistance at 7:40 AM on November 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

For what it's worth, and keeping in mind I'm a really amateur stand up who really bombed my set last night...

Yes and no -- I recall reading a study that said really successful comedians all had certain things in common: they were very intelligent, and they were not very popular in high school. I have known very few people who were 'normal' and really funny. Personally, I think (especially for observational comedy) you need a certain kind of outsider perspective which only comes from spending a lot of time on the outside. Like how Raymond Chandler was said to have had such a good ear for American slang because he grew up in England. If you're not a bit outside, you never think to yourself, "Hey, isn't it really strange that (blah?) I mean, logically if (blah) then (etc!)!" (And then, of course, you need a joke). This is also my theory about why sometimes comedians get really famous and then stop being funny. (Well, that and the fact that suddenly they're traveling a lot and there's only so many jokes you can make about airplanes and hotels.)

Also, like someone else said, a lot of work goes into some guy telling jokes on a stage. Even really good comics don't just get up there and just go for it -- they come up with jokes, test them out, rearrange things. Every word has to be perfect.

If you want to be funny to your friends and people you know, it's a lot easier, though, because you can use referential humor and in-jokes and that kind of thing.
posted by Comrade_robot at 7:48 AM on November 7, 2009

Any 'innate' sense of humor I have, I got from my dad himself and from the funny media he had lying around our house. I became far funnier after I spent a lot of time hanging out with comedians.

Funnyness is a kind of language. Verbally, nonverbally, mentally, it's just a slightly different way to communicate. And how do you learn any language? Immersion.

So, I agree with above suggestions to take comedy classes.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:54 AM on November 7, 2009 [2 favorites]

There are so many kinds of comedy out there and they are not all equally appealing to all people. For example, I'm not crazy about people telling prepared jokes, but prefer the wry throw-away line. Just off the top of my head there is cruel humor (very common among friends), observational humor (George Carlin is king), and surreal humor (Steve Martin in his heyday) and these are all very different skills. Here is what I would do, read as many different humor books as possible-- everything from Robert Benchley to Dave Barry not forgetting the better cartoonists such as Gary Larson. Then watch as much stand-up as you can manage. Note what type of humor makes you laugh. Focus on what you think you can pull off. Not everybody is a fast thinker, maybe you are better hanging back and then tossing in that little gem.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:55 AM on November 7, 2009

I think there's a difference between being funny in your daily life, and being able to tell jokes and do stand-up like a comedian.

Some of the funniest people I know were just funny in their everyday comments and their outlook on life, but they were not "joke tellers" or standup comedians.

I think a good entry point into humor is to look for the absurdity in EVERYTHING around you. If you look for it, there's plenty there. I work with some pretty fun people, and we are constantly trying to poke fun at each other. We are constantly poking fun of our work situation, our work problems, etc. You don't need a comedy class to analyze your everyday situations for their comedic potential ... trust me, there's plenty of material staring you in the face.

I don't think of myself as a naturally funny person, but around the right set of people I am pretty funny because I am in the habit of looking for absurdity.
posted by jayder at 7:58 AM on November 7, 2009 [4 favorites]

I would suggest getting some friends together and do some improv games. Standup is fine for story or joke telling but improv is a far better simulation of real life humor, where not just timing but also quick thinking is paramount.

I think very funny people are mostly funny because they practice a lot, whether or not that practice is designated and intentional practicing or not.
posted by ropeladder at 8:08 AM on November 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

On the other hand I find people amused by what I say but I am not trying to be funny, I am just pointing out things I observe (or what have you). I guess I do like it when people laugh at what I say in a good way, but I rarely intentionally "make jokes". Partly it's part of my personality, and it's not something I realized about myself, I had to be told.

If you want to try and be wittier, you might think about just being more observant of the little things in life. When something "happens" think about away to tell a story about it that shows the details of what you found weird/amusing/irritating/surprising about the event. When I say happens, I mean things that you notice on the bus, at the grocery store, or I don't want to lead you too much - it's more a perspective on regular everyday life.

Most people are suggesting you listen to professionals which can be a fun research project but since you are asking about just hanging out with funny people a good idea would be to listen more closely to what people are laughing at.
What are your friends talking about that's so funny?
How do they talk about it, are they really sarcastic?
Do they talk with their hands?
Do they tell "jokes"?

On preview: what jaydar said - look for the absurdity! All around you!
posted by smartypantz at 8:18 AM on November 7, 2009

Something very close to this question has been asked before. See here. You might want to check out some of the answers.
posted by crapples at 9:06 AM on November 7, 2009

Seconding jayder.

I have been told frequently that I am a funny person, but if I was pressed to do a stand up routine, I would probably bomb. I have what I call "situational humor"; I can find something funny in situations and conversations, I react to what is already there. I don't know where it comes from specifically, I just "am" funny, I guess.

You raise a pretty interesting question though. I was adopted, so I can't say I got my sense of humor biologically, but my father is a pretty funny guy and I'm pretty sure I got a lot of appreciation for humor, as well as exposure (I remember listening to his old Alan Sherman albums) from him. As I got older I loved comedy and bought my own albums; Steve Martin, Bill Cosby, Geroge Carlin Joan Rivers and I watched lots of SNL and Monty Python. It's my favorite genre of movies and television.

I really can't add much, except that I have a pretty good vocabulary and know a lot of homophones (night/knight) which can make for some good off-the-cuff puns, especially with my friends, and more often than not they're sexual, the double entendre:

Them (putting together a piece of furniture): I'm having a hard time with this screw!
Me: Well, if it's hard, then that's not your problem. (said with appropriate inflection).

chuckle, chuckle - or groan - depending on the audience
posted by NoraCharles at 9:20 AM on November 7, 2009

I've experienced the funniest people as those who developed humor and wit as a coping mechanism to great pain. People who will have a room full of people rolling on the floor laughing their heads off, and who honed that ability to make people laugh as a way to survive in pretty awful situations. I'm sure there are some people with happy, normal childhoods who never survived a traumatic experience and can still be amazingly funny. I can't say that they don't exist. I just don't know any of them.

That said, there are so many approaches to humor, as others have mentioned. Humor is just as much about what you don't say, or when you choose to be silent, as it is about what you say or how you say it. The common characteristics across the funny people I know are an ability to be self-deprecating, keenly observe the world around them--especially human interactions/behavior, having enough universal experiences that they can relate well to many different "audiences", being pretty quick with cognitive processing and language, and being pretty fearless because sometimes they do fall flat.

Improv classes tend to be a great place to start, specifically because teach the skills that lead to "sustainable funny". (Not a technical term.) Those who aspire to be stand-up comedians often do poorly at first in those classes because they are used to trying to focus the attention on themselves and their storytelling. Improv requires you to be a better observer of others and their cues, to use space and silence as much as words or body language, to play off of others without shutting them down, etc. You might want to start there.
posted by jeanmari at 9:28 AM on November 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you want to see an amazing example of professionals using improv skills to develop and hone their funny, watch Second to None. It is especially inspiring to listen to a young Tina Fey sitting in the Golden Apple in Chicago and making self-deprecating comments about her (very visible at the time) facial scar. You sense her vulnerability and her work to turn that vulnerability and self-consciousness into comedy. The whole film is educational, revealing and, well, incredibly funny. Completely worth the price and something that gets better the more that you watch it, whether you want to do improv or not.
posted by jeanmari at 9:35 AM on November 7, 2009 [2 favorites]

Oh yay! If you live in/near Chicago, and don't want to buy the video, they are going to screen it at Second City Chicago in December:

Sunday, December 13th, 2009
10:00am: SCREENING: "Second to None" - A newly edited version of the documentary that followed the process of creating the classic revue "Paradigm Lost," featuring Scott Adsit, Kevin Dorff, Rachel Dratch, Tina Fey, Jenna Jolovitz, Jim Zulevic and Mick Napier

(The Second City e.t.c. Theatre - Tickets $10)

Mefi Meetup, anyone?
posted by jeanmari at 9:39 AM on November 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I agree with Jayder too. I hate hanging out with people who talk like stand-up comedians. And I really don't like listening to "let me tell you a joke" jokes, unless the conversation is otherwise really boring.

I think you just need to work out what you yourself find funny, then when things occur in social situations that make you giggle inside, try to verbalise them (depending on who you're with, of course).

I am very cynical, so that is how my little one liners come out. Many people don't get them, and look at me quizzically. But some people do, and I do, and that's enough for me.

It's weird... even something like "Yeah, right, Dave", said in a certain cynical or sarcastic tone, at the right time, can make a whole group laugh. Maybe that's just relieving tension after Dave's silly comment, or acknowledging to others that I also think what Dave said is silly, but it's enough.

I also think frequency matters. I don't really go TRYING to make people laugh very often, so when I do, people seem to take more notice.

Catching people off guard also seems to matter. If you say something silly when it's completely unexpected, it can go down really well (or really badly - this is where judgment comes into it).

I dunno. A sense of humour is a very subjective thing.
posted by Diag at 9:41 AM on November 7, 2009

I see Steve Carell has a Metafilter account.

Really - if you have to "work" or "learn" at being funny, you're not going to be funny. It's a gift. "Funny" is really something you either are or you are not.
posted by Zambrano at 9:41 AM on November 7, 2009

I'm lucky to have very, very funny people in my life. They are not joke tellers but story tellers. They see irony, humor, and absurdity in absolutely everything--everything. Experiences that are ordinary for most people are rich with comic material for them. They notice and remember details of experiences and recreate dialogue, expressions, settings so that listeners are right there. They tell their stories naturally and at appropriate times. They are not loudmouths but devastatingly dry. While all my funny people love everything from the Three Stooges to Steve Martin and Larry David, these are not the source or models for their style or material. Life is. Everything is a story not a joke.
posted by Elsie at 9:51 AM on November 7, 2009 [3 favorites]

"Instead, I would say you should emulate your funniest friends. But I think the trick is to amuse yourself (not just laugh at yourself) and then express that amusement, to find an authentic place for humor in your own approach to life."

"I think very funny people are mostly funny because they practice a lot, whether or not that practice is designated and intentional practicing or not."

I agree absolutely with those two things. I used to write essays for my friends and family to read that were supposed to be funny, but the best part was that when some time had passed I would re-read them and I would have the pomposity to laugh hysterically, honestly like it was the first time I'd read it, so it didn't matter who liked it or not (they did like it though :) ). If you can make yourself funny to yourself, even without expressing, then being funny to others will naturally follow in the right circumstances.

(For example, I liked to keep a list in a Word document or something of ideas for funny essays, and sometimes just freewrite from one or two of them looking for funny ways to express things, etc., editing and re-editing and using a thesaurus and re-reading again. And just having the list made me think constantly of what I could add to it, and then sometimes I'd make one into something. Writing helped me be a lot quicker in conversation.)

So I disagree, don't look at others to see what's funny, only look at what you think is funny and add, subtract, play around, share it or don't share it, just be funny to yourself. But I think the key is just practicing, or making it a part of your life to keep looking around for funny things, whether you share them or not. At the very least that way you'll get to save up for a party or something.
posted by freddymungo at 10:17 AM on November 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

To clarify the last paragraph: don't look at when people laugh in stand up and then think, "Oh, that's funny? Okay..." but watch for yourself to see what you laugh at.
posted by freddymungo at 10:21 AM on November 7, 2009

I've watched a *lot* of stand-up comedy in my time, and inevitably, an awful lot of that sense of humour, wit and a wry way of looking at the world has mutated into my everyday conversation, to the point when I'll make a matter-of-fact observation and people will just start laughing around me while I stand there going "What... ?"

To be fair, I also have the viewpoint of the outsider looking in, which helps enormously in observational comedy/wit.

So watch a lot of Comedy Central.
posted by almostwitty at 10:22 AM on November 7, 2009

It sounds like you're talking about off-the-cuff humor rather than performing stand-up comedy acts from a script which has been polished to perfection. I have no experience with the latter but have a reputation for being quite funny in real life (when I'm not on my best behaviour), so here are my suggestions:

1. Funny things are often absurd or incongruous, as has already been pointed out. Play these up. Taking something to ridiculous extremes can be very funny, which is sort of the basis of the "Yes, and ..." approach (I believe this is a staple technique in improv). Some of the funniest spontaneous things I've ever done were increasingly absurd dialogs with friends who slipped right into the "yes, and ..." mode.

2. Certain stock phrases can be useful if your humor tends to be dry. ("I see things are back to normal around here, so to speak ...") As long as you don't overuse them, it's handy to have a bunch of canned tried-and-true responses.

3. Don't be mean. This can be hard and it's very tempting to make jokes at somebody else's expense, but in the long run it just makes you look like a jerk. I guess it's OK to occasionally crack jokes about politicians and celebrities, but even that wears thin pretty quickly. As people get older, they have less tolerance for meanness - things that were hilarious in junior high school seem dumb in college, and things that were scintillatingly snarky in college seem pointlessly cruel when you're 35.

Humor is a mechanism for coping with frustration, among other things. (It can also be a way to cope with extreme stress, which is where the black humor of cops and paramedics etc comes from, but outside those specific circles, black humor seems macabre and freaky. Black humor is "for experts only" - stay well away while you're still working on Funny 101.) I think most people respond well to humor based on frustration, since we've all been there.

The butt of your jokes should mostly be non-human. Aggravating situations, perverse machines that have a mind of their own, maybe even your evil cat are fair game but if you tear into people too often I won't want to hang around with you. I'm perfectly capable of holding my own when the zingers fly, but a cutting sense of humor tells me someone is probably trouble: likely to rip into me behind my back, and not worth the effort of being friends with.

Learn when to be funny and when to keep a lid on it. Know your audience, in other words. Some people are really sensitive about certain topics. If you inadvertently hit a sore spot, apologize sincerely and move on. Telling somebody they're being too sensitive - even if you truly believe they are - never ends well. Just make a mental note about that person and play it safe in the future.

Finally, accept that Humor Does Not Scale Well. (Especially in text form, without intonation and body language clues.) We see this all the time on MeFi - some people get upset about stuff that others think is pretty funny. Given a large enough audience, somebody is gonna think something is Just Not Funny. If you're dealing with people you don't know well, assume they're going to include at least one Not Funny person. Decide whether you want to deal with the consequences of offending them before you start in with the funny schtick. Personally, when in doubt I play it safe (so I have to get to know someone pretty well before I uncork the zingers).

I think that for normal human beings, humor is definitely a learnable skill. (I know one person who truly has no sense of humor, doesn't get jokes, can't make jokes, doesn't make the normal connection that "incongruous = funny", but I think most people are wired with some innate sense of humor.) I remember the satisfaction of getting better at it throughout high school and college, the embarrassment of finally realizing I needed to not be so mean, and the satisfaction again of learning how to be funny without being cruel (uh, usually). Listen, copy, and practice, and over time you will develop and calibrate your humor to suit the situation. Show us what ya got, kid!
posted by Quietgal at 10:28 AM on November 7, 2009 [5 favorites]

Really - if you have to "work" or "learn" at being funny, you're not going to be funny. It's a gift. "Funny" is really something you either are or you are not.

This is hilarious!
posted by dubitable at 12:01 PM on November 7, 2009

Some advice:

- When you're hanging out with your friends, don't sit back passively and wait for the humor to suddenly come to you. Work your mind, looking for something funny to say
- Keep it short. A good, long, funny story can be great and very memorable but these are difficult to pull off, especially at first. Quick, witty observations are a good route in my experience
- Canned jokes are almost always lame since the best humor is relevant to the situation at hand
- If you make a witty observation or comment and get a chuckle, know your limit. Sometimes people are emboldened and keep talking too long, ruining it
- Pay attention to the reactions you get. Your typical annoying, loud, unfunny person will always be making bad jokes, oblivious to everyones eye rolling and yawns.
- Play off what other people say. You can get good laughs by "upping the ante" on something funny one of your friends just said. Sometimes you can get a good banter going and everyone cracks up.
- By the end of the night, people will have forgotten the bad jokes and remembered the good ones as long as you don't brand yourself as "that annoying guy" by bombing too much
- If you think of something really funny but it's too late, better to just let it go than try to "rewind" the conversation
- Take it easy, especially at first, because people can definitely tell when someone's trying too hard.
posted by katerschluck at 3:34 PM on November 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

For me, I think I've become funnier from being around funny people. My boyfriend is "the funny guy," and I love how he makes me laugh...so I find myself trying to make him laugh in turn.
posted by radioamy at 3:56 PM on November 7, 2009

To me, a really central pillar of humor is "mismatch" or "incongruity." I know there is probably humor that don't depend on an element of incongruity, but the humor that I find funniest seems to have this element.

For example, at the gym the other day, I saw this nerdy looking, schlumpy middle-aged guy, with no discernible muscle tone, who grunted loudly and ostentatiously every time he lifted, as if he were competing for Mr. Universe. THAT incongruity, between ther appearance of the ordinary schmoe and the grunts of a world class weightlifter, was funny to me.

Henry Rollins gave a spoken word performance in which one bit had to do with him shopping at Bed Bath & Beyond (or maybe it was Linens and Things). The incongruity of badass, tattooed Henry Rollins shopping at a suburban big-box home and bath store was funny to me.

Pompous fools taking things way too seriously are a rich source of humor, because of the incongruity between their seriousness and the actual nature of the situation.
posted by jayder at 4:27 PM on November 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Really - if you have to "work" or "learn" at being funny, you're not going to be funny. It's a gift.

I totally disagree with this. Someone who is intelligent and observant, and who looks for opportunities to say funny things, can become funny.

I've got a friend who is funniest if you give him an assist. He usually does not independently say hilarious things, but I know him really well, and I know how to set him up to say hilarious stuff. I have no idea what he's going to say, but I'm good at sensing situations that will draw a funny comment out of him, given the right opening in the conversation.
posted by jayder at 4:34 PM on November 7, 2009

Don't try to be funny. Just try to be honest and straightforward and open; funny comes from truth.
posted by davejay at 5:32 PM on November 7, 2009

Read lots of funny stuff. (My parents were once worried I had no sense of humour. I was a serious kid.) But I swear, reading copious amount of Television Without Pity back in its heyday made me a funnier person.
posted by pised at 7:52 PM on November 7, 2009

Really - if you have to "work" or "learn" at being funny, you're not going to be funny. It's a gift. "Funny" is really something you either are or you are not.

Baloney. Everyone I know considers me funny and it's because I spent years deliberately learning how to be funny when I was a shy teenager.

I think what helped me most was (a) hanging around with funny people, and (b) watching lots of situation comedies. Stand-up routines don't apply much to real life but watch Cheers or Friends or Taxi or Seinfeld and you see tons of examples of people being funny in response to everyday situations. Watch until you laugh, figure out why it was funny, and make it your own.
posted by mmoncur at 8:54 PM on November 7, 2009

P. S. There's a very fine line between being a funny person and being a jerk or a clown or an annoying loud person. Keep a very close eye on that line.
posted by mmoncur at 8:55 PM on November 7, 2009

Uh, do you know any Irish people?

Kinda serious, actually. I lived there for a time, and one thing I always appreciated about Ireland was the Irish love of conversation. There's lots of handy advice in this thread about how to cultivate your comedy muscles, as it were. But even when fully developed, comedy muscles are best used in tug-of-war rather than solo weightlifting displays, if I can stretch a metaphor. To be funny in real life requires a certain playfulness, a sense of tease and counter-tease, challenge and response. (See, for example, Ernst Lubitch or Bill Wilder pictures. Or The Thin Man.) The Irish have that in spades; there is a fundamental expectation with them that any snap will get a snap back, and skill in this area is appreciated and applauded.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that, even if you are able to successfully improve your ability note incongruities and comment upon them, another aspect of being funny is being able to play within the flow of a conversation, the way a musician improvises within the song. The only way I know of to improve that is to hang out with people who are like that themselves, who know the rules of the game and are always up for a round.
posted by Diablevert at 9:51 PM on November 7, 2009

Watch some of the really grim black and white Ingmar Bergman movies. They are hysterical. Enjoy yourself!
posted by citron at 1:42 AM on November 8, 2009

You are the kind of person everybody loves because you think everyone is funny. People dig that.

I can be funny but often avoid it because it's a lot of work. You really have to be on your toes looking for things to make jokes about, unless you're one of the few people who is just funny to other people when they act naturally. Being one of those people sucks because everyone wants to be taken seriously.
posted by kathrineg at 8:46 AM on November 8, 2009

I find that people think I'm funniest when I'm being the most dour and joyless. Maybe you could try having a terrible life and hating the prospect of facing another day.
posted by sonic meat machine at 4:27 PM on November 8, 2009

Watch a lot of funny sitcoms. You will mentally build a repertoire of humorous lines. Start by recycling an appropriate line now and then in your everyday life, mimicking the tone and timing. Gradually build up to evolving those lines. Eventually you will develop an intuitive understanding of humor, and be able to come up with original witty lines.
posted by cheesecake at 1:56 AM on November 9, 2009

Funny is a disease. An addiction. Once you get a few laughs, you want to keep getting laughs. You make jokes inappropriately. You illustrate the subtext a little too clearly for everyone's comfort. You make someone the butt of the joke again and again because they just put easy laughs right in your sights and you can't help it. You amuse three people and make two other people hate you without even realizing it.

Don't try to be funny. Just be in tune with your insecurities and not afraid to vocalize them.
posted by gonna get a dog at 9:09 AM on November 9, 2009

You are the kind of person everybody loves because you think everyone is funny. People dig that.

This is so true. If you can't BE funny, be willing to laugh at everyone else's witticisms, even the lame ones, and you will get invited to every party.
posted by Knowyournuts at 10:31 AM on November 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Here's a guideline you might find helpful: Especially while you develop your approach to humor, avoid statements that exists only as "jokes". Instead, integrate humor into things you'd already be communicating.

A statement that is joke-only is actually quite confrontational, because there is the expectation of a specific response. It can be very uncomfortable for the "audience". Avoiding "gags" removes a great deal of pressure, as you don't HAVE to be funny, but it's a bonus when you are. I've known few people able to successfully "joke it up" in everyday life, and it's still a risk every time they do it. If they're not on their game, they'll come off like Michael Scott on the Office.
posted by yorick at 8:00 AM on November 26, 2009

« Older Missing Classic Song   |   It's like pulling teeth Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.