Does anyone else act silly around strangers?
February 19, 2008 5:12 PM   Subscribe

does anyone else feel comfortable acting silly around strangers? do you think it's "abnormal"?

a couple weeks ago a "friend" i've known for about 10 years ridiculed me for my silly behavior at a bar. i was shocked as it seemed my behavior had never bothered him before.

my silliness with strangers usually lasts as an initial greeting i guess one could say. for instance, when i order at a restaurant, i will order in a terrible faux british accent (my friend told me that, in hindsight, he doesn't like when i do this) or i will say something like "i'll have a coke. hold the razor." it's sort of like an icebreaker and i enjoy making people laugh and boosting their morale.

when i was in college, i was reprimanded while working at a convenience store for saying "howdy" to the customers; one person called the store, complaining.

this "friend" of mine made me feel like i was delusional as he claimed i am never serious. however, i am very well aware of how i act; i am serious the majority of the time, alternating serious discussions with jokes every now and then. even though he was wrong about me, i still felt really hurt.

i will admit that i have never met anyone quite like myself. i see myself as a stand-up comic with smaller audience.
posted by supertouchme to Human Relations (57 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I've met people who act like how you describe yourself. They are insufferable attention whores who can't take criticism. I've also met stand-up comics, and they don't act like that.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 5:16 PM on February 19, 2008 [12 favorites]

I feel just fine acting silly around strangers.

You're not acting silly. You're acting like someone who wants to act silly, but doesn't really know how, and ends up acting like an annoying idiot.

posted by dmd at 5:19 PM on February 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

No one is as funny as they think they are. Including you.

Greeting people is a way of putting them at ease, of welcoming them into your space. It's a fine line between breaking down barriers with a quip and a smile and making people inwardly cringe with your over-the-top bonhomie. Sounds like you have crossed it.

Save the comedy routine for open mic night.

And if you were truly "comfortable" with this sort of behavior, I would question why "friend" is so assiduously placed in quotes.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:19 PM on February 19, 2008

I don't mind being a little silly around people that I don't know. However, the style of jokes you're describing would really grate on me; they sound like someone who is trying to hard to be funny and get attention. (sorry) In other words, what you're describing doesn't sound like a natural silliness, it sounds like a rehearsed silliness, which is probably what is annoying your friends.
posted by frobozz at 5:20 PM on February 19, 2008

The British accent thing? Yeah, annoying as all hell. You can still be goofy/funny without the shtick.
posted by Loto at 5:21 PM on February 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

I have no idea if you're "never serious" or if you're "serious the majority of the time." What I do know is that I would not want to be hang out with you if you treated strangers like this in my presence, because it would make me feel tremendously awkward and embarrassed (for you, for them, for myself). Silly is great. Silly in public is cool, with your friends. Saying "howdy" to customers at a convenience store seems perfectly normal to me.

But the stuff with waitstaff would drive me nuts and I would feel obligated to make apologetic faces at everyone you did this to. If it continued, I would not go to public places with you.
posted by Partial Law at 5:24 PM on February 19, 2008

My stepfather ALWAYS makes bad jokes with the waiter or waitress when we go out to dinner. They obligingly laugh and humor him, but I can tell they're really thinking about the orders they need to go pick up or drop off... they are at work, after all. It never fails to make me cringe.

Watch "The Office," and ask yourself if you want to be like Michael, the horrible boss who constantly makes bad jokes and does silly accents and imitations. Just because people laugh doesn't mean you should keep doing this-- listen to your friend (I know, honest criticism stings) and cut it out. You don't have to act funny to make people like you.
posted by bonheur at 5:24 PM on February 19, 2008 [8 favorites]

Why do you act like this? What are you trying to do? If you're trying to make people like you, there are better ways than making the kind of jokes you list in your question (in fact, there are probably few worse ways). Be friendly, be open, be outgoing, be a good listener- don't be a clown. It sounds like your friend ("friend", whatever) was embarrassed by your behavior.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:25 PM on February 19, 2008 [2 favorites]

What you've described is "schtick."
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:25 PM on February 19, 2008

You do not sound like someone who is merely "silly around strangers." You sound like someone who feels the need to be always "performing."

To answer your actual question, though:
Yes, other people act that way. I have met a number of them. A lot of them are or were theater majors.

They are generally insufferable and very, very annoying. Many of them wear fedoras.
posted by dersins at 5:26 PM on February 19, 2008 [3 favorites]

Sounds like you might be slightly annoying at minimum. You might want to hunt down a "This American Life" episode where a young man realizes all his friends consider him an a**hole. I'm not saying that's you but it is possible to have your own self image be wildly out of touch with what others, even friends, think.

Oh look.
posted by chairface at 5:26 PM on February 19, 2008

Saying "I'll have a coke, hold the razor" is an inside joke with yourself -- it doesn't leave the waitress anywhere to go. She can't joke along, because it isn't really funny. Getting dragged into other people's inside jokes is annoying.

Silly is good. Funny is good. Putting service workers on the spot is bad.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:31 PM on February 19, 2008 [4 favorites]

i enjoy making people laugh and boosting their morale

I think, if I may armchair psychoanalyze for a minute (I'm not YOUR armchair psychoanalyst,) that you may be deluding yourself into thinking your behavior is altruistic when, in fact, it is actually satisfying a psychological need of yours (for acceptance, reassurance, etc.)

Take the criticism not as an attack on you, but as an affirmation that people will like and accept you without the shtick.

when i order at a restaurant, i will order in a terrible faux british accent

I had my friend do this once and it was the most annoying thing he had done in 10+ years of knowing him. And this is a pretty extroverted guy.
posted by blenderfish at 5:32 PM on February 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

i enjoy making people laugh and boosting their morale.

They are only nervously laughing at you but are really thinking 'what a douchebag'. If you want to boost the morale of waitstaff, know your order, be pleasant, say 'please' and 'thank you', don't complain, don't order a sandwich like Meg Ryan does in When Harry Met Sally. When you leave, tip 35%.
posted by pieoverdone at 5:35 PM on February 19, 2008

You can act however you want, as long as you're not harming other people. If other people have a problem, it's theirs.

I don't tend to "act silly" but I have my own way of doing things, and people find me eccentric. After many years, I've realized that offense or distaste is something you choose to experience, and if I'm cool with people being who they want to be, then other people are capable of it too, and are idiots if they can't practice basic tolerance. Remember: Being intolerant of someone's personality is no better than racism or sexism.

Naturally, this won't win you many friends; people being the sheep that they are. But if it worries you or makes you embarrassed then, yes, conform. You need to do what makes you feel right whether that's changing, accepting, or improving yourself.
posted by wackybrit at 5:36 PM on February 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

[a few comments removed - this really isn't the place to get your snark on, be helpful or go to metatalk or email with it, thanks]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:38 PM on February 19, 2008

boosting their morale.

Boost morale by tipping well not awkward accents.

Otherwise, you sound a little Type AA+++ to me, but not that bad. Good hearted. Do you, man. If you realize later that you don't like you, change. Fuck the haters and their haterade.
posted by milarepa at 5:40 PM on February 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oh god, I had a friend who would do this kind of stuff. It was fine when it was every once in a blue moon, but when it became constant I found myself irritated just by being around him. We don't talk any more.

This kind of stuff is not about making other people more comfortable or happy; it's about drawing attention to yourself. You think you're getting the good kind of attention, but really you're getting people to think "geez, what a drama queen".
posted by MsMolly at 5:42 PM on February 19, 2008

I've seen other people do this. I just assume that they are socially stunted and don't know how to interact normally. As said above, a big part of interacting with people, especially for the first time, is making them feel comfortable and building a foundation for future interactions/relationships. Take a step back and think if your jokes and silliness are actually boosting morale, or are putting people in a position where they "have" to laugh, or respond positively to your antics, so it doesn't seem like they are insulted or dislike you. Other people may have told your friend that how you act makes them feel uncomfortable, putting your friend in an awkward position.
posted by fermezporte at 5:44 PM on February 19, 2008 [2 favorites]

Pip pip. I bloody disagree about the british accent. My friends actually ASK me to go around talking in accents because it cracks them up. I think the key about silly behavior is having the insight to gauge your audience properly. You have to match your behavior to what can pass with the people you are around. For example: telling dirty jokes around construction workers is far different than telling those jokes in a nursery school. Same thing with silliness... a fart joke might make your college buddies laugh but it's not really going to go over well the first time you meet your girlfriend's grandparents. Humor is, unfortunately, not necessarily universal. There are good audiences and bad for each type of humor, and you need to censor yourself accordingly.
posted by miss lynnster at 5:44 PM on February 19, 2008 [3 favorites]

Remember: Being intolerant of someone's personality is no better than racism or sexism.

Absolutely ridiculous. There's no better thing to judge a person on then their personality. How else should one decide who to hang out with, date, be close to?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:45 PM on February 19, 2008 [15 favorites]

I second Michael from The Office, and raise you David Brent from the UK version. David is sadder than Michael, and a better illustration for you. You don't sound like a bad kid - I bet you're a really nice kid, and it's sweet that you want to make people laugh and boost their morale - but there are much better ways, and the way you're going about it right now (PARTICULARLY with servers in restaurants and bars who are at work and have to act friendly and agreeable, regardless of what they actually think) is the wrong way. Being funny arises out of conversation and circumstances, you know? If a joke occurs to you, have at it - but rote routines are not funny.
posted by moxiedoll at 5:54 PM on February 19, 2008

my silliness with strangers usually lasts as an initial greeting

this "friend" of mine made me feel like i was delusional as he claimed i am never serious...i am serious the majority of the time, alternating serious discussions with jokes every now and then.

First impressions do count. If you lead off with silliness, it's more difficult to get someone to take your next statements seriously. After all, few wish to be played for a fool.

it's sort of like an icebreaker

What you've described sounds more like a defense mechanism, a way of keeping others at a bit of a distance. If that's your goal, great. If that isn't what you wanted, it would be a good time to objectively examine your actions. Perhaps you could ask one of your friends to secretly videotape you. Or, as in that excellent American Life episode referenced above, ask them.

It's difficult to determine what you want as this AskMe is currently framed as an Amirite.
posted by jamaro at 5:54 PM on February 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

i see myself as a stand-up comic with smaller audience.

My boyfriend is an actor and former stand-up comic, and he mercilessly mocks people who behave the way you describe. (Personifed by his character who orders in restaurants using bad impersonations: "Well, if John Wayne were ordering his steak tonight, pard'ner, I think it would go a little something like this...")

Being friendly and naturally humorous is one thing, but foisting your schtick on someone who just wants to take your goddamn order, for example, does not boost morale; it causes people to grind their teeth into a fine powder. You wanna boost morale? Leave good tips and don't make trouble.

It's actually funny (heh) you should post this today, because yesterday I experienced the single worst example of this behavior I've ever seen. I was at the grocery store (Trader Joe's), where the cashiers are regularly quite friendly and chatty; I like that just fine. But last night, my cashier decided he was going to sing loudly in a "funny" "drunken" "sailor" voice every single item purchased by every single person in line. So my cart of food went like this: "One half gallon... of MILKY-milky-milk-a-roo! One package of yucky, terrible spinach -- no, wait, TWOOOOO packages of spinach! Wow, glad I'm not eating dinner at YOUR house tonight! Oh, but we've got some deeeee-licious brownie mix! Yo ho ho and a bottle of YUM!!!!" And so on, through all two or three dozen items in my cart. If I had had my gun, I would be posting this from jail.

In short: stop trying to be "funny," and just be yourself. Cashiers, bartenders, friends, and fellow customers the world over will thank you.
posted by scody at 5:55 PM on February 19, 2008 [9 favorites]

a couple weeks ago a "friend" i've known for about 10 years ridiculed me for my silly behavior at a bar
this "friend" of mine made me feel like i was delusional as he claimed i am never serious

Oh, and this is important:
Never ever, ever punish somebody for being honest to you. Even if the truth is unpleasant, or you disagree, when you punish someone for being honest, that person might never be honest to you again.
posted by blenderfish at 6:07 PM on February 19, 2008 [11 favorites]

You know, it's worth considering that while you find it amusing, the people who are the targets of your humour may find it really uncomfortable. I would.

Order the Coke, hold the comedy.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:13 PM on February 19, 2008

The problem with your behavior is that you are asking something unreasonable of your friends and the waitstaff. When you speak in your fake British accent, you are essentially saying to the waitstaff, "I think I am being funny. I want you to laugh at what I am doing, because I think I am funny." And they, in turn, feel like, "I better laugh, or else I might hurt this ridiculous loser's feelings and he may not give me a decent tip. But I am busy and I really don't feel like laughing on command. Jesus, I wish this guy would finish his meal and leave." You're making it uncomfortable for them, because you clearly expect them to find you funny. Stuff like, "I would like a Coke. And hold the razor," is not actually funny. Humor depends on context; it's got to be natural, and that's not natural. (And not to be picky, but the joke really doesn't make sense; if you were using the kind of coke that needs a razor, would you say "a coke"?)

You're manipulating people with these performances. Yes, I know you mean well, but it's a form of interpersonal manipulation that is extremely irritating to a lot of people.

Friends who are funny are just funny. The humor is "organic." Your humor does not sound natural. And with regard being funny to waitstaff, if your humor isn't natural --- if it comes from a desire to perform for them --- I suspect it is going to be unwelcome.

Yes, you are "free" to behave in whatever way you like, but keep in mind that it may be affecting your social opportunities. People choosing not to spend time with you, and waitresses and waiters thinking you're an insufferable show-off, is not anything like racism, it's their freedom to have an opinion about you based on your chosen form of behavior.
posted by jayder at 6:23 PM on February 19, 2008 [3 favorites]

You should watch that episode of The Office in which Michael Scott goes to improv comedy class. Don't be that guy!

(Season 2, Episode 15, "Email Surveillance," available on iTunes!)
posted by 1 at 6:30 PM on February 19, 2008

does anyone else feel comfortable acting silly around strangers?

one man's silly is another man's normal. at least you're coversing with strangers, which is how you make friends.
posted by jonmc at 6:32 PM on February 19, 2008

Obliquely related, a few quotes:

"Manners are a way of showing other people we care about them."

"...good manners are just a way of showing other people we have respect for them."

"Turns out, the short and very simple definition of a gentleman or a lady is: someone who always attempts to make the people around him or her feel as comfortable as possible."

These quotes are from that deep and wise motion picture Blast from the Past.
posted by The Deej at 6:43 PM on February 19, 2008 [5 favorites]

haha i now realize mentioning the whole british accent thing was a bad move. i just brought that part up because it's really the only specific incident he brought up.

i don't mean to toot my own horn, but i should have stated that i make this particular person as well as all my other friends and strangers laugh hysterically on a consistent basis.

99% of my humor is wit and sarcasm and it comes naturally. i don't really understand when people say others "try too hard." i don't rehearse anything i do.
posted by supertouchme at 6:48 PM on February 19, 2008

This doesn't sound like a simple case of acting silly around strangers to me either. If you're talking about being less inhibited around strangers than around people you know, that's me. You, on the other hand, sound like you're just silly. :)
posted by Anthony84 at 6:53 PM on February 19, 2008

I'm afraid, supertouchme, that you've given us two examples of your humor: a fake British accent and a Coke/cocaine pun. Neither of these is very funny. If a stranger acted this way to or around me, I would be extremely uncomfortable, not amused. You then tell us that strangers laugh hysterically on a consistent basis. These two do not add up.

We're not capable of telling you what your personality is. Nor can we say whether your regular sense of humor is hilarious and spontaneous or stilted and awkward, given the disparity between evidence and your claims.

Your main question is about whether you are too silly--if you are serious enough. You claim in your question that, no, actually, you are serious enough. However, consider the way your framed your question. You gave several examples of how you are a funny, silly guy, and you then went on to make sure we understood that you are like a stand-up comedian in daily life. At the same time, you gave no examples of how you can be serious when appropriate, nor did you discuss your seriousness for more than two sentences. In your follow-up, you then only focused on proving to us that you are, in fact, a funny guy. This clearly shows that it is far, far more important to you that you are silly and hilarious than it is that you are serious.

What matters to you does not always show what personality you have. But, you have clearly put far more priority on humor than you have on other aspects of your personality and how you act. Your friend has claimed that you put too much emphasis on it. Perhaps, instead of simply dismissing your friend's claims, you should re-evaluate how you act in situations where most people would choose to be serious over silly.
posted by Ms. Saint at 7:09 PM on February 19, 2008

a couple weeks ago a "friend" i've known for about 10 years ridiculed me for my silly behavior at a bar.

One thing on the friend angle: how old are you two? Have you been friends for ten years since college, or since the sixth grade? If it's the latter, I can understand you being surprised at the sudden admission, but if it's more the former—if much of that ten years took place in K12 childhood—it may be that there's something more like the natural honesty that comes with growing up, here.

I can understand that the way this thread has gone could leave you feeling defensive, but you've presented a picture of how you behave and how others have reacted to you and gotten a fairly honest set of responses. If you've represented yourself badly enough here that you need to clarify details, then clarify by all means, but between your question and your followup comment you seem more committed to tooting your own horn and being told that your friend is right than you do to understanding where he (and potentially others) might be coming from.
posted by cortex at 7:16 PM on February 19, 2008

Look, being silly and telling dumb jokes is fine. Most people have a thing that they they take too far sometimes. Some people are the life of the party but get really annoying when they're drunk, some people are hilarious and sarcastic but tend to get too mean if it'll get a laugh, some people are super-smart and inspiring but too eager for spirited debate, some people are empathetic but try to identify with people by one-upping all their stories...most people do something like this sometimes.

People who know you are trying to communicate that while you might be a funny guy, sometimes your "I'm the funnyguy!" routine gets tiresome.

Don't make them resort to sky writing -- just put a sock in it sometimes.
posted by desuetude at 7:31 PM on February 19, 2008 [2 favorites]

I just want to say that I empathize -- I like to consider myself a funny guy, and I do like a joke as much as the next fellow. Once upon a time, however, I took a comedy class, and I quickly realized several things:

* I am not actually as funny as these guys, and I probably never will be
* On the other hand, with these guys, EVERY SINGLE THING HAD to be mined for humor.

Which kind of is why they were so funny, but on the other hand, it was hard to hang out with them except in small doses. Because EVERY SINGLE THING had to be a joke. So it's possible to be funny _and_ kinda annoying.
posted by Comrade_robot at 7:42 PM on February 19, 2008

i don't really understand when people say others "try too hard." i don't rehearse anything i do.

"You're trying too hard" doesn't mean "How do you think up all those clever things you do? it must take a lot of mental effort."

It means "Why are you always trying so hard to make us laugh? Why can't you just be around us in a relaxed way? You must be really insecure."

Other people experience your ongoing comedy schtick as a continual demand for attention and praise in the form of laughter. Most people find being around someone who is "on stage" all the time exhausting and annoying.

You might try devoting a little less energy to entertaining people, and a little more to being interested in and entertained by them.
posted by ottereroticist at 7:55 PM on February 19, 2008

does anyone else feel comfortable acting silly around strangers? do you think it's "abnormal"?

To answer your question(s): Yes. Yes.

I AM A DORK. I suspect that you are too.

But the thing is, I really don't mean to be a dork, nor do I try to be, nor do I want to be. But I accept that I am. Part of that is this uncontrollable thing that makes me do and say really silly things around people I don't know. I get nervous, and the first thing that shuts up the nervous part of my brain is usually something that distracts me from it and allows me to focus on something covering up the ridiculous thing I just said to you, stranger.

I suspect that it's abnormal because I don't see others doing this. But when it happens, I laugh, because I totally get it. Which is what I did when I read this thread.

But I say things and sometimes and I don't get laughs. Sometimes I get stares. And sometimes I get condescending looks that tell me to knock it off. And I do. But the thing is, oftentimes I can't help myself. I'm nervous and have a whack sense of humor. I'm trying to tame it, but part of me doesn't want to. 'sides, the payoff is really good when it works out (which ALWAYS happens unexpectedly and spontaneously).

When I read the story above, about the cashier clerk that was singing everybody's grocery items, I was HOWLING with laughter at my desk. That kind of almost-sanctioned insanity is awesome. And I hate to say this, because I already feel the torches and thunder of grinding teeth, but I wish there were more of that in the world. It (usually) makes me giddy. Yes, I get annoyed sometimes, even scathingly so. But there's something in me that snaps too. It's the something that says "Ha! Look at how uptight I am!? Somebody is being dumb and it's seriously bothering me!" And there's the secret satisfaction I find in the stares and condescension when I god forbid, do something completely silly myself.

So there's my winded response to all of this caution. Good luck being you!

Truth be told, I feel really silly posting this.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:10 PM on February 19, 2008 [2 favorites]

Look, you're "on" all the time. No comedian is on all the time. Why would you want to? Only socially stunted people in need of some attention are on all the time. I'm not going to insult you, but this is obvious to everyone except yourself.

I was in a similiar stage and now regret how many sincere moments ive pissed away and, regardless of what I believed at the time, I'm not terribly funny. I trace all of this to having unresolved anxiety issues in my 20s. Oh, I can make you laugh, but at the expense of decent conversation and with the added cost of embarrassing other people. I'm not unfunny. I can inject some humor into a conversation, but I dont use that as a launching point to deliver a goof-ball act. Being a goof-ball is a bad place to be. I hope you realize this someday.

Lastly, dont mess with waitstaff. They have tough jobs and they will laugh because they know its in their economic interests to agree with you.

On preview: your follow up comment is a little defensive and self-serving. Being a goof-ball is natural for a lot of people. Just becuase something comes naturally doesnt mean you should be doing it. Not to mention, we have yet to hear how well you do on open mic night or anything that requires structure, confidence, and discipline. The office funnyguy is always the worst at this.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:16 PM on February 19, 2008

Also its worth mentioning that as I got control over my nervousness, the "funnyguy" personality has gone away. Someone close to me has noticed this and in hindsight I would have appreciated it if someone told me "Hey, is everything alright? You go off on these crazy near-manic comedic rants, youre never sincere, and no one knows who you really are. I just wanted to tell you this in case you really didnt know." I suspected it, but its only recently that I understood the folly of being the guy who hides behind humor to cover nervousness.

Yeah, I know the natural reaction here is to tell all the haters to piss off, but you should really and honestly assess whether the problem is you, not your friends. I think its you.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:20 PM on February 19, 2008

i'm not a nervous person at all
posted by supertouchme at 10:24 PM on February 19, 2008

You have a choice:

1. Decide your friend is a curmudgeon who doesn't know how to have fun, and who can go to hell;

2. Decide your friend is taking a huge risk in order to do you a huge favor.

I am a silly person; I have a good time. However, I reserve such behavior for appropriate times, and/or for people I'm close to, and always with an understanding that nobody likes someone who's always "on", just as nobody likes someone who is always depressed.

Everything in moderation is a good rule to follow, and another is that fake british accents are never, ever funny. Ever. Not even a little. No, not even then.

So what do you do? Be yourself. That means saying what comes to mind, without having to use a fake accent or have a joke planned in advance. If you're using an affectation or premeditating your conversational gambits, you're working too hard, and that gets old really fast.

The best part is that people will like you better if you're that way, especially since they'll have a better insight into who you really are...and you must be a pretty great person deep down, considering this person looked past your surface social flaws for ten years before finally getting the nerve to take the risk of telling you this.

Well, that, or they're a curmudge. You decide.
posted by davejay at 12:12 AM on February 20, 2008

You don't have to act funny to make people like you.

I'm glad you marked this as best answer. It took me many painfully socially awkward years to learn this lesson.
posted by mpls2 at 6:59 AM on February 20, 2008

"i will admit that i have never met anyone quite like myself. i see myself as a stand-up comic with smaller audience."

Well then, if you fancy yourself a stand-up comedian, then you probably know that not all jokes elicit laughter, not in every situation , not for every people. You may focalize your intese disposition to amuse people , and maybe your knack for being at the center of attention, in positive ways both for you and for people around you.

You may want to visit and give a good look at the differences between:

1. humor
2. sarcasm
3. irony
4. comedy

A few examples, the following is taken from Alanis Morisette "Ironic"
An old man turned ninety-eight
He won the lottery and died the next day
It's a black fly in your Chardonnay
It's a death row pardon two minutes too late
And isn't it ironic... don't you think
Picture it with your are 99 , you win the lottery ! Horray ! The next die.
Again.... imagine you are being sentenced to are executed and somebody rushes in the door with your pardon, two minutes too late.
(I don't get the black fly in th Chardonnay :D )

Quoting from Wikipedia
Irony is a literary or rhetorical device, in which there is a gap or incongruity between what a speaker or a writer says and what is generally understood (either at the time, or in the later context of history). Irony may also arise from a discordance between acts and results, especially if it is striking, and seen by an outside audience. Irony is understood as an aesthetic evaluation by an audience, which relies on a sharp discordance between the real and the ideal, and which is variously applied to texts, speech, events, acts, and even fashion.
And most people usually think sarcasm is irony and vice versa
Sarcasm is stating the opposite of an intended meaning especially in order to sneeringly, slyly, jest or mock a person, situation or thing. It is strongly associated with irony, with some definitions classifying it as a type of verbal irony intended to insult or wound.
As you , being a good comedian may come natural, but very good comedian are, imho, also very much aware of what they are doing , maybe because they do it for a living. Some "stand up comedian" also choose to attempt social criticism and when they do it well they usually become very popular, because they manage to mix laughter and fun with very very difficult topics.

Take, for instance, this Chris Rock video about the difference between black man and niggah.

Some people take enormous offence at hearing he doing a distinction, but

1. his skin is quite black , so he as an advantage over a white skinned man , that people will not think he's being racist
2. he isn't not asserting that color of skin imply any difference other than color of skin itself
3. he is mocking (doing a parody) niggahs , which he identifies as a set of people (actually, regardless of skin color) which behaves in particular ways.

I like Chris work , but notice that he may be percevied as "heavy handed" and his approach is not necessarily the best one , but it is rather effective at making some
people think about themselves and their shortcomings, something that is quite difficult to do without eliciting contempt for the speaker.
posted by elpapacito at 7:03 AM on February 20, 2008

I don't think this thread is helping you at all, nor will ever help you find your answer. I think you knew the "real" answer when you posted. Your follow ups of clarifying how you are show that you are confident in your behavior and you see no need to be introspective. And you are right in that we don't know who you are or how you act on a regular basis. We're going solely based on what you write. However, your "friend" does know you. Has for 10 years. And he said that. Shouldn't you be having this conversation with him to clear up that it's his problem and that if he doesn't like it, he can shove it? Because I think that's what you want to do, except with the backing of the internet which you will not receive.

In conclusion, FEENSAY A ROYDE IN ME KERRAGE, GOOV'NAH?????!!!111!!??!

Good luck.
posted by spec80 at 7:10 AM on February 20, 2008

I don't mean to toot my own horn, but i should have stated that i make this particular person as well as all my other friends and strangers laugh hysterically on a consistent basis.

Well, that's good. But Keep it too your friends. You indicated that you felt it helped break the ice with new people. But I know for me personally it has the opposite effect, because if I feel the person is creating a false persona it actually creates a distance between me and them. I'm a pretty easy-going and non-judgmental guy so it's not like I'd hold it against someone, but it could be something that would make me care less about hanging out with them again.
posted by delmoi at 7:13 AM on February 20, 2008

All I can say is, please don't be this guy.
posted by Drexen at 8:33 AM on February 20, 2008

Or, this guy.
posted by herbaliser at 1:19 PM on February 20, 2008

everyone thinks i'm hilarious. i wish i could meet each of you so you could see what i mean!
posted by supertouchme at 3:17 PM on February 20, 2008

You have the right to be who you are, you friend has the right to not care for that side of you. I guess it's up to you to decide who you want to be, and if you want to tone it down with people who don't like that side of you. I have friends who don't like swearing, so I stop when I'm with them. We all have to do it at times.

I had a friend who was always running his shtick and essentially the friendship died out because I never got to know the person, only his act. It was sad to see him run that act for everyone he met, and it made me feel like just another member of his audience. Bleh.
posted by kenzi23 at 4:17 PM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]

That's great. Here are tips for continuing to be your funny self without being annoying:

-Don't repeat the same joke. Don't tell the same story. Keep track of who's heard what and in doubt, talk about something different.

-Don't joke with waitstaff. Don't converse with them. Keep it all business. Other people have covered this.

-Pick a few people who are your closest friends and vow to yourself that you will hang out with them alone, in a quiet setting, once a week/month/year. When you do, be as serious as you possibly can. Comedy creates tension, so they will appreciate this time to be more relaxed around you.

-If a friend seems upset, you need to switch to serious mode immediately. You should be able to control "the funny". If not, you are going to end up irritating people, even if you are really funny. No one whose grandmother just died wants to hear a joke--they want to hear someone tell them they're very sorry and ask what they can do. Period. No laughs, no funny faces, no accents, no witty asides, just serious, considerate friendship.

Hope this helps. Good luck.
posted by sondrialiac at 4:22 PM on February 20, 2008

everyone thinks i'm hilarious. i wish i could meet each of you so you could see what i mean!

OK, I get it-- you're just trolling. This question was never meant sincerely in the first place.
posted by dersins at 4:57 PM on February 20, 2008

i'm not trolling. i meant i'm not like the "office funny guy" who everyone thinks is unfunny and annoying. i make people laugh.

my friend had recently visited home after interning at a music studio in another city. i think his involvement with boring, "artsy" types has skewed his perception of how life should really be. before his so-called revelation, he would tell me that i was the only person who "got" his humor. a mere hour before he said what he said, he was laughing hysterically.

i'm not an "off-the-wall" person, humping everything in sight. i tell jokes and say silly shit that illicits laughter. i also know when humor is appropriate. i know when someone wants to have serious conversation and i participate in it. otherwise, i wouldn't have had a relationship last longer than a couple weeks.
posted by supertouchme at 5:18 PM on February 20, 2008

everyone thinks i'm hilarious.

i also know when humor is appropriate.

I mean this sincerely, but evidently not. Not always.

You can deny it if you like, but the facts as presented in your own question and comments belie these statements. You made at least one customer uncomfortable enough that they called to complain about you. At least one friend has told you he believes you behave inappropriately at least some of the time (and just because he was laughing hysterically an hour before at something you said does not mean he is obliged to laugh hysterically every time you say something you think is funny). You believe that telling the same (unfunny) joke to bartenders and waitstaff is a morale-booster, despite the numerous bartenders and waitstaff in this thread who have strongly attested otherwise.

None of this is to say that you don't necessarily have a good sense of humor in general; I am sure you have indeed made people laugh many times. But you know what? I have a good sense of humor, as do many of my friends, and none of us -- not my friend who got an Emmy writing for The Simpsons, not my friend who is adapting a new project for Kids in the Hall, not my boyfriend who's worked with Jim Carrey and appeared at the Aspen Comedy Festival and won awards for a short comedy film he wrote -- would ever assume that we're "hilarious" to "everyone."

The thing is, there's a big difference between recognizing humor as one of your personal qualities vs. identifying yourself as The Funniest Guy (or Girl) in the Room. The former is well-rounded; it places your sense of humor within the larger context of your identity. The latter is one-dimensional; it means you need, to some degree, others' approval and/or attention (by way of laughter) to confirm to you who you think (or hope) you are -- which, to be frank, is how you are coming across here. So when that approval is withdrawn -- in this case, by your friend's criticism -- it is shocking and confusing; after all, if he laughed at something you said an hour before, it must mean you are The Funny Guy, and not "merely" a guy who said something funny.

The problem is, like the old adage about sexual braggadocio, the more you announce it, the less people believe it. But once you feel genuinely secure in who you are, the need to dial it up so much starts to diminish. So by all means: go ahead and crack jokes. The world is an absurd place; better to laugh than cry most of the time, as far as I'm concerned. And if you really think you've got the goods, go to an open mic night, try your hand at writing comedy, and/or take an improv class.

But you need to find a way to truly understand that A) not everyone's going to laugh every time, and B) the occasional absence of laughter doesn't diminish who you are.

Good luck.
posted by scody at 6:47 PM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]

everyone thinks i'm hilarious. i wish i could meet each of you so you could see what i mean!

I'm not sure, so far nothing that you've typed has been funny. It would be interesting to read some concrete examples of your jokes, but I can understand why you wouldn't want to do that now though.

You really should got to an open mic night and see if you can actually make people laugh when there isn't any social pressure on them to do so. And as others have said, never try to make jokes with waiters. (I mean unless they start it)
posted by delmoi at 11:44 PM on February 21, 2008

everyone thinks i'm hilarious. i wish i could meet each of you so you could see what i mean!

So? Why is being hilarious the most important thing in the world to you? Have you considered why you seem obsessed with this?

You know who else is hilarious. Conan O'Brien. He cracks me up, but if I was a his real life friend and he couldnt turn off his mugging for the camera, goofy characters, and loud mouth personality at dinner then I think I would just end up punching him in the face.

Its also worth noting that your friends might be maturing past the "OMG life is hilarious" stage and moving towards something a bit more serious and sane.

Lastly, the examples of your comedy you have revealed to us is just puns and bad "Austin Powers" like impressions. That's extremely low-hanging fruit. I used to do stuff like this when I was younger and in retrospect it was all pretty bad. People laughed because they didnt know what else to do. I doubt I was as bad as you, but I considered myself the funny one in my circle of friends and family until my younger brother who has never been goofy or funny decided to suddenly get into stand-up comedy (something Ive noticed you have omited in terms of real experience with a real audience). He became a scholar of the form and spent a lot of time constatnly working on stories and gags. He did the open mic night for a while and eventually was invited for a few comedy showcases. He still doesnt do an Conan-like stupid low-brow silliness. He's actually funny. He can craft a story and persona and deliver it like a pro. You just make fun of british people and insult waiters.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:04 AM on February 23, 2008

The more I read this, the more you are reminding me of an old friend of mine. This source of this guy's problem was different though, it was that he had been a child actor (nobody you would know, though). As a kid, he got to ride around in the Disneyland train with Walt himself. Bette Davis once said he was adorable (he made sure everyone knew this). Everything he did as a kid, people thought was PRECIOUS and HYSTERICAL. But flash forward to him in his twenties, when I used to hang out with him, and he was just another blue collar guy in San Diego -- to everyone but himself.

This guy thought he was the FUNNIEST thing on the planet. And he had a good heart but to be honest, his sense of humor was really pretty run-of-the-mill. He was always telling jokes and people were laughing, sure. Once in a while he'd say something humorous, but sometimes we were just laughing not at the joke itself but because he was so convinced he was being hysterical. The other part of the time we were laughing because we knew what would happen if we didn't... he would tell the joke again, POSITIVE that we didn't hear it right the first time because if we had we would've been doubled over. Personally, I blamed the fact that he was led to believe he never told an unfunny joke as a kid. I think it really screwed him up. He was always "on" and like someone said above about Conan O'Brien, nobody wants to be around someone who's always on. It's very very draining. This guy had spent so much of his childhood having everything he did be approved of, he really hadn't adjusted his brain to the real world. He was still on stage telling jokes.

The double-telling of jokes was something he did to waitstaff, to the ticket agent when buying movie tickets, you name it. And those were the most painful times... because those people looked like deer in headlights. They were clearly thinking, "I'm just trying to do my job. I wish this guy would stop telling me unfunny jokes and let the next person buy a ticket before I get into trouble with my boss." But he really did NOT pick up the signs so we would have to pull him away. And then he'd talk for at least five or ten minutes about how "She seemed cool. I don't think I told that joke right though, or maybe she couldn't hear it through the glass. Because that's one of my best jokes and she would've loved it if she heard it right. Maybe I'll catch her after the movie."

Yeah, so... don't be that guy. Here's what you need to do... STOP CARING IF PEOPLE THINK YOU ARE FUNNY. Some people might. Some people might not. IT DOES NOT MATTER. You are basing too much importance on other people's opinions. And unfortunately, that can be a really unattractive look. Don't waste your funny. If people like you, HANG OUT WITH THEM, make jokes galore, and they'll LOVE it! If people don't like you, STOP MAKING JOKES. Don't waste all of your jokey goodness on them. They don't deserve your energy. Cut them off. Denied! No jokes for them! It's for the best. Trust me.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:50 AM on February 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

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