Sense of Humor

Many people have asked me, "how do you develop a sense of humor?" This has to be one of the hardest questions to answer, but I'll make an attempt to give you some ideas


To develop a sense of humor, you need to be alert, sensitive, be aware of and be able to read your audience.

If you use humor effectively, it can help you, but if misused, it may backfire.

From my own experience, spontaneous humorous quips, witty comments are not consciously created. They just pop into your head and roll off your tongue.

Being funny definitely is a good thing. It makes you popular, fun to be around, and can lift situations that could otherwise be boring and a grind to endure.

You have to be careful, because people take you less serious, if all your dialogue comes out as being funny.

You have to know your audience, and be able to judge your timing for humorous and witty comments.

Being in the Humor business, people often ask me to say something funny. It is hard to be funny on demand. You cannot force humor. If you try too hard to be funny, it often comes out flat.

So what is funny......

Pain is a basis for humor. e.g. cartoons...The Roadrunner, TV shows like... Americas Funniest Videos.

The unexpected When the anvil falls on Wile Coyote and he gets up with his body in accordion style, it is funny! I slammed the car door on my fingers and was dancing around in pain. My wife doubled over with laughter, seeing me dance around in pain.

Mild sarcasm When someone in a line-up at the cash register says, I am growing old waiting for my turn.

Playing with words For example switching the first letter in words e.g. Picking Cherries to Chicking Perries. We did this with another couple one day and kept it up the whole day. We had sore bellies from laughter that night.

Tips that might help you develop a sense of humor

  • Lighten up! Open up your mind to what's funny and amusing around you, people, situations, what you read/see on TV.
  • Become more aware, and observe daily events.Make a mental or written note for future retrieval.
  • Watch comedy shows, stand-up comedy, humorous TV shows, even funny TV commercials.
  • Associate with people who amuse you.
  • Experiment your humor on friends and relatives.
  • Copy/parrot other people's jokes.
  • Try to be witty, not silly. Combine spontaneous creative thinking with ideas that amuse. You can hone this skill by regularly quipping with people.
  • Once you're comfortable being more witty, you can try it out at dinner parties, the workplace, coffee break gatherings, family get-togethers.
  • Find out what amuses you. Don't just try by flattering friends or colleagues. Be your own person and share things that amuse you.
  • Think about timing and your audience. A joke or quip at the wrong time will fall flat. Know who you're sharing your humor with and be cautious how they will react to your humor.
  • Slow down in your delivery of your humor. Try speaking at 60 - 70% of your usual rate of speech.
  • If you're about to tell a joke, there's no need for a preamble, or announcing it. Just tell it!
  • Know when to let it die, or pull the plug on yourself. It may not be a good fit for your audience, or it could be bad timing. Depending on the situation, you might be able to recover from it.
  • Good luck and have fun!

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