How To Be Funnier
Are you humour-challenged? Experts share their tips on strengthening your funny bone
Question everything. Let the absurdities of everyday life be your muse. Jerry Seinfeld made his career wondering “Why does this happen?” Example: “Why does moisture ruin leather? Aren’t cows outside a lot of the time?”
Get the blood flowing. Funny people tend to be more creative, according to brainpickings.org, and to get their juices flowing, creative types get moving: “Dickens and Hugo were avid walkers during ideation; Burns often composed while ‘holding the plough’; Twain paced madly while dictating; Goethe and Scott composed on horseback; Mozart preferred the back of a carriage.” He might have also liked this gag: Why couldn’t Mozart find his teacher? Because he was Haydn.
Don’t worry, be happy. The myth of the morose comic notwithstanding, happy people are funnier, say researchers in Austria. “Increased depression,” they write, is “associated with greater problems in the use of humour to cope with stressful events.” Fortunately, good humour can be contagious. The researchers also found that cheerful people tend to laugh more, which can help you feel funnier, even if you are prone to telling corny jokes such as this: Which side of a duck has the most feathers? The outside.
Make it snappy. “My building blocks are little jokes and short ideas,” explains comedian Demetri Martin. Example: “The worst time to have a heart attack is during a game of charades.”
Surprises work. “Lead the audience to assume one thing, then surprise them with something different,” comedy coach Jerry Corley writes on standupcomedyclinic.com. Example: “Never say anything bad about a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes. By then he’s a mile away, you’ve got his shoes and you can say whatever you want.”
Go easy on yourself. If you’ve tried these tips and the room still isn’t erupting into laughter every time you open your mouth, fear not! While creating humour exercises your brain the most, simply appreciating a good joke or a funny story brings with it ample benefits for your health.