How to Develop a Good Sense of Humor and Make Others Laugh

Give the opposite answer to yes/no questions

The easiest way to be funny, even if you are not, is to give the opposite answer to yes/no questions.

Yes, it is that simple. If people are expecting you to say yes, you say no; if people are expecting you to say no, you say yes. The more obvious the better. Let’s look at why this works:

This is Jennifer Lawrence’s go-to strategy.

This clip was filmed just after Jennifer shot to fame with The Hunger Games. Don’t forget, at that time she was only around 20 years old.

Given all these factors, the reasonable and expected answer to “Are you used to it (all the attention and publicity)?” is a big fat “No.”

I bet 99 out of 100 people would have answered Ellen’s question with “NO! It’s overwhelming/amazing/crazy,” with their head shaking, modesty taking control, and giving you chapter and verse about how lucky they are and who they want to thank.

You expected Jennifer Lawrence to answer with “No.” So, when she didn’t, it became funny.

When people expect you to say yes, trying saying no.

A yes/no question is your cue.

Let’s see another example of J Law — you will know how much she loves this tactic!

Jennifer was the guest host on The Jimmy Kimmel Show, interviewing Kim Kardashian. That was a first-time for Jennifer. So, Stephen Colbert asked Jennifer about her first-time experience of being a talk show host: “Not that easy, huh?”

Guess what Jennifer said?

“Pretty easy! Not that hard!” 

Seeing Stephen’s shocked face was when I fell in love with this tactic. Of course, the truth is, it wasn’t easy. Jennifer went on to talk about why it was difficult immediately afterward. 

A ‘How to Be Funny’ Tip: When people ask you a yes/no question where you think they already know your answer, try giving the opposite first. Then, of course, laugh and give your real answer, which is what Jennifer did after pausing for raucous laughter.

The magic is that the moment you give the opposite answer, you have surprised your audience, so they laugh. Then you can move on to your real story.

I tried this technique myself the other day.

At a dinner, a group of newly acquainted friends were talking about each other’s background. Knowing that I’m a scholar from China, a guy teased, “So you must be one of those one-in-a-million smart Chinese students selected by the government, huh?”

I said, “OH, YEAH!”

Raucous laughter! Of course, I’m probably not. ?

Special Note: Give the opposite answer for yes/no questions when there is a strongly expected answer. Otherwise, neither “Yes” nor “No” is gonna be funny for questions such as, “Is the weather good?” 

The best part? You don’t need to be naturally funny to come up with any clever stuff. Just throw out a “yes” or “no,” and there you go. 

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Video

13. Use visual humor

Being funny is a powerful social skill that can be used to gain respect, advance your career, and even make new friends. But humor is subjective, and some people just don’t get it. As a result, showing a little visual humor can make it easier to win over a new crowd.

Visual humor consists of funny images depicting real-life situations. To create visual humor, you need to apply your imagination to find ridiculous or comical images to portray a situation or an idea. Visual representations of a situation can be funny without further enhancement because the images create a funny contrast between the representation and the situation, giving rise to humor.

17. Use humor sparingly

The number one piece of advice you will hear about humor in the workplace is to use it sparingly. The reason for this is because using humor too often will make you seem less professional. People will start to assume you are making jokes instead of being serious about your work, and you will no longer be taken seriously by your coworkers. If you want to use humor in the workplace, it should be used as a tool to help you connect with people, to get people laughing with you and not at you, and to help people get to know you as a person.

Take a Step Back

When you’re in the middle of a difficult situation, it can seem overwhelming. Taking a step back, however, and viewing your situation as an observer can help you see your situation with a new lens. This is called reframing—and it works.

Use real-life stories, not jokes

Ever since the 1960s, exceptionally funny people have relied upon what’s called “observational humor” to make people laugh. The classic examples of this are Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, whose experiences led them not just to do stand-up comedy, but also to create two award-winning comedy shows (NBC’s Seinfeld and HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm). The beauty of using personal experiences as fodder for humor is that your life experience is unique, and, therefore, stories based on it are guaranteed to be original.

Jon Acuff does this really well:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJvTV4jXXEs

The easiest way to be funny is highlighting actual funny things that happen in your everyday life. This is much easier than trying to come up with jokes on the spot. Exceptionally funny people track everything they find funny and then practice sharing it. In the olden days, great comedians carried notebooks to jot down funny thoughts or observations, and scrapbooks for news clippings that struck them as funny. 

Today, you can do that easily with your phone. If you have a funny thought, record it as an audio note. If you read a funny article, save the link in your bookmarks. The world is a funny place, and your existence within it is probably funnier. Accepting that fact is a blessing that gives you everything you need to see humor and to craft stories on a daily basis. All you have to do is document the stories and then tell someone.

A ‘How to Be Funny’ Tip: Tell Stories not Jokes

You might think that the story of you tripping and falling at the grocery store doesn’t qualify as a joke. Actually, jokes are harder to tell in real life than stories. A joke is a fake story that sets up for a punchline. If the punchline falls flat, you end up looking like a fool. Rather than tell jokes, exceptionally funny people tell relevant stories that have humorous elements. If people don’t find a story funny, no big deal, because the story has a point beyond just being funny. If people laugh, then all the better.

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Recruit Funny Buddies

Social support is a crucial part of stress management. Find a friend or group of friends with whom you can share your frustrations and challenges, and laugh about them in the process. Even when your friends are not there, you can lighten your mood by thinking about the retelling that will come later.

The Top 6 Reasons Friends Are Important

A word of Caution

You are sure to be surrounded by people when you become known as a person with a sense of humor. But you need to exercise the utmost care to ensure that it is not at the expense of others. Poking fun at someone’s physical disability or bad situation is the least desirable.

It is always better to know the place and occasion. For example, it is in bad taste to crack adult jokes in the presence of children. A good sense of humor is that ability to make everyone enjoy and not exclude some people.

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Learn What Amuses You

A lot of times, we say things purely to please oth

A lot of times, we say things purely to please others. We flatter friends or colleagues by praising a change they made. We bring up topics that we know others might be interested in. However, when it comes to being funny, don’t tweak your sense of humour to cater to other people. Instead, start with what amuses you. Then, if you think the other person will also be amused with it, share it with them.

Will Wister writes at Quora:

When delivering comedy professionally or making friends laugh, it’s important that you amuse yourself, and that you’re not kow-towing to others with your humour. That’s often deemed in the world of comedians to be the behaviour of a hack.

You’ll be funniest when you find something amusing and delightful. That is the starting point, before you wonder about other people’s opinions.

With that said, even though you’re looking at your own sense of humour, you should definitely consider your audience and the situation. Even if a remark is absolutely tear-jerking, knee-slapping, hilarious, it can be considered in poor taste if you say it in the wrong situation. This type of observation and restraint is a whole other can of worms.

Conclusion

There are multiple studies going on to predict the factors which trigger humor among different age, gender, and cultures. There might be many reasons for a thing to be funny or not. But developing a good sense of humor will always help you to reach out to people with different mental processes and strengths.

Techniques

Comedians often use what is known as the “rule of three.” In other words, you say two normal things and then something funny. This will be even funnier if it is unexpected. For example, someone asks how your birthday went and you reply “great, thanks, I got a cake, some lovely cards, and moved another year closer to death.” Some even nickname this the “boom, boom, bang” technique. People also use it during wedding speeches: “what can I say about my partner that hasn’t already been said, except that he’s lazy, has no fashion sense and is the love of my life.”

And when you joke, be sharp, quick, and precise. The longer it takes you to make a remark, the less funny it will be. The definition of a bore is someone in love with the sound of his own voice. Unfunny people are the same. They take forever to tell a joke or anecdote because they assume people are fascinated by everything that comes out of their mouth.

In general it is best to avoid jokes or puns. If you are going to tell a joke, make sure it is a good one (nothing is more excruciating than someone making a joke that doesn’t work). As for puns, they only work if used ironically. The British comedian Tim Vine has made a career out of this. But the audience aren’t laughing at the puns, they are laughing at the awfulness of those puns – and Vine is in on the joke (which the audience understand).

Stories are much better. But the anecdote or story should usually be at your expense. The British comedian Ricky Gervais often remarks that wealth and fame make it harder to be funny. After all, how can you joke about bills or public transport when you are a multi-millionaire who takes a private jet? The audience can’t take you seriously. Instead, says Gervais, he has to focus on losing his hair or getting fat.

Pretending to mis-hear is another common technique. For example, someone says “my friend Doug got into Oxford; I can’t believe it” and you reply “well, if my dog had got into Oxford I’d be surprised as well!” As with so much humor, you need to judge the context. Such jokes only work with the right sorts of people. Some will not realize you are joking, others will find it irritating, even offensive. And you need to make it clear that you are joking. If you keep up the pretense for too long, people won’t laugh.

You can also pretend to take offense at something. Again, this works best if the other person knows you are joking. A good example can be found in an interview between Joe Rogan and Russell Brand. Brand makes some remark and Rogan (who is American) laughs at his English accent. Brand pretends to take offense and says “right, I’m noting that as a hate crime.” But if you watch this particular episode, you will see that Rogan knows he is joking from the start. Such mock offense is only funny if the other person knows you aren’t really offended. If they think you are, you merely create tension – and tension kills humor.

Professionals also use something known as the “callback” technique. You can apply this to conversations with your friends. Simply pick up on something they said, maybe something pompous or pretentious, and then refer back to it later in the conversation. You relate it to what you are now talking about, only in a comic and absurd way. For example, your friend says “well, I’d say I’m at the peak of my physical fitness.” Later, when he says “god, I missed my bus last week and had to walk to work,” you can reply “that must have been a breeze, what with you being at the peak of physical fitness.” But be careful. If your friend can take a joke and knows you well, this works. But with someone who takes themselves seriously, it may not. You also need to be careful how you make such jokes. Pitch it wrong and you may sound sarcastic, even aggressive.

As with so many things in life, some are born gifted, others have to learn. The key is practise. And that means socializing with funny people. Just as your conversation skills will improve if you spend time around great talkers, so your humor will be sharpened by hanging out with witty friends.

Reader Success Stories

  • Anonymous

Dec 9, 2017

    Anonymous Dec 9, 2017

    “Humor is cultural. If you don’t understand a different culture’s humor, don’t turn it around and accuse them of having bad intentions. Have an open heart and maybe even expand your mind. The world doesn’t revolve around you! Thanks for the article. Good job.” …” more

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