4 Easy Ways to Be Funny On Command

I love watching standup comedy, but I never wanted to be a comedian.

Why not? Because it is one of the hardest jobs in the world that people don’t realize. You are essentially creating an emotion on command, consistently, for an hour at a time. Movies spend millions and can’t do this whenever they want. For example, how often do you cry at movies, versus how often do movies try to make you cry? It’s pretty unbalanced!

But that’s beside the point – most of us want to be funny, but in a conversational, everyday manner that we can utilize with our friends and family. We’re not trying to get up on stage and deliver a routine with setups, premises, and punch lines. So what are some easy ways you can be FUNNY ON COMMAND in a casual, clever, and witty manner?

One. Never Laugh First

What does this mean? Well, when you make a joke, tell a story, or say something where you expect the other person to laugh… don’t be the first one to laugh.

When you laugh first after telling a joke, you are essentially imposing your will on the other person because we’re polite at heart, and we don’t want to disappoint you with not laughing. This is fine once or twice, but imagine someone laughing twice, and you feeling the pressure to DO something twice a minute. That gets old quickly, and laughing first turns into something that will make people avoid you rather than laugh with you.

You can laugh as you’re telling a joke because you think it’s funny, but that is very different from laughing to seed laughter out of insecurity and self-doubt.

Two. Vivid Language

If we were to take an inventory of our daily vocabulary, we would probably find that it is hopelessly boring and bland.

Upgrading and replacing our boring, everyday vocabulary and sense of phrasing is one of the easiest ways to become funnier because… you’re not actively trying to be funny with people. You’re just showing people more creativity and personality. The person who’s favorite shirt has battling zebras isn’t trying to be funny, but he is funnier than others because he is vividly expressing something.

It’s an easy as using different words and phrases. Your weekend wasn’t “good,” it was:

  • Fabulous
  • Unforgettable
  • Hotter than a leather car seat in the sun for 5 hours.
  • Reminded me of that time we went hiking for 15 hours accidentally.
  • As bad/good as watching 4 Adam Sandler movies back to back.

Three. The Comic Triple

Jon Stewart, ex-host of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, has a great example of the comic triple.

“I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.”

 Why is this funny? Because the first two elements set you up and make you expect something specific… and then the third element completely contradicts it. It defies expectations and inserts contrast in a big way.
And that’s all the comic triple is: two elements convey Sentiment A, the third element conveys Sentiment B. Good, good, bad… OR bad, bad, good.
I love coffee because it wakes me up, it smells amazing, and it stains my teeth from time to time.

Four. Relatability

There’s a reason  comedians tend to talk about the same subjects in each performance: airports, sex, gender, race, and food.

It’s because they are relatable subjects that people will understand universally. The humor comes from the shared experience. Here are some more things that everyone can relate to, but takes some insight and analysis to actually articulate:

  1. That moment when you’re walking towards someone but unsure of when to make eye contact.
  2. The awkward feeling when you say goodbye to someone and then proceed to walk in the same direction.
  3. Honking angrily at someone in your car and then pulling up next to them at a stoplight.

What do you do with this? You use the relatable event or object in the place of an adjective! Instead of saying “That taco was terrible, you’d say “I hated that taco as much as when you honk someone in traffic and pull up next to them at a stoplight!” Again, the humor comes from a shared experience being articulated.

For more on being witty and clever in everyday conversation, check out: Laugh Tactics: Master Conversational Humor and Be Funny On Command – Think Quickly On Your Feet.