Being Funnier [4 Secrets]
SUPERHUMAN SCORE: 8.13
Give me 2 minutes, and I’ll teach you 4 tips to be funnier.
I learned these insights from How to be The Greatest Improviser on Earth by Will Hines.
First, why be funnier?
- Laughing is a medicine for health
- Couples who laugh together stay together
- A study of the top TED Talks found humor as a key ingredient
Simply put, we’re drawn to people who make us feel good (aided by humor).
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I assumed these traits were only available to those with “natural-born talent.”
Yet if you dig deeper (into the underlying tactics), these skills can be studied, deconstructed, and learned.
Without further ado, 4 ways to be funnier…
1. Give a Surprising Answer
Cultivate a mischievous urge to surprise.
Two examples from Hines' book:
- Someone calls you “Dr. Hardass,” and you reply, “It’s actually pronounced Har-daz.”
- A friend asks if you want to try a bite of his meal, and you take the entire steak off his plate (and put it on yours).
2. Care More Than Someone Predicted
Showing unexpected emotion is another excellent way to light people up.
Example: Someone asks, “Have you thought about what you’ll eat tonight?” And you reply, “Yes, deeply.”
Hines advises: “Don’t go too nuts or it’ll feel false. Just give about 20% more of a shit than we expect you to.”
3. Be More Specific Than Necessary
A couple of years ago, I attended a group wine tasting.
The sommelier quizzed us, “What might pair well with this wine?”
My friend answered, “A pillow and some Advil.”
4. Put the Word a Joke Hinges on at the End of the Sentence
This final tip is from the book Do You Talk Funny by David Nihill.
He recommends putting the joke's pivotal word at the end of the sentence.
“For example, if the fact it’s a cat is the surprise or twist, don’t say, ‘There was a cat in the box.’ Say, ‘In that box was a cat.’”
This sequencing of the words allows laughter at the end of the sentence, ensuring no words are drowned out.
Related tip: If you’re introducing the next speaker at an event, wait to announce their name until the last words of your introduction. This creates a natural break for applause.
Build a “swipe file” of funny things you experience. I keep a digital notebook in Evernote (accessible on desktop and mobile).
Did you fall out of your chair laughing with friends? Write down what happened.
Are you watching a movie that has you cracking up? Take note.
For example, one line I recently saved from the show Ted Lasso: “I would not bet on that. Unless you want to make a boatload of money.”
Here’s why I like the “swipe file” approach…
You’ll start to see patterns—all of these funny instances likely result from someone:
- Giving a surprising answer
- Caring more than predicted
- Being more specific than necessary
You can mix these saved jokes into your repertoire or adapt them to your style.
BRINGING IT HOME
Study comedy, and you’ll start to appreciate humor even more.
(It’s easier to find something when looking for it.)
And let’s be honest; we can all use more humor and joy in this complex world.
All systems go,
P.S. We are 202,438 readers strong! In March 2022, I sent this newsletter to fewer than 30 close friends & family. Truly, thank you 🙏
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