Can You Learn to be Funny?
I get asked this question a lot and the best answer I’ve been able to come up with is “it depends.” First and foremost, not everybody will laugh at what you think is funny. Trust me. I’m a former stand-up comedian and have been writing comedy for decades. I’ve proven that more than once.
It’s not enough to find or think of something funny. You’ve also got to convey that in a way that will make other people laugh. That’s the reward, the Holy Grail of comedy. The laugh. We’ve all had the experience of someone trying to tell a joke and totally blowing it because they go on way too long, they forget important parts of the joke and have to backtrack to fill them in, or they totally screw up the precise wording of the punchline or, worse, they forget the punchline altogether.
But I’m getting ahead of myself, which is not that hard to do when you’re a Gemini.
The first step to being funny is to have a sense of humor. Don’t say “Well, duh…” Not everybody has one. Nobody will admit that, of course, but it’s true (see my blog post “The Best Way to Start a Fight”). Let’s look at that phrase—sense of humor—a little closer. It doesn’t read “an all-encompassing, in-depth knowledge about everything humorous.” It simply reads “a sense of humor,” meaning that you have at least an inkling of the ability to find certain things humorous. Without having that sense, don’t try to be funny. Just laugh when everyone else does even if you don’t understand what the hell’s going on.
So getting back to the topic–can someone learn to be funny? If you have a good sense of humor, yes. It just takes practice. Lots of practice. And there’s no guarantee you’ll be successful.
Comedians and comedy writers are listeners, observers. We’re highly attuned to the things around us, especially the everyday stupid stuff. We think funny. We’ve trained our minds, all six senses (including our sense of humor), to find “the joke” in just about everything we hear, see, feel, taste, and smell, even in the most inappropriate of circumstances, which usually makes it funnier. Taking that and making it into a “word picture” that other people can relate to and laugh about, and doing it in an entertaining way, is what makes somebody funny. Most of us started our training not on the stage, but in school. For us guys, the girls laughed. So we kept at it. Girls who are funny probably don’t get a lot of dates because guys are too insecure to go out with someone who’s funnier than they are. Tell me that’s not stupid stuff.
There’s a lot more to this, but let’s start small. I’m throwing down this challenge–in the next few days, find three to five things you hear, see or experience that aren’t funny on the surface, but that you find something funny about. Let me know what you come up with! Love the stupid stuff, and have fun…!