How to Make People Laugh, 20+ Amazing Tips from Comedians

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Who wouldn’t love to be able to make people laugh? A burst of good laughter after a stressful day feels good, and being able to share that positive feeling to other people is quite like no other.

That’s probably the reason why people say “laughter is the best medicine.” It’s an incredible feeling to get people giggling and seeing their demeanor lighten up in an instant.

Here are some insights that will help you brighten up someone’s day.

Allen Klein

Allen Klein

World’s only Jollytologist® | Speaker | TED Presenter | Author, The Healing Power of Humor

Timing is everything

Most people don’t tell jokes well. There is a lot that goes into telling a good joke. Such as timing, which a lot of people don’t know how to use, and practice, which everyone can do if they want to enhance their joke-telling.

Poke fun at yourself

More than telling a joke, however, my favorite way to get people to laugh is to poke fun at yourself, or the things in your life. For example, I am almost totally bald, so I tell people I’m a “former” expert on how to cure baldness.

Self-effacing humor helps you laugh at yourself before anyone else can. It can also make you seem more human, and therefore more likable. For example, in his 1980 bit for the presidency, Ronald Reagan’s advanced age seem to be a deterrent. Reagan’s self-effacing humor helped him overcome this. He told reporters, “One should not worry about chronological age compared to the ability to perform the task… Ever since Thomas Jefferson told me that I stopped worrying about my age.”

Derek Blackmon

Derek Blackmon

Professional Touring Comedian

I’ve been a professional stand-up comedian for 22 years and as livelihood, it’s important to understand what makes people laugh.

Find a common interest

The biggest challenge as a comedian is finding the space that can unite a roomful of strangers with completely different perspectives without upsetting anyone. An audience is essentially a paycheck and if a club owner receives complaints, you’re most likely not going to get booked in that club again.

Find something humorous in the simplest things in life

Everyone in an audience, even if they arrived together, has a different point of view on religion and politics, so it’s important to avoid those topics. I find the most consistent way to make an audience laugh is to find something humorous in the most mundane, everyday aspects of life.

Self-deprecation is always an easy grab when it comes to getting a laugh

As a father, my daughters provide plenty of fodder for material and I always put myself as the butt of the joke. People, whether they be in a comedy club or simply sitting on the living room couch, always enjoy some sort of buffoonery.

Ultimately, they’re laughing at themself because they’ve most likely made the same mistake or know someone who has that I’m making light of.

Silliness prevails over offensiveness or shock and after a show, people will line up to thank the comedians for what they’ve experienced. Laughter is an escape from the realities in the world and being able to help with that is the greatest reward.

Kendra Cunningham

Kendra Cunningham

Comedian | Performer | Visual Artist

I’ll be honest, my need for making people laugh is really selfish. I just want them to like me. I don’t do it to make them feel better, decrease stress, get their mind off illness, I do it to feel popular.

As the daughter of a funny mom, I saw how my mom’s sense of humor resulted in a sense of general popularity and acceptance. I wanted that. I learned early in life how to make people laugh. Some of those techniques still work today. Here are three surefire ways to make people laugh and, ultimately, like you.

Belittle the impact of people with bad personalities by giving them stupid nicknames

Example: your boss, Sal, is a sullen critic, refer to them in stories as “Sad Sack Sal”

Turn your latest gripe into silly dance moves

Example: When the barista gives you attitude, instead of a “Good Morning!”, don’t get mad or feel bad, go home and sing about it. “You’ve got a friend” but with the lyrics “You’ve got a tude.”

Mimic people

Example: When your boyfriend decides to go watch football instead of walking the promenade holding hands, imitate him making the poor decision. You can do this alone or with others. Imagining the decision-making process behind it will result in pure clean fun.

Pamela Rand

Pamela Rand

Comedienne, Adventures in Feeling Young | Actress

Ever since I was a little girl I loved to make people laugh.

They laughed, and I laughed, and it was a feel-good adventure. This delighted response from others made me feel warm and happy inside. To me, it’s easy-peasy — which is why I’m still at it all these decades later. The old adage, “laughter is contagious” is absolutely true in my experience.

Doing the unexpected

The key for me is doing something incongruent vs. an expected behavior (especially as I’m a “lady of a certain age”), e.g. a spontaneous witty quip, doing a foreign accent out of the blue in response to a comment…an exaggerated French, German, British, or Japanese accent accompanied by some eye-rolling or hand gesture always delivers a laugh!

Making faces and impressions

Making a funny face or grimace, over-arching my brows, sporting a mischievous grin, or hammy shoulder-shrugging have always worked well too. Answering a tricky question by suddenly doing an impression of someone famous is also a good route to a guffaw.

Slapstick

What works the very best of all for me personally and is a sure-fire way to make people laugh is doing slapstick, physical comedy type movements – again totally unexpected.

For example, here I am now in my mid 70’s, a nice little (5’) sweet-looking older lady seated at a table of unsuspecting guests and suddenly my napkin falls on the floor and then “trying” to retrieve it – I fall off my chair onto the floor!

OMG – everyone around me is shocked and concerned…but then I beam up at them, waving the napkin wildly in the air, my arm swooping above my head in victory while grinning, and in an instant, they realize they were had….and a huge round of chuckles ensues. Works every time.

Shaun Eli Breidbart

Shaun Eli Breidbart

Comedian, and Executive Director of The Ivy League of Comedy

You make people laugh by not giving them what they expect

Comedy is about the surprise. The simplest is somebody falling down or getting hit on the head when you don’t expect that’s what you’re going to see. Or someone makes a self-deprecating joke when you didn’t expect them to put themselves down.

Here’s an example, from my act:

“They say that the car that you drive reflects your sexuality. Think it’s true? I drive my mom’s car.”

People are expecting me to say a type of car, not whose car it is. But whose car it is related to the set-up about sexuality.

If you want to tell a joke, here’s my tip: Practice! Also, cut out anything extraneous. Extra sentences or even unnecessary words slow down the flow and make it take longer to get to the punchline.

Katina Corrao

Katina Corrao

Comedian

If you want to know how to make people laugh just say “JOKING!” after saying anything stupid, it works every time

How do you make people laugh? It’s the question I get asked most often as a comedian. I often hesitate to reveal my “secret” because it’s a secret but you always hear people give examples by saying one followed by two and I didn’t think this through.

Do you know how that happens when you say something without thinking it through?

Like when you’re at a party and someone says hi and you start telling them the story about how you had a little too much champagne at a wedding once and asked the groom if he even wanted to get married and he was like, “Not really,” but then you realize the person you’re telling the story to is “that” bride, and you’re at “that” wedding, and now it’s weird.

It’s also doubly awkward because this person, “the bride”, is also your boss, technically, well she owns an organic chicken sausage company, and you write copy for her website in between gigs.

Now you’re like do I even have a job anymore, so you quickly try to make things better and say, “JOKING!” and she stops crying and starts laughing hysterically because obviously, it’s a joke–you’re a brilliant comedian who can think on her feet and can make people laugh.

Anita Flores

Anita Flores

Comedian | Podcast Host, I’m Listening: A Frasier Fan Podcast

As a comedian, I’m constantly writing down anything out of the ordinary that pops into my head, attempting to mine it for comedy gold.

For example, the moment I realized I was sexually attracted to ‘The Great British Bake Off’s Paul Hollywood, I added a note in my phone that read“I am sexually attracted to Paul Hollywood.” Sure, some people laugh when I talk about it onstage. I suspect it’s because they too are sexually attracted to Paul Hollywood. Others, however, just find it strange.

Secretly, I wonder if the real reason they’re not laughing is that I hit a nerve and exposed their deepest sexual desires. That’s right naysayers, I know you get all hot and bothered when Paul licks a spoon! I’ve never thought about how to make everyone laugh, until now.

After deep thought, I’ve compiled a list of things that have historically made everyone in the room laugh. Farting, my disturbingly specific references to the show ‘Frasier’ at any given moment, making sex noises by slapping my thighs together and moaning, screaming the song “Goldfinger” in a Transatlantic accent after too many cocktails, my spot-on Detective Elliot Stabler impression, using soft cheese as a dip for a harder cheese at social gatherings, falling asleep at parties while sitting in an upright position, and finally, eating hamburgers with my hands referring to them as “meat cookies”.

In conclusion, people tend to think I’m funniest when I’m just being myself, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Robyn Flint

Robyn Flint

Life Insurance Expert, Effortless Insurance

Laughter is so important. The act of laughing lowers your heart rate and releases endorphins in your brain that reduce stress and can even help with pain relief. So the saying must be true – laughter is the best medicine. How you make people feel when they are around you determines if they want to continue to be around you.

Keep in mind that there is a time and a place for laughter.

If a situation is sucking the air out of the room, and it’s an appropriate time, break the tension by saying something genius. Make a joke about the situation that isn’t offensive.

The problem nowadays is that we have to be so politically correct so as not to offend anyone that it’s hard to determine what is going to be well-received or not so well received.

Having a quick wit and a sense of humor is great for breaking the ice

But having a stick up the rear makes you seem unapproachable and not fun to be around.

Put yourself out there. Smile at people, make eye contact, give a good firm handshake then make them laugh. For example, when I meet people they sometimes say that I look familiar.

My standard response is, “Ms. America 2005 at your service.” They generally laugh. In a recent meeting, it brought on a whole three-minute conversation where everyone in the room was laughing.

Geetha Subir Krishnan

Geetha S. Krishnan

Blogger, Tickle Me Comedy Club

Making people laugh is an art and definitely isn’t easy.

Finding situational humor in everyday life is what really tugs at people’s laughter strings

This is because it is something that they can relate to. Take the example of the sitcom “Seinfeld.” We guffawed at Jerry, Kramer, Elaine and George’s quirks because we identify with them within ourselves. When it comes to making people laugh, building up suspense and delivering the unexpected or opposite of the expected with perfect comic timing is key.

Timing, tone, body language, and expression are crucial

Ever notice the late-night comedy shows? You find your favorite comedians building up suspense and when the audience is at the edge of their seats they deliver the punch line which is the opposite answer of what the audience may be expecting.

The “Rule of 3” is a great method of getting people to crack up

Here you speak of a situation in the context of 3 things – Let’s say the set up is you talking of your non-existent love life and how difficult it is to find a date.

You could use the “Rule of 3” here by saying “I went to the grocery looking for food, drinks, and a date!” Here you will notice the first two things are normal and expected (in terms of what you find in a grocery store) and the third is totally quirky and unexpected. This unexpected answer creates surprise and in the process results in laughter.

Observational humor is finding humor in everyday life situations

Not only does it aid in taking life a bit less seriously but over time can help make us a more cheerful person that extracts chuckles, giggles, howls or roaring laughter from those around us. Having healthy self-esteem also helps us make light of embarrassing situations in our life.

Keep practicing

Last and definitely not the least is to keep practicing. Yes, practice does make you perfect. In time you will find that you are a pro at extracting humor from everyday life.

No matter the situation you find there is room for laughter. Who was it that said these enlightened words – “Do not take life so seriously. None of us get out alive anyway!”

Kimberly Ihekwoaba

Kimberly Ihekwoaba

Multimedia Storyteller, Kihek Creations

Comedy comes from a place of incongruity

This implies the unconventional pairing of things, the environment, and individuals in scenarios that create laughter. Think about the last joke or last comedy you heard and watched. Test if you can identify incongruity.

An example is in the quote, “I got an A in philosophy because I proved my professor didn’t exist.” – Judy Tenmuta.

The incongruence of the statement is initially, it starts off normal, then ends with a juxtaposition. However, there is the truth that the nature of philosophy highlights the topic of existence.

Marcio Delgado

Marcio Delgado

Speaker | Influencer | Marketing Manager

As I often have to present campaigns to clients or at marketing events, I soon realized that simply throwing a few cases and stats out there wouldn’t hold anyone’s attention for long. So, I started to tell stories from a fun point of view to coach people into paying attention.

Observational humor is the best tool to break the ice in any room and audiences relate to real stories

It is not about making people laugh for the sake of it or random jokes; it is more about making them feel comfortable and part of the conversation. Briefly talking about a moment when everything went terribly wrong, but looking at the funny side of it with small doses of dark humor definitely helps.