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.
Table of Contents
- Timing is everything
- Poke fun at yourself
- Find a common interest
- Find something humorous in the simplest things in life
- Self-deprecation is always an easy grab when it comes to getting a laugh
- Belittle the impact of people with bad personalities by giving them stupid nicknames
- Turn your latest gripe into silly dance moves
- Mimic people
- Doing the unexpected
- Making faces and impressions
- You make people laugh by not giving them what they expect
- If you want to know how to make people laugh just say “JOKING!” after saying anything stupid, it works every time
- Having a quick wit and a sense of humor is great for breaking the ice
- Finding situational humor in everyday life is what really tugs at people’s laughter strings
- Timing, tone, body language, and expression are crucial
- The “Rule of 3” is a great method of getting people to crack up
- Observational humor is finding humor in everyday life situations
- Keep practicing
- Comedy comes from a place of incongruity
- Observational humor is the best tool to break the ice in any room and audiences relate to real stories
- Frequently Asked Questions
- What are some common types of humor?
- How can I use humor in a professional setting?
- What are some things to avoid when trying to be funny?
- How can humor relieve stress and anxiety?
- How can I incorporate humor into my daily life?
- How can I use humor to build better relationships with others?
- How can I tell if my humor is well-received by others?
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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
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.
To write something to make people laugh, you have to look at something sideways or contrast with something nobody was expecting. Like: “The human body is 60% water. About the same percentage as what you get out of the tap in New Jersey.”
If someone doesn’t immediately laugh at your joke, don’t say “No” right afterward. This is common- someone says something that they think is funny, and when it doesn’t get a laugh, they try to deny it was an attempt at humor by saying “No.”
Don’t do that—it only calls attention to your failure. Just move on.
Comedy is more accepted when it makes fun of things that deserve being making fun of. Like potholes: “Instead of putting the potholes here, why don’t they put them on the roads nobody drives on?” You want the audience on your side.
Making fun of the less fortunate is looked down upon by a lot of comedians (and others). You may get a laugh, or you get people upset that you’re making fun of victims instead of perpetrators.
If you make fun of people being rich, they may not love it, but they know they’ll still be driven back to their mansion or penthouse apartment in their Rolls Royce. No wealthy person is going to be offended if you say, “Wow, you’re rich! You must have a whole fleet of Korean cars!”
Start with either a believable premise or something totally absurd. Not something in between.
You can start a joke with “I was shopping for underwear at Target” or “I was shopping for underwear at McDonald’s,” but if you’re middle-class and you say, “I was shopping for underwear at Saks Fifth Avenue,” your friends may tune out because they’ll just think you’re lying to them.
You want them listening, not judging or doubting.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!”
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.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some common types of humor?
Humor is a broad and complex phenomenon that can take many forms. Here are some of the most common types of humor:
• Sarcasm: This involves saying the opposite of what you really mean, often in a biting or ironical way.
• Irony: Involves saying or doing the opposite of what is expected, often to make a point or to be humorous.
• Slapstick: This physical form of comedy relies on exaggerated actions and expressions to create humor.
• Dry humor: This is a type of humor that is subtle and understated, relying on a deadpan delivery to create humor.
• Black humor: This is a form of humor that deals with dark or taboo subjects, such as death or suffering.
• Parody: This is a form of humor that mocks or imitates another work, often for comedic effect.
• Puns: This type of wordplay relies on the multiple meanings of words or similar-sounding words for comedic effect.
• Satire: This is a form of humor that uses irony, sarcasm, and ridicule to criticize or mock societal norms, political institutions, and other forms of authority.
How can I use humor in a professional setting?
Humor can be a great tool in a professional setting, as it can help to build rapport, lighten the mood, and make conversations more enjoyable. However, it’s important to use humor in a way that is appropriate for the situation and the people you’re with.
Here are a few tips:
• Know your boundaries: Avoid making jokes that are offensive, insensitive, or that could be misinterpreted.
• Be mindful of the tone: In a professional setting, it’s important to maintain a level of professionalism and respect. Ensure your humor aligns with the tone of the conversation and the setting.
• Use humor to diffuse tension: If there is tension or discomfort in the room, humor can be a great way to diffuse the situation and lighten the mood.
• Use humor to connect: Humor can be a great way to build rapport and connect with others. Sharing a joke or making someone laugh can help to establish a positive and friendly relationship.
What are some things to avoid when trying to be funny?
Here are a few things to avoid when trying to be funny:
• Offensive humor: Humor that is racist, sexist, or otherwise discriminatory is never acceptable and can be hurtful to others.
• Insensitivity: Avoid making jokes about sensitive topics such as death, tragedy, or natural disasters.
• Stereotyping: Humor based on stereotypes can be harmful and reinforce negative attitudes.
• Exclusion: Making jokes that only a certain group of people will understand or get can alienate others and make them feel left out.
• Crossing boundaries: Avoid making jokes about people’s personal lives or sensitive information without their permission.
• Insult humor: Jokes that are meant to hurt or humiliate others are not funny and can damage relationships.
• Overuse of humor: Humor is great, but using it too frequently or inappropriately can make it seem forced or insincere.
How can humor relieve stress and anxiety?
Humor can be a powerful tool in relieving stress and anxiety because it helps shift a person’s focus and perspective, lighten their mood, and stimulate the release of endorphins. Laughing can also help relax the muscles and reduce physical tension, which can be especially helpful when dealing with stress and anxiety.
Additionally, humor allows people to connect with others and feel a sense of community, which can be a great source of support during difficult times. Finally, humor can simply provide a much-needed break from the stressors of everyday life, giving people a chance to step back and see things from a different perspective, which can be especially helpful when dealing with anxiety.
How can I incorporate humor into my daily life?
Incorporating humor into your daily life can be a great way to boost your mood, reduce stress, and improve your overall well-being. Here are a few ways to do it:
Watch a funny movie or TV show.
Read a funny book or comic.
Listen to a comedy podcast or stand-up routine.
Spend time with funny people.
Try to see the humor in a stressful situation.
How can I use humor to build better relationships with others?
When we share a laugh with someone, it can help to break down barriers and build a sense of connection. Here are a few ways to use humor to build better relationships:
• Use humor to break the ice: If you’re meeting someone new, using humor can be a great way to break the ice and make a positive first impression.
• Share humor with friends and family: Sharing humor with friends and family can help to deepen your relationships and bring you closer together.
• Use humor to diffuse tension: If there is tension or conflict in a relationship, using humor can be a great way to diffuse the situation and bring a sense of fun to the situation.
• Find common ground through humor: If you and someone else share a similar sense of humor, it can help to build a stronger connection and bring you closer together.
• Use humor to show empathy: If someone is going through a tough time, making a lighthearted joke can help to show that you understand and support them.
How can I tell if my humor is well-received by others?
By paying attention to their reactions, you can tell if your humor is well-received by others. Here are a few things to look for:
• Laughter: If people are laughing and having a good time, it’s a good sign that your humor is well-received.
• Positive body language: If people are smiling, nodding, and leaning in, it’s a good sign that they enjoy your humor.
• Engagement: If people are engaged in the conversation and asking follow-up questions, it’s a good sign that they’re interested and enjoying your humor.
• Repeat invitations: If people regularly ask you to hang out or join them for events, it’s a good sign that they enjoy your company and your humor.
By paying attention to these cues, you can get a better sense of whether your humor is well-received by others and make adjustments as needed.
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