January 26, 2018

I truly believe we are all funny…at least some of the time. Some of us are termed naturally funny and others have to work at it. We all have moments in life that make us laugh. How we communicate those moments to others, in a way most conducive to sharing our joy is often the missing link. The good news is that this is a skill, which means it can be learned, and few are better placed than comedians to help us develop it.

Comedians’ content and delivery are honed through years of practice as they master their craft. In doing so, they are among the few public speakers that clock up the 10,000 hours Malcolm Gladwell says make a master. Yet few of these masters are asked to share their knowledge with a business community who needs it.

Most public speaking books say humor is a key part of successful talks, but they don’t explain well how to use humor. I wanted to address that, so I decided to write these tip from a books I read and I am pretty sure it will help your speaking skills

Comedians learn a lot the hard way. Here are their top tips so you don’t have to.
1. Draw upon your own real life experiences.
The safest humor involves personal stories because they are guaranteed to be original and can be easily practiced and perfected. Often, great stories come from seemingly mundane topics.

2. Speak about what you like.
Tell the stories that you already tell around your colleagues, friends and family. Work to build them into your talk. If you don’t like what you are talking about nobody else will either. Complete this sentence: (Your Name here) is always talking about…

3. Find the key point to each story.
Where is the funny anecdote, interesting bit of knowledge, or the entertaining part? Work to cut out unnecessary words and re-tell the best stories following the following rule of thumb: Three lines with no funny are too much.

4. Think fails and firsts.
“So many people ask me for help creating a funnier speech,” says Darren LaCroix. “They want to know where to ‘find funny.’ I suggest starting by looking in the mirror! Start by looking at your fails and your firsts. The first time you did something wrong. Audiences love the humility and openness.”
“There’s nothing funny about a confident person who’s doing well”. – Rita Rudner

5. Play with your pain.
“To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain, and play with it,” Charlie Chaplin said. While he likely didn’t mean customer pain points, the same wisdom applies.

6. Listen and repeat.
“Many funny things are said and done in your presences that are wholly original and can be used as a humorous illustration in your stories or speech,” says Pat Hazell, one of the original writers for NBC’s Seinfeld, and a Tonight Show veteran. “I overheard my kids arguing during a candy exchange after Halloween that was a wonderful message about value in negotiations. My oldest son Tucker said “ I hate dark chocolate!” To which his brother responded, “It’s still candy, you got to respect that.” I use the dialogue verbatim because it is so pure and to the point.”

7. Start a funny story file.
As you begin to take notes and observe the world around you while looking for humor, you’ll find it gives you plenty of opportunities to find it. Every time you think of something funny or you have an observation or something that you think will be useful, make sure you write it down. If you have a smartphone, use your note section or an app like Evernote. You’ll be surprised just how quickly you forget these thoughts.

8. Use the Rule of 3.
This rule is a basic structure for jokes and ideas that capitalize on the way we process information. We have become proficient at pattern recognition by necessity. Three is the smallest number of elements required to create a pattern. This combination of pattern and brevity results in memorable content.
“Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact.” — Robert McKee

9. Feed your stories into joke structure.
(note the rule of 3)
1-Introduction/Setup: Introduce your topic remembering, “Brevity is levity”. No more than 3 lines. 2-Punchline: Key funny part to your story. Try and keep anticipation to the end if possible. Often the best jokes are when the key funny part only becomes apparent with the very last word. 3-Taglines: (Optional) Additional jokes/comments that build on the initial joke.
10. Get to the funny fast.
U.K. comedian Jimmy Carr says, “Writing comedy isn’t really about writing; it’s more about editing. It’s about what you don’t say. What are the fewest words I can get down here in order to get to the funny bit?


Author: Christian Joshua
Co-Author: Funny Bizz

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