It’s not a secret that both sexes find playfulness and a sense of humor attractive. Everyone loves to laugh. But is there a right and a wrong way to be funny or tell a joke? What if you tend to be more serious?
Here’s a guide to being funny in a way that works for you and your date.
Don’t force it
Can anyone be funny? Yes. Breathe easy. You are not doomed to a life of spinsterhood if you think your funny bone doesn’t work. There are several types of humor — dry, subtle, goofy and witty. If you say something that makes other people laugh, but you’re not laughing, you likely have a dry sense of humor. Maybe you’ve heard a friend reply to something you’ve said with, “You are so clever!” That means you’re witty. Perhaps you are a complete smart a**. Congratulations! You have to be smart to be a smart a**. Focus on the brand of humor that you think most closely represents your natural style. The least funny thing you can do is force it. Don’t try to emulate someone else’s humor — hone your own.
So how do you tune up your funny bone? There are several ways! If you tend to notice things that others don’t notice, that can make you very funny. The truth is, other people are likely observing the same things you are, thinking similar things to what you are thinking, and when you give it a voice, other people immediately giggle and relate to you because they were thinking the same thing.
Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger agrees: “Everyone can find the funny like Seinfeld did in everyday life. Like standing at the DMV and seeing the crazy characters that come in. Real funniness comes from relatable anecdotes we all internalize.” So take those obscure little nuances that many of us notice but don’t say much about and voice them in a way that is hilarious.
Think about your favorite story teller in your family. Whether it’s your dad or your aunt, what likely makes them your favorite is that they exaggerate family stories in a way that relates to the truth, but is so exaggerated you can’t help but laugh. For example, is it funnier to say, “Man, I’m hungry,” or “Man, if I don’t get something to eat, I’m going to start gnawing on my arm?” Naturally, you are never going to eat your own arm, and that is what makes exaggeration humorous. When dabbling with exaggeration, think of Halloween costumes. Who always wins costume contests? The funster who took a basic concept and went totally over the top with it.
Artful joke-telling — start with your friends
By practicing on your friends, I don’t mean rolling out a stand-up routine of your latest material. When you are socializing with friends, pay closer attention to when they laugh at the things you say and try to establish what made them giggle. If you want to go with the basic stand-by of joke telling, that is OK, but run your jokes past your friends. You’ll soon figure out if you can deliver a joke effectively. If you tell a joke and the crickets chirp afterward, you know joke-telling is not your bag.
One crucial rule of joke-telling is to engage your filter! So many people don’t do this, especially after having a few drinks and people will laugh, but it will be uncomfortable, awkward laughter. That’s not what we’re going for here. You want guys to come back for more of your humor, not wish the floor would swallow them whole so they can escape your broken filter. If you take nothing else away from this article, remember this — know your audience! Don’t tell religious or political jokes to a group of people you’ve just met. Telling racy jokes at an office party is also ill-advised.
How do you crack a joke? Patti offers up a piece of advice for that too. “The best way to start the conversation is something like ‘I heard this funny thing today…’ and go for it — especially if it lends itself to current events. Men generally like a worldly girl.”
And what if, heaven forbid, your joke goes south? Patti suggests rolling with it. “[Respond with something light like] ‘Whoops, clearly I was trying too hard here,’ or ‘I guess I won’t quit my day job’ and switch the subject to something you both love. Men have a very limited short-term memory. Out of sight, out of mind. That’s why a woman’s corpus callosum is bigger.”
Watch the pros
Like any other skill, humor has key elements. They come naturally to some, and not to others. Tune in to shows like Comedy Central, Saturday Night Live and sitcoms like Seinfeld and Everybody Loves Raymond. Study timing and word choice — two vital components of humor. Often, it’s not so much what a person says as it is when or how they say it. Notice the things that make you laugh, and try to figure out why you thought it was funny.
When it comes to dating, men and women love a sense of humor. Laughing is something we all love doing, regardless of gender or age, so get a sense of your sense of humor and don’t be surprised if your new command of all things funny brings the boys to the yard.
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