Become A Comedian? Let's See If You've Got The "Funny" You Need To Succeed
What Category Of "Funny" Do You Fall Into?
Whether someone is funny or not tends to be a somewhat subjective affair. Holding the label of “funny person” appears to largely determined by:
1. The individual themselves
2. By friends, family, co-workers or others that an individual communicates with on a regular basis
3. By new people that an individual encounters in life, whether on a professional or personal basis
In my years as stand-up comedy educator and a diligent observer of people with regards to their ability to generate laughter both on and off the stage…
I have been able to identify three broad categories that individuals usually fit into when it comes to accessing how funny they actually are:
1. Naturally funny
2. Simulated funny
3. Limited funny
Let’s cover each of these categories separately, realizing that there are varying degrees of “funny” within each individual category:
From My Own Experience
Naturally funny. Naturally funny people are those who are able to generate laughter from others unintentionally when they speak or respond in conversation, regardless of the environment or situation they encounter—even when they are not trying to be funny at all.
Naturally funny people can include, but is not certainly not limited those who have earned the title of “class clown”. However most people do not fall into this category when it comes to being funny.
These special individuals tend to have confidence and conviction about what they have to say to others and their body language, facial expressions, and voice tone variations tend to be in alignment with their words or responses to others. This is what accentuates their “natural” ability to be funny around those they know well or around complete strangers.
Naturally funny people have a tendency to be good listeners, which accentuates their ability to exercise their sense of humor. They also have the ability to recognize the sense of humor that other have and will use funny “material”, stories or statements from others.
Naturally funny people can be introverts or extroverts, quiet, outspoken or anything in between and tend to be those who others genuinely say should become a comedian.
Simulated funny. Most “funny” people fall into this category. Simulated funny people tend to have an overinflated view of their own sense of humor. In other words, they believe that are far funnier than they actually are.
Simulated funny people tend to “force” their sense of humor on others with jokes, “wit” and anecdotes while being mostly oblivious to fact that much of the laughter they get from others is not genuine, but more of a means of appeasement.
Many more so-called “class clowns” fall into this category than the naturally funny category.
Simulated funny people tend to be extroverted, outspoken and crave the laughter and attention of others—even to the point of irritation. If they are told they should become a comedian—once again, this is mostly an appeasement response.
Interestingly enough, if most people in this category didn’t constantly “try too hard” to get attention, recognition and acceptance from others with their sense of humor, I suspect that these folks could easily fall into the naturally funny category.
The reality is that they don’t trust their own sense of humor for whatever reason and fall into a habit or ritual of always being “on” when around others.
Simulated funny people are usually poor listeners and tend to disregard funny things that others say, focusing more on not being “upstaged”.
Limited Funny. These folks are not without a sense of humor. However, they tend to have a largely negative view on life and themselves which takes precedence over using their sense of humor.
Unlike the people in the simulated funny category, these folks are aware that they don’t exercise their sense of humor. They tend to avoid telling jokes and tend to have no inclination for speaking in public or expanding their use of their sense of humor.
These folks tend to be introverted and reserved. It is a real unexpected treat for them when they do get a laughter response from using their sense of humor.
Dealing With "Knowns"
No matter what category of "funny" a person falls into, there are few things that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt when it comes to an individuals sense of humor:
1. One cannot “write” themselves “funny” for casual conversations, speaking from a podium or delivering a stand-up comedy act. That is a myth propogated by stand-up comedy teachers and comedy writing coaches who couldn't find funny with a 50 man working party.
The words that are spoken are the least common denominator when it comes to generating laughter from others in any spoken word environment.
However, see #5 below for information on what can be done.
2. One cannot “force” funny in any environment with any significant or noteworthy results. This has a tendency to come across as “phony”, largely due to the lack of alignment between what is being spoken and the accompanying body language, facial expressions and voice inflection various that don’t line up.
3. An individual’s attitude is directly connected to an individual’s sense of humor. A “sour” outlook on life tends to produce a “sour” sense of humor.
4. An individual’s level of self-awareness is critical to the development of their sense of humor in a way that appeals to most people, regardless of the environment that sense of humor is used in.
Unfortunately, a self-inflated sense of humor can be one of biggest roadblocks people will encounter when trying to further develop their humor skills and can’t seem to “figure out” why they aren’t getting the results they want.
5. A “better” sense of humor cannot be learned. An individual’s basic sense of humor is established for the remainder of their life sometime between the ages of 13 and 16 years of age.
However, it is possible for virtually anyone to better structure and hone the sense of humor that they do have for better results in virtually any environment, including the performing or speaking stage.
I’m probably one of the very few comedy educators on the planet that will say without hesitation or reservation that…
Funny cannot be “taught”. That is a talent that is developed as a result of life influences and experiences that are far beyond the scope of this article.
But “funny” is like a knife — it can be honed and sharpened for casual conversation, the public speaking arena or for the stand-up comedy stage given the proper guidance and instruction, coupled with some more accurate self-awareness.