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Precise Directions for How to Tell a Joke

Updated on March 19, 2011

So you have this feeling that you could really be more popular, get a thumbs-up from the worst of your enemies, and even get the adoration of Mr. or Ms. 'Right'--but you think it's all about telling jokes and getting them laughing. 

Well you are right.

People love to laugh and if you can tell a joke you are half way into their good books and on your way to fame--at least with your own little group. 

So how do you tell a joke? 

Know your joke before you tell it.

This is essential, as it will do you no good to start out with a great set-up and then proceed to forget the punch-line at the end. You must know your joke by heart, and if not, then write it down on your hand or have a friend hold up cue-cards, or use one of those teleprompters the President is so fond of--but whatever you do, know your joke! 

(The only exception to this is if you have a talent for improvisation i.e. Robin Williams.) 

Tell Your Joke in the Same Language as Your Audience

Are you trying to tell jokes in French to a German speaking group? Good luck. Not only will they not laugh, but they may have you whipped for you efforts.

Are you telling jokes to Senior Citizens at a nursing home? Then don't use phrases that might appear in a song by Eminem. It will receive lots of raised eyebrows, but no giggling, unless your Seniors happen to be a very 'hip' crowd.

Match your language to your audience!

The Best Jokes

The best jokes are the ones that make people laugh.

Your purpose is to pop the balloons,pin the tail on the jackass,and tickle everyone's funny-bone.  Think funny and you will be funny.

And, if you tell jokes that don't get a laugh, bring your own tape recorder and put a laugh-track on it. Press play at the end of your joke.

It may deceive the audience into thinking you are actually funny.

Analysis of a Joke

The average good joke takes between 5-10 seconds. Any longer and you risk loosing your audience. Get to the punchline as fast as possible, but not too fast. Remember the old saying 'timing is everything' which applies doubly for joke-telling. Try to pause before what comedians call 'the payoff' to keep your listeners in suspense as to how it will end.

For example: "I just flew in from New York--and boy are my arms tired!" This old chestnut, told by Henny Youngman for years and years, always worked, because he had great timing. You can too if you just use this rule: Wait for a beat of 2-3 seconds and then say the punchline. Count to yourself if necessary. This will ensure you have everyone waiting for the laugh.

Where to Find Jokes

Jokes are everywhere. If you want, you can write them yourself!

Here is the formula:

1. Start with a compliment. 'Mr.X is a great swimmer...'

2. End with a twist. 'but only when he's wearing his water-wings.'

Get it? Something positive, then a limitation. This is great for those 'roasts' where they roast someone by telling such one-liners about him.

Here's one by Youngman: "I played a great horse yesterday!" (compliment)

   "It took seven horses to beat him!" (the twist)


How to Tell a Joke: 5 steps (with video) - wikiHow

All jokes follow a very simple path from beginning to completion. In order to tell an effective joke, it has to sound natural. By doing this you have the element of surprise and that is really what jokes are all about anyway. Moreover, if you do tell a bad joke, pointing it out after it failed can still salvage some laughs from the shared experience.

When And How To Tell Jokes

It is not unusual for a group to spend an hour or more in exchanging jokes or stories, but such conversation soon be-comes wearisome and ceases to please. A salesman came into his office at night and someone asked him how he felt. If John doesn't tell his story exactly as you think he should, don't correct him or attempt to add details. Courtesy demands that you let him tell it as he will.

How to Be Funny - How to Tell Jokes
It shows ANYONE how to become the central funny man of ANY party. The SEVEN-STEP BODY LANGUAGE FORMULA And how you can use it to TURBO-CHARGE your jokes. The TWELVE WAYS to stay SUPER-COOL, even if your jokes FALL FLAT and you're under a LOT of pressure!! The ENTIRE How to Be Funny Course Discover the SIMPLE comedy secrets that no-one else will tell you!

How to Tell Jokes in English
One is that they have trouble remembering jokes and stories. The second reason is that they don't tell the jokes in a natural, funny way. Let me show you how you can tell jokes and make people laugh in English. When my students learn to tell jokes, they start with WHO, the characters.


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    • Alladream74 profile image

      Victor Mavedzenge 

      8 years ago from Oakland, California

      Good read. Also included in the whole joke telling business is timing, a good joke can fall flat if the punch is not timed correctly.


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