The Alphabet of Humor: C is for Character Development
Develop a Character
Some people make everything funny. Others can't get a laugh out of the world's funniest joke. One of the keys to getting a good laugh is developing a character; not just for the joke, but for your overall demeanor. Knowing your comic character will help you find laughs time and time again.
Personally, I am terrible at telling jokes. If I say something that's supposed to be funny, I hear sympathy laughs, or worse, crickets. However, when I get excited and start talking, people start laughing (read A Flawless Way to Meet Women to observe this in action). When focusing on the joke to get a laugh, few people are funny. When telling the joke (or simply having regular conversation) in their own character, anyone can get a laugh.
Although you can be a very funny and cheesy character, you can also get laughs being smooth, charming, and sophisticated. The most important thing is to become a character that fits well with you are and stay with it - constantly changing your comedic character will only confuse people and lose you laughs.
Actors end up getting type-casted because people start associating them with particular behaviors, actions, or genres of movies. The same will go for your comedic efforts. Knowing how to effectively take advantage of your personality and behaviors to create a funny character will enhance your joking abilities.
Famous Characters (People)
- The Three Stooges (always angry)
- Monty Python (over-the-top ridiculousness)
- Mr. Bean (awkward and childish)
- Chris Rock (informative and angry)
- Matthew McConaughey (a smooth, charming humor)
- Larry the Cable Guy (ignorant and redneck)
- James Bond (subtle puns)
- Winston Churchill (the king of comebacks)
- Woopie Gulberg (enthusiasm and excitement)
What Type of Character Should You Develop?
When deciding the type of character to develop, it is important to keep in mind your personality, your appearance, and the way you want to be perceived in the future. Some people are great at being witty and charming, others can collect a landslide of laughs from their poking fun at themselves.
Start keeping track at what of your comments people laugh at. Are you enthusiastic or sarcastic, charming or awkward? Although you can develop your character into who you want it to be, if you play on your strengths (which could be your big nose, whiny voice, or scrawny arms), you will start getting laughs that much sooner.
Think about how you want to be perceived in the future. Maybe you're great at making fun of yourself - will you be able to put up with others making fun of you as well? Perhaps you want to have a sarcastic wit - are you willing to annoy or put-down others to get your laughs?
How to Develop Your Character
So you know what style of humor you want to portray. Here are some ways to get your character development going:
- Watch comedians with a similar character.
- Consider dressing to emphasize your character.
- Decide if there are words or language you should add or remove from your vocabulary.
- Build an arsenal of jokes/one-liners/stories.
- Put yourself out there.
- Be willing to be laughed "at" and not always "with".
- Pick up some wacky job - such as those on Great Ways to Make Money in Your Free Time
The Value of Character Development
About eight years ago I decided I wanted to be entertaining and I worked to emphasize my traits and personality to be someone who can entertain and occasionally get laughs. I do this by being energetic, saying things that are slightly awkward (check out The Alphabet of Humor: A is for Awkward), and laughing at my own jokes. My roommate through college does a great job of telling stories, presenting himself as an innocent "underdog", and using wit to keep people continually laughing.
Is there anything you do to make your stories more entertaining or to get a laugh here and there? Share it with us in the comments below.