Last weekend, the Chicago Tribune ran and article on how to fake being funny. Â I’ve been described as a humor snob, and maybe I am, but I thought the advice was terrible, at best.
First they say to laugh when other people laugh. That’s fine. And it’s a good idea if you want to blend in with the crowd. But it doesn’t make you funny. It makes you agreeable.
Next they tell you to memorize a few jokes. Don’t do that. Unless they’re really great jokes that are hysterically funny and no one else has heard, you’re not going to seem funny. You’re going to seem like a guy who heard a couple of jokes. No one thinks that guy who rattles off jokes is actually funny anyway. Â And if you don’t have good comic timing, your joke can flop… making you seem even LESS funny. Canned humor is not funny.
Their next advice leaves me conflicted: Limit retelling jokes from sitcoms. Though I’d also add movies, stand-up routines, and SNL (unless it’s a recent meme). No one is impressed that you can work in quotes from Monty Python or Police Academy or the Simpsons or “the early days” of SNL. Those jokes stopped being funny before Pluto stopped being a planet.
However, I disagree with their advice that “That’s what she said” is only funny on The Office. This is wrong. “That’s what she said” is almost always funny. It’s a great go-to joke.
Their final advice is to use self-deprecation. Funny when done right. Annoyingly emo and passive-aggressive if you can’t pull it off. If you’re not funny, this is NOT the way to make people think you’re funny.
Even humor needs to be looked at skeptically!
What would you add to the rules of humor? What humor delusions do you see people harboring regularly?
The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 3pm ET.