How to Be Funny – The Mechanics of Humour

Now as promised, this post is a follow up on the Principle of Humour! Yes! Finally!

Having been a pretty boring and dull person earlier on (well, I’m sure I’m still guilty of it sometimes!), I began examining exactly what tickled people’s funny bone, be it in social situations or in private. My search led me to the discovery of what I called, the Principle of Humour.

However, knowing the underlying principle wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to specifically what were the Mechanics of Humour. I wanted to know what were the real nuts and bolts and tools that make people laugh! The specific tools that allows us to create surprises! Here are some of the most powerful tools I’ve learnt and used to great effect!

1) Exaggerate It!

This technique involves one-uping or blowing up a certain situation or idea beyond its most commonly anticipated form in people’s mind. Hey, we are talking about creating surprises here! And exaggeration is a sure way of making sure that the impression or point your trying to bring across will be an “EXTRAORDINARY” one!

What a way to be remembered!

2) Twist It!

We all know how conversations seem to take a certain life and direction on it’s own when we’re talking with other people. Have you ever realised that there’re times when you could almost predict what’re the sentences and words that will next come out of the speakers mouth?

Yes! We are all intelligent people and so we’ve learnt to anticipate what’s coming up next, either consciously or subconsciously. So, can you imagine how we could exploit this human tendancy to anticipate to create surprises? Yes! By “Twisting It!”

Twisting It involves leading our listener down the familiar road which allows us to predict or preempt our listener’s response by inserting it with a totally unexpected answer – preferably a drastic one (see point 1)!

Take for example a conversation with a friend who asks you if you went out with that hot waiter/waitress you both met the other day.

Friend: So, did you ask her out?
You: Sure did!
Friend: How did it go?
You: It was unforgetable!
Friend: Wow! That great? Tell me about it!
You: She was a transvestite.

Ok… something like this. You get the picture!

3) Animate It!

Bring your message to life! Act it out! Humour isn’t all just about wit and humour and words. Have you ever stopped to think that even mime’s can be funny?

Usage of vocal variety and tones, facial expression and exagerrated body gestures are some ways of animating your message and bringing it to life! Imagine the surprises you’ll be creating in the lives of people who are so used to dealing with words in the form of forms, powerpoint, documents, contracts, notes, handouts, fliers, newspapers (the list goes on!) etc. Think about the impact you’ll be making!

I was tempted to show a video each after each principle to highlight each point. However, I believe that you woulld have realised by now that the 3 principles above work best when they are used with each other! So, here they are some exhibits below for your ‘reference’. See if you can spot those principles in action!



Movie Trailer


And last but not least…


I’m pretty sure you’ve got a clearer idea of the mechanics and principle of humour. So, what are you waiting for? Go make someone laugh today!

After all, don’t you enjoy a good laugh too?


4 thoughts on “How to Be Funny – The Mechanics of Humour”

  1. Interesting. There are comedic principles that can be applied, but wouldn’t you agree that you’re either funny or you’re not? That’s “it” is innate? I know for a fact timing can’t be taught and timing is the at the pinnacle of the comedic pantheon.

    Enjoyed the post!

    1. I think that the arguement that something is innate is often overused while people neglect the power of practice and persistance. Great Comedians were not born funny. They have practiced ‘dying’ in front of audiences for years until they worked out what works. The arguement that something is ‘innate’ is often used as a reason to not persist or have to deal with failure. So I’d be curious to know how you ‘know for a fact’ that comic timing cannot be taught?

  2. Hi LK,

    yup, I agree that there elements such as timing cannot be taught. They must be learnt! And the key to mastering timing is practice and experience.

    Experience with different crowds/people also enable us to tell with a degree of certainty what works or doesn’t work with certain people.

    I don’t really think that one’s innate ability translates into one’s limitation. I think it just forms the platform for us to step on. If you were born with it, great! Otherwise, we’ll just have to start from the basics… by learning!

    Thanks for the post!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s