When funny is not funny anymore

By Bruce Wade

A great story is always made better when it includes funny. Making your audience laugh elevates the good hormones and releases tension bringing people together. Funny allows the storyteller to emphasise a relevant point or issue to the desired outcome.

A Master Storyteller can build these emotions with their words and well-crafted pose, then release them upon the audience at the right time getting the appropriate response: laughter.

But more often than most the storyteller will get this wrong and things fall flat with a deathly hush (crickets) followed by deflated emotions and the speaker looking around for a deep hole to climb into.

Here are some funny deathtraps to avoid:

  1. Never make fun of your audience. Never use your audience’s situation, occupation, culture, gender or looks as the source of your joke.
  2. Learn who your audience is and tell jokes that they will understand
  3. Never tell a joke for the first time on stage. Try it out on smaller groups before it gets to the stage.
  4. Never tell someone else’s joke and try to make it your own.
  5. Never laugh at your joke, especially before you get to the punch line
  6. Never mess up the punchline.
  7. Do not rush the joke. Speak slowly and allow time for the words to find the connection they need to emphasise the funny.
  8. Do not ramble through the whole joke. Use the power of the pause. Timing is everything when telling a joke.

If you are still learning how to get this right, watch standup comedians on YouTube and Netflix to observe and learn their techniques. Practise with yourself, your family and friends before going on stage. Getting this right will set you up as a better storyteller who your audience will listen to and want to return to.

One Comment

  1. Bill Brander 9 April 2024 at 11:08 - Reply

    Thank you, Bruce. In my context, culture and gender are very important, so I avoid telling jokes. The exception is if the joke is about me and some of my missteps.

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