Ever heard the old joke?
Q: How do you get to Carnegie Hall (or Sydney Opera House or La Scala, etc.)
So if you are chairing an event, giving a speech, or simply making a toast, here’s some practical advice from professional comedian Rodney Marks on How To Be Funny:
- Mine your biography for 10 funny experiences that could happen only to you.
- Enjoy the pause but beware the silence. The pause connects you to your audience; the silence distances you. Learn the difference.
- Name ‘the elephant in the room’. Comedy is bold! Verbalise the unspoken subtext and you’ll get laughs (or fired).
- Practice some more.
- Done? No. Practice more.
- Turn your audience’s world view on its head – do we need government? why does work exist? Comedy is all about perspective.
- Don’t seek audience approval. Take them on a journey – “That reminds me of the time …”.
- Be the butt of your own jokes and stories. Self-deprecation is funnier than moral superiority. It’s ok to be inferior to the audience. Better still, make them feel superior.
- If working alone, you can populate your stage with imaginary characters but one one of them needs to be you.
- Write to a schedule. Realistic comedy writing requires 20 minutes per day, minimum. Unrealistic comedy takes longer.
- Find a comedy coach or mentor (or both). Be commercial. Don’t ask for favours; aim for results.
- Set your funny bone to autodidact. Comedy occurs all around you all the time. Teach yourself to see and use it.
- Change the real estate. In public, speak as you do in private or talk to your audience as though they are colleagues.
- Discuss your performance fee with the audience; name your competitors and their fees; argue that you are worth more.
- Use your stage as therapy only if you are performing for an audience of psychiatrists. Otherwise, it’s not about you.
- Pontificate about how to be funny.
- Stop watching TV and use your time more productively … by sleeping. Dream funny. Wake up. Write funny. Be funny.
- As a translation act, be your own thought bubbles.
- Over-explain minutiae.
- Be punny.
- Without changing your appearance, actions or dialect, list some truisms of the generation older than you.
- Get out of your own way. Stop trying and just be.
- Use the lens of a visitor from outer space.
- Be overly logical. Extend logic to absurdity.
- Go with your first heckle and then continue to have the audience direct your show. React. Life if live and unplanned.
- Give silence when words are expected by using masks of listening, agreeing, questioning and waiting.
- Take “How to be funny 26” seriously.
- Never use one word when three will do.
- Let your audience be your sub-editor by going where the laughs are.
- As didgeridoo players breathe in their noses and out their mouths simultaneously, you must listen and talk at the same time.
- Be your own audience.