Find your funny bone

Anyone can be humorous; all you need is to hone your skills

Remember that guy from high school with an impeccable sense of humour? Or Mr Patel, with that knack of making people laugh even at the most serious moments. Humour is not a task that can be practised to perfection, but a quality that comes from within. There are ways you can be one of those people in your circle who brings a cheer wherever you go.

Drop the fear of LOL-ing

Don’t be afraid or too shy to laugh out loud and give humour the importance it deserves in your life. You may think this is a given. It is not! Would you be willing to laugh, I mean crack up laughing while shopping alone in a store? On an elevator? In a doctor’s waiting room? No one likes to appear foolish or become embarrassed, so our humour is often restricted. Be willing to take risks. Be willing to laugh when you’re in a public place. Your sense of humour will grow and so will your ability to seek out humour.

Know the figures of speech

Focus your awareness on your favourite types of humour. Everyone has a unique style and there are several types of humour: silly, political, morbid and more. Analyse which appeals to you the most? Remember to keep it appropriate. Who are your favourite comedians? What styles of humour do you like?

I sometimes use slapstick when out with friends, I pretend to walk into a door or fall down. When others see you’re not hurt they are usually relieved and laugh. Silly, nonsensical humour too does the trick at times. For example: What does a three hundred pound canary say? “CHURP!” Many enjoy silly jokes, especially children. Q: Why are elephants wrinkled? A: Have you ever tried to iron one? An example of political humour: “When two politicians accuse each other of lying, they’re both telling the truth.” Some prefer pun: Two fish swim into a concrete wall. One turns to the other and says, “Dam!”
Two hydrogen atoms meet. One says “I’ve lost my electron.” The other says “Are you sure?” The first replies “Yes, I’m positive.”

I often use exaggeration. Late-night-talk-show-host Johnny Carson was a master at telling exaggeration jokes. “Last night, it was so cold; the flashers in New York were only describing themselves.” These are just a few examples of the types and styles of humour that you can explore.

Incongruity is one of the most popular humour theories. The idea is that we laugh at things that surprise us because they seem out of place. “I said to the gym instructor: “Can you teach me to do the splits?” He said: “How flexible are you?” I said, “I can’t make Tuesdays.” Once you’re enjoying particular types of humour, start to branch out a bit and expand your horizons to grow and enjoy other styles. Try watching stand up comedians and read humorous material.

Use the eagle’s eye

Keep your eyes open for humorous situations and use your imagination. Humour is associated with cognitive mastery and promotes divergent thinking, a characteristic of creativity. Create an atmosphere of humour in your relationships by focussing on the funny things in life and enjoying the laughter they evoke. Soon you will be seeing humour all over and enjoying. My best friend and I have a rule we live by, which is to get someone to laugh every day of our life.

Company matters

If you don’t laugh as much as you used to, take a look around at the people you’re hanging out with, or perhaps you’re not hanging out with others at all? Find humorous, fun loving people and avoid the negative doom and gloomers.’

Kick the embarrassment

Learn to laugh at yourself. Many people find it difficult to laugh at themselves in embarrassing situations. It may be due to self-esteem issues or sometimes out of fear or defensiveness. We naturally avoid embarrassment. But it is important to realise that we all make mistakes and when we do, a good laugh makes the mistake seem insignificant and human. Save your embarrassing stories to share with others, many of them will sound very funny when re-told. This takes the power of embarrassment away and gives you more self-confidence.

How would you know that your sense of humour is getting better? It’s when you can take something that is difficult in your life and see the humour in it. Take that pain and give it a twist, until you can feel the funny side. Ask yourself, how could I see this as funny? Or what’s funny about this? Keep trying on different perspectives. Question yourself, “If I were a mime artist or a comedian how would I be looking at this?”

Remember that even though there seem to be a few ‘naturals’ around you, a sense of humour is learnt, and not necessarily inherited. You can cultivate your sense of humour if you really want to. And when you do, you will find that your relationships become richer and more rewarding and you develop a magnetism that attracts people to you. This alone makes cultivating your sense of humour worth the effort.

Funny one-liners

  • I love in horror movies how the person yells out “hello?!” as if the killer is gonna say “yeah I’m in the kitchen, want a sandwich?”
  • When butterflies are in love, do they feel human’s in their stomach?
  • Politicians and diapers have one thing in common. They should both be changed regularly, and for the same reason.
  • If I agreed with you we’d both be wrong.
  • The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it’s still on the list.
  • Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?
  • I like to stop the microwave with one second to go. Makes me feel like a bomb defusal expert!!
  • The average power nap is 20 minutes. This works out well because I can fit three of them evenly into one hour.

This was first published in the December 2012 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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David Jacobson
David M. Jacobson, LCSW, is owner of HumorHorizons.com, his professional speaking business. He is also on the Board of Directors of the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humour; an organisation that consists of humour enthusiasts. David has received many awards, including the PBAA Jim Elliot Award for unicycling 50 miles in the El Tour de Tucson in spite of severe arthritis. His purpose is sharing how humour can make the world a better place for all.

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