Humor – How to Be Funny, Like JimPosted: February 8, 2012
Since Madonna performed at the halftime show at the Super Bowl this past weekend, it seems so appropriate to use one of the “Material Girl’s” references: Today, MJ Monaghan, will be “touched for the very first time” – okay, people, I’m talking about the blog, not me! – by a guest blogger.
This is an exciting, and groundbreaking moment for us here at “MJ.” We have none other than James Chaney of The Wordslinger (one of the coolest blog names, EVER). Jim and I met on the ever-so-helpful Facebook blogging page, “We Blog … A Blogging Community” (see badge to the right of my sidebar for info). He has a quirky sense of humor – like yours truly – except he’s actually funny! Do check out his blog, you’ll be regaled by is storytelling – about life in general, his take on parenting, or about sports. Oh yeah, and in his spare time he’s writing a book!
Without further ado, please welcome THE WORDSLINGER, Mr. James Chaney:
Growing up, I always wanted to be “the funny one” in a group of people. I’m not sure how or why this goal developed; though it likely stemmed from my inability to find a girl who liked me. I entered my middle school years with an undersized physique and an oversized schnozz, so to use a baseball analogy; I was behind in the count early. As cliques began to form faster than the pimples on a pre-teen, I knew I had to insinuate myself into a group quickly before all the funny guy openings were filled.
My experience with being humorous had, to this point, been limited to reciting a joke my father told me as a child.
“Where do generals keep their armies?” I’d begin with a sly grin on my face. “In their sleevies.”
A classic quip if ever there was one, wouldn’t you agree? Anyway, I had no time to learn how to be funny as there were undoubtedly other jokesters waiting in the wings to take my spot in the group. So I did what any young buck would do in my position, I faked it. I tried several different approaches in my attempt to prove my comical genius to the crowd.
My initial plan was to simply laugh at everything. I figured that by laughing at things that no one else seemed to find amusing, I would be perceived as having a superior humor-sensing radar and supreme knowledge of all things ha-ha. In retrospect, I may have overestimated my popularity and powers of persuasion. Instead of leading the group like the Pied Piper of hilarity, I received mostly glares of confusion and questions about my mental capacity.
Next I tried saving my laughs as if they were quarters in a piggy bank, and only giving them out when the comedic stars were perfectly aligned. Unfortunately, this strategy was foiled before it even got off the ground since it came on the heels of my “laugh at everything” plan. Now, instead of being “the funny guy”, I was being referred to as “the bi-polar guy”. Not exactly what I was going for.
Through some extensive trial and error, I eventually found my niche in the comedic department. As I got older my sense of humor developed, which helped me greatly in social situations since my looks didn’t exactly follow suit. At 5’7” and a depression-triggered eating binge shy of 130lbs, not to mention the aforementioned Pinocchio-esque beak, I certainly wasn’t destined to win “Most likely to be featured in People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive Issue”. I’m sure my soon-to-be therapist will refer to my quick wit and sometimes snarky comments as “a defense mechanism”, but to him I’ll say, “insert snarky comment here.”
When I look back at those middle and high school years, I can’t help but think how much simpler my life would have been, had the internet been bustling like it is today. I mean a simple Google search for “How to be funny” yields over 100 million results! There are step by step instructions, visual aids, even videos to demonstrate how best to be funny. Perhaps if these services were available to me, I would have succeeded must faster in my goal, as well as received less attention from counselors and the man with the comfy couch whom my parents insisted I visit weekly.
After perusing some of the helpful guides out there, I think I’ve added a few new arrows to my quiver of quips. If you’d like, I’ll share a few nuggets of wisdom with you right now. You would? Excellent; here we go:
Be uber attractive or insanely wealthy: From what I’ve been able to gather from Wikipedia and other extremely reliable sources, your level of comedic genius can be directly influenced by your looks or bankroll. If you are a super model, famous actor, heir to a fortune, or Oprah, people will find everything you say to be hilarious. If I were going to give one piece of advice to someone trying to be funny, it would be to make sure you are good looking and/or rich.
Get a prop and keep it with you all the time: I’ve noticed that many “how to be funny” lists indicate that being known for a prop is a good way for people to know you are funny. As someone constantly on the lookout for funny people, so as not to be blindsided by a potential humor duel, I find this tip extremely helpful. When in a crowded room with people I’ve never met, it’s good to know that the guy holding the rubber chicken is my comedic adversary.
Work on some impressions: People love impressions. I once did an impression of a guy I knew in high school that was so dead on, my audience was left speechless. Yep, no one made a peep. I’m pretty much an expert on impressions so let me give you a piece of advice. Impersonate people that no one else knows. It’s always worked for me. Every time I do an impression, all I hear are crickets. I’m telling you, the sign of a great impression is a silent audience.
Show videos of people doing stupid things: One of the great joys of the internet is watching videos of people doing stupid things. Today, there are “comedians” that have developed entire routines around showing these videos and commenting on them. This is a comedic gold mine. The videos speak for themselves, so all you really need to do is add an “ooohhh! That’s gotta hurt!” or “Yikes, that’ll leave a mark!” every now and again, and sit back and enjoy the laughter.
So there you have it. A few drops of knowledge to help your funny flower grow, from an expert in the field of farce. At least that’s what I intend to write on my Wikipedia page.
Hope you enjoyed Jim’s slice-of-life on being funny. Do check him out; he may end up being bigger than Bollywood film actor and superstar Rajinikanth, and you’ll really regret not jumping on his bandwagon.