Humor – How to Be Funny, Like Jim

Madonna like a virgin Super Bowl

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:

The Wordslinger blogger writer Jim 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.” 

humor people laughing

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.

Bipolar humor

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.

Humor rubber chicken comedy

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.

Rajinikanth Bollywood Indian superstar

And as always, your comments are very welcome. Share with The Wordslinger how much you thoroughly enjoyed his post!

32 Comments on “Humor – How to Be Funny, Like Jim”

  1. Jane Thorne says:

    mj great post …today might have been my day to be funny, it isn’t and tomorrow isn’t looking good either…off to pay Jim a visit..thanks for this – Jane :D

  2. I only wish I could leave a comment that looked like a ransom note cut out from magazines. Now that…THAT would be funny.


    Your Stalker

  3. mooremom523 says:

    Loved the guest poster! Great One!

  4. Debra Kristi says:

    Funny takes a special talent in my opinion. I don’t pull it off well. I leave it to those that seem to have a natural feel for it. This post was thoroughly enjoyable! Thanks for this fun guest post.

  5. Excellent post!
    I will spend the rest of the day practising my impressions and watching out for the guy with the rubber chicken.

  6. Barb says:

    It takes a long time to develop a funny bone.

  7. I usually read women’s blogs so it is nice to branch out and be introduced to both of you this week! It’s a new experience for me! Love the comedy!

  8. Elaine says:

    Great choice of guest blogger. Great tips. I really needed that help seeing as whenever I try to be funny people look away before I even have a chance to deliver the punchline.

    • sportsjim81 says:

      The key is to fake them out with what appears to be the punchline, but is really just a completely unnecessary detail of the story. They think they’ve avoided your humor when they turn around, and then you’ve got them! Give that a try next time. And thanks for the comment!

  9. Tori Nelson says:

    With all these guest posts, I’m officially calling this The Week of The Jim. You IS funny, child. I loved this post because I used the ha-ha to blend in all the time. Funny thing is that loudly telling a cannibal/poop joke in a crowded family restaurant didn’t help me blend in so much!

    • sportsjim81 says:

      Hmm…shocking. Which restaurant were you in? I feel that would absolutely be a hit at The Golden Corral. (Do they have Golden Corral near you? If not, I feel this comment falls flat)

    • mj monaghan says:

      The Week of the Jim – I like the sound of that. Maybe an official National Jim Day? Not to be confused with National Gym Day, or National Susan Dey. Oh, poop, you know what I mean, Tori!

  10. hermitsdoor says:

    I find humor almost everywhere, though often I do not have an audience which sees these laughs, as they are often the source of the joke. Life is a sit-com if you just tweak the characters around you a bit.

  11. Jim, this was really funny. I loved it. If only I could be Oprah. I find writing humor to be so rewarding, there really is nothing better than knowing you made someone laugh or smile. It gets quite addicting.

  12. I’ve never had much nerve to try being funny, though I’ve done a lot of comedic acting. That takes more listening to the audience than anything else, knowing how to read the swell of laughter and ride it to its natural conclusion.

    • sportsjim81 says:

      Acting, I could not do. It takes me a lot of work just to try to be funny in writing, there’s no way I could pull it off in person. I’m not even sure I’m pulling it off in writing anyway!

  13. beckyday6 says:

    Great post! I also think an important point of how to be funny is comedic timing, you can tell the greatest joke in the world but if it’s not timed right, it can still fall flat… :)

    • sportsjim81 says:

      Great point! You know those times when someone makes a comment and then like 45 minutes later you come up with a great retort? Wouldn’t it be nice to have some sort of rewind button that could let you go back and zing everyone with your wit! I’m looking at you, scientists…

    • mj monaghan says:

      You mean, like: I’ve got, um, uh … rhythm. I’ve rhythm, got? :)

  14. Besides stand up, jokes would make good cartoon gags probably. Perhaps give cartoons a try. I have put 350 original jokes into cartoons. And you don’t have to be a great artist. Unicomics uses stick figures and she is a riot.

  15. [...] humorous sentences for their viewing pleasure.  I hope you’ll take a minute to jump over and read my post, as well as the many great one’s by the man of the house.  Thanks to MJ for the opportunity! [...]

    • mj monaghan says:

      Thanks for guest posting on the blog, my friend. I know you’re always worried about leaving dirty dishes out and stuff, but you seem to be a good guest. Will have you stop by for a visit again, really soon. :)

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