This is the list of rules for telling a joke that I promised you in my last post.
Who Will Benefit From These Joke Telling Tips?
If you want to be the next Seinfeld, I cannot help you. But if you just want to be able to tell a decent joke to friends, co-workers or family members or want to add some humor to professional presentations to spice them up a little, read on . . .
5 Steps To Funny
Step 1: Get A Joke To Tell
You start with good material. Duh!
There are books of jokes and the Internet is full of jokes. Just do a search for “jokes about [whatever you want]” or “[whatever subject you want] jokes.”
If you hear a good joke, be sure to capture it as soon as you can, while you still remember it. Write it down, or record it on a tape recorder or on your smartphone. If you don’t have any other way to preserve it, call yourself and record the joke on your voice mail. That will both preserve the joke and give you your first experience telling it.
Step 2: Save Your Joke
If you are interested in joke telling, you should keep a folder of jokes. It can be a physical folder where you place written jokes, funny cartoons and the like, or it can be a computer file.
Try to keep your jokes organized by subject so you can find them later.
Step 3: Understand The Structure Of A Joke And What Makes It Funny
Good joke telling requires an understanding of the joke’s parts and what about it makes the joke funny.
The most basic joke form is a setup followed by a punch line.
The setup contains all the information necessary to prepare your audience for the laugh. By itself, the setup isn’t funny. It just sets the stage. For example . . .
A woman gets on a bus with her baby. The bus driver says: ”Ugh, that’s the ugliest baby I’ve ever seen!” The woman walks to the rear of the bus and sits down, fuming. She says to a man next to her: ”The driver just insulted me!”
The punch line is the funny part. It’s funny because it surprises the audience. It doesn’t follow from the setup. The punch line is unfair or ridiculous or absurd or opposite to the way things ought to be. That’s why it is funny. Here’s the end of the joke I just started . . .
The man says: ”You go up there and tell him off. Go on, I’ll hold your monkey for you.”
Step 4: Rehearse
Do you think that professional comedians perform a joke without practicing it in advance? Of course not. And neither should you.
Here are the 3 reasons why you should rehearse.
First, to make sure you know your joke so well that you won’t forget it. It’s like singing a song. You have to know the words.
Second, to practice such things as where to pause, where to speed up and when to speak more loudly or softly.
Third, to improve your joke. Usually, this means shortening it. A joke that is too long, with unnecessary details, isn’t funny. It’s annoying. Make your joke shorter and tighter with only enough information in the setup to have the punch line make sense.
You can practice into a tape recorder, in front of a mirror or by telling your joke to a willing friend.
Step 5: Follow These Delivery Tips
If you have a good joke and you’ve practiced, you’ll do fine. But here are a few joke telling dos and don’ts that will guarantee your success.
- DO figure out the best time to tell your joke. If you’re at a social gathering, see if you can fit it into the conversation naturally. It’s very effective if your audience does not even know you’re telling a joke until you hit them with the punch line. If you can’t fit the joke into the flow of the conversation, wait for a lull in the conversation to begin.
- DON’T announce in advance that “this is the funniest joke” or anything like that. Let the joke speak for itself.
- DON’T do accents unless you are really good at them. Bad accents make you the joke.
- DO make eye contact with your audience.
- DO get to the point, but don’t rush.
- DO commit to your joke and deliver it with verve and panache (as soon as you figure out what that means). You’ve practiced. You’re prepared. Hit the punch line hard. There’s a reason the term includes “punch.”