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How To Be Funny: 34 Tips [Humor How-To]

How To Be Funny: 34 Tips [Humor How-To]

Do you think you don’t have a sense of humor? Do you want to learn humor and be funny? How do you get funny? Here you will find the best humor tips from the greatest comedians in the world, with all the universal humor techniques of the funniest men and women in the world. So you can develop your sense of humor and train your humor with this article.

Contents of this page:

Why is humor so important?

Laughter is healthy for many reasons …

  • With humor you can make connections and see relationships: what is different and what is the same? This is a very important quality of intelligence.
  • Humor opens closed hearts.
  • Humor frees us from the clutches of our thoughts.
  • When you smile, you feel that you can accept things that you couldn’t accept before.
  • You may also feel that you are more likely to forgive people who have wronged you.
  • When we are happy, our hearts open to new things. Use moments when people laugh to suggest new ideas!

So humor is an essential part of life. In this article let’s find out how we can be funny just like the funniest people around!

All funny people use these techniques

Do you want to learn humor? Then look at the people who are best at it. This article is based on the most funny people in the world. Think of Conan O’Brien, Steven Colbert and René van der Gijp. You might have already noticed: René van der Gijp is a bit of a surprising example after the previous two greats. This is immediately the first and most valuable humor technique there is. Go quickly to technique 1 to learn it …

Humor Technique 1 – Unexpected and surprise humor

This is the single most important humor technique there is. This includes almost all other techniques. Every joke is in one way or another linked to this principle, so once you master this technique, you are as good as finished!

This technique is simple. You can use surprise and unexpectedness in two ways:

Way 1: you say or do the opposite of what is expected in a situation. Be willing to say the unexpected! So wait until a situation arises where, for example, you are expected to like something, and then say that you do not like it.
Method 2:  You build a pattern yourself, which you then unexpectedly break through by saying something that is the opposite of what would be expected in the pattern you had drawn up yourself. This also serves as a build-up for your joke.

Let’s go directly to the examples. Both ways above are criss-crossed below, because the most important thing is to focus on the big idea: unexpectedness! Below you will find examples of this:

  • You are in a dance workshop and the teacher explains and demonstrates something very difficult. Everyone is amazed to see how difficult and long the figure is ( Expectation ). So what’s your comment? “That looks quite doable ( Surprise ).”
  • You are in a workshop about to begin. The workshop giver says, “What are the expectations?” The answer that is expected is that the visitors give a sympathetic answer for the workshop giver ( Expectation ). A surprising – and therefore funny – answer would be “High!” ( Surprise )
  • “He’s 74 but he doesn’t look that old, does he?” ( Expectation ). “I actually thought he was 94.” ( Surprise ).
  • I went to a party and I have not heard Nossa Nossa. What a pleasure and no irritation! ( Self-built expectation ) Just kidding, if only so … ( Surprise )
  • Someone complains about how much is expected of him: “As if I was asked to win the Tour de France backwards.” ( Expectation ) You answer, “And you didn’t even want to do that?” ( Surprise )
  • You can also just say something that is not true. Suppose someone comes up to you and says, “I have limiting beliefs.” Then you say the opposite of what the other would expect. You say something that is not true and absurd: ‘How is that possible? We are perfect! ‘ ( Surprise )
  • You should never joke about illness, really ( Self-built expectation ). There are always those cancer dicks who do. ( Surprise ).
  • A woman says about something that only women can experience. For example: “My nail polish keeps not sticking.” ( Expectation ) Man says, “I always have that too.” ( Surprise )
  • Man: “Do you already know what dress you are going to wear for tonight?”
    Woman: “Yes, you?” ( Expectation )
    Man: “I tried on 3 dresses, but I look fat in everything.” ( Surprise )
  • Indeed, I went there last year and it really is a city with atmosphere! ( Self-built expectation ) Shit atmosphere. ( Surprise )
  • A man in his fifties says, “I’m not 15 anymore.” ( Expectation ) You say, “Yes, nearly not 15 anymore.” ( Surprise )
  • David Letterman: ‘Based on what you know about him, what do you think Abraham Lincoln would be doing if he were alive today? One: Writing his memoirs of the Civil War. Two: Advising the President. ( Self-constructed expectation ) Or three: Desperately clawing at the inside of his coffin. ‘ ( Surprise ) Also note that David Letterman made the image in the coffin very vivid in this? This was achieved thanks to the following technique: specificity …

Humor technique 2 – Specificity

be funny how

This is mainly a technique that you use after a previously made joke, to make the previously made joke even funnier.

This technique is also very simple: the more details you tell us, the funnier it gets. So devote yourself to lots of details after you’ve made a joke or someone else has made a joke. Use a lot of colorful, concrete language that stimulates the senses.

  • Take David Letterman’s last example in the previous technique (unexpectedness). He said, “Desperately clawing at the inside of his coffin.” So he didn’t say, “Trying to get out of his coffin,”
  • “Let’s sit in the tree with a pack of Fristi” is funnier than “Let’s sit in a tree with lemonade.” So also rather use ‘a bar of Snickers’ instead of ‘a bar of chocolate’.
  • Conan O’Brien once commented on Kevin Hart’s shiny sportswear: “This looks like a tuxedo from the year 3055” is funny. It wouldn’t have worked if he’d said, “This looks like clothes from the future.” He made the garment and year specific.
  • Never talk about cookies, but talk about Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. In a joke describing a birthday party: “And then there are Oatmeal Raisin Cookies on the table, well if that doesn’t turn into a party.”

Also take a look at the example below from Chris Rock: he once joked twice in a row. The first time was without specificity and the second time was with specificity. Which variant do you think is funnier?

If you’ve never wanted to kill your partner, then you’ve never been in love.

If you’ve never held a rat poison box in your hand and stared at it for a long time, then you’ve never fallen in love.

– Chris Rock

Humor technique 3 – Yes and …

You accept someone else’s joke and build on it. Make this a habit. Everyone will love you for recognizing the other’s joke, listening to the other, and laughing at the other’s joke. You are now part of the joke together and it is great fun to be part of it. In addition, laugh loudly at other people’s jokes.

  • This can be as simple as simply imitating the other person’s joke. You adopt the same posture and you say exactly the same.
  • Then reinforce the other person’s joke.
  • Take the other person’s joke to the next step.
  • Add specificity to the other person’s joke.

Examples of the above 3 humor techniques

Humor Technique 4 – Synonyms as surprise humor

Use the synonyms for the unexpectedness technique: the synonym serves as the surprise.

She wasn’t just throwing herself at him. It was more like taking careful aim.

He only acts mean, but deep down in his heart he is an in-and-in rotten person.

I love humanity. It’s just the people I can’t stand.

My loyalty cannot be bought. However, it can be rented.

Humor technique 5 – Triples as surprise humor

The triple is almost a guaranteed formula for creating surprise humor. You use the first two to build the expectation, and the third breaks that expectation with a surprise.

At eighty-eight, the king of popcorn, Orville Redenbacher, passed away. His family is mired in an ugly dispute over whether to cremate, microwave, or air-pop him.
— Stephanie Miller

If peanut oil comes from peanuts, and olive oil comes from olives, where does baby oil come from?
— Lily Tomlin

Humor technique 6 – The switch as surprise humor

The ‘switch’ teaches you to steer your audience in one direction, while you end up arguing because you were actually talking about something completely different. It is a way of misleading the audience. ‘Misdirection’ is also an appropriate term for this wonderful surprise technique.

You can switch everything: the who, what, where, when, why, the how and the evaluation!

  • A typical who switch: ‘I just left the woman I was together with for twenty years. I finally said, “I really have to get out of the house, Mom.”
  • A typical where switch: ‘My wife is always vacuuming during the football game. She thinks she won’t bother anyone else in the stadium with it. ‘
  • Another nice who switch: ‘It’s very easy to find me. When you get off at the tram stop, you see a very handsome six-foot man with a great dress code and a perfectly chiseled jawline. I’m behind him. ‘
  • A typical evaluation switch: “That smells like rotten fish!” ‘No, that is not too bad. If you are going to taste it it must be very dirty.’
  • A typical evaluation switch: ‘Obviously there is nothing wrong with Head & Shoulders, because I have been using it for 3 years now and have some hair left.’
  • A flirty switch: The other is eating a salad, for example. “That looks good … And the salad too, by the way.”

Humor technique 7 – Continue extra long on specificity

funny are tips

Some things aren’t (that) funny, but they get funny when you go into them extra long. You involve more and more details or you keep repeating it in a different way. You pile up the jokes on the same subject. This can also be done in combination with the ‘Yes èn’ technique: you elaborate on the joke of the other person for an extra long time.

Two examples from Marjolein van Kooten:

I took a seat in the waiting room and there was also a lady of 60 years with outgrowth. She kept saying sorry. Every time she had to cough. ‘Cough-sorry … Cough-sorry … Cough-sorry … Cuch-sorry … Cuch-sorry … Cuch-sorry … Cough cough cough-sorry-sorry-sorry …’ She even said sorry before she had to cough: “Sorry-cough”
– Marjolein van Kooten

I came to pick my dog ​​at the shelter. Polly welcomed me and showed me the dogs. ‘Summer is a very happy animal. You’re happy aren’t you! You’re happy aren’t you! You’re happy aren’t you! You’re happy aren’t you! You’re happy aren’t you! Who is cheerful? Who is cheerful? Who is cheerful? Who is cheerful? Who is cheerful? Who is cheerful? Who is cheerful? Who is cheerful? You are happy! You are happy! You are happy! You are happy! You are happy! You’re happy! ‘
– Marjolein van Kooten

Humor technique 8 – Exaggerate (with realism as a starting point!)

Exaggeration is a simple and effective way of humor. It is important that you start realistic. Take another look at the asylum example of Mirjam van Kooten (previous section). She started out normally, but she was increasingly exaggerating.

My father’s pants kept crawling higher and higher on him. Once he turned 65, he was just pants and a head.
– Jeff Altman

Let’s see how we can exaggerate. There are two ways: an understatement and an overstatement. An understatement is exaggerating in miniature. Let’s apply this to an example.

  • Not funny: “I haven’t had sex in 10 years.”
  • A lot funnier by means of a gigantic overstatement : “Both me and my ancestors haven’t had sex since the 12th century.”
  • Or you can make it funny with a gigantic understatement: ‘I haven’t had sex in so long. The last time was half past five. ‘

With overstatements you think: ‘Over the top’:

  • It was so cold that the politicians had to put their hands in their  own  pockets.
  • The scarecrow scared the crows so hard that they even returned the grains they had stolen two years ago (Fred Allen).
  • Danny Vera can talk really well. If you sit down with him, he’ll never stop. I never dare to ask him anything again. They need new talk show hosts at the public broadcaster. Well, put Danny there and you don’t even need guests – Danny will fill the show himself (Johan Derksen).

Understatements are a great way for self-deprecating humor (which will win you sympathy). In understatements you think: ‘How do I make this as small as possible? “

  • I have my standards. They may be low, but I have them.
  • Quizmaster to a boring participant: Well, I could talk to you for seconds!
  • The place I grew up in was so small, when I was a kid we played Monopoly on it (Jean Young).

Humor technique 9 – Self-deprecating humor

be funny

With self-deprecating humor you gain empathy. A good way to do this is to use understatements (see previous section). Another way to do this is to simply make fun of yourself.

“You’re just trapped in the wrong body!”
‘Poor him …’

“That’s just a retardation from me.”

“I don’t know where you woke up this morning, but I do know you’re going to sleep from my presentation … The people who weren’t smiling were already asleep.”

“Papaaaaaa”, my child shouted. “What happened, son?” “I had a nightmare.” “Oh. What nightmare?” “You gave a 7 minute presentation. Just for me.”

“I am giving my presentation in this beautiful church. Churches are places where miracles happen. The miracle of today? That you still listen to me.”

“Nice that you want to dance with me! We are now going to make beautiful spastic movements.”

Humor Technique 10 – Generalize

Generalizing is a very simple entry point to humor. This is mainly because it conjures up images so easily:

Do you see people with a lot of pink clothes? Then generalize that: “It seems they arrived in a pink car too.”

During the TV program Voetbal Inside, jokes were made about how the fourth man (referee in soccer) only stands all evening to see if the ball has crossed the goal line. The joke was then generalized: “There are rumors that he is still standing at that line now.”

Generalization is actually also a kind of utilization (call back humor). This is discussed in one of the following paragraphs.

There is a joke about having a fake charity. You can generalize this by saying, “In the fake meetings we have, we’re going to tell everyone!”

Humor technique 11 – Naming the obvious

It is absurd to name something that does not need to be named. Just look at the examples below:

  • If someone is shivering and sniffling from the cold, mention the obvious: “It looks like you are very cold.”
  • If someone tells the same thing to someone 3 times, it is expected that it does not have to be said again. You break that expectation by telling that even more often (in a very serious tone). Do more A, A and A. Did I mention A? Oh by the way, A. Oh wait, whatever you can do is A. I heard that A. ‘
  • During a presentation, is it continuously mentioned that it is all very accessible, and is that noticeable? Then you can hardly resist … “Are there any questions?” “Yes, is it also accessible?”

Humor Technique 12 – The Simple Truth

be funny tips tricks

The simple truth makes something that makes sense illogical.

“Are you a Christian?”
“No, I’m Lisa!”

In English this is also called the ‘Call me a taxi’ or ‘Call me a doctor’ formula:

“Call me a taxi.” “Okay, you’re a taxi”
“Call me a doctor.” “Why? Are you sick?” “No, I just graduated from med school.”

More examples:

  • How long was I in the army? Five foot eleven.
  • Are you on school here? So are you on the roof?
  • “Can you name all the capitals of the 12 provinces?” “Okay, all the capitals of the 12 provinces.”
  • ‘Please join me in a cup of coffee.’ ‘Only if there’s enough room in the cup.’
  • How do you spell your name? With letters.
  • Every 120 seconds a woman gives birth in the Netherlands. So what I have to do is go to that woman and stop her.
  • Boy: ‘Are you free tonight?’ Girl: ‘Have I ever charged you?’
  • I shot an elephant in my pajamas. I would never know how he got into my pajamas.
  • If four out of five people have diarrhea, does that mean there is one person enjoying it?
  • Two officers came to my door to inform me that my dogs were chasing children on bicycles. I told them that’s ridiculous: my dogs don’t even have bicycles.
  • Never hit a man with glasses. Hit him with a club.
  • “I broke my leg in 7 places once.” ‘Gosh, I would never go to those places again’
  • An independent variable: that is a variable that does not need others to feel good about themselves.
  • You can’t have everything … Where should you leave everything?
  • I come from Buffalo. Really? I come from normal parents.
  • “Would you like to pet my pussy?” “Of course, but put the cat aside first.”
  • After a performance: “How did you find it?” “With Google Maps.”
  • “I once tried to read a book upside down.” “Then you must have had a hard time keeping your legs in the air.”
  • I once tried reading a book upside down, but I had a hard time keeping my legs up in the air.
  • Every night I slept with a strange woman. The same woman – she was just a little strange.

Humor technique 13 – Alliterations and other language plays

The great thing about language is: you can play with it in all kinds of ways to make language cute, fun and funny. One way for this is alliteration. You can also play with language in many other ways:

Brrrrrrrread and brrrrrown baked toast.

You can also put completely opposite meanings in a sentence:

It was heaven for atheists.

Always have a rhyming dictionary at home and sometimes browse it.

Laureen, Laureen, let that smile be seen.

Humor Technique 14 – Childish Naughtiness

Children have the greatest fun when they make fun of someone innocent. This continues to work well for adults! Just look at the example below from Mr. Heinrich (Rundfunk). I hope that there are English subtitles abailable.

That has nothing to do with me. Or maybe it does…

Humor technique 15 – Call back humor and utilization humor: score free smiles

Call back humor is just free humor. You use what has already been funny and you bring it up again, possibly in a new context. You could also call it a kind of ‘running joke’.

Suppose that the joke was made earlier that someone’s parents are buffalo’s (because that person said, “I am from Buddalo”). Half an hour later you can use this again: if the other person says something, you can say, “Of course it is, because your parents were buddalo’s.” Another example: if this person says, “I was very wild then.” Then you bring back the buffalo joke: “I think I should expect that since you were raised by a herd of wild buddalo’s.”

By the way, also use the combination technique: use two pre-existing topics that have already been, and combine them to get a funny idea.

You can also just borrow the concepts of a single topic. See the example below.

  • Stephen Colbert’s guest said, ‘I am really excited about my new movie: Deadpool (while he messed up and got egg scraps all over him). Stephen Colbert utilized the guest’s word: “I’m really excited to have more than 1 suit in my wardrobe.”
  • 80 euros -> not in 80 years!
  • Has there been a purple toaster in an improvisation scene? Then of course purple bread must also come out.
  • Another way of callback humor is to name the obvious. See a few tips back.

Would you like to read more about this technique? Then read the article about utilization .

Humor Technique 16 – Word jokes (puns) remain fun, precisely because they are bad

Puns are powerful when you layer them with self-depreciation. So when you seem to say with your facial expressions that you know it is a bad joke. Puns are often fun on their own as well.

  • “Love you too!” “Love you three!”
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Humor Technique 17 – Sarcasm

Sarcasm is a really fun kind of humor:

  • ‘Of course my dear. I would never argue with you Iris. Iris is such a sweetheart! ‘ And then contradict.
  • Oh really, do women like to shop? … Shoes, women like shoes?

Humor Technique 18 – Use two different statuses and authorities for humor

teach humor

Jokes about politicians and people of authority do well because we prefer to laugh at the people we fear. This is very important to use if you have a theater hobby and want to use it for that (and it is certainly applicable to real life as well).

If you play a scene, the scene is immediately more interesting and funnier if one of the two has a status that is slightly above or below the other person. This is explained in the article about improvisational theater .

Humor Technique 19 – The Common ‘Enemy’ (with a higher status)

It is funny when you are with a group of people – for example Amsterdammers – who make jokes about another group of people – for example Frisians.

I worked some gigs in the Deep South … Alabama. You talk about Darwin’s waiting room. There are guys in Alabama who are their own father.
— Dennis Miller

It gets funnier when you are with a group of people and you make fun of a common ‘enemy’ with a higher status. Hidden camera programs make good use of this: the best scenes in these types of programs are when the victim tries to keep his dignity (high status). If the victim gets through the joke and plays sports, you as a viewer feel a slight disappointment: the tension and fun has gone.

Humor Technique 20 – Someone who does not have information

Someone shouldn’t know something! A famous hidden camera joke is the talking mailbox joke. A man posts a letter and the mailbox suddenly starts talking to him. This was especially amusing because the man called his friend to come and listen to the incredible conversation.

Now that his friend is also watching, he starts talking to the mailbox again, but this time the mailbox doesn’t say a word anymore. As the man starts to yell at the mailbox louder and louder, the camera zooms in on the friend who is questioning his friend’s mental health.

Humor Technique 21 – Impersonations are very simple

train a sense of humor

When you step into a character, change your facial expressions, voice, body language, tempo, etc. If you want to impersonate someone, use the frequently used words of the person you are impersonating.

  • If I were Rihanna I would search the sky for diamonds all day long.

The above examples show how simple this technique is: it is simply a matter of just saying the familiar words that the person in question had used.

Humor Technique 22 – Don’t try to be funny, just tell a story

There are two things you need to know if you want to be funny, for example in a show you are giving:

  1. It’s more important to tell a story than to be funny.
  2. Paradoxically, once you tell a story without trying to be funny, it will become much easier to be funny.

Humor Technique 23 – Have a savior in case your joke flops

This is a phrase you use to get by when a joke fails.

  • “I knew that joke wouldn’t work.”
  • “That’s the last time I stole a joke from {the comedy club owner}.
  • “Yeah … don’t tell anyone I said that.”

Humor technique 24 – Magnifying the mistakes of others (of course with warmth and at the behavioral level)

Important note: we laugh at the behavior of others. Never on identity level. We only laugh at things that are not important to the other person, or things that are not permanent.

In the 9/11 commission report, they say it was Iran—not Iraq— that was helping Al-Qaeda. So apparently we invaded the wrong country because of a typo.
— David Letterman

Humor technique 25 – Use the ‘pregnant pause’ to generate emotions (humor & tension)

humor learning tips

You take a break just before the punchline. This builds tension that is taken away by the surprising ending. This is called a ‘pregnant pause’ because it promises to ‘deliver.’

This can be used in any kind of joke. Even in the Henry Youngman classic below.

Take my wife – Please!
– Henry Youngman

This is only funny because of the small pause at the dash. That pause is essential for reading this joke. In addition, leave room for others to get the joke.

Humor Technique 26 – Ask a Question!

Another immediate laugh for many comedians is asking the audience a question: “Which one of you has ever …?”

Humor technique 27 – The obvious lie (form of unexpected humor)

The obvious lie is a playful and funny way that can be used, for example, as a decorating trick.

  • I didn’t look at her because she was wearing a short skirt. Not at all.
  • Oh … So here is the red light district… Aha … Never knew it was here …

Humor Technique 28 – The ‘(just) like’ metaphor

Lay the properties of one category on top of another:

  • This car is beautiful, gray and wrinkled here and there … just like me.
  • If toasters were made by Harley-Davidson, only cool people would buy them.

Humor Technique 29 – The truth is funny

Look at the absurdities of life. This is what many comedians point out to us. A good example of this is Louis CK.

Humor Technique 30 – Take something out of context

You take something out of context, giving it a different meaning. Conan O’brien is known for this.

  • For example, he is standing in a doll museum with all kinds of girl dolls with their backs to him: “This symbolizes / summarizes my high school years.”
  • “No no don’t touch it !!” “This reminds me of my first time having sex.”
  • We have your X-Ray. It’s bad news. There is a scary skeleton of a living man in you!

In the video below you can see how this technique is demonstrated. You will also see some other techniques from this article.

Humor Technique 31 – What if … Give something a new context

“Would you like to play around?”
“Are you asking that as a lover or as a golfer?” she replied.

Asking yourself ‘what if’ questions can spark funny ideas.

  •  What if you actually saw McNuggets on a chicken?
  • What if alphabet soup consistently spelled obscene words?
  • What if the tower of Pisa had a clock?

This can lead to excellent exaggerations.

If loaves of bread made toasters, they would be called portable tanning salons.

Take, for example, the possible ways you can use a round bar stool cushions. What else could they be besides pillows? Use your imagination and plenty of exaggeration for five minutes.

For example, you come to:

  • Slippers for elephants
  • Far too big hats
  • Eyepatches for a giant
  • Frisbees for people with capabilities (disabled). 
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Humor Technique 32 – Make associations and make fun of them

School = must, must = compulsion, compulsion = labor, child labor is prohibited so you do not have to go to school.

First create subgroups. If the subject is golf, you can for example create the following subgroups:

  1. Golf equipment
  2. Golf course
  3. Golf game
  4. Golfers

Now you just make associations without censoring yourself:

Golf equipment:
Checkered socks
Head protection
Lucky bakk

And then you can even create a new subgroup of ‘clubs’.

Wooden clubs
Iron clubs

And then you move on to the other subcategory:

Golf course:

Humor Technique 33 – Vulnerability gives you more depth (it doesn’t make you a clown)

be funny

Don’t go for the perfect picture but be honest. This creates humor and a sense of connection. If you are only funny, you are only a clown, but if you also show your honest emotions, you add more depth to yourself.

Humor Technique 34 – Make others feel good: make fun of what they have achieved

There should be no losers. So feel free to joke about what someone has achieved. Never joke about anything negative about someone related to their identity, beliefs or anything permanent.

Important tip – Also read the article about self confidence

Without self-confidence, no joke comes across. You need self-confidence because in the accompanying article on self-confidence tips you learn, for example, not to do things halfway, but with conviction. That is also very important when delivering a joke.

These were all humor techniques

Good luck with the humor tips to develop a sense of humor. I am sure you will be able to learn humor and be funny. Also leave a comment on this article!

About The Author


Hello! Thanks for reading these articles. My intention is to make happiness as simple and clear as posssible. By the way, excuse my English. I am not a native English speaker since I live in Amsterdam. Much appreciated if you use the comments to make suggestions on my grammar. See ya in another blogpost!