WARNING: I have zero right giving advice about this shit. ‘Sall just my $0.02.
I’ve heard from multiple sources that you can’t teach someone how to be funny. You can teach them comedic structure until their eyeballs fall out, but if they’re not funny, then they’re just not funny, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.
I agree that endowing a sense of humor onto someone is (probably) impossible, but if YOU consider yourself unfunny and just want to be funnier… maybe hold off on the dreams of being a professional comedian for the moment, but I see no reason why you can’t successfully self-direct your own comedic journey.
- Everyone has a sense of humor. If you don’t, then yeah, you’re probably screwed, I’m sorry. But let’s assume that something has made you laugh, ever.
- Immerse yourself in funny things. Watch comedy. Listen to stand-up albums. Read humorists. Surround yourself with funny people.
- What makes you laugh out loud? (You probably don’t need to overanalyze it the way I have, but it might help direct your particular brand of humor.)
- Speaking as a person with a history of slipping into depressive episodes, there have been periods in my life where I haven’t laughed for weeks. So when I do laugh during these periods, it startles me. I can easily identify the stimulus & response as unusual, and immediately analyze the situation (‘cos that’s how I do). What was so funny about this thing? Why did it make me laugh?
- In my personal case, I find the most effective qualities to be:
- Surprises and unexpected twists, especially when I don’t notice the set up. (And the twist must have some logic; i.e. “Ah, this water is refreshing. OH MY GOD THIS ISN’T WATER, IT’S CLEAR TABASCO SAUCE” is stupid.)
- Physical comedy (as long as it isn’t too slapsticky or buffoonish; see below, “trying too hard”)
- Smart people just being their witty selves
- I find “trying too hard” (i.e. basically anytime I perceive someone trying to be funny) to be unfunny. Because of this, I have difficulty appreciating most written comedy (including sketch). (This is just me. Most comedy nerds will disagree.)
- Stop being shy, and second-guessing yourself, and just make the damn joke that’s on the tip of your tongue. If it fails, chill out. Even great professional comedians fall flat sometimes. One bad joke is not the end of the world.
- Surrounding yourself with funny people helps a lot. They tend to be more forgiving of your bad jokes, and their good jokes can inspire you and motivate you and propel you to take more comedic risks. And, as with every skill, the more you do it, the better you’ll get.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably funnier than I am. What’s your take?