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How To Be Funny

By David J. Parker and Samuel Stoddard

Being funny is hard work. Some people think that humor is easy, that anybody can be funny with very little work. This is not true. To be funny there are a lot of things you must know about humor and a lot of situations you must prepare for. Think fast -- you're in line at McDonald's and the guy in front of you orders a Whopper -- what do you say? Give up? Read on, humor impaired person, and learn the secrets of being funny.

What Is Funny?

Humor can be broken down into five distinct categories. You should memorize these, as there will be a quiz later.

Situational Humor

Some things are only funny in certain situations, so you must be ready with your humor. For example, if someone stumbles while walking, it is funny to say, "First day on your new feet?" However, it is not funny to say this twenty minutes later, when the stumbling has been forgotten. Timing is the essence of comedy, so you should always be ready to capitalize on the current situation. Here are some common situational jokes you can use the next time the opportunity presents itself. You should memorize these and use them as often as possible to show how funny you are. Note that some situations have more than one appropriate response. You might try to alternate between the various responses to show your diversity. On the other hand, it never hurts to fall back on an old standby. If a joke is funny once, it stands to reason that it will be funny twenty more times.

Somebody is very tall.
  • "Do you play basketball?"
  • "Oh sorry, I thought you were a lightpost."
  • "How's the weather up there?"
Somebody is very short.
  • "Where's the circus?"
  • "Da plane! Da plane!"
  • "How's the weather down there?"
Somebody stumbles.
  • "Walk much?"
  • "First day on your new feet?"
  • "How's the weather down there?"
Somebody burps.
  • "Really?"
  • "Well put."
  • "Did you get any on you?"
  • "Just as good the second time?"
Somebody hurts himself.
  • "That's gotta hurt!"
  • "That's going to leave a mark."
  • "You're going to feel that tomorrow."
Somebody says something untrue.
  • "Bzzt, wrong answer. Thanks for playing."
Somebody says, "You can say that again."
  • (repeat what you just said)
  • "That again."


Doing funny things will only get you half way to being a true funny man. How you do them is equally important. The following easy tips will help you with your "delivery," as we say in the industry.

Intrinsic Humor


I told you there would be a quiz. But don't worry; it's multiple choice, and since you'll be grading yourself you can just lie to everyone about your score. In many cases, there will be more than one "right" answer to the question. In that case, you should choose the most correct answer.

  1. A stranger falls down and breaks his leg. You should:

    • (a) Call for help.
    • (b) Laugh.
    • (c) Break the other leg.
    • (d) Pretend you're a doctor and try to set the leg.


  2. Your best friend's mother dies. You should:

    • (a) Console your friend.
    • (b) Cry.
    • (c) Jump up and down and shout incoherently.
    • (d) Sing, "Ding dong, the witch is dead."


  3. Someone says you're "as ugly as a dog." You should:

    • (a) Bark like a dog.
    • (b) Say, "Actually I find dogs quite attractive."
    • (c) Say, "It's because I like to beat my face with large sticks."
    • (d) Say, "So's your mother."


  4. You are standing on a street corner when a man comes up to you and asks directions to the bus stop. You should:

    • (a) Give him correct directions.
    • (b) Stare at him wordlessly.
    • (c) Give him directions to the city hall.
    • (d) Give him directions to the music hall.


  5. Your children are coming home from school. You should:

    • (a) Greet them at the door with a warm hug.
    • (b) Lock the door and not let them in.
    • (c) Pour ketchup on yourself and lay in the middle of the kitchen floor.
    • (d) Park the car around the corner, hide in the bushes, leave a note on the door saying, "I hate you, and I'm never coming back," and then when they start to cry, jump out of the bushes and say, "Booga booga booga!"


If you liked How To Be Funny, try our companion features:

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