The Importance of Finding the Right Balance
What exactly is funny? I’ve been trying to find out that funny is different for everyone, but I’m having a difficult time getting my ideas clear. Funny is subjective, as is every other word we use. So let’s take a closer look at the definitions of the three most common and controversial word definitions and see how they apply to what makes us laugh.
FUNNY: Giving your audience pleasure by means of wit, irony, exaggeration; humorous; causing amusement; humorous remark; humorous interaction. – Webster’s First Word Definition. So, what exactly do funny mean, and why is it important? The truth is that many of our most cherished traditions, humor, comedy, and satire are actually derived from our ability to recognize and enjoy the wittiness of others. We all tend to laugh at the ridiculous statements of other people, and we enjoy others’ attempts to misread those same slogans and innuendos. In fact, many of our earliest ancestors had access to the type of humor that we observe and respond to today, and that is definitely not something that has gone away because we have gotten older.
Humor, of course, is the ability to recognize when something is funny and to accept and appreciate that others do and think that something is funny. On the other hand, humor can also be the response to incongruity, conflict, deception or satire. For example, a joke is only funny if the audience can recognize an incongruity or a discrepancy in the statement being made and still find the humor in it. And, of course, there are the social factors that heighten the importance of having and enjoying a sense of humor, including women’s need to be humorous, African-American comedians’ need to make sure that their audiences understand that there are stereotypes, the need for ironic twists and breaks in traditional ideas, and so forth. All of which help to fuel the engine of laughter.
A good funny tip, as any comic should know, is to remember who you are and to tailor your humor, your jokes and your quips accordingly. For instance, if you are a stand up comic who relies on jokes and puns to start each show, then it would make more sense to focus on jokes about bowel movements and constipation instead of jokes about blowing kisses and kissing babies. A joke about a large penis could be funny, but a joke about a small penis may be far more appropriate. Keep in mind that just because something is funny to you does not mean that it is necessarily funny to others, and if you do not take the time to ensure that you are using appropriate material, then you are unlikely to get laughs.
Another funny tip is to focus on the incongruities between what you are saying and how you say it. Sometimes the smallest of details can be the key to a great funny line. Incongruities between a punch line and body movements, word choice, facial expressions, and so on can add depth to even the loveliest of jokes. In fact, by keeping all these factors in mind when you prepare your routine, you will find that you are able to bring out the insecurities and follies that may otherwise go unnoticed.
Finally, it is important to realize that no matter how banal or innocuous a situation may seem, there is always an underlying cause or intent behind it. No matter how much laughter you attempt to muster up, the mere thought of another person’s amusement is often enough to soothe the stresses and tensions that are part of any given day. The same is true for the mischievous misconstrued intentions that drive the funny movement. The act of sharing in a moment of unintentional humor is itself the best indicator of the general outlook and mood of the people involved. And often times the most ridiculous ideas can actually lead to the most sincere of sentiments.