Laugh Your Way to the Top, and Make Others Laugh with You
Imagine a man—tall, dark, and handsome—with a dazzling smile, impeccable fashion sense, a hefty bank account, but humorless as a corpse. Alternatively, picture another, not quite as good-looking, not quite as rich, but funny as hell. Who do you think would attract more people to them if both were in the same room?
Perhaps the gorgeous guy would elicit a lot of attention at first. But good looks can only go so far in holding and keeping that attention. A great sense of humor can be a useful tool in endearing yourself to the crowd at large. It can break the ice among strangers and is a wonderful way to make friends. In some cases it can even be used as a powerful weapon. Humor, when unleashed with perfect timing, can be terribly disarming. To potential employers, it could mean a promising job offer for you. To the ladies, it is a massive turn-on, and you might as well be wearing a sign on your forehead that says, “Date me. You won’t be sorry.”
Wit is a sign of intelligence, and intelligence is very sexy and attractive. Like all other gifts and talents, however, not everyone is born with it. If you are one of the less endowed and humor-challenged, thankfully enough, there are ways to compensate. You can train yourself in the art of good humor by following these steps:
Read. Be aware of current events. Fill your head with things you can comment on, other than the weather, so that striking up a conversation wouldn’t be so daunting. Watch movies or shows with witty dialogue and commentary. Study how the actors and commentators deliver their lines. Learn from them. Do not copy them outright. Be original.
Timing is everything. Just a few seconds off and your attempt at flawless humor can get derailed in an instant. If your joke bombs, move on. Do not dwell on it. Do not prolong your agony, or worse, your listeners’ agony, by going into a lengthy dissertation about your intended punch line. Doing so will only worsen the situation and create an awkward atmosphere.
Know your crowd. Funny as you are, there is such a thing as inappropriate humor. If you’re speaking at a funeral, don’t launch into raunchy standup comic mode more fit for a stag party.
Do not resort to insulting and making fun of people as this is a surefire sign of weak humor and an even weaker mind. Unless, of course, the people in question are bumbling politicians and public figures who are just asking for it and who aren’t in any way related to any of your listeners, then by all means, fire at will. Focus on their misdeeds rather than flaws that can’t be helped. Say, “Looks like he’s winning the election. And looks like I’m moving to another country.” Don’t say, “That candidate is one ugly ^#@*!”
Be confident and be natural. Self-consciousness shows, believe it or not, and witty retorts don’t pack as much punch when you’re worrying too much about the manner of your delivery instead of just getting it out there in the open.
Practice. Stand in front of a mirror and talk to yourself. Forget about looking like a fool. This is a great way to get rid of your inhibitions and get comfortable with yourself. Think of it as a rehearsal of sorts. The more you do it, the more self-assured you’ll become. Remember, confidence—like wit and intelligence—is sexy, too.
Don’t take yourself too seriously. Learn to laugh at your own mistakes. Self-deprecating humor is actually quite charming and you can never go wrong with putting yourself down every once in a while. Use your common sense though. Don’t ruin the moment by saying something like, “I wet my bed till I was fifteen. Isn’t that funny?”
It is mentioned in the Koran, “He deserves Paradise who makes his companions laugh.” We’re not promising you paradise, but at least it’s a start.