If you want to be funny – DON’T TELL JOKES

The number 1 rule if you want to be funny is DON’T TELL JOKES.

Now I get this may seem completely contradictory, so let me explain.  Jokes are a real problem for Speakers because it puts you on the radar.  As a Speaker, you have the huge advantage that your humour is able to fly under the radar because nobody expects you to be funny.  

But when you start to tell a joke, the advantage of flying under the radar completely becomes null and void!   Everyone knows when you are telling a joke and when you start telling a joke it alerts the audience to the fact that you are trying to be funny.  You also place an expectation on the audience that they now have to respond with laughter and the audience are backed into a corner.  

If the joke doesn’t work (which is HIGHLY LIKELY) you have left it all hanging out.  The audience is now acutely aware that you just failed.  It makes you look like a try hard and it erodes your confidence.

Telling jokes is a high risk strategy.  Still don’t believe me?  Well here are 4 reasons why you shouldn’t tell jokes if you want to be funny.

4 Reasons why you don’t tell jokes if you want to be funny

Exhibit A: The Dad

Everyone knows Dad jokes.   Those really lame jokes that everyone groans at. We’ve heard them all before…

“I had a dream that I was a muffler last night. I woke up exhausted!”

“What’s Forrest Gump’s password? 1forrest1”

“What is Beethoven’s favorite fruit? A ba-na-na-na.”

They are bad enough if you are a dad, and even worse if you aren’t.  They are embarrassing, cringeworthy and rarely funny.  Dad jokes have a place, but that place is not on a speaking stage.

Exhibit B:  The Kid with a joke book

Is there anything more dreaded than a kid with a new joke book, a monotonous delivery and a reading level well below par?  They can have you bailed up for hours at a time, wishing you had something so you could just poke out your eyeballs. I should know – I was one of those kids! (Yes that is really me. No I do not know what was going on with my hair.)

To get the full effect of these jokes, read these out loud, real slow and with no expression.

Q: Why did the boy bring a ladder to school?
A: He wanted to go to high school.

Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Lettuce who?
Lettuce in, it’s freezing out here!

Q: Which flower talks the most?
A: Tulips, of course, because they have two lips!

Q: What did 0 say to 8?
A: Nice belt!

Q: A man arrived in a small town on Friday. He stayed for two days and left on Friday. How is this possible?
A: His horse’s name is Friday!

I’ll stop now, but I could go on like this for hours!

Exhibit C: The old drunk from the pub

You know the type… he’s racist, homophobic, misogynistic, has no filter, is not funny and if you are lucky, he even spits on you when he talks. 

With a beer in one hand and a ciggie in the other, the jokes often start off with something like…  “Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and a prostitute walk into a bar”


We don’t want any of that around here thank you!

Exhibit D: The Christmas Cracker

If it isn’t bad enough to get a shitty paper crown that you have to wear all day so you look like a dickhead in all the photos – and a crappy bit of plastic pretending to be a “toy”, the jokes that come out of these things on those tiny little bits of paper absolutely put dad jokes to shame.  

The problem with the Christmas Cracker is we’ve heard them before (like for the last 10 years at least – get some new material!), they’re not funny and they’re Groan worthy with a capital G!

So what’s the solution then?

My recommendation for Speakers is to use Stealth Humour.  Stealth Humour is an integrated style of humour when you don’t feel like are being funny, the audience doesn’t realise you are being funny, but everyone is laughing and having a great time. 

So if you are a Speaker, please, step away the joke book and give the audience a break!  Leave the jokes for the kids and the drunks at the pub.

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