A Holistic Approach to Improve Your Sense of Humor

Does everyone have the ability to be a natural comedian? Here's the holistic view to become a funnier person

Being funny is a natural part of some people’s personalities, but for others, it doesn’t come so easily.

If you weren’t brought up in a household where humor was a normal part of it, you’re more likely to make people cringe than laugh, but that’s okay!

Everyone can develop a great sense of humor, and see the world in a playful way that facilitates laughter. You can learn how to deliver great jokes by making some tweaks to your perception.

After all, humor is a perception. You can land great jokes, but unless you see life through the right lens, you’re not going to have anything to say.

In this article, we’re going to look at humor from a holistic perspective, so you can view life in a funnier way that promotes genuine amusement and laughter.

Can you improve your sense of humor?

Guy making a joke

I must confess, I’m not a very funny person. I’m not a stand-up comedian or some naturally funny guy who lights up each room he sets foot in.

So what qualifies me to write an article about improving your sense of humor?

Starting at the baseline as a glue-sucking kid who regularly scared people away, my humor muscle was nonexistent. I was depressed, traumatized, and certainly not the sort of person who would make jokes. God forbid, when I did, I regretted it.

But life has changed a lot for me since then.

When I began to see the light in the world, the joy began to radiate in the form of humor. The dense cloud of despair was slowly replaced by a playful tickle.

Nowadays, humor is a natural part of my life mostly because it feels good and has a positive impact on my social relationships. Not all of my jokes hit, nor am I always in a playful mood, but I’ve learned how to bring joy into the lives of others by approaching this skill set in a slightly different way.

While a sense of humor comes naturally to some people as they’re raised in environments that hone this skill set, everyone can become funnier.

How to be funny

What I’m going to teach you in this article are not jokes as delivering punch lines just won’t cut it anymore. Please don’t do this staged crap that’s plaguing the internet. You won’t get along with people.

Humor is complicated. It’s extremely individual and unique. If you’re trying to act a certain way or say certain things, it’s probably not going to translate well. It’s important to be congruent with your style – With the humor you find funny.

It will be awkward to some people, it will be lame to others. But it will come across as authentic – And this is what moves the needle.

No style of humor will work for everyone. There’s no right or wrong way to be funny.

Improving your sense of humor revolves around your ability to see the world more lightly. Once you see the world in a way that makes you laugh instead of cry, then all you need to do is effectively deliver those ideas to other people.

Why is it good to be funny?

Humor is important as it simply makes your life more fun, and it certainly makes your interpersonal relationships more fun. Being a funny person reflects well on you, and shows that you don’t take life too seriously.

People want to be around others who make them feel good. Therefore, when you make people laugh, they instinctively know you’re good for them, and seek out your company. By making people laugh, they will associate good feelings with you. Furthermore, when we laugh with someone, we are also communicating trust and comfort.

With that said, there have been plenty of studies showing us that laughter has physical and mental health benefits, so there’s no real downside to amusement and humor.

Understanding the foundations of humor

To understand how to improve your sense of humor, we need to look at the foundations of humor.

Learning the foundations of humor gives you a better view of what humor is, instead of shooting in the dark.

Let’s look at some of the core elements of what makes people funny.

Be authentic with your own style

Humor is subjective. What is funny to some people might be rude or ignorant to others. Some people might resonate with dark humor while others prefer playful banter.

No two people will find the same joke exactly alike, which is why you need to develop a style of humor that you resonate with.

As long as you are genuine with a style of humor that you find amusing, your humor is going to come across as authentic. There’s nothing worse than being a try-hard and making jokes that are clearly out of touch with your character. People will feel the inconsistency.

Everyone develops their own weird and wacky styles, so find what works for you, and put it on steroids.

Use a style that comes the most naturally to you, and build upon that style. Don’t be someone you’re not to be funny. 

Develop a lens of humor

I’m sure you’ve met people who just always have something to say.

Even if their jokes aren’t funny, they constantly make them. That’s because of their lens. They see the world in a silly way where everything is funny.

This shows you that there is always something funny that can be perceived about every given situation, at every moment. The humor is already there, you just need to find it.

Developing an eye for humor is a perception while delivering humor is a skill.

If you want to improve your sense of humor, it’s going to be much easier if you get into the right state of mind. Once you have a buzz on the inside, it’s going to leak on the outside, and that buzz is contagious.

Stop seeking validation

You behave the way you do because you are stuck behind a wall of filters.

You worry about what you should and shouldn’t say, which tightens you up. It’s difficult to express yourself fully when you’re perceiving through a filter because you’re worried about sounding stupid, being rude, or politically incorrect. Ultimately, you’re afraid of being disapproved of.

You need to strike a balance.

If you have no filter, you might cross a line. But it’s just as bad when you have too many filters on, and prevent yourself from attempting to make a joke at all – Even if you’re contriving something genuinely funny.

If you were once shy or insecure, you may still have these filters. It’s not that you’re not funny, your hit ratio is low because you’re not swinging. The stakes are too high, so you don’t try.

The only way to get over this fear of disapproval – Is to be disapproved of.

Therefore, stop trying to impress people – Aim to impress yourself. You can only desensitize from this fear by putting yourself out there and failing. The more you fail, the easier it will become because you realize that a bad joke isn’t the end of the world.

Practice makes perfect

You will gradually improve your sense of humor by practicing banter in social situations.

Humor is a muscle, and the only way to get better at it is by doing it! By doing it, you’re going to suck at the start. That’s okay, it’s a normal part of the feedback loop.

Try to think about how you can craft jokes, funny ideas, and witty statements using the setting and situation that you’re in right now. Constantly think about how you can contrive amusing mental images and thoughts out of the hand of cards you’re given.

Build this mental muscle, and try to make yourself laugh on the inside. This will probably be a slow process at the beginning, but once you get a roll happening, it will become easier and easier to amuse yourself.

Try to loosen up and be resourceful. Lightness opens to creativity. Through creativity, you improve your sense of humor and find that it starts coming out much more naturally.

Tweaking your sense of humor

Children seeing through a lens of humor

Now that we’ve looked at some of the essentials to create the foundation of your funny bone, it’s time to look at tweaking your sense of humor.

Tweaking is the process of actively improving your sense of humor by engaging the feedback loop, reflecting, and modeling after other people.

Here are some things to note.

Be observant of humor

Generally become more observant of social interactions, and see how other people do it.

Pay attention to what works and what doesn’t work for people. Observe situations when someone says something funny, or when people break into fits of laughter.

Perhaps someone said something witty within the context of the conversation. Otherwise, somebody might have delivered a great anecdote that drew others into it. Was it intentional or unintentional? Was it situational, or something they have probably said before?

Are people laughing because other people are laughing and they don’t want to be the odd one out? Don’t copy and paste jokes that people get a good response from, but keep an ear out for what fondles people’s funny bones.

Otherwise to maximize your observational skills, check out the article below!

Reflect on your jokes

The thought of sitting around thinking about a joke you made might seem lame, but we all do it.

If you make a public joke that bombs, you’re probably going to be thinking about why it sucked to avoid it happening again.

If your joke is great, it’s going to make you feel good, and you’ll probably make more jokes like that in the future.

Reflect on your jokes and spend some time thinking about what could be improved upon. Compare your jokes and gestures to other people’s, and how they were received. Think about what was different about them. Do you notice any patterns in your humor?

The more you pay attention, observe, and analyze humor in every social interaction you have, the quicker you will put the pieces together and improve your sense of humor.

Incorporate other styles of humor into your own

Don’t copy other people’s humor styles because it won’t be authentic, but do incorporate elements that work for others.

There’s probably at least one person you know of that just really hits the spot for you.

Whether this person is a celebrity, TV character, or politician (after all, many are clowns), pay attention to their style of humor. Try modeling after them, and seeing if you can pull off certain elements if it feels right for you.

Some things to take note of are:

  • What sort of humor does the person have? Is it light, dark, goofy, subtle, random?
  • How often do they make jokes? Do they seamlessly weave in amusing statements occasionally, or often make blunt, obvious jokes?
  • What sort of jokes do they make? Are the jokes dark, light, goofy, dry?
  • How do they deliver those jokes? Think about timing, mannerisms, eye contact, if they use emphasis, etc.

Tips to be funnier

Funny picture

Now that we’ve gotten all the boring stuff out of the way, we can get into the practical suggestions to apply immediately.

Here are some things that you should consider when you’re learning to become a funnier person.

Aim to make yourself laugh first

You have probably encountered people who drop awful jokes, but since they’re so invested in it, everyone finds it amusing.

People get drawn into that silly energy. They aren’t laughing at the joke or comment, they’re laughing with the person who made it.

The game is really to make yourself laugh. Once you make yourself laugh, the energy is contagious and other people will start laughing too.

When you amuse yourself and put your heart into it, your body language, mannerisms, gestures, tone, and all the little bits and pieces will be congruent with that humor.

The result?

You become much more charismatic. Instead of trying too hard, you’re showing others that you’re having fun. Therefore, if you genuinely find the joke you’re making funny, it will probably be received well.

Establish comfort and loosen up

Everyone is a comedian around their best friends because they are comfortable.

They know that they won’t be judged, so they can let loose and be themselves. That’s why you should aim to establish comfort with everyone you meet, and it will be much easier to be yourself.

Rule of thumb, act like you’re around your good mates.

If you are comfortable around the person and are having a great old time, naturally you’re going to make more jokes. Mostly, it’s because you don’t have filters around your good friends. You just say things that are funny to you, and know what nobody is going to judge you for it.

Make your sense of humor subtle

For me, the humor that makes people laugh the most is the type of humor that is very subtle and seems like I’m not deliberately trying to be funny.

When I say something that I think is funny in a regular conversation without emphasizing it, pointing to it, or giving it any special attention, it gives humor the touch of authenticity.

Everyone is used to clowns, and let’s face it, the age of clowning is over. Blown-up and highly emphasized jokes make you seem less skilled at making people laugh. If you have to drumroll up a joke, you’re trying too hard.

Being a little subtle is the way to go.

Slide jokes seamlessly into the conversation like you slide into your crush’s DMs. When you’re subtle, sometimes the joke might fly right over people’s heads, but that’s okay because you’re not looking for attention.

You’re carrying on like it’s a normal conversation. No funny faces, no changes in voice pitch, no dramatic gestures, just jokes that slot right into the conversation.

Don't force jokes

Jokes should flow naturally when the moment is right. No matter how good you become at seeing through a lens of humor, you won’t make other people laugh unless you learn to deliver it effectively.

Humor is situational, not pre-established. It should be thought up on the spot and delivered seamlessly.

If you’re trying to memorize jokes and rehearse clever phrases, you’re taking the wrong approach. Be witty and slightly silly, not stupid or obvious like you’re talking to children.

Practice delivering jokes in a range of situations, but keep it authentic. Don’t anticipate what you’re going to say, because you don’t know what will happen, or where the conversation will go. When you’re trying to line up a joke, it’s not going to come across well.

You need to be in the moment.

Practice being quick, and if something witty pops up, deliver it. Remember that humor should be situational. The best jokes don’t take much effort, they just roll off the tongue when the timing is right.

Ride your social status

There’s an interesting phenomenon where everyone laughs at the jokes of the cool guy despite how lame they are, and nobody laughs at the nerdy guy despite how good his jokes are.

Have you noticed this?

The reason why people laugh at high-value people is because they want to be liked by them. When someone has a lot of social status, other people tend to laugh with them to show their approval.

When someone is not respected, other people don’t feel any pressure to conform to be approved. As a result, they don’t entertain the jokes, or make any effort to laugh at them.

So what does this say about you?

If you want people to laugh at your jokes, you need to be charismatic. You need to suck them in and be perceived as a high-value person who they want to make a good impression on.

Learning how to raise your social status is a story for another time, and I’ll conveniently link that story below:

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