13 Humor Mistakes and How to Avoid Them Speaking on the Funny Side of the Brain © 2009 Carla Rieger, Email: email@example.com, Tel: 604-222-2276 www.carlarieger.com, Humor Style Chart Narrator " friendly, warm " people-oriented " reserved, slow-paced " relationship humor " storytelling " healing humor " pre-planned & passive Demonstrator " animated, high energy " people-oriented " outgoing, fast-paced " physical comedy " characters, farce " releases tension " spontaneous Contemplator " task-oriented " analytical " reserved, slow-paced " riddles, puns " word plays " conceptual humor " pre-planned & passive Assertor " direct, high energy " task-oriented " assertive, fast-paced " practical jokes " satire, stand up " exposes the truth " spontaneous & active Task-oriented Reserved People-oriented Open Direct Fast-paced Indirect Slow-paced - 2 - © 2009 Carla Rieger, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: 604-222-2276 www.carlarieger.com, NOTE: Be aware that humor is an element like fire. You can use it to build warmth, excitement, to cook things up, or to destroy. Know your intention.
Also, the type of humor audience members express can reflect their energy levels, mood and humor culture. Make sure you match their energy, mood & culture before trying to shift theirs. Emotional Tones of Laughter - 3 - Negative Tone Positive Tone Low Energy High Energy Insightful " laughing with people " fun that builds rapport " playful & spontaneous " humor that opens minds " observational humor on universal truths Movie: Groundhog 9s Day Joke: Life is like photography.
We use the negatives to develop. k Aggressive ... more.
" laughing at people " teasing that builds walls " sarcasm " ridicule and practical jokes " humor that reinforces stereotypes & closes minds Movie: Lemony Snicket Joke: Nice dress. Does it come in your size?
Silly " simple puns " giggling at anything " groaners " riddles " farce Despairing " black humor " sick jokes " self-depreciating " twisted or weird Movie: Dumb & Dumber Joke: How do you know elephants are in your fridge? The door won 9t close. Movie: Fargo Joke: I 9d like to die like my grandfather who died in his sleep--unlike the 6 other screaming passengers in his car.
© 2009 Carla Rieger, Email: email@example.com, Tel: 604-222-2276 www.carlarieger.com, Getting people laughing can be much easier than it looks. However, there are some mistakes even top humorists make that cause humor to die an untimely death. 1.
Not Building Your Confidence I hear so many people say cI'm just not funny d. If you have the ability to laugh (or to be the receiver of humor), you also have the ability to make people laugh (or to be the giver of humor). Women are especially prone to only letting themselves receive, rather than give humor.
Humor comes bundled with your bio-computer's hard drive. All it takes is pulling out the instruction manual and learning how to use it. Confidence grows from trying, failing, learning and trying again.
Assignment: Create a safe environment in which to make mistakes (comedy class, coaching, humor writing group, etc.) 2. Not Knowing Your Audience Different people laugh at different things depending on their humor style, gender, culture, language skills, interests, values and age. You need to understand the things your listener will enjoy.
For example, I heard a woman at a conference tell a very funny story about dealing with menopause. Her audience was mostly men under forty. There was only mild laughter because they just couldn't relate.
Assignment: Create an Audience Analysis Questionnaire to help you do your research. 3. Not Connecting Humor to Your Topic The good news is that unless you are billed as a professional comedian people are not expecting to laugh.
Thus, if you use humor and it bombs, just pretend it was an information piece. You can get away with it if it illustrates a point. If you use humor not connected to your topic, then you are more naked.
However, humor for humor 9s sake can be very useful as a transition item. Laughter has been called Mental Sorbet . It helps clear the mental palate to make room for what is next.
4. Not Using a Humor Style That Suits You Don't try a style of humor that is too foreign to you. It will show.
I was speaking at a college in Brooklyn, New York. My audience was ethnically mixed eighteen-year-olds. I thought it would be cool to wear a ball cap backwards and sing and dance a rap song.
My csong d was met with puzzled silence. I found out later (from three guys wearing oversize pants) that they thought I had a speech impediment. Assignment: Try taking the humor style inventory to see where your strengths lie.
Also, tape yourself and notice when people laugh. 13 Humor Mistakes (...and how to avoid them) - 4 - © 2009 Carla Rieger, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: 604-222-2276 www.carlarieger.com, 5. Not Crafting Humor Effectively Understand the mechanics of humor.
There are certain structures that encourage laughter. Become familiar with things like misdirection, juxtaposing incongruent ideas, the rule of three, tension and release, irony, etc. Once you understand how it works you will instinctively recognize opportunities to make people laugh more often.
Assignment: Read a book on comedy writing, take a comedy writing or comedy improv course, analyze humor monologues, etc 6. Not Waiting for the Laugh Sometimes people need time to cget it. d If you have the courage to wait, chances are more people will laugh.
The tendency is to move on too quickly to the next thing. As Doug King once said, cLearn to pause... or nothing worthwhile will catch up to you.
d 7. Not cSelling d Your Humor Along with waiting for the laugh comes your enthusiasm. Put your humor out like it is the greatest gift you could offer people, and then wait with glee for them to get it.
Mirth is infectious. Just the fact that you are so amused will make people laugh. 8.
Not Using Saver Lines or Comebacks Okay, your humor bombs. You researched your audience. You chose a style of humor that works for you.
You waited for the laugh. You sold the joke with all your heart. But still no one laughs.
That is a great time to pull out a saver line. This is a one-liner that acknowledges that your humor didn't fly. Johnny Carson was so good at saver lines, his comedy writers purposely wrote bad jokes so Johnny could comment on them.
An example of a save line is... cSome of these I just do for me d or cThat's amazing you all rolled your eyes and crossed your arms at the same time! You must have been practicing that together beforehand.
d Comeback lines are one-liners to address problems, mistakes, mishaps that occur. Assignment: Choose a mishap on the platform and brainstorm on as many possible comeback lines as possible. 9.
Not Using Fresh Material Be very careful telling old jokes. Your audience may have heard them before. Especially don't tell someone else's funny story as if it were your own.
Not only is that unethical, but you may lose credibility and audience interest after that. Your own material will always be better because you are more connected to it. Use a book, take a class, get a humor writing group or coach to help you craft stories, one-liners, games, etc.
Tip: it 9s much easier to create humor with someone else than it is to do it alone. Assignment: Try creating a light bulb joke related to the profession of the people in your audience. 13 Humor Mistakes (...and how to avoid them) - 5 - © 2009 Carla Rieger, Email: email@example.com, Tel: 604-222-2276 www.carlarieger.com, 10.
Not Being in a Fun Mood The most fun-damental part of being humorous on the platform is to be in a fun mood. Your mood will set the tone for the whole group. It also helps you be more spontaneous.
By the way, spontaneous humor tends to get far more laughs than planned humor. If you are worrying about your cperformance d or logistics, then you won 9t be focused on the audience. Assignment: A great way to get yourself in a fun mood is to listen to comedy on the drive there, or practice some of your funniest stories in your hotel room beforehand.
11. Not Recording Your Funny Ideas as They Come Up Ideas are like cloud formations. They swirl into an image and a moment later are gone.
The chance that you will remember the idea an hour later when you are at home with pen and paper is unlikely. Assignment: Keep a pad of paper with you constantly, or a mini- recorder. When you are being funny for a living, you can't afford to let the great ideas drift away.
12. Not Setting Up the Room Appropriately If people cannot see or hear you properly it will definitely affect your laughs. Do a proper sound check and make sure there is a riser for you stand on, if the group is larger than fifty.
Check sight lines. Also, if people feel uncomfortable or disconnected to others in the room, it can lower the laughter quotient. Ask the organizer to put chairs in a semi-circle.
Laughter is infectious. If audience members see others laughing, they are more likely to let down their guard and laugh, too. Finally, don't stand behind a lectern.
Laughter is a kinesthetic form of communication and you need to have no physical barriers between you and the audience. 13. Not Inviting Audience Participation At Stanford University they did research on which environments elicited the most laughter.
As it turns out, people laugh more often when being fun and creative with friends, than any other situation. If you include people in the fun they will love you for it. Invite audience participation and experiential processes that require people to be creative, and you will hear the laughter flow.
Assignment: See reading list for some game books or go study comedy improv and adapt games for your training programs. 13 Humor Mistakes (...and how to avoid them) - 6 - © 2009 Carla Rieger, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: 604-222-2276 www.carlarieger.com, Carla Rieger Coaching, books, CD 9s, and articles on presentation skills American Comedy Institute www.comedyinstitute.com Training in comedy writing and performing. Phone coaching, intensives, etc.
Comedy Mart www.comedynet.com An on-line bookstore Comedy Workshops Productions www.judycarter.com Judy Carter, author of The Comedy Bible, hosts the California Comedy Conference every November. The Humor Project www.humorproject.com This site includes information on their annual conference on Humor and Creativity in upstate New York, and includes a large mailorder selection of books on humor, including fun training techniques, using humor in public speaking, etc. Winnipeg Comedy Festival www.winnipegcomedyfestival.com April 15-19, 2009 Study performers, ask about comedy workshops 204-284-9477.
Association for Applied & Therapeutic Humor Lists humor resources, web sites, conferences, etc in Canada Comedy Writing Workbook , by Gene Perret, Sterling Publishing Co., New York, (1990). The Heart of Presenting , by Carla Rieger (2006) Never Be Boring Again, by Doug Stevenson, (2002). Playfair: Everybody 9s Guide to Non-Competitive Play , by Joel Goodman & Matt Weinstein.
Stand-Up Comedy - The Book , by Judy Carter, Dell Publishing, (1989). Stevie Ray's Medium-Sized Book of Comedy: What We Laugh At and Why by Stevie Ray, Punchlines Publications, Minneapolis, MN (1999). Comedy Writing Secrets by Mel Helitzer & Mark Shatz, Writers Digest Books (2005).
www.carlarieger.com www.aath.org Websites to check out... Books to check out... - 7 - © 2009 Carla Rieger, Email: email@example.com, Tel: 604-222-2276 www.carlarieger.com, 1.
Become a humor ________ - e.g. Analyze the mechanics behind what makes people laugh (books, seminars, comedy clubs, other speakers, etc.) 2. Take ______________ immersion - e.g.
Sign up for comedy improv, stand up comedy, comedy writing classes, hang with funny people, etc. 3. Create a safe place to ____________ - e.g.
One on one coaching, humor group. 4. Start small and _______________ - e.g.
Start with a cartoon on a slide before trying the Austin Power 9s River Dance. 5. Integrate news ideas into ________________ _______ - e.g.
Add a one- liner in the middle of your signature story, before you try adding a whole hour of stand up to your routine. 6. Be _______________-- work out the bugs - e.g.
If a humor idea doesn 9t fly, debrief it to find out why, and try another approach. 7. Pay attention to _______________ 3 e.g.
Humor can build relationships, expose truth, decrease tension, humiliate, open perspectives, enhance creativity, heal, dominate, and much more. What is the outcome you want? Summary Quiz - 7 Ways to increase your HQ Carla Rieger .com - 8 - © 2009 Carla Rieger, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: 604-222-2276 www.carlarieger.com,