By | Papa CJ | Comedian • Executive Coach • Author • Oxford MBA • HBR Writer • papacj.com • I uplift others & help them be the best version of themselves • WIT of the Week newsletter on LinkedIn, papacj.substack.com & papacj.medium.com
A good sense of humour is an asset that can help you attain success in both your personal and professional life. I wish I could say the same for your romantic life but the fact is that while they say they’re looking for someone with a ‘GSOH’, invariably the funny person always ends up taking permanent residence in the proverbial friendzone.
However, a friend is a wonderful thing to be and whether it is work or play, everyone likes to be around someone with whom they can have a laugh.
As a professional stand-up comedian who has performed over 2000 shows in 25 countries over 16 years, here are my tips on how to be known as someone who possesses that elusive good sense of humour. While I wrote these tips from the perspective of a joke teller, many of them hold true for humour writing as well.
1. Know your audience
If they don’t like risque jokes, don’t throw one in just because a ‘really nice one’ popped into your head. Unless, of course, awkward silence is the response you’re aiming for.
2. Don’t force-fit your joke
If what you have to say fits into the natural flow of a group’s conversation, sure, tell that story. Don’t just butt in because you want your moment in the spotlight. Attention seekers are looked upon as unkindly as lamb chop at a vegan buffet. With respect to writing, the humour you include needs to be in sync with your narrative.
3. Comedy is tragedy plus time
If you’re going to joke about a tragic incident for someone personally or the world at large, remember that there is such a thing as too soon. Make sure your audience or reader is in the same headspace before you attempt that hilarious plane crash joke.
4. Local and topical is funnier
A joke about recent events or something local and specific to the audience tends to be funnier. So avoid doing that Chinese joke about the Texan taxi driver when you’re speaking to Russian colleagues in the South of France.
5. Be authentic
Your content and delivery should be in sync with your personality. If you’re trying to be someone you’re not just to impress an audience, they’ll see through it immediately and you’ll come across as someone desperately seeking approval. Don’t do that when telling a joke and don’t do that in a job interview.