Mar 7, 2006

Column: The funny thing is...

by Aaron Bennett
Last week, you doubtlessly remember, I began gracefully disseminating ground-breaking tips on the art of perfecting hilarity. As you begin to put these tactics to work, you will likely find that you have much more time to yourself to really perfect your craft. That’s lucky, because I’ve always found that discovering your inner-funny (and it is discovered, like a lost treasure) comes from becoming very, very (sometimes painfully) alone.

Winning over a crowd is not as easy as it used to be. Gone are the days when a person could command attention (and respect for that matter) by mixing everything on his lunch tray together and eating it … with no hands. In these days of collegiate sophistication, one must learn to rely on the voice. Because crowds are sometimes very large, it is best to always speak in raised tones. I find that even the dullest comments can cause quite a stir of laughter when shouted. Why do you think Rob Jackson has become one of Liberty’s premier humorists?

Last week we focused on the simplicity of repetition. I’d like to expand on this idea. I have found that when repeating yourself becomes stale, you should try repeating someone else. I’m not saying that you should simply repeat snippets of funny conversations you’ve had. Colorful anecdotes from your past are almost always a no-no. Instead, try to live in the moment. For example, when meeting someone for the first time, model your discussion after the following exchange.

Other person: “Hello.”

You: “Hello.” So far, so good, but not quite flashy enough. In other words, keep it going.

Other person: “How are you?” 

You: “How are you?”

Other person: “I’m fine thanks.”

You: “I’m fine thanks.” Okay, so first meetings may not provide enough shtick … but try it at the DMV, or in emergency situations.

I think that when trying to become funny, you should always choose a humor-mentor. I’d stray away from the obvious slapstick of Jerry Seinfeld, and go for something a little more daring, a little more highbrow if you will, like Tom Arnold.

Eye contact is key if you really want to make someone laugh. Sometimes people can be scared away by your charm, so in order to sustain their focus, try to get as close to their face as possible. Just because you’re not in a crowd doesn’t mean you should lower your voice. Remember? Bigger is better. (Who ever heard of a quiet comedian? Hah!) People may try to back away. That’s fine. Just talk louder, and get closer. You’re sure to elicit an explosive reaction.

When all of these fail, don’t blame me, you probably just haven’t tried hard enough. Humor is all about trying too hard. But don’t worry. I have a back up plan. Quickly begin to rent, watch, memorize and quote the following movies: Happy Gilmore, anything Monty Python, Clueless, Dodgeball and any SNL episode produced in the mid to late 90s. Happy funnying! I’ll be back next week … with less sarcasm, perhaps.

Contact Aaron Bennett at jabennett@liberty.edu.

           


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