How to Be Funny
By Brad Bell
When a person tells a joke at a meeting, there could be just one person laughing. This suggests that the appreciation of humor may be subjective. Nonetheless, there could be some basic factors that determine whether a statement is perceived to be funny. Thus, it may be reasonable to suggest that learning how to be funny involves gaining knowledge of certain basic principles about humor. In this article, I will argue that absurdity, originality, and audience knowledge may be three factors that influence how funny a statement is perceived to be.
One factor that may determine whether a statement is perceived to be humorous is the extent to which the statement is perceived to be absurd. What is absurdity? A statement may be judged to be absurd when it does not make sense or is judged to be illogical. For example, a statement that suggests that something is important when it should be unimportant or irrelevant may be funny.
After hearing a joke several times, the joke may no longer be perceived to be funny. It may even be perceived to be annoying. Moreover, hearing a joke that is similar to jokes that one has heard before may be perceived to be less funny than a joke that is dissimilar to the jokes that one has heard before. Thus, the originality of a statement may partly determine whether the statement is perceived to be humorous. An original joke may be more interesting, and a joke that is more interesting may be also perceived to be funnier.
It is important to consider the knowledge of the audience. This may be true because comprehension of a statement may determine whether the statement is perceived to be funny. For example, a joke about technology may be more likely to be perceived as funny at a meeting attended by computer professionals than at a meeting attended by poets.
Learning how to be a funny person may involve gaining knowledge of certain basic principles about humor. A statement may be perceived to be funnier when it is more absurd, original, and consistent with the knowledge of the audience. Empirical research could be conducted to address some of these ideas about what is perceived to be humorous. Moreover, there may be other factors involved in how funny a statement is perceived to be. Not all absurd statements may be funny.