What Does it Mean to be Funny?

What Does it Mean to be Funny?

Arinzechukwu Nwagbata

Anytime I get an opportunity to disgrace myself, I take it - because this wise man always told me that opportunity comes but once. About 5 years ago, I climbed the stage in a room filled with over 2000 high school students to present what happened to be my first and last stand-up comedy performance. I told a story of a man who was sleeping in church, and then woke to a pastor urging a particular set of people to "come out". As my story went on, the man, who was under the influence of the spindles of stage 2 sleep stood right up and walked down the aisle, towards the altar. Halfway there, he noticed that only women were responding to the call, and when he got to the altar, he realized that the preacher had called for pregnant women to come up for prayers. Yea, that's the end of my story, like now, it did not end well. Nobody laughed, not even me. So, by the time I climbed down the stage, I was the joke.

This experience made me wonder, what does it mean to be funny? Here in America, when many of us tell a joke and then realize that it was unamusing, we say jk to sort of 'apologize' for trying to be funny. First of all, if you contemplate whether you should leave say jk before you tell the joke, then you should already know that your joke is not funny. Secondly, no one should have to apologize for trying to brighten others’ day by telling them a joke; it's something we do for one another, and it's one true piece of humanity that still lingers.

I cherish my experiences in the past few years, and I have studied some strategies anyone can adopt to become "funny". I am only sharing this because I want to be able to walk through my door every morning knowing that the humans of the world will give me a reason to smile that day. First, know your audience. In many places or organizations that I get to, I take a while before I unlock the part of me that generates jokes of the day because I want to take time to understand my audience, interpret their values, read their minds, steal their thoughts, and twist their understanding. You don't want to hang out with girls from McCombs and tell them science jokes because you'll become the joke.

My second strategy is to always have a backup. When you take your first hit, and things go south, humans prefer that you give them a second shot rather than apologize for your first. Backups could come in many forms, and I have three examples for you. One is to have a tried, tested and trusted joke that you can always fall back on if everything else fails. You should have tons of templates like this in your head for different situations so as to respond effectively, because you don't want to follow up on a joke about the white house with a joke about A and M. Another option which I recommend for stand-up comedians is to look funny or to go with someone that does. Without mentioning names, I want to highlight that some comedians have nothing to offer, but when they take over the stage, people start laughing even before they start telling their "jokes". If you are in this to get paid, then it should be fine for you to be the joke. The third option is for you to learn to coordinate your laugh pattern. When you tell a joke and it fails horribly. It's okay for you to lead the laugh. I usually start with hehehehe, transition to hahahahaha, and then follow up with papapakriiii papapakrrrkrrii. And put together, hehehehehehehahahahahahahahhapapapapapakriiiiiiiii. If you are in the midst of the humans I studied, they'll join you in this feast, but those scientists that are bent on knowing the joke before responding (be mindful of them) will be asking their neighbors what you said, and of course, their neighbors wouldn't know, and can only respond with, 'I don't know, this guy is just funny'.

Finally, you need to develop a funny accent. When I say 'listen, love is wicked', people respond with a burst of laughter. This strategy is not a necessity, and it's only for amateurs because when one advances in this service to humanity, whatever accent they have already became funny.

These are the basics of my studies, though I still might not have answered the question, “What does it mean to be funny?”

P.S. Every experience or study described in this article is fiction.


Getting Fit Without Grunting Gym Men

Getting Fit Without Grunting Gym Men

Odes to Illness: Poetry About the World’s Deadliest Infectious Diseases

Odes to Illness: Poetry About the World’s Deadliest Infectious Diseases