Skill of Humor Part 3: Practice, Perform, Repeat

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Over the past two weeks, we’ve talked about the first two principles of being funnier: sharing your point of view and exploring and heightening. This week we’re talking about the third step: practicing, performing, and repeating.

From sketch comedy we understand the importance of performance in executing humor. The characters from SNL, Key & Peele, and Monty Python are so enjoyable because the actors are committed to their characters and confident in their delivery.

How do you build confidence in using humor? Through practice and repetition. The more you practice, perform, and repeat, the better you’ll get at making people laugh / smile.

Any good comedian will tell you that nothing will improve your skill at humor like stagetime. Stagetime is important because 1) it’s the best form of practice and 2) you never know what’s actually going to work. Even the world’s best comedians have to test out their material in front of audiences to see what people laugh at and what they don’t.

While you can certainly get on a literal stage doing comedy open mics or improv shows to practice your skill, you can also use the world as your stage in the form of:

  • Twitter tweets, Facebook posts, and Instagram stories.
  • Water cooler conversations, networking events, and happy hours after work.
  • Conversations with friends, text messages with family, and those daily check-ins with mom.

Basically anywhere you can gauge a reaction from an audience. BUT don’t be one of those people that never turns it off and only ever tries to make jokes. Contribute to the conversation like a normal human being while periodically sharing concepts you’re working on when the situation arises.

And, whenever you make someone laugh in a conversation (intentional or otherwise), make a mental note of it to see if it’s something you can use again in the future.

For some inspiration in commitment to character, check out some of my favorite sketches from the aforementioned greats: Matt Foley (SNL), East / West All Star Bowl (Key & Peele), and Dead Parrot (Monty Python).

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