The Number One Tip to Being Funny

Have you ever bombed when trying to be funny?  OK, if you’re a comic, or a speaker, you probably are going to lie, right?

I’ll admit it – even, I, the author of "The Comedy Bible" have bombed.  Yes, I’m been in that "no-laughs" misery zone that segues into that “I-know-I-can-get-them” desperation mode.

It isn’t pretty.

Here are some of the STUPID THINGS that I have done when bombing:
  1. I start pacing. The bad news is that I look like a moving target. The good news is that I’ve racked up 3.2 miles on my Fitbit. 
  2. I start laughing at my own jokes. How phony is that? Obviously I’ve heard them before.
  3. I talk faster. One time I finished an hours worth of material in 15 minutes. A big problem when you’re the headliner. Now what?
  4. I walk into the audience to do crowd work. Not such a smart idea to get closer to the very people who hate you.
  5. I talk louder. Yes… a middle-aged woman shouting is SO much funnier.
  6. I start criticizing the audience. And we all know how well that works when trying to get someone to love you. 
  7. I get dirty. Right! As if talking about pubic hair while people are eating nachos is attractive.
    So, what is the number 1 secret to being funny? It’s to NOT TRY to be funny. Every time I haven’t done well, it’s because I wasn’t into what I was saying. I was just up there TRYING.  “Trying” is not BEING..

    So, rather than going onstage thinking, “I’m going to try to get people to laugh”; go onstage to COMMUNICATE your point of view, your opinions, your message. Even if you don’t get laughs, you still will have a purpose. And most importantly, going onstage DOING rather than TRYING will make you authentic, and even get you laughs.


    1. Thank you Judy, how true it is! I've done comedy at many music open mics, so the challenge is to have the audience stop talking and listen. If I have their attention for the ten minutes, I have "entertained" them. The laughs are an added bonus. For me the thrill is making a connection to that many people at once.

      1. I don't know if you remember me Judy, but this is John Grapek. We met at one of your workshops in NY, which was fantastic.

      2. Hey Johnny! How ya doing? So good to hear you are still out there!

    2. Do or do not, there is no try ~ Yoda.

    3. This make standup comedy a bit closer to improv.

    4. Excellent advice. I have and love your comedy bible...Blessings to you from Leslie Berger The Berger with Everything

    5. Good idea. Of course not, But it would be fun to make fun of.

    6. Johnny Carson made bombing look GOOD!


    Judy's Blog

    Judy Carter blogs on comedy, storytelling and public speaking techniques, using personal stories and her adventures as a stand-up comic turned motivational public speaker. Her weekly blogs are read by fans of her books, “The Comedy Bible” (Simon and Schuster) and “The Message of You” (St. Martin’s Press), which include comics, speakers, and entrepreneurs. She is also known for teaching the value of humor and storytelling to businesses as a leadership and stress reduction tool.