Using Humor on Your Blog When You’re Just Not That Funny
Using humor on your blog is one of the fastest (and most fun) ways to give more value to your audience and keep your readers coming back.
But what if your topic isn’t that funny?
What if you’re not that funny?
We’ll look at the bland, boring, completely-unfunny science behind what makes people laugh.
Even the stuffiest, most corporate-dude-in-a-suit type will be able to crack a decent joke by the end of this post.
You’re probably not going to be the world’s next great standup comedian…
But you’ll at least be able to get a smile and a chuckle from your readers every so often.
Why Humor On Your Blog Matters
You’ve probably heard about that whole “add value” thing, right?
Let’s talk about that:
“Value” means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but we can sum it up in a fairly simple statement:
Value is something that a reader would willingly pay for in some circumstances, but you’re giving it to them for free.
So, do people pay for humorous entertainment?
(Hint: they do!)
Pack your blog posts, emails, web copy, social media updates, etc. with as much value per word as you can cram in.
The more you give away for free, the more likely your audience will pay for your premiums.
Or something very like science.
While we’re on the topic…
The Science of Humor
Here’s the thing about the science behind humor:
There’s a lot of it.
And not all scientists agree on what makes things funny.
Scientists disagreeing? Shocker, I know.
Some of the most popular theories are things like safe danger, which proposes that we laugh as a release of stress when we’re in a fake-dangerous situation.
There’s also a theory that all humor is based on the feeling of discovery…
Unfortunately, that doesn’t account for our proclivities for fart jokes, love of funny cats, and elation at seeing other people take hits in their nether-regions.
Maybe the science of humor is so muddled because cognitive neuroscientists are not, by nature, funny people.
And aside from being a point of contention between nerds, the most popular scientific theories, while interesting, are not particularly useful for bloggers.
So let’s get practical, shall we?
Simple Formulas for Funny
Exaggeration is one of the basic tools of humor, and it’s easy to use on the fly.
The classic “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse” is, of course, an exaggeration. That’s why people repeat it so often and think they’re funny.
The same goes for:
- Claiming that you’re going to burn your house down because you found a spider
- Teasing your friend about needing a leg amputation after stubbing their toe
- Threatening to shave your head because you’re frustrated with a bad hair day
Tension and release is a little harder to pull off and takes a touch more practice, but the payoff is more pronounced.
In other words, this is comic relief.
This method gets a laugh by building up emotions, then using the punchline to dissipate the tension.
People who laugh at horror movies (like me) are often responding to this.
You can use it in your blog posts by cracking jokes right after you’ve just gone really in-depth into an emotionally charged issue.
You’ll get a smile or a laugh much easier when emotions are high.
Plus, tension and release makes it much easier to consume a lot of heavy, intense content.
It’s also part of the reason jokes like this are funny:
I’m pretty sure my neighbor is stalking me. She was Googling my name last night, and she spent 45 minutes on my Facebook page! I saw it all through my telescope…
The other main humor device in the telescope joke is surprise.
Build up a certain expectation…
But take a sharp left turn at the end.
Irony (like the idea of very boring scientists studying humor) is funny because of this same unmet expectations principle, but there’s a lot more to surprise-based humor than just ironic statements.
Strong people don’t put others down. They lift them up, and then body slam them for maximum damage.
Not particularly ironic, but still delightfully unexpected.
One of my personal favorite incarnations of surprise-based humor is the employment of an inconsistency between the joke medium and the subject, such as using rather formal language and excellent elocution to describe something crass.
A friend of mine was telling me a story about accidentally seeing a little too much of her male roommate, and she described it in terms something like this:
He strode into the room clad only in garments that are generally intended for wearing under other garments, completely unaware of his deficiency…though, I believe he might be a tad offended if he heard me referring to anything in that general vicinity as a ‘deficiency’
For those of you who are vocabularily challenged, he had a hole in his boxers.
You might also employ puns and plays on words:
What’s brown and sticky? (A stick.)
I heard Apple is designing a self-driving car, but production was delayed because they couldn’t install Windows.
Or maybe your style is just pure silliness:
How do you know there’s an elephant in the refrigerator? (The footprints in the butter.)
Whatever types of jokes you choose to employ when using humor on your blog, the key is this:
Don’t Take Yourself (or Your Blog) Too Seriously
If you’re not willing to laugh at yourself, don’t worry – I’ll laugh at you.
Using humor in your blogging and marketing is a lot of fun. You just need to be willing to laugh at yourself, and at your subject.
By the way, having a well developed sense of humor is an indicator of maturity, mental health, and intelligence. Just saying.
The more you consciously look for the humor in any situation, the funnier you’ll be. As it turns out, being funny is a skill that anyone can develop…
Which is good news for a lot of us.
Start Developing Your Sense Of Humor Today By…
Take note of the things that make you laugh. Recognizing humor is one of the steps you can take towards developing your own wit.
Aside from repeating good jokes, though, you can become generally funnier by consuming more humor.
People with distinctive senses of humor tend to rub off on their friends…
But if your friends aren’t funny – and I’m so sorry if that’s the case – you can get your funny fix elsewhere.
The mega-popular blog Vital Vegas is fantastic at using humor, which is one of the reasons it has such a wide readership and loads of awards.
But let’s say you’re really not funny.
Like, you can’t deliver a joke, you think “punchline” sounds unnecessarily violent, and your happy face looks like this:
Maybe it’s time for serious intervention.
Extreme Humor Intervention
If you’re a regular follower of this blog – and you totally should be – this will not be the first time you’ve heard me recommend this:
Take in improv comedy class.
Especially if you’re terrified of looking silly in front of a crowd of people, take an improv class.
Here’s the thing:
Most people who lack humor are unfunny because they’re way way way too self-conscious and worried about how other people are going to react.
Of course, people naturally like people who are self-assured, comfortable, and funny…
But that’s another post.
Improv comedy does something for you that simply telling jokes can’t do:
It develops your wit.
- Builds your confidence (which is key to humor AND your general success)
- Improves cognitive function so you can analyze and respond to situations quickly (AKA think on your feet)
- Helps you find the funny in bland situations
Single people take note: improv comedy helps you develop the kind of wit that potential dates find pretty much irresistible.
You’ll get better at networking, public speaking, and life in general if you participate in improv.
Just do yourself a favor and consider it.
A Few Last Points
While I’m a firm believer that nearly any situation can be improved with a laugh, there are some occasions and situations where cracking a joke might not be ideal.
Make sure you’re not having a laugh at anyone else’s expense.
Mean-spirited or unkind humor is simply not classy, and you’re likely to turn off readers who have a conscience.
Similarly, you should generally stay away from self-deprecating humor, since the line between “self assured enough to laugh at myself” and “pathetic and attention seeking” is so fine.
As always, your branding comes first. Jokes and comments should remain brand consistent.
But while you should be smart about using appropriate humor, don’t be afraid to have a personality!
Smile a little.
And if you need more help, here’s an article from Lifehacker about how to develop your sense of humor.
This week’s homework is fun! Share one of your favorite (PG-13) jokes on Twitter. Tag @Kitty_Lusby for a retweet.