Taking Your Humor To The Next Level
A dozen ways to improv your humor talents.
Here are some specific things you can do to sharpen your humor skills: To see the humor around you and to deliver it from the platform with punch.
- Toastmasters clubs are the best place to work on your observational humor skills. They provide you a weekly laboratory to hone your skills helping you see the funny stuff around you. Give yourself the assignment of always creating at least one piece of observational humor by the end of every meeting. Through practice, I've found that I can normally create about 10 pieces of observational humor in a two-hour meeting.
- Volunteer to plan party skits. Nearly every organization you join needs someone to chair a planning committee for retirements, award presentations, going away parties, holiday functions, etc. Find someone who is funny to be your co-chair, and get to work creating fun things to share with the group. This is how I got started on my humor path thirty years ago.
- Improv classes are the single most exciting thing I've done for my humor and presentation skills. Look for an improv comedy class near you. Search the phone book for TheatreSports or ComedySportz troupes. Also contact the drama departments at your local college and your local community theatre group. They may be able to point you to an improv workshop nearby.
- Alexander Technique coaching will sharpen your delivery. Nearly all successful actors have studied the Alexander Technique. Body Learning by Michael Gelb will give you an explanation of the technique, however you really will need one-on-one coaching by a certified Alexander Teacher. Again, check your local theatre groups for a teacher. Or contact me. My teacher is the president of the North American Society of Alexander Teachers.
- Speech 101. That's right! Check your local college class offerings. Search for a teacher who has an extensive background in presentation skills, acting, etc. I did this after I had been speaking full-time for over 10 years and received some great coaching for a very minimal cost. Explain to the instructor that you're not the normal student and would like some special attention.
- Dance classes (jazz, modern, ballet, hip hop) are a great way to work on your expressive skills and to help you move with ease. Very highly recommended.
- Singing lessons are a great way to work on your vocal qualities. Much of your success in humor comes from the vocal variety (I like to call it vocal music) that you put into your delivery. Singing coaching improves your voice quality, projection, enunciation, and more. You can sing with a church choir, barbershop chorus or quartet. Of if you're really courageous, sing solo. Search for a group that's led by an exceptional director.
- Acting lessons will sharpen your ability to tell funny stories and develop characters. Search for a talented director and then commit yourself to the rehearsal and production schedule.
- Get professional coaching from a humor and presentation skills coach. The National Speakers Association is a good resource for coaches.
- Visit a comedy club and study the style of the comics. How do they structure their material? How do they deliver it? What do they say and do in the first thirty seconds? Sit in the front row and you may be part of the act! If you really feel brave, take the stage on Open-Mike Night and try your own material in front of a live audience.
- Sign language classes will add color to your delivery style. Take your classes from a deaf instructor. Watch a deaf person tell a joke and see their face light up. American Sign Language is very expressive.
- Mime classes will help you focus on the magic of body language.
Copyright 2006 by John Kinde
You may republish this article with the following credit line:
"Copyright by John Kinde, who is a humor specialist in the training and speaking business for over 30 years specializing in teambuilding, customer service and stress management. Free Special Reports: Show Me The Funny -- Tips for Adding Humor to Your Presentations and When They Don't Laugh -- What To Do When the Laughter Doesn't Come. Humor Power Tips newsletter, articles and blog are available at www.humorpower.com."