The Faker, let's be honest, is the life of the party. While at any given moment, he could be faking anything from mild amusement to a grand mal seizure, he's never dull.
Still, he admits a pang of envy every now and again when he glances across a crowded room and sees someone else scoring the big laughs. Wisecracks, the Faker's got. Material that's guaranteed to make people snort chardonnay out of their noses? Not so much. If you share the laugh envy, or if you're one of those tender wallflowers who stares at his shoes, laughs nervously at others' punch lines and thinks, "Dang — why didn't I think of that first?" this fake is for you.
Tom Flanigan — an actor, writer and teacher at Second City, Chicago's esteemed improv school and theater — passed along a few tips for faking funny.
1: Laugh when others laugh — but not too much. "If you laugh when you see everyone else laughing and you stop when they stop, you'll blend in as someone who understands humor," Flanigan said. "Humor isn't just telling jokes; it's getting jokes. But don't laugh too much louder or longer, because it's a dead giveaway."
2: Memorize. "If you know two or three good jokes that you can tell well, you don't have to be funny," Flanigan said. Act out the characters. Tell the joke in the first person if possible. And get your audience involved. "It's more playful that way," Flanigan said. "For instance, you can rub your cheek and say, ‘I've got a bad case of dog jaw.' They'll say, ‘What's dog jaw?' and you say, ‘Here, you can feel it,' then when they lean in to touch your jaw, go ‘Rarrrrrrrrr!' (like a rabid dog). Someone got me with that — it was very funny."
3: Limit retelling jokes from sitcoms. A well-timed, "That's what she said" is funny on "The Office." It is not funny when you say it. "That's a dead giveaway that you're a joke parrot and not coming up with your own stuff," Flanigan said.
4: Self-deprecation always works. "Arrogance is never funny, but making fun of yourself is," he said. "It makes you more likable and people are more likely to laugh at someone they like. Like everyone thinks they're a good driver, but if someone admits to being a terrible driver, it's funny and it's surprising."
— Josh Noel, Tribune Newspapers