The Manner of Joking Makes a Difference

Not a joking matter: How delivery affects people’s reactions

The Manner of Joking Makes a Difference

Making people laugh is no joke. A person’s reaction toward a joke depends on how the joke is delivered. It is through the way the joke was said that people can judge the joke to be funny, rude, or offensive.

Delivery is not a joking matter, especially for stand-up comedians. The first thing to master when delivering a joke is the material. Memorize; if not, familiarize the joke. Errors may occur when a speaker attempts to perform a material that is not properly rehearsed. There may be an instance that the speaker stutters right before delivering the punchline or forgets the right buildup before the punchline. These errors can destroy the comedic rhythm of the joke. Before going in front of an audience, a joke teller should be a master of his material before being a master of comedy.

Second thing to master when telling a joke is the pause in the performance. Once the joke teller has fully understood and familiarized the material, it is now easier to determine the mood of the joke and how it should be delivered. Preceding the punchline should be a noticeable and significant pause. This is to allow thinking time for the audience as well as unconsciously preparing them for the laughs coming real soon. When a joke performance is without any significant pause, the impact may be lessened by its abrupt end or there would be no time for the audience to comprehend the joke resulting for the joke to be a failure.

The right rhythm contributes to the success of a joke. Paired up with proper enunciation of the punchline will do the trick just fine. A fast speed rate of delivering a joke may sound gibberish to some audience and leave them confused, while a slow-paced joke may bore the audience, making them miss the punchline. Practicing the right rhythm and, at the same time, articulating clearly, especially the punchline, makes a room full of laugh.

Some jokes are delivered through a dialogue. In this type of joke, dialogues should be acted out with a touch of comedic exaggeration. People are usually appealed visually and acting out a comedic dialogue contributes to the entertaining quality of the joke.

When joking, the speaker should always be prepared and confident. Memorize the materials and do all the delivery techniques stated above. Packed with a bag full of confidence, this is now a journey for a stand-up comedy career.

Jokes within a conversation is a different matter. It is not bad to throw a few puns or funny lines within the conversation. It rather helps to lighten the discussion and prevent dead air.

The audience should be considered when throwing a joke in a conversation. Throwing joke containing sexist allusions, like joking about women, may gauge a negative reaction from the audience, especially if the person is a female and a feminist. It also important to make non-verbal cues when throwing a joke to emphasize to the audience that the speaker is just joking around. An exaggerated hand gesture or a comical facial expression may support the joke.

Speakers should be mindful of the content when joking around. Sometimes, people go too far when throwing jokes, especially within a conversation. Instead of eliciting laughter, it would turn out to be offensive and rude that even the “just kidding” phrase wouldn’t soothe the damage.

How do you tell your jokes? Feel free to share your techniques in delivering jokes in the comments below. For a few good laughs, grab copies of my books, A Belly Full of Laughs and More Belly Full of Laughs. I’d like to hear more of your jokes and funny stories. You can reach me on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


Andrew. 2012. “Ten Tips for Better Comic Delivery.” The Naked Speaker, April 6. Accessed February 20, 2018.

Attardo, Salvatore, and Pickering, Lucy. “Timing in the Performance of Jokes.” Humor: International Journal of Humor Research 24, no. 2 (2011): 233–250. Walter de Guyter. Accessed February 20, 2018.

Iowa State University. 2013. “No joke: Learning the tricks of standup comedy.” ScienceDaily, October 15. Accessed February 20, 2018.

Liu, Herbert. 2015. “Five Common Mistakes People Make When Telling Jokes.” Lifehacker, February 27. Accessed February 20, 2018.

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