These are but a few of the principles of humor delivery I try to live by. This list is by no means comprehensive. It is, in fact, an attempt to organize what has heretofore been a largely organic exercise, so that your feedback will be most welcome.
- When assaulting a person's dignity, do it in a fraternal fashion. This suggests that while you may be stupid, or clumsy, or slow, it's something we can both laugh about together, because I also am stupid, or clumsy, or slow. You stupid oaf. See, you're laughing at yourself already. This congenial fraternity is the most polite way for one man who has witnessed the embarrassment of another to defuse the situation.
- Embrace understatement, but be not too subtle. Telling a joke so that only one person in a crowd gets it is not telling a joke, it's mockery. I try, as much as possible, to mock the overly subtle. The key to this is rephrasing what the precious one has said in the crudest fashion possible.
- Make frequent fun of self. I like to think that this works, but it might not. I consider it a way to gain credit which I can later spend on making fun of others. I am particularly blessed in this area, having both an over-the-top personality and an extreme physical type.
- Know your place. Know who you're talking to. Sex, age, relation, familiarity. I like to push the boundaries of this stuff, but I only feel comfortable doing it because I know what the boundaries are. That's what makes me hilarious.
- Use your body. Yet not in a slapstick way, thou buffoon. Use it to shape your jibe: soften it with a finger waggle, sharpen it with a cocked eyebrow.
- Be crude in the right way. That is, know the power of pronouns. No need to be obscene or dirty when you can be earthy and crass instead. (I just felt another post idea kick.) If a co-worker tells you, oh, for example, "That's what my grandmother used to say, 'I'll take the gilded lily.'", what could be easier than saying "I'll take your gilded lily", or even better, "I'd like to give you my gilded lily."
- The body is sacred. That is to say, you could set off an entire thread on socialanxietysupport.com by putting a firecracker in someone's butt, and that would only be mean, and not at all funny. Well, the firecracker wouldn't be funny, but the thread would be. Maybe that was the plan all along. Saying to yourself "the body is sacred" will guide you through the minefield of practical joking, so that cellophaning a toilet is funny (friend late-night pees on feet and has to clean up spill) while tipping over a porta-potty is verboten.
|"No one in history has ever done anything this clever!"|
|"Sure, baby, sure. I'd love to give you my gilded lily. Or wait, do I take your gilded lily? What are we talking about again?"|