You Don’t Have to Be Funny to Have a Funny Show

You Don’t Have to Be Funny to Have a Funny Show

by Tracy Johnson

Nothing beats funny on the air. That’s a fact. It’s proven. But funny is an odd thing. You don’t have to have a funny line to be funny. And you don’t have to be a funny person to have a funny show.

There are lots of ways to increase your humor on the air. We have four of those ideas here.

You probably know plenty of people in your personal life who aren’t naturally funny, but when you’re together, funny things happen. It’s often the situation that is funny. You’re just a part of that situation. And if you apply some of these ideas, you can be credited with being a funny personality because you have a funny show.

Great Execution Can Help You Have a Funny Show

Personalities that are able to create great content and execute it with a sense of humor can turn into funny situations. You get credit for being funny and may never even think of yourself as funny!

Funny often is a result of being unpredictable and turning up the volume on your personality traits…especially quirks. Explore those quirks and exaggerate them. When you take them to an extreme, you may find some great moments.

Great storytellers know the secret to a strong break and a weak one is a surprising twist in the story. This often turns into a dramatic, funny moment. And Steve Martin agrees.

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He refutes the myth that you need a punchline to be funny. He says that when you really analyze what makes people laugh, you find a number of joke structures. Martin concludes:

Being funny is about establishing expectations, then breaking them. Take listeners down a path, then left turn with a surprising twist. A small unexpected thing makes the bit funny.

Martin’s philosophy is that there are a million ways to get someone to laugh, even if the actual line isn’t, by itself, funny.

Self Deprecation

However, surprising isn’t always funny. That’s a mistake many shock jocks make. Insulting people is easy. At first, it’s unexpected, surprising and gets a strong response. And sometimes it’s received as funny.

But it gets old…quickly. Re-directing those jabs back on yourself, however, can be just as funny as making others the subjects of your jokes. And it’s not offensive.

Turn It Up. Make It Loud. Have a Funny Show

At the end of the day, the Three E’s of entertainment apply to radio: Exaggerate. Enhance. Embellish.

When creating a break, just turn up the volume on the problem and your personality traits. Make the problem worse. Exaggerate it to the point where it becomes larger than it was.

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Then, imagine how the audience is hearing the break. Add a surprising twist. And turn up the volume on it. Then, turn up the volume on your character.

Note: Turning up the volume on your personality does not mean talking louder or speaking in extreme tones. It’s all about the content in your story.

Isn’t it interesting that this is also the key to a really great improv team. The situations are funny when they’re embellished!

Then, let the funny happen!



It’s true that you don’t have to be funny to have a funny show. It’s also true that having a funny show is a most desired trait. But don’t force it. Listeners can tell (and they hate it) when you’re trying too hard to be funny.

Instead, learn how to create funny situations.

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Author: Tracy Johnson

Tracy Johnson specializes in radio talent coaching, radio consulting for programming and promotions and developing digital strategies for brands.

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