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Ham over turkey this holiday?

Do you wish you could be a holiday ham? The one who tells jokes at the office or neighbourhood party that actually make people laugh?

Do you wish you could be a holiday ham? The one who tells jokes at the office or neighbourhood party that actually make people laugh?

Your efforts at humour can bring the ho ho hos you crave, if you follow expert advice.

As a professor with Humber College’s Comedy Program, Larry Horowitz has taught at least 3,000 people to be funny and says he’s never met anyone who couldn’t successfully tell a joke.

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE

“These days, political correctness is number 1,” Horowitz says. Making jokes that involve sex, race or religion can be hazardous at the corporate Christmas party, or anywhere for that matter. Limit your humour to safe targets unless you know your listeners very well.

MAKE THE JOKE YOUR OWN

Speak clearly and don’t rush or nobody will understand you.

“We have a saying in the business that it’s 90 per cent delivery,” Horowitz says.

“When you tell your joke you want to make it interesting and stop the person who’s hearing it from suddenly realizing they know this joke halfway through.

“If you want to avoid all that, rephrase the joke. Try to make it your own.”

KEEP IT SHORT — OR NOT

The only exception is if you’re telling a “shaggy dog story,” which Horowitz describes as an almost frustratingly long joke topped off with an idiotic punchline. “The end is usually so stupid that there’s a great relief, and that joke works on contrast, it works on the amount of time you invested to hear such a stupid ending.”

UNDERSELL THE PUNCHLINE

“The worst thing you can ever do is tell people ‘this is the funniest joke you’ve ever heard,’” Horowitz advises. “It couldn’t possibly live up to the billing.” The principle also works in reverse, which can be handy if you’re not sure your joke’s that funny.

“The best thing you can do is preface it: ‘This is the worst joke you’ve ever heard,’ and it’s never as bad as you made it out to be and it works better.”

 
 
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