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9 laughter Triggers

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Laughter is contagious and just like any communicable disease, something must trigger it. The host must come in contact with something which their immunities cannot fight and they have no choice but to give in to its wave. Hence, what are these laughter triggers and how can joy haters steer clear off it, because after all, they hate all things joy, right? This piece is highlighting 9 of the proven laughter triggers known to mankind, and no, it’s somewhat impossible to be immune to all nine of these triggers. Hence, you’re bound to breakdown laughing as we approach the end. 

These nine laughter triggers include:

  1. Surprise

  2. Superiority 

  3. Embarrassment 

  4. Release

  5. Incongruity 

  6. Recognition

  7. Ambivalence 

  8. Configurational

  9. Coincidence

Now, have you ever thought of why two comedians could tell the same joke and it would be funnier from one more than the other? It’s the same joke so why should there be different reactions? Well, this is could be because the comedian that’s termed as the ‘funnier’ one is more versed with the 9 triggers better than the other. This goes without saying that adequate knowledge of each of these triggers will help build your stage presence if you’re into standup. This is because you’ll know the buttons to push and how to lock in with your audience to get a reaction from them. Here’s what you should know about these laughter triggers.


Introducing the element of surprise into writing a comedy is always great. This is because you’re portraying a story as one thing but just when you capture their attention, you switch up on the story and they’re left with no other reaction than laughter. A good twist is usually funny, especially when no one sees it coming. 


Self-deprecation is mostly funny. This is because it makes the listener or the audience feel somewhat superior to the man on the stage. This is because once a comedian is on stage with the lights, camera and of course the microphone, it usually seems like he’s the most powerful person in the room which can be intimidating for the audience. Hence, making fun of oneself makes the audience feel like he doesn’t take himself too seriously and it makes them feel superior.


Laughter is one of the responses of embarrassment, well alongside regret right after. However, if a member of the audience, the comedian or whoever is being talked about is embarrassed, he or she is likely to laugh the tension off. This is why roasts are so popular.


Release as a laughter trigger is often underappreciated however it is one of the most powerful. Once your audience recognizes your embarrassment they’re likely to release a wave of laughter in response. Both go together.


This is when the comedian converges two or more dissimilar ideas. This laughter trigger is because of the relationship between these ideas that although different, are relatable in the joke.


Laughter is expected when one recognizes or relates to an event mentioned by the comedian. Here the comedian highlights a basic event which most can relate to and makes a joke about it.


Being less bothered about something which you should be clearly passionate about is another laughter trigger. Ambivalence usually comes with the element of surprise which makes it twice as funny.


This trigger is one that could be more like a riddle. Here the comedian says a joke which may need the audience to think about or figure out the punchline for themselves. It’s funny when they get it.


Coincidence is usually utilized alongside incongruity. You’re making things that do not seem related, to seem like a coincidence. 

Using these triggers on your written jokes will help you identify the possibility of getting laughter out of anyone who hears them. Once, you’ve mastered these laughter triggers you can go ahead to write hilarious jokes, scripts, movies, anything.

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