Laughter, when genuine is almost a subconscious reaction and thus, just like the brain triggers you to cry when watching The Fault in Our Stars, laughter also needs to be triggered. Over the years, aspiring comedians have searched and studied the different laughter triggers alongside their applications all in a bid to sound funnier, and while some comedians say ‘funny cannot be taught’, we believe once you have access to certain tools, anyone can crack the laughter code and this piece is highlighting just that.
Breaking the code
The first step to cracking the laughter code is understanding why people laugh. Lots of things could trigger an uproar of laughter from different people of different backgrounds, races or ethnicities. However, a good joke transcends human diversity and is funny to all who can understand. So then, how can you create this ‘good’ joke? By learning the laughter triggers of course. Here are five of the nine triggers with which the laughter code will be broken to you forever.
Surprise: Great jokes mostly have the element of surprise or a hint of misdirection in them. In essence, you’re setting up your audience to believe one thing, to have a clear picture in their heads, and then when they least expect it you snatch this picture and replace it with something else. The surprise is the foundation on which the 13 comedy structures are built and it’s a vital element for breaking the code.
Superiority: Being on the podium, the audience is likely to feel somewhat inferior to you, which could affect the impact of your jokes on them. Hence by giving them the superiority torch, they’re more likely to fully immerse themselves in your jokes. You can do this by sharing an embarrassing moment you’ve had or by self-deprecation.
Recognition: This is part of the 13 Comedy Structures and it’s mostly about telling jokes based on simple everyday events, items or experiences which the audience can recognize and relate to.
Incongruity: This comedy structure/laughter trigger has to do with imposing dissimilar traits of one thing onto another. This can be done through anthropomorphizing an inanimate object or an animal.
Release: This laughter trigger is mostly used in long comedic stories. As the comedian paints a vivid picture of this story, he or she is encouraged to build tension causing the audience to question the comedian’s candor. Once you’ve established the truth of the story, the audience will laugh from that release.
The code for laughter is pretty much an open book once these psychological laughter triggers are fully understood, and with the depths of this knowledge, almost anyone can be funny.