The fact that everyone can improve their ability to be funny, without any problems, is pretty unbelievable, but certainly possible. Before we begin, I will tell you how psychologists have explained why people find some things amusing and funny. Every time when we learn something new, the mind builds a brand new route from one neuron cell to the other one.
That route is what we call a synapse and it works like this: After we think about plums, and if we know that plums are food, our brain will make a path that will connect the brain cells which have the things we know about those two terms. So, in the future, when you think about the food there is a great possibility that you will start thinking about plums. You are probably wondering what this all has to do with humour. It’s pretty simple, really – humour actually works this way!
It all starts with someone telling you a short and common story. This is what stand-up comedians call a setup. Now, you are expected to think about this story in a certain way. Your brain should now be creating routes from the setup, that you have recently heard to the most suiting punch-line. A completely different version of the punch-line, that you have not thought of, is what will make you laugh. And in case, you did not get this, the following example will help you out.
What is the most satisfying thing next to being shot at and missed?
An income tax refund.
How did you feel after hearing the setup? I am positive you did not think of the same punch-line as I did. It is really natural to think differently than others, and our brain is to blame. As I said, the punch-line was totally different than you expected. This is, in fact, the main principle of the way humour works.
The main thing is a good setup. The greatest comedians will usually tell you a setup which will make you think of a number of different possible punch-lines. The more you think your punch-line is the most fitting one, the more will the actual punch-line make you laugh. In case you have already heard the joke, it will probably not be funny, because your brain already knows the punch-line, therefore it will not create any new routes.
Now, you should try making up a simple story and tell it to a few people to see what kind of punch-lines they can think of. It is important that you always tell the most unexpected one, so be sure to find out how other people think.
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