12 Tips on Finding Your Unique Sense of Humor From Comedian Margaret Cho
By Rita Arens on March 03, 2011
BlogHer Original Post
Own Your Beauty is a groundbreaking, year-long movement bringing women together to change the conversation about what beauty means. Our mission: to encourage and remind grown women that it is never too late to learn to love one's self and influence the lives of those around us - our mothers, friends, children, neighbors. We can shift our minds and hearts and change the path we follow in the pursuit of authentic beauty.
Revered for her crass in-your-face style, Margaret Cho burst onto the scene in 1994 with her sitcom All American Girl and has since become one of the most prolific and critically acclaimed comedians of our time. In 1999, she chronicled her legendary struggles with network executives over her weight and ethnicity into a groundbreaking one-woman show, I'm The One That I Want. Margaret's tackled the axis of evil, organized religion, homophobia, revolutionizing one's self-esteem, the joy of bodily functions, and of course, her now world-famous mother. Margaret is currently starring in the comedic drama series, Drop Dead Diva, on Lifetime and has a new stand-up show, Cho-Dependent, featuring a healthy mix of comedy and live music collaborations with Tegan and Sara, Jon Brion, Andrew Bird, and Ben Lee, among others.
Don't be mean. Ultimately, it's the easiest form of humor, but I really don't advise it. It doesn't feel good to do it and it doesn't feel good to hear it. I prefer if people are nicer. Plus, whatever you dish out will come back to you a million times worse! I am very cautious about being overly mean, unless someone really deserves it. Then you can say whatever you want.
First is best, usually. The first thing that comes to mind is usually the funniest. Almost always. Oddly, it's also probably the meanest..
Incorporate everything you see. That is one of the basic elements of being funny -- incorporating environment/situation/point of view. Sometimes humor is just paying attention.
Just say it. Often we don't say what we think because we assume it's inappropriate, but I think that funny is always right on.
Don't try to be funnier than others. This is where standup comics really are the worst. We get into a battle of wits, and it just becomes a shouting match. It's not a contest. It's a conversation.
Listen. People say really dumb shit and it's really funny to point out how stupid they are (without being mean; see #1).
If you're not funny, that is kind of funny to point out, so you're already ahead of the game by mentioning it and likely to be a lot funnier than you think. Deadpan is always the funniest, and that's the realm of the "not funny" -- so yeah, you rule.
Imitating others can usually be hilarious although it's kind of hard to do it without being super mean.
A good way to know if you are being too mean is if when you say something and your face gets hot and your heart starts beating fast and you immediately regret saying it but by then it's too late. Oh well.
Humor is best when it's used to show someone who you really are. It's always good to use your own insecurities and self doubts as humor. Everyone has those. It makes you look stronger to reveal them. Not weaker. Humor makes you look brave.
It doesn't come off as well in writing. Sometimes being funny in an email or text makes you just seem like an asshole. It's better to save it for face to face interactions, unless you are really good at it already and then why are you reading this?
Just be you. That's probably all you need to do.
Image: Lindsey Byrnes.
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