How to Captivate Your Audience with Humor (Even If You Don’t Think You’re Funny)

How to Captivate Your Audience with Humor (Even If You Don’t Think You’re Funny)

Let me guess…

You’re not funny. At least, that’s what you tell yourself.

And who cares anyway? Readers don’t come to your blog for laughs, right?

They come for the information.

Because blogging’s about being useful. It’s about understanding your audience and helping them achieve their goals and dreams. It’s about giving them the information they need to get where they want to go.

So that whole “being funny” thing is for the birds. Right?

Actually, if you think like this, you’re missing a big piece of the puzzle.

Being a successful blogger is not just about being a teacher…

It’s about being a performer.

Your content must do more than just educate. It must entertain.

And while using humor is not the only way to make things more fun, it’s certainly one of the most effective.

If you don’t learn to entertain while you inform, your readers will find a blogger who can.

So, are you ready to rescue your content from the classroom?

3 Possible Reactions to Your Content (#3 Is The One You Want)

Most readers click your link on the promise of learning something new.

It’s why you craft attention-grabbing headlines that offer a better blog. Or a more successful business. Or a happier life. Or a free box of Mr. T cereal. (Wouldn’t that be awesome?)

And if you’ve done your job properly, they take the bait.

Then one of the following happens:

#1 They Leave

It takes the reader about four seconds to realize your content is dull and uninformative.

You’re talking about yourself in a way they can’t relate to. Or showing off an outdated social media “trick” that nobody cares about anymore. Or sharing ideas they’ve heard a dozen times before.

But whatever the reason, your post is about as appealing as a second-hand burrito.

By the second paragraph, they’ve seen enough. They mentally kick themselves for being duped by the false promise of a well-written headline.

And then they make a break for the back button.

#2 They Scan. Then They Leave.

Your reader’s time waster detector remains silent – for now.

They can see your content is potentially useful, and they may even learn something, but the more they read, the more it seems like hard work.

The writing’s dry and joyless. And on top of that, it’s really, really long.

So instead of reading your entire post, they scan it, looking for a useful nugget or two. Maybe they spot your killer, game-changing insight, and maybe they don’t.

They don’t get to the end of the post, and they certainly don’t take action.

But hey, at least they read your subheadings!

#3 They Stop. They Read. They Act.

The reader senses this post is a little different.

Sure, the information’s useful, but the writer is also taking pleasure in its delivery.

Reading it is not hard work at all. In fact, it’s kinda fun.

Because the content is informative and entertaining.

This is the sweet spot where blogs have a chance to become legendary. Blogs that burst onto the scene overnight, seemingly from nowhere. The ones that attract thousands of subscribers in the blink of an eye.

When you create valuable content that is also entertaining, people read to the end, and they’re much more likely to take action afterward.

Like sharing it. Or leaving a comment. Or signing up to your list.

Hell, they might even implement the advice you gave them in the post. (And when they find it works, they’ll love you forever.)

Bottom line is that they won’t just read it and disappear. They’ll want more. Because what you just gave them is a rare experience indeed.

And what better way to start making your blog more enjoyable to read than by adding a little humor?

How to Use Humor in Your Writing (Without Looking Like a Desperate Try-Hard)

Now, not everyone is naturally funny. (Funny looking, maybe. But not funny ha-ha.)

And hey, I get it.

We weren’t all born with a fully-functional funny bone. In fact, some people have suggested mine is held together with duct tape and chewing gum.

But that doesn’t mean it’s too late to learn a few new tricks or even sharpen that saw.

Regardless of how funny you think you are, or are capable of being, use the following ways to apply the funny to your next blog post.

1) Don’t Make it This Big. Make it THIS Big.

We know it’s a lie. But it’s an acceptable lie because it’s so far over the top that it’s clearly not meant to be taken literally. Because it’s an exaggeration.

It’s the difference between catching a fish this big and catching one THIS big.

Maybe you walked a million miles. Or it cost a bazillion dollars. Maybe it took forever. Or you laughed your butt off.

It is the art of taking something that started out as true and magnifying and distorting it to the point where it’s barely recognizable. Where it’s absurd. Where it’s, well, funny.

And going to extremes doesn’t only raise a smile. It also makes your points more memorable. So your valuable information is much more likely to sink in. It’s a win-win!

2) Give Them The Benefit of Your Genius…Einstein

Personally, I love sarcasm, but it’s not for everybody.

It’s kind of like sword swallowing. Do it right and it’s a big crowd pleaser. Do it wrong and things get messy, and people get upset.

But, what exactly is sarcasm?

Well, why don’t you pull up a chair and get comfortable while I tell you all about it? I mean, it’s not like you could just get on the Internet and look it up for yourself.

See?

Sarcasm is a sharp or bitter attempt at mocking your reader or the situation you are writing about.

It’s raw. When done right, it borders on offensive. It’s polarizing and occasionally obnoxious.

Some readers won’t get it. While others will fall on the floor laughing.

The key is to truly know your audience. Or just to redefine your audience as those people who do get it.

3) Try Speaking Metaphorically

A metaphor is like a box of chocolates. Wait. That’s life. Life is like a box of chocolates. Which is ironic because that’s actually a metaphor too. But we’ll get into being ironic in a minute.

What were we just talking about? Oh yeah. Metaphors.

A metaphor is the symbolic comparison between two things that are otherwise unrelated but used in an effort to drive home a specific point. That sounded pretty smart, didn’t it? Like I just swallowed a dictionary. (Metaphor alert!)

But let’s take a look at another example.

Let’s suppose for argument’s sake that you were here to cause trouble. You could say that you were here to instigate. Or you could say that you were here to light a bag of dog poop on fire and run.

The comparison gives your reader a visual that they can easily relate to and see in their mind’s eye.

And smell, in their mind’s, er, nose… Which reminds me, mixed metaphors don’t work so well.

4) Tell Them What a Loser You Are

I like self-deprecating humor, although I really suck at it. (See what I did there?)

When you poke fun at yourself, you appear more human to your readers. They connect with you more easily and feel better about themselves too – because you’re not perfect either.

Sure, it’s a little twisted. And of course it’s at your expense. But that’s a problem for your therapist, not me.

Self-deprecating humor allows you to get that harsh joke or sarcastic comment out into the world without the risk of alienating anyone by making them feel stupid or ugly or boring or not funny.

Sure, what you’re saying might apply to them too (and maybe that’s the idea), but because you’re the apparent target, they don’t take offense. But they still take the point. Clever, huh?

Just be careful with how far you go. There’s a fine line between self-deprecating humor and an embarrassing cry for help.

5) Do a Jerry Seinfeld

I’ve always felt like the best place to write is at the airport. There’s so much ridiculous stuff to observe. All of the little nonsensical things that drive our species a little crazy. In fact, you can make an entire career out of it.

Wait. Never mind. Jerry Seinfeld already did that. Dang. I thought I was onto something.

Anyway, the best part about observational humor is that your readers can easily relate to it because they’ve been there too.

We’ve all seen the how to put a seatbelt on speech given by the flight attendant. Or the way people will wait in line for 20 minutes just so they can be one of the first people to have to sit and wait on the plane.

It doesn’t have to be the airport. I’m not obsessed with airports. Well, maybe a little.

But open your eyes within your own industry. Both online and off. Pay attention to the things that will prompt a laugh of recognition from your readers.

It doesn’t matter if the rest of us think you guys are weird. (And you are weird by the way.)

6) Ask “Isn’t It Ironic?”

In order to truly understand irony, search for “social media rock star” (it also works with ninja, guru, Jedi and diva) and observe their rock star-ness in all its glory.

You know, the 157 people following them. Their latest tweet, dated four and a half months ago. The link to their MySpace page.

This is what we (and Alanis Morissette) would call ironic.

Granted, in this example, the subject of the irony does not realize they are being ironic, which makes it a little, well, ironic.

Of course, when you’re being ironic on your blog, you want to be a little more calculated about it. You want to be sure we’re all laughing with you and not at you.

Start by looking for the contradictions in your niche, and the laughter will soon ensue.

7) Beg, Borrow (But Don’t Steal)

Don’t have even an ounce of funny in you? No problem! Try quoting someone that does. Or pointing out something someone else made that gave you a good laugh.

Careers have been made on the backs of sharing other people’s funny. Just look at your Facebook feed. I bet there’s barely an original thought in there. It’s filled with funny stuff – from other people.

So, if you aren’t already following some of the funnier (or simply more outspoken) people inside and outside of your industry, start there. Read their blogs. Share their social media posts. And when you find something that triggers a thought you feel would resonate with your readers, build a blog post around it.

But don’t steal someone else’s lines and hope to get away with it. Do the right thing – give them credit. Maybe even a link. I hear people like links.

8) Make Unexpected Connections

Referencing something completely out of left field is a great way to grab a reader’s attention. It can wake them up. Make them laugh. And maybe even help you make a serious point too.

When you mention something seemingly out of place, it brings with it a whole bunch of emotions and associations for free. It works great with lists where you have a few related points and then the last one is from another place entirely. The brain’s normal reaction to this kind of surprise is to find it kind of funny. (Or to explode, but usually the other thing.)

I’m not proud, but in my writing, I have randomly snuck in references to The Wonder Twins, ChiPs and of course David Hasselhoff. He’s always a crowd pleaser.

And let’s not forget Mr. T. You can’t go wrong bringing up Mr. T. It doesn’t matter what the situation; if you bring up Mr. T, it’s funny. I don’t know why. It just is. If you don’t agree, you are dead inside.

I pity the fool that disagrees with me on this one.

Ready to Show Them The Funny?

Like it or not, blogging is a performance. And with any performance, as soon as it stops being entertaining, people start checking their watches.

Online, that means they exit your blog stage-left, likely never to return.

And while you don’t want to be seen as a clown (unless you’re a professional clown of course – you guys keep doing what you’re doing), infusing your content with a little humor could be just the boost your writing needs. It’ll raise your blog out of the gray, featureless crowds of joyless information peddlers.

So try a little funny. Not everyone who reads your blog will like it. But some will love it. And that right there is the secret to building a passionate audience.

After all, the worst that can happen is people hate your blog, and the whole Internet ridicules you to the point where you’re forced to run away to live in a shack in the woods eating nothing but bugs and squirrels. Just like me.

But before you decide to keep playing it safe with your content, consider this:

To be popular, you must risk being unpopular.

Which is a little ironic, don’t you think?

About the Author: My name is Marc. And my mission is to save the Internet from a catastrophic collision with bad taste and vulgar commercialism. And speaking of vulgar commercialism, I have a new book coming out called Be a Dick. You should totally check it out. Oh yeah, and here’s my blog.