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Judy’s Top 10 List on How NOT to be Funny

If you don't have a gig in the next few weeks, keep in mind you don't need a gig to be funny.

If you're in line at the movies, at a table with friends, or doing just about anything where you have some sort of audience -- you have the chance to hone your comedy skills by being funny.

Look around you; you'll notice that there are funny waitresses, funny store clerks, and (unintentionally) funny weird neighbors. Actually, studies have shown that when waitresses and other tip dependant occupations make their customers laugh, their tips increase by 40%!

You can learn a lot from observing these folks - and the laughter they create.

You can also learn what NOT to do -- unfortunately -- from the many OTHER people around who TRY to be funny but don't realize that the expiration date already passed on the jokes they're telling.

Yesterday I was at Costco and I asked someone what day it was and he said, “It’s Monday ...all day,” and he looked at me like he expected a laugh.  The reason I just stared and DIDN'T laugh was...

A.) It’s not funny
B.) It’s old material.
C.) It was actually Tuesday.

Well... at least I’m trying to add some funny by using the list of three -- but I’m getting really tired of civilians misusing comedy by not even trying.  Just like I think comics shouldn’t steal jokes, or use hack material, the cashiers from Costco should avoid overused lines that weren’t even funny in the first place.  If you're going to steal material -- at least steal the good stuff.

Here is a list of my least favorite jokes:
  1. If I tell anybody over 50 my name is Judy, it’s guaranteed they're gonna say “Judy, Judy, Judy!”  I have no idea where it’s from.  Maybe from a film from the 40s -- so could've been funny up 'til the 60s.  Now it's time to give it a rest.
  2. “Hey-oh!” at the end of a joke.  Ed McMahon is dead -- and so is that joke. 
  3. References to really outdated movie quotes, like “Here’s Johnny!” from The Shining.
  4. Nothing funny has ever started with “Knock, knock.”
  5. Saying ‘awkward’ after something that is awkward is already getting old.
  6. Somebody walks into a bar...  and does something completely stereotypical that I saw coming way before the punch line.
  7. “Do these pants make me look fat?”  Does that line make you sound hack?  (Ummm -- yes to both.)
  8. Penises -- and jokes about them -- just aren't that funny anymore.  (But “scrotum” is.  Scrotum is the new penis.)
  9. Your pet is only funny to you.  A story about your cat is funny to you because it’s YOUR cat.  (And that impersonation of your cat hacking up a fur ball is not appropriate as a wedding toast.)
  10. Jokes that go on and one and end with ...  “I forgot the punch line.”

Instead of going for hack comments and memorizing jokes, find your own funny commentary on the movie you just saw, the date you just had, or what you see in the mirror.  There’s plenty of comedy looking back at you. 

Laughs happen naturally, all the time, without any advance planning.  So -- pay attention when they do.  Real life -- and what we all experience together -- is where the best comedy comes from.


Anonymous said...

Love this! I have to say that the ONLY TIME knock Knock jokes are funny is when a 2 year old says "Knock knock" and you say "who's there" and then they say any word they can think of and then fall down laughing...

Longhorn The Comedian said...

I get two all the time that I can't stand...but it comes with the territory. I wear a Cowboy Hat and Boots on a regular...people walk up to me and ask me (1)Where is your horse? (while in the mall) (2) Where you from Texas? Usually, I am wearing a t-shirt that says "TEXAS" in big letters....

Barb Best said...

Great advice. Cliches are hackneyed clunkers. The scatological stuff stinks, too.

Frank Irwin said...

The "Judy Judy Judy" is a famous Cary Grant quote. I couldn't find it on Youtube, but this is close.

John Kinde said...

A priest and two cajones walk into a knock knock cat is cracking up.

Palmo said...

Cary Grant NEVER said it

Oscar Wildedog said...

Judy, Judy, Judy...What am I gonna do with you? Now I know you think that anyone can be funny, and many people DO have their moments, but the stone cold fact is that comedy is not for everyone...esp. Germans. Hey-oh! Ooops, sorry. My point is that I would like to see in your blog not how the masses can move the global "yuck yuck" meter to the merely humorous level, but how the few of us who actually try to make a go out of this comedy thing can raise our game. And that is not a "knock knock" on your already wonderful blog!

Ellen Sandler said...

How 'bout, Do these pants make my penis look fat? No? C'mon. Pants are always funny. Can you tell I'm suppose to be working on my book?

Anonymous said...

"Judy Judy Judy" was from the Andy Griffith show, when Goober would do his Cary Grant impersonation that sounded nothing Iike Cary Grant.

Sally Baucke said...

SO TRUE JUDY! My husband and I always crack up when I joke around with "civilians" and they say to me "You're hilarious, you should be a comedian". My husband always says "she is", and they say "no, really, you should try it. You'd be great at it." On and on it goes....

Tommy Moore said...

Sorry Judy, have to respectfully disagree in part.
Buddy Hackett once said, "if they laugh - it's funny! "
So, any given joke can be funny - to someone.
Now, it may not be funny to you, but it may be funny to someone. A five year old may like a Knock-knock Joke. A person who's never heard a given "stock joke" might find it to be new. There are even people ( not me) who like puns (shudder)! But who am I to spoil their potential fun.
To be elitist about humor only squelches it.
And the world needs all the laughs it can get.
So, bring it all on, I'll laugh, or not.
Best Wishes,
Tommy Moore

Anonymous said...

Judy, I appreciate your sentiment but I don't agree either. I have a friend who is from the Bronx. Just about everything he says is funny. I can't believe you would discount DELIVERY and TIMING! This is so very important. This guy delivers and has incredible timing. He's super funny, Judy, and he does not really try. He just talks and I'm crying with laughter. He doesn't understand why everyone thinks he's so funny but if you heard him, you'd laugh. His facial expressions, the words he uses and the'd think he was doing an impression of Robert DeNiro or Joe Pesci but he's not. That's just how he is. And he has used some wore out expressions, references that most younger people would not get, but it doesn't matter. He's just funny.

P.L. Frederick said...

Heh heh. Judy, why didn't you know the day? And, why did you need to know the day? And, why are humans expected to know days? Nobody else has to. Turtles don't. The date, yes; the day, no. Probably a Costco thing.

I greatly enjoy your postings and emails. Learning by laughter is the greatest.

Judy Arnall, bestselling author of "Discipline Without Distress: 135 tools for raising caring responsible children without time-out, spanking, punishment or bribery" said...

I love your name! Saw you in Calgary a few months ago.
Judy Arnall

Jay Speyerer said...

One knock-knock joke is funny, and it's the one you use on people who insist on telling them. Tell them they have to start it.
Them: Knock knock.
You: Come in.

Mace said...

Scrotum humor? Wow, the world of comedy is evolving!

Kyle V said...

1. At least they're not making Judge Judy references. I think name jokes are the worst, besides every other terrible thing people say. Which is everything.

2. YOLO is the new Hey-Oh! And they both need to die.

3. I'm personally not fond of any movie quotes, because anything good is usually beaten to death within a few days. Oh, and that they're super hit-and-miss based on whether people have seen the film or not.

4. Nothing funny begins with "In Soviet Russia" anymore too because, well, it hasn't been around for a while.

5. When people say, "Well, this is awkward," I defiantly point my finger and shout, "NO. This is perfectly okay! Don't you DARE do this to me!" with such anger I am practically spewing fire. And then I walk away. It's my way of doing a curtsey.

6. Soon to be replaced with the more modern, "So this guy's status on my Facebook says..."

7. "Do these pants make me--" "Yes. You look fat. Also, it's not the pants. It's just you. You look fat in everything. Why are you crying? Was it something I said?"

8. Were penis jokes ever funny? Mine always has this serious, grumpy looking frown.

9. I humor people who talk about their pets. On the outside, my eyes glimmer with curiosity, my smile brightening after every word. But no, on the inside I am most definitely wondering what I did to deserve this punishment and how to repent for my sins.

10. I've never experienced this one but half-assed jokes will get a foot shoved halfway up their ass. Do you only talk to people trapped in the 70's? Are they still scared of Y2K? I can't believe real life people still say these things, instead of like stop motion characters made of clay reading off a script called "things people say."

My name's Kyle, I've also got a site teaching people how to be funny and you're cool. That is all.