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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

What’s so funny? How I learned to be funnier in less than a week

Oct 07, 2018 07:52PM ● By Melanie Wiseman

During a photo op with her two sisters, author Melanie Wiseman, left, made them laugh by telling them to pull the back of each other's necks to eliminate wrinkles.

We begin laughing at just 4 months old.

As a kid, I was a great audience for my brother, the family clown. I’d cry because I'd laughed so hard. Sometimes I had to bolt to the bathroom before I wet my pants.

I have no idea why my eyeballs haven’t fallen out of their sockets from 60 years of eye rolling over my 92-year-old dad’s witty quips and puns. I decided it was time to turn the tables and up my game—I wanted to be funnier myself.

Last year, I was first in line to sign up for “How to be funnier in less than a week” at Western Colorado Community College. The class, led by 78-year-old Glenna Kyker, had five students—all 60-something females—no men. We decided they must think they’re already as funny as it gets.

Daily life is funny

Being funny is not “one-size-fits all.” What makes you funny is unique to you. If it was always about reciting jokes, talking parrots could be the funniest creatures on the planet.

Being able to laugh at yourself and finding humor in every day situations is key to being funny. Make others laugh by telling your funny stories or embarrassing moments.

“I bought the perfect coat for my daughter at Heirlooms for Hospice on Main Street,” Kyker said. “It looked just like her. When I gave it to her, she said, ‘I just donated that last week!’”

Laughter is contagious and a great way to diffuse tense situations. We’re 30 times more likely to laugh when we’re with other people.

“The goal of my husband and me is to make our waiter or checkout clerk laugh,” said a fellow student, Karen Hurst. “It can make their whole day.”

Hurst received the gift of humor herself recently. After a tough yoga class and while dealing with some challenging health issues, she sat down on a locker room bench with a heavy sigh. A stranger sat next to her, and without introduction, she told her a joke from the BEACON’s Laughing Matters. Then she got up and walked away.

“It was just what I needed,” said Hurst.

Spend time with children

Take the lead of children’s inhibitions and be silly.

“Grandma, you crack me up!”

That’s what my 5-year-old grandson said when I showed him my yoga moves and did a head stand.

We were on a recent hike when he picked up a rock and said excitedly, “Grandma, this looks like the bookshelves!” It took me a minute to register that he meant the Bookcliffs.

When my granddaughter got her first job at a teen clothing store, I saw the perfect opportunity. I’ll never forget it, but she prays that she can.

“Grandma, you’ve got it on backwards,” she said with embarrassment as I modeled a cute sundress.

A few minutes later, she laughed at me when I tried on a pair of “shredded” jeans and my foot slid right out through a hole in the knee, causing me to jump around to keep from falling over.

The element of surprise

I’ve taken to surprising people by doing things outside of what they’d expect. I entertained fellow travelers in Cuba by attempting to smoke a cigar, doing the cha-cha in a restaurant and joining local musicians on stage.

During a photo op with my two sisters, I told them to pull the back of each other’s necks to eliminate neck wrinkles in the picture. It was right out of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding II,” and resulted in a hilarious giggle-fest.


Keep stories and jokes simple. Remember, it’s not funny if you have to explain it! Use creative play on words, irony and puns. Be a good listener and write down funny things people say. Swap out boring words with funny ones—underpants is 20 percent funnier than underwear.

Practice and experiment with short jokes.

  • I don’t take the stairs, because they’re always up to something.
  • Did you hear about the restaurant on the moon? Great food, no atmosphere.
  • What did the grape do when he got stepped on? He let out a little wine.
  • If God wanted me to touch my toes, he’d have put them on my knees.
  • Borrow money from pessimists; they don’t expect it back.
  • My mechanic told me, “I couldn’t repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder.”
  • I told the doctor my arm hurt in two places. He said, “Don’t go to those two places.”

In Gene Perret's "Comedy Writing Workbook," he writes, “Comedy is mentally pulling the rug out from under each person in the audience, but first, you have to get them to stand on it. You have to fool them, because if they see you preparing to tug on the rug, they’ll move.”

Take the class

How to Be Funnier in Less Than a Week

October 9, 11 & 15 6:30-9 p.m. Cost: $89

Register at: or call 255-2800.

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