The instruction was to share our funny self without trying to be funny.
I whined that I wasn’t funny. I strive to be inspiring, informative and even creative. I didn’t see myself as funny. In fact, I worked hard as an adult to not be seen as silly or cute. So it felt risky to stand on a stage and be funny.
The class was Improvisational Acting. My teacher said I was mistaken. I was hilarious. All she wanted me to do was stand on the stage and talk about events I remembered as a child. My funny self would show up.
“Don’t try to be funny,” she said. “Don’t look for funny stories. Just tell us what happened without adding any emotion.”
I described the first time my aunt Bella visited, a typical family dinner and my father’s choice of clothing at our softball games. The class rolled in the aisles howling with laughter. I didn’t see what was so funny.
Carol, my teacher, walked on the stage, took my hand and said, “You can’t tell anyone anymore that you aren’t funny.”
I’ve been letting my funny side have a voice ever since.
Why is this important? Typically, women are not connected to their funny selves. A recent Little Pink Book post called Fearlessly Funny explored this phenomenon. Most women resist being seen as funny. Yet despite ourselves and those people who declare women as not funny, we are if we want to be.
Maybe we don’t shine in crappy comedy clubs. Jamie Denbo explains why. But I bet you love a good laugh as much as anyone else does.
There are many reasons for letting our funny selves shine. There a health benefits physically and mentally. Work is easier and time goes by faster when we laugh. And laughter bonds families as well as friends.
Do you want to be seen as a leader? Let your funny self out. As long as humor isn’t insensitive to anyone in the room and doesn’t bubble up from your anger or resentment, most people gravitate to the person who sees the funny side of life.
Were you funny as a child? Do you remember laughing until milk came out of your nose? Can you recall masterminding pranks with your girlfriends like writing semi-dirty poetry and leaving it under the most popular guy’s doormat, or creating wild Halloween costumes or making up names for your teachers? I remember laughing a lot as a girl. No matter our life circumstances, we looked for moments of fun. Why not now?
Come to think of it, I love to laugh with my friends even now. We are funny afterall.
The late comedian Steve Allen wrote in his book How to Be Funny that if you have a regular diet of watching, reading, listening to and hanging out with funny people, you will inevitably become a bit funnier. Eventually, you become a magnet for funniness. “Humor will find you,” Allen said. “It’s not that funnier things will happen to you than others. You’ll develop a sensitivity to the environment and circumstances that enables you to see the humor that a more serious person will miss.”
It’s like developing an ear for music. The results on how you feel about yourself and your life are just as sweet.”
Let’s change the world by freeing our funny selves. And if you need a good laugh, ask me about my aunt Bella.