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Humour is about provoking laughter or amusement. The term comes from the Ancient Greeks who taught that the balance of fluids in the human body, known as humours, control health and emotion.

Hopefully, you know someone who has a good sense of humour. Perhaps you have one yourself? It’s nice to be around people that use humour and appreciate fun.

Have heard the saying ‘humour is the best medicine’? According to Mary Pettibone Poole,“He who laughs, lasts.” In other words, you live longer if you laugh a lot. Humour is good for the brain as well. When you find something amusing your brain releases chemicals such as endorphins and dopamine. These chemicals elevate our moods and help us to fight off stress. In fact, it’s great for all aspects of our health.

Victor Borge said: “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.”Humour helps us to get on better with others. We especially need humour at the moment. It can relieve pressure and make life under lockdown more tolerable. Would you like to have more humour in your life?

If this is something that you think might be useful to you, tryout some of these ideas.

TIP 1: Understand More Humour

When you understand or ‘get’ something that someone else has created to try to make us laugh it’s a great feeling. So, let’s look at some jokes from stand-up comedians. See if you (a) understand them and (b) find them funny. Rate them according to the scale below:

0 = don’t understand at all; 1 = sort of understand; 2 = mostly understand but have questions; 3 = fully understand but not funny; 4 = fully understand and find funny;

5 = fully understand and find really funny.

1. "I wasn't particularly close to my dad before he died... which was lucky, because he trod on a land mine" Olaf Falafel

2. “When I was a kid, I asked my mum what a couple was and she said, ‘Oh, two or three’. And she wonders why her marriage didn’t work out.” Josie Long

3. “When I was 16 I like to think I was quite responsible. When I was 16 I was at home each and every night looking after my two kids.” Ava Vidal

4. “Life is like a box of chocolates. It doesn’t last long if you’re fat.” Joe Lycett

5. “The worst time to have a heart attack is during a game of charades.” Demetri Martin

6. “You can’t lose a homing pigeon. If your homing pigeon doesn’t come back, then what you’ve lost is a pigeon.” Sara Pascoe

7. "I was playing chess with my friend and he said, 'Let's make this interesting'. So we stopped playing chess." Matt Kirshen

8. "I usually meet my girlfriend at 12:59 because I like that one-to-one time" Tom Ward

9. "Money can't buy you happiness? Well, check this out, I bought myself a Happy Meal." Paul F Taylor

10. "Feminism is not a fad. It’s not like Angry Birds. Although it does involve a lot of Angry Birds. Bad example." Bridget Christie

11. "A cowboy asked me if I could help him round up 18 cows. I said, 'Yes, of course. - That's 20 cows'" Jake Lambert

12. “What’s Postman Pat called on his holiday? Pat.” Aisling Bea

13. I remember the last thing my Nan said to me before she died. ‘What are you doing here with that hammer?’" Lee Mack

14. “I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize.” Stephen Wright

15. “My wedding was like a fairy tale. It wasn’t magical; it’s just that I’ve got an ugly sister.” Ellie Taylor.

Which joke was your favourite? Did you award any 4’s or 5’s? If so, pass it them on. Tell the joke to others and see if they find it as funny as you. If they don’t get it, try to explain it to them.

Did you score any of these jokes a 0, 1 or 2? In that case, you might need to get someone to explain the joke to you. Don’t worry if you still don’t find it funny, humour is pretty subjective after all.

All of these jokes are one-liners. Other jokes are longer. Find more jokes on-line or watch some clips of comedians and see if you can learn to understand more of them. You may need to do some research as if there’s a joke about a person you haven’t heard of you might have to look them up. This will improve your general knowledge and enable you to understand more jokes in the future.

Who are you favourite comedians? My favourite male comedian is Richard Pryor, a great story-teller and actor. My favourite female comedian is Catherine Tate. Here’s a clip from her show:

Who do you like? Try getting into some other comedians. When you’re older, go to a comedy night near you or visit the Edinburgh Fringe Festival one August where you can see some of the best comedians in the world all in one place.

TIP 2: Which Type of Funny Are You?

Here are nine different types of humour. I’ve tried to explain each one below. Go through them and decide on your Top 3 – the three types of humour you enjoy the most.

The 9 Types of Humour:

1. Physical – sometimes this is called slapstick. The Will Ferrell film Blades of Glory has a lot of physical comedy. Here’s a clip of a chase scene from the film:

2. Self-deprecating – this is when you try to make others laugh by telling jokes about yourself. Example: “"I've got an Eton-themed advent calendar, where all the doors are opened for me by my dad's contacts." Ivo Graham. I’m not very good at this!

3. Surreal – this is silly, bizarre humour. Anything by Monty Python would fall into this category or comedians like Eddie Izzard - a clip from him here (with a little help from Lego). Warning, there’s a bit of swearing in this one. Example Clip:

4. Improvisational – humour which is made up on the spot. Here’s a great example clip from US television programme, Whose Line Is It Anyway:

5. Wit-Wordplay – humour where you might twist words around or make puns. These are sometimes called Dad Jokes. Example: I’m reading a book about gravity at the moment. I just can’t put it down. Example Clip:

6. Topical– humour about current events and everyday life. One example on the current global situation is: “Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November, all the rest have thirty-one, Except March which has 8000.”Example Clip:

7. Observational – humour generated about things that people see happening around them.

Example: "Maybe Hitler wouldn't have been so grumpy if people hadn't left him hanging for high fives all the time." Rhys James. Example Clip:

8. Bodily - this is everything to do with farts or other bodily functions. Example clip:

9. Dark– humour that comes from a depressing theme such as death.Example:

“If I was invisible for the day I think I’d kick a mime artist to death.”Frankie Boyle

So, what were your Top 3?

Who seem to be really good at creating the type of humour you like?

Can you share more examples of what you find funny with others?

Remember humour is meant to be a force for good so avoid any so-called humour that has its foundations in hate. Avoid stuff that is that is racist, misogynistic or has been created to deliberately hurt someone.

TIP 3: Create Humour

As well as understanding and appreciating humour let’s turn now to how you might create it. When you’re successful at creating humour you not only help others but you help yourself too. They get the benefit of enjoying humour and you get the benefit of seeing this. Don’t be worried if it doesn’t work or ‘fall flat’. Even the greatest of comedians bomb from time to time but, as my old Nan used to say: “God loves a trier”. So, here’s a few ideas you could try out:

Running jokes – these are jokes that go on for years in some cases. Here’s an example and something you could try out. An old friend of mine, Clark Ogden, used to always do this. Whenever someone brought him a cup of tea he’d say, “No biscuits?” In fact, at every meal or occasion when he was brought something he’d ask for something that wasn’t there. Clark died some years ago but I carry this on in my own household. It’s a tribute to a funny friend but it makes people laugh too – some of the time, anyway. No matter how splendid the meal, always question why something is missing. Could you adapt this idea or create something that becomes a running joke?

Impersonations – try to mimic someone. You can try to copy their body language, their voice or both. Try it out and share your attempt. You might be better at this than you think.

Make up a joke, play a practical joke on someone, learn how to tell a funny story. There are a number of different ways you can create your own humour and everyone can become more humorous, it just takes some practise.

If there was ever a time for appreciating, creating or sharing humour it’s now. These are tough times and being more open to humour could be both good for you and good for those around you.


· Understand More Humour

· Which Type of Funny Are You?

· Create humour

A final thought from writer Mark Twain: ‘Humour is mankind’s greatest blessing.’

There are more tips about studying away from school and developing your brainhere:

This resource was created by Andy Griffith, director of Malit in the Community.


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