How to Tell Good Jokes

Having a sense of humor is a very admirable trait. People enjoy having friends who make them laugh, and the opposite sex is attracted to a good sense of humor. Like anything, some people are born naturally gifted at telling good jokes, while others struggle to find the right punchline. If you find comedy difficult, practicing and understanding what makes a good joke will vastly improve your sense of humor and allow you to be the star of a dinner or party.

Find your style. You may never be a successful stand-up comedian, but if you want to truly be funny, then it's important to identify your style. Watch all the great comedians. They all have their own unique style and brand of comedy--slapstick, situational, political, cynical, raunchy, etc. Discover whatever works best for you and stick to it. Find people and comedians you laugh at more than others and contemplate in your head what makes them funny (see Resources below).

Find the content. Do you enjoy stressing details in a long story or do you prefer quick one-liners? Do you enjoy making fun of yourself or events you have witnessed? Do you like talking about passions or pet peeves? Do you like sharing stories about friends or the opposite sex? Love situations and other personal situations are easy for people to relate to and are perfect for comedy. Choose content that makes you laugh.

Find your audience. What type of audience do you enjoy presenting your jokes to? There's a gigantic difference between the content of jokes designed for little kids and the content designed for adults. Comedy is drama in disguise. If you know how to tell good stories, chances are you know how to tell good jokes. Jokes require the same rollercoaster ride of a plot that stories do. A key point in good story- and joke-telling is understanding your audience.

Deliver the joke. There are many different ways to tell the same joke. The punchline, obviously, first and foremost has to be great. But how do you get from point "A" to point "B"? Do you deliver the joke loud and controversial or soft and unsure? The delivery of your joke, mixed with posture, hand movements and body language can make a joke work told one way and not work told another way. According to David Trottier, author of such books as "The Screenwriting Bible," advises to use comedy "by taking an unusual point of view through use of exaggeration, deception, overstatement, understatement, contrast, parody, a ridiculous point of view or obsessions."

Stick with what works. Just as a basketball player needs a go-to move in the clutch, so does a comedian. Make note of the jokes that really make people laugh and save them for opportune moments. Whether you save it for last or open up your act with your best joke is up to you. But make sure you use your best. And last but not least, never be afraid to change up your material every once in awhile.


  • Not every joke you write will make people laugh--that's OK, it happens to the best comedians all the time.

About the Author

Aaron Reynolds is a freelance writer out of Colorado. Reynolds has a degree in communication media and various work published in newspaper, magazine, and online print media. Reynolds has worked for SchoolSports Magazine, The Old Berthoud Recorder,, and