They say laughter is the best medicine. It's also a superb tool that can be used to keep your audience engaged and listening to your audio show longer. So yes – you should be taking advantage of it as much as you can. You may be scared to incorporate humor into your podcast because you believe you aren't funny enough. But here's a little secret for you...
...You don't have to be a comedy genius to make people laugh.
In fact, we believe everyone has their own unique style of humor that, when improved upon, can work wonders. Some people are born with natural comedic talent, but being funny is also a skill that you can work on. In the world of radio or podcasting, that skill is primarily communicated through sound, as well as through your energy levels. It may seem difficult, but it's actually easier than you think.
Looking for surefire ways to make your audience laugh? Below are 5 tips that will transform your radio show or podcast from average to amusing.
1. Talk Faster
Comedy, 99% of the time, tends to happen pretty quickly. If you watch a lot of stand-up, sitcoms, or any episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, you know comedians tend to talk fast when telling jokes. We're not exactly sure why talking faster when joking around is funnier: it just hits a lot harder than telling a joke at a turtle's pace.
We're not saying you have to zoom through sentences at lightning speed. In fact, talking too fast will come at the expense of clarity and diction, resulting in jumbled speech your listeners won't be able to understand. All you need is energy, snappiness, breath control, and solid pacing. Talking faster (but with good diction) takes practice to become perfect. But the more you use it on your audio show, the more potent your jokes will be.
2. Bring in Funny Guests
If you don't think you're funny on your own, bring in a guest who you know is funnier. Even if you're a successful comedian with Comedy Central specials up the wazoo and sold-out stand-up gigs at Radio City Music Hall, you should still bring funny guests onto your audio show. Why? Because with a guest or partner, you're able to bounce humorous energy off each other, therefore making your whole exchange funnier to your audience.
Why do you think acts like Key & Peele, Abbott and Costello, Garfunkel and Oates, and Penn & Teller have done so well? It's because with a comedy partner, you're able to work off each other and keep the spirits up on your show. For an audience, observing lighthearted conversations between two people is indeed a funny thing. Parties are more fun than being alone because there's more positive human interaction. There's more room to laugh! Bring in a funny partner or guest onto your show, and aim to make the vibe of your episodes just like a wild party. We promise you, it'll make your listeners want to be in the room with you.
3. Use Genuine Laughter
Laugh tracks work for sitcoms on television because audiences can see the comedy going on in their TV screens. It's true: laughter can beget more laughter. But on radio and podcasts, laugh tracks – as well as fake, half-baked laughter from you or guests – does not translate well at all. It's sad how many radio shows we've heard that utilize laugh tracks or ingenuine cackling to try and make things humorous. It's not funny at all. It just makes your jokes feel forced.
Don't force people to laugh with fake ha ha's! If you're going to incorporate laughter into your funny show, do so organically. For example: if something unexpectedly goofy happens in the studio while you're recording, feel free to genuinely laugh at the silliness. If your guest tells a hilarious joke, don't hold in your chuckles. Laugh like you would if the microphones weren't on! The only kind of laughter people actually respond to is authentic laughter. The funnier you can make your studio environment, the more your audience will genuinely laugh along with you.
4. Respect the "Laugh Zone"
There's a thing in comedy called the "laugh zone." A laugh zone is a period of seconds right after the punchline of a joke, where the audience is free to respond – typically, with laughter. In stand-up comedy, performers will use the time after a really good punchline to stare at the audience or pace the stage. Basically, they stay quiet for a bit and let the audience naturally respond and process the joke that was just told. By staying quiet, they can even make the laughter last longer.
You can create a laugh zone in your radio show or podcast as well. You also have a couple of options of how you can do so. The easiest thing is to just stay silent for a beat after a knockout punchline. If you have a guest with you while recording and they laugh at your joke, you can use the length of their laughter as a guideline for when to start talking again.
Additionally, you can place the punchline of your best joke as the last thing you say in your link. Instead of going from a funny bit to a straightfoward bit, you can leave your audience wanting more by switching to another segment. Tell your punchline, let it make an IMPACT. And then...cut to ads. Or cut to music. Or cut to branding. Either one of two things will happen. One: the joke will linger with your listeners and they'll think about it for longer as something else plays. Or two: the randomness of switching to something else so quickly will make them laugh even more!
5. Develop Your Comedy Skills Outside of Your Show
People don't laugh politely. It's important to know laughter is something that is earned, not given out by humans freely. If you want to go the extra mile and are looking to define your show as one of the funniest things to listen to, we recommend sharpening your comedy skills outside of the world of audio.
This may mean you'll want to invest in improv classes or practice stand-up at open mic nights. You can try comedy writing or research specific comedy rules (such as "punching up" instead of "punching down"). And the comedy skills you can improve upon aren't just limited to speaking: you can also hone your humorous sensibilities when it comes to editing. Whether that be through embellishing your raw audio with silly sound effects or using jump cuts and other transitions effectively, it's up to you. The post-production process can add just as much humor to your show as the actual recording of your episodes. With all of these suggestions, you've just got to put in the work.
Those are our five tips. Now get out there and make your fans giggle! We hope you learned something new along the way. We hope your audience showers you in laughter, and happy broadcasting and podcasting!
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