I’ve heard many times the greatest jokes reveal some truth. I agree, yet there’s more to it if you want to convey a message. For decades, I’ve been using jokes and funny stories to make a point in life, classrooms, and business.
Here’s how you can do the same.
Collect Jokes and Joke Books
I’ve got a huge collection of joke books. Many of them are out of print and must be found in used book stores in the humor section. Classic ones like Milton Berle’s Joke File to Judy Brown’s series of books quoting famous comedian.
I set a joke book in my restroom and when I take a moment, I read a few jokes in passing. Just using this method, I’ve read dozens of joke books. The idea is to have joke books around to read at any spare time. You’ll need to read hundreds of jokes to find the ones which make some teachable point.
Google Jokes and Funny Stories
Spend a bit a time every day searching the web for jokes that make a point. The internet is an endless resource for finding whatever you need, including jokes.
Whenever possible attribute the joke to the author. It’s not always possible as jokes are passed around on the internet and too often the writers get lost in the shuffle. Double check by typing key words from the joke to discover if you can find the source.
Use Funny Personal Experiences
For my money, this is by far the best way to get funny stories and jokes. You’ll need to learn how to shorten them and find all the laughs, yet, these will be your best stories and the easiest to remember because they really happened to you
Build a Repertoire
Collect funny stories and jokes that address a point you must repeatedly make. Soon this process will become easy and fun. Whenever you come across a humorous story or joke, write it down along with the lesson it conveys. You will not remember it later.
For instance, I use the following funny story, I first heard from Rich Hall, that shows how making distinctions are important.
“A motorcycle driver comes up to a stop sign, slows down, but then glides through without stopping. A cop pulls him over and begins writing a ticket. The motorcycle rider says, ’Do you have to give me a ticket? After all I did really slow down.’ The cop says, ‘But you didn’t stop.’ The rider, “But I slowed down.’ Cop, ‘But you didn’t stop.’ The rider gets frustrated and yells, ‘There’s no big difference between stopping and slowing down.’ The cop takes out his nightstick and begins hitting the rider with it, then says, ‘Now do you want me to stop or slow down?’”
I’ve gotten laughs and made my point that it’s important to make distinction. Another example is to help people change their perspective, I use this Zen story:
“A Zen monk was on one side of a rushing river and wanted to cross it. He saw a second Zen monk on the other side of the river and yelled, ‘How do I get on the other side of the river?’ The second monk yelled back, ‘You’re already on the other side of the river.’”
A student of mine was griping about having only won second place in a prestigious comedy contest. So I said this joke by Steven Wright:
“The early bird may get the worm, but it’s the second mouse who gets the cheese.”
If I want to make a point about problem solving, I pull out this Emo Phillips’ joke:
“I asked God for a bike, but God doesn’t work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.”
When you’re performing or speaking, carry a list of these in your briefcase or pocket. Soon, you’ll be able to make almost any point and get a laugh.
Do you have any jokes or humorous stories that make a point?