The perils of being funny

Are there some things that are never considered funny?  Some people will laugh at anything so I think that probably nothing is off-limits for the right crowd.

A comedian usually performs for an audience that knows what to expect when they buy tickets for a show.  I recently enjoyed a night out at a comedy club with a group of friends.  The opening comedians and the headliner’s jokes contained many references to sex and/or drugs.  I’m not easily shocked but as I looked around the room (and at a couple of friends at my table,) I saw the embarrassed faces of those who were obviously not prepared for comedy of a blue nature.  Perhaps they had never been to a comedy club but perhaps they’ll do some research on the comedian and his act before buying another ticket for a comedy show.

For those of us who are not comedians, (don’t we all think we’re incredibly funny?)  I think we can be more selective in our humor and sensitive with people we don’t know well.  I had a recent encounter with the receptionist at a professional office who, when I mentioned that I was looking for a job, laughed and said, “You just need to find a rich husband.”  I didn’t say anything and I didn’t smile.  It is likely that my agent later explained to her that her comment might be bothersome to a recently widowed woman.  I won’t judge her for the comment.  She didn’t know me well enough to think that what she was saying might be taken badly.  Perhaps another person whose situation was similar to mine might have found humor in her flippant remark?

But do we ever think about what we’re saying when we’re trying to be funny?  The inappropriateness just spills out at the wrong time (of course, there is never a good time for inappropriate behavior.)  I’ve done it and I can usually tell right away that something I said didn’t go over well.  I try to save my unique sense of humor for those who know me well enough and won’t get too angry with me when I use it.

It is important to know that your intent will be understood when you send that joke, funny or sarcastic text message, facebook posting, etc.  Some people will never know you were “only joking” unless you spell it out for them.

A good rule to follow is to… know your audience!

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