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What’s So Funny?


According to Word Press statistics, with all the reposting on Facebook, my “Top 10 Ways You Know You are a Magician’s Wife” received over 1,000 views. I wrote that list for my own entertainment, and a few magicians I thought might appreciate it, but I never expected such a response.

My posts cover a variety of topics relevant to everyday life. They offer a point of interest – a helpful hint, something to ponder – but I am finding light and humorous topics draw the most readers.

That’s not such a good thing for me because I am not funny. I’m a terrible joke-teller. I laugh at the thought of the joke but forget how it goes, my delivery stinks, and I tell the punch line way too early.

Maybe I’m not humorous because I don’t find the humor in a lot of things. I’m not fond of 3 Stooges type of slapstick, not a fan of late-night comedians who ridicule failing celebrities, and don’t like vulgar or profane jokes. Mostly, I don’t enjoy seeing anyone embarrassed or hurt, and humor is usually at someone’s expense.

I have friends who are very funny and pretty clean. They pick up on all the silly things we do. Their jokes may be suggestive but not out-right dirty.

I wish I could do that. I’d like to be funny.

It looks so easy, but I’m learning that although comedians have a naturally playful personality, they work at the art of humor. They study other comedians, search for humorous topics or ones they can make so, and they practice. If their timing is impeccable it is because they spend countless hours rehearsing.

Like writing, comedians know their audience. When jokes are written for a particular age group, ethnicity, club, or profession it is personal for those in that group. A good comedian understands what their audience would identify with without taking the joke too far.

The power to evoke laughter is usually due to a surprise twist in a story. It offers an image that is silly or outright ridiculous. Like magic, it plays a trick on the mind. It also can look at what is usual in a given population but not in the general public, like my top 10 list. Each one of the entries on that list is common in the magic community but pretty odd in the general population. My husband really has stabbed swords all around me while I was locked in a box, and crazy as it sounds, I liked it.

It’s also the stuff of everyday life said with a twist. If I told you that the secretary was bored because she filed, filed, filed – her nails all day – that would make you smile. But there is nothing funny in simply saying that the secretary filed her nails all day.

Humor also happens when we’re not supposed to laugh. When I was kid my sister and I couldn’t look at each other in church without giggling. We wouldn’t even do anything. My parents, siblings, and I would file into the pew, and as soon as Patti and I hit the kneelers, we’d burst out laughing. But I do think God was OK with that because most of our prayers were that we wouldn’t laugh, yet we still did.

The desire to laugh must be innate. It’s amazing at such a young age how babies can differentiate between what’s normal behavior and what is not. My grandsons have smiled and cooed at my husband’s silliness since they were only a couple of months old. And at six months-old, when Tyler surprised us in a superman costume, he knew he was funny.

What’s more, studies show that laughter is good medicine. We heal faster and remain healthier longer with a little humor in our life.

So, let’s share a good, clean joke. If you tell me yours, I’ll tell you mine.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

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