What to do if you’re not funny

Dear Daughter,

Oftentimes I wonder whether or not you’ve inherited the gene to be funny. I think you’re pretty hilarious myself, but every parent thinks every slightly funny thing their kid says is pure comedic genius, so I’m the first to admit my biased opinion might not be valid. And in a way, all kids really are funny, probably because they have no filter and can say whatever comes to their mind without fear of reproach. Sometimes I’m jealous of children for that fact alone.

But I wonder if you’ll grow up to be funny. Because I’ve learned that when it comes to making people laugh, you’ve either got it or you don’t. And I don’t.

Not that I’m totally comedically worthless but compared to others, humor just doesn’t come very easily to me. I grew up in a family full of funny people. I spent most of my childhood laughing at my dad’s, brother’s and sister’s jokes. In fact, the only time they thought I was funny was when I laughed! I guess when I laugh really hard it sounds like a car revving its engine?

(Random side note: laugh is one of those words that becomes strange the more that you look at it. Like it should really be pronounced law, or should be spelled laff.)

I’ve always kind of resented that I wasn’t born with the gift to make people laff (never mind, I like laugh better), but after awhile I learned to embrace it. Because if you think about it, I play a more important role: if I didn’t laugh at people’s jokes, then they wouldn’t be considered funny. Every funny person needs someone to think they’re funny; otherwise they’re not funny. You following me? It’s a two-way street. So we non-funny people hold a lot of power. And that’s why I’ve always had friends. Funny people love to surround themselves with friends who will validate their humor.

Whether or not you’re going to fall in the funny or not-funny camp, I encourage you to always have a good sense of humor. Such a skill is not inherited but is a choice. It means not taking it so seriously when someone teases you for something silly. It means teasing yourself right along with them. (Self-deprecation goes a long way.) It means finding humor in the simplest of things—doing so makes life more fun. I’m sure there’s a study somewhere that says people with a good sense of humor live longer than those who don’t. Because laughter truly is the best medicine. So be sure to get a dose of it every day.



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