Being Funny in Your Videos

When I think about some of my favorite YouTubers and why I like them, the quality that stands out the most is their sense of humor. Think about it: who doesn’t want to be around someone who makes them laugh?

Laughter truly is medicine. It’s healing and therapeutic. Look, even science says so (and you can’t argue with science)!
Some of the top rated YouTubers got to where they are because they’re funny; they make people feel good. We want to feel good when we’re consuming content (hence the tremendous success of YouTube channels like The Ellen Show and James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke series).
For example, take PewDiePie. This YouTuber, despite some recent controversy, has grown a following of more than 58 million subscribers. He’s amassed a massive following due to his quick-witted and sarcastic demeanor.

We consume the content we enjoy, and we produce the content we like to consume...

PewDiePie may not be your cup of tea, however. And this is something really important to keep in mind. We all have different senses of humor; you may die laughing at something that your mama(see what I did there) doesn’t even crack a smile at. To break it down even simpler: we consume the content we enjoy, and we produce the content we like to consume.
1. Slapstick: Think Joey Gladstone from Full House. He was a slapstick comedian with his “cut it out” type of jokes. Slapstick humor is funny because it’s physical and downright silly. It tends to involve pranks and sound effects (like The Three Stooges). Slapstick isn’t just about those outdated Whoopie Cushion jokes, though. A lot of modern prank shows and YouTube channels use slapstick humor to entertain their audience.
2. Sarcasm: If you’re a fan of The Daily Show, you like sarcastic humor. It’s biting, sharp, and can come off as mean or distasteful if you don’t accompany it with the right tone. When it comes to you using sarcastic humor, it can be a huge hit if you execute it the right way. Otherwise, you may end up being a little abrasive.
3. Self-Deprecating Humor: Check out Grace Helbig for a lesson on self-deprecating humor. So much of her hilarity comes from making fun of herself. It’s really charming if you can mix it with another type of humor. Use it in small doses! Too much self-deprecation might have people sending you to therapy rather than subscribing to your channel.
4. Deadpan Humor: Also known as dry humor, deadpan is all about delivery! Hannibal Buress has created a name for himself by delivering jokes without cracking a smile. It adds an extra layer of hilarity because the lack of emotion offers a high-contrast with the ridiculousness of the comment or situation. It’s the type of humor that requires a visual representation in order to separate it from sarcasm, which makes it perfect for video!
5. Highbrow Humor: You’re smart and you’ve got a sense of humor to accompany your wit. A great example of highbrow humor on YouTube is Bo Burnham. He is a musical comedian who capitalizes on his intellect to deliver a unique form of comedy that leaves people ROFL’ing. Check out his video New Math for a great example of this type of highbrow humor.
As you can tell from the examples above, you don’t have to be a professional comedian to be funny on camera; you simply need to embrace your own comedic voice. That may be easier said than done for some people. It takes time, commitment, and finesse to develop a unique sense of humor. Here are some tips for translating your sense of humor to The Tube.
1. Research. By research, I’m not talking about burying your face in a bunch of library books. Watch more content. Take notes (in your brain or on real paper) on why you like or don’t like certain creators’ senses of humor. As I said before, we consume the content we enjoy, and we produce the content we like to consume. You’ll start getting ideas on what content you enjoy watching and from there you’ll get clearer on the kind of humor you want to embrace in your on-camera persona.

2. Study. Take an improv class. Take a stand-up comedy class. If you are a regular visitor to this blog, you know how passionate I am about improv comedy. When you really dive in to studying humor and practice honing your own comedic voice, it will quickly develop into something uniquely polished and influential.

3. Open Up. Great comedy comes from telling the truth and translating the world around you to others through your unique lens. That means stepping outside of your comfort zone and opening up your world! Sorry, but reaching new levels of Candy Crush will not make you funnier. Talking to a stranger on the street, observing a couple on a date, signing up for a pottery class-- all of these things enrich your human experience and give you new material to bring to light through your creative lens. Expand your worldview and you’ll expand your comedic material.

Great comedy comes from telling the truth...

4. Practice. Everybody practices! Stand-up comedians are constantly testing and tweaking and honing their routine. Improv comedians hire coaches and commit to weekly practices before hopping on stage to put on a show. Your comedic voice is no different. It’s important to try out your humor and delivery on your audience. Creation is all about trial and error. Fall on your face a couple of times (not literally of course, unless you’re going for some IRL slapstick humor) and get back up. The bruises will be worth it in the end!
For more tips on building your on-camera confidence with humor, check out our blog post on Finding Your Video Voice. Who are your favorite YouTube comedians? Leave a comment!