What To Do When Your Humor Backfires aka No One Else Is Laughing!


~ The most wasted of all days is one without laughter. ~ e.e.cummings

Laughter truly is good medicine. And if you are anything like me and love to laugh, you understand how a good belly laugh or that laugh-until-you-cry is addictive. Sometimes once those endorphins kick in, you just can’t seem to stop laughing. Let’s face it, laughing makes us FEEL good!Laughter can help you to de-stress. Plus, it can oftentimes diffuse a tense situation. For example, people who work in day-to-day stressful situations, such as police officers, paramedics, ER doctors, military front liners and others use humor to “lighten” up their often intense, purposeful and life-saving work. They are very focused, but humor helps them to cope with their very stressful jobs.

But what you find humorous, others may not. Or what someone else is tickled pink about, you may find stupid, irrelevant or even disgusting. Some of the very best comedians understand that even their best jokes may not always crack a smile with every audience member.

But, oops, what do you do when you say something you think is funny but instead others give you the wide-eyed stare? Or what if you witness something that makes you laugh out loud, yet the people around you simply don’t find it at all funny? I’ve done both. And, unfortunately, as good as that laughter was for me, I had to do some back steps of my own.

So if you are amused and your smile becomes a loud snicker or full-fledged laugh, but you sense your words or laughter might have made someone feel uncomfortable, these are a few great ways to still revel in your endorphin kick yet make good on your “humor backfire”:

  1. Smile and apologize. Yes, if you offended someone, even by accident, demonstrate your empathy and integrity and tell them you are sorry. Be real about it.
  2. Bring them into your bubble of laughter. Most often, laughter is contagious. Sometimes you will get people to join in your side splitting frolic by reiterating the funny story or just sharing why you found it funny. I have witnessed a man at the airport do this. While waiting to board his flight, he accidentally spilled his coffee. In bending down to clean up the mess, he knocked over another coffee cup of the woman sitting next to him. Instead of getting angry and frustrated, both people started laughing. Before you knew it, nearly every person in the gate waiting area was laughing as the man explained what he did. What a wonderful way to turn what could have been a bad experience into something so delightful! The Comedy of the Coffee Cup!
  3. Laugh at yourself! When a comedian doesn’t get a laugh from his joke, what does he often do? He will crack another joke about the joke that backfired. And she may even poke a little fun at herself for delivering such a “bad joke”. It’s simply great to be able to laugh at yourself. You are human. You are not perfect. Don’t take yourself so seriously!
  4. Don’t take it to heart. Not everyone may be up for your humor or be able to chime into what you find so funny at the moment. Everyone has a different sense of humor–similar to differences in personality. So if he doesn’t laugh at your jokes or she doesn’t even crack the slightest smile at the hilarious situation you just witnessed, it’s okay. If it made you feel good (without harm) revel in the snicker.
  5. Keep your sense of humor. Much like your soul, you humor is unique. It is there to guide you, nourish you and heal you. Relish it !

And to leave you with a smile on your face, here are a few links to some of my favorite comedies. No matter how many times I watch these movies, they still make me laugh and feel good. Now that’s the real magic of laughter!

Melisa McCarthy in the move Spy

The Wayan brothers in White Chicks

Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation
Sometimes nothing can nourish you better than a sense of humor. (A sweet Tweetable!) Revel in it!

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