Juan is my taxi driver. He has been my taxi driver for four years. Andalusian blood runs through his veins. Once Juan let me crash his place when they cancelled my flight to Berlin. Once Juan and his family joined our 24-hour summer party. Juan has become a great friend. But – above all – Juan is funny.
Humor is one of the biggest challenges for public speakers. Or is it not?
In all those years of pampering my passion for public speaking I learned one global truth: humor is pattern. In Wikipedia we read that, A pattern, apart from the term’s use to mean “template”, is a discernible regularity in the world or in a manmade design. As such, the elements of a pattern repeat in a predictable manner. A geometric pattern is a kind of pattern formed of geometric shapes and typically repeated like a wallpaper.
Humor also follows patterns. This is good news and bad news. Good news is, your last name doesn’t have to be Seinfeld. Anyone can make an audience laugh. Bad news is: When your audience never laughs, it’s always your fault.
Juan, my taxi driver and friend, is a master at hyperbole. Hyperbole is the use of exaggeration as a rhetorical device or figure of speech. Spending hours and hours with him, I have decoded Juan’s recipe for humor:
Laughter = Simile + Absurdity
In his everyday communication Juan often applies a combination of simile and absurdity. This combination, to date, has never failed.
Here is my personal Top 10 of Juan’s hyperbole-driven humorous phrases:
You have less detail than a dashboard of a SEAT Panda.
He’s more stressed than a diver in the desert.
They are slower than a parade of snails.
That guy is more boring than listening to a chess game on radio.
That girl is more lost than a fart in a Jacuzzi.
You have less future than a deaf spy.
You are slower than the last $ of a gasoline pump.
He’s more useless than an ashtray on a motorbike.
You are skinnier than the feet of a canary.
He’s worth less than the ‘P’ in psychology.
With these and similar phrases, Juan always makes me laugh. Is it just me? No. Because humor is pattern.
So here is an exercise for you: Next time you are bored and about to pick up the smart phone to bridge your boredom, take a sheet of paper instead. Look for Juan phrases. Learn them by heart. Use them. You’ll be astonished to see how easy humor can be. Humor is pattern. This is why humor is no longer one of the biggest challenges in public speaking.
Are you ready to do it like Juan?