I’ve heard people ask this question before only to be met with something along the lines of “No, you can’t learn to be funny. Anyone who tells you that you can learn to be funny can’t be trusted, is lying to you, blah blah blah.” The people asking the question are new to comedy and the ones saying humor can’t be taught claim to have been doing stand-up for at least a decent amount of time. Now, I know you’re probably asking why I think I know better than comics who are more seasoned than I am. I don’t think I do, I just think I phrase things a little differently.
Two things lead me to believe comedy can be taught:
- Louis Ck bombed his first time on stage.
- There are tons of books on comedy writing.
Louis CK Bombing
Obviously Louis CK is doing great things with comedy these days, but did you know he sucked when he first started? Everyone does. But, through hard work, he managed to get quite good at what he does. If comedy and being funny is something that cannot be learned, then if you go out on stage and bomb once, you might as well give up because you’ll never learn to get better.
It’s hard for me to believe that there’d be all these books out there on comedy writing if humor is something that can’t be taught. Books teach why people laugh and different types of formats for jokes, something that can be quite helpful to someone getting into comedy.
So, are people who say comedy can’t be taught full of it?
Well, no. But neither am I, I swear! Here’s the thing. When someone tells you comedy isn’t something that can be learned, it’s discouraging. The idea they’re portraying is right, but the wording they use can be misleading. The good news is you can learn to be funny. However, and this is a big however, no one can do it for you. This means that learning is hard work. You can learn from others and from books, but there’s a lot of trial and error that needs to happen as well.