How to get funnier, and why you shouldn't
OR: Magic tricks and Crohn's Disease
One of the hardest parts of teaching improv comedy classes is that people come in saying, “I want to be funnier!”, and you have to tell them, “You've come to the wrong place.”
Unfortunately, students' tuition is non-refundable by the time they arrive at the first class, and they usually don't believe me anyway. Even as I explain that one of the most important rules of improv is “don't tell jokes”, they often think I'm joking, because that's exactly the sort of thing an improv teacher would do. Or they assume I'm doing some kind of Zen trick where I somehow cause them to learn by telling them things that are obviously false. After all, when they go to see improv shows, everybody's saying funny things and the audience loves it. So this whole “don't tell jokes” stuff has gotta be nonsense.
I've been trying to figure out how to explain this for a long time, and not just to make things easier on my disappointed improv students. There's a big misunderstanding here that I'd like to clear up, because I think it would make everyone's lives like 0.5% better. And now I think I've finally got it.
It goes like this: There are two kinds of funny, and you want to be the wrong one.