How to Make Someone Laugh: A Comprehensive Guide

Laughter is the best medicine. It’s an undeniable truth that’s been scientifically proven to help alleviate stress, improve cognitive function, and even boost the immune system. But have you ever wondered about the art and science behind making someone laugh? In this in-depth article featuring interviews with comedians and psychologists, we unravel the secrets of how to make someone laugh.

The History and Evolution of Humor

Humor has been an integral part of human culture since the dawn of civilization. It’s widely believed that humor emerged as an evolutionary necessity for social bonding, stress relief, and as a means to bond with others through shared experiences.

In its earliest forms, humor primarily took the shape of visual and physical comedy, like body language and slapstick routines. As humans began to develop complex languages, verbal humor emerged, leading to the creation of jokes and storytelling.

A Snapshot of Humor Through the Ages

  • Ancient Egypt (c. 2600 BCE): One of the oldest recorded jokes dates back to this era, where a playful riddle was asked in a script on a wall of a temple: “How do you entertain a bored pharaoh? You sail a boatload of young women dressed only in fishing nets down the Nile and urge the pharaoh to go catch a fish.”
  • Ancient Greece (c. 4th Century BCE): The Greek playwright Aristophanes was a master of satire and political comedy. His plays showcased the absurdity of human behavior, quickly making him a revered figure in the realm of comedy.
  • Middle Ages (5th-15th Century AD): Humor shifted towards the crude, slapstick-style performances of jesters. These cunning performers used a mixture of song, dance, and storytelling to entertain royalty and commoners alike.
  • Enlightenment and Romantic Era (17th-19th Century AD): As societies evolved and took a greater interest in intellectual pursuits and satire, wit became the primary ingredient for humor. Authors like Voltaire, Jane Austen, and Mark Twain used humor as a means to critique societal norms and reflect on the human condition.

The Science of Laughter

According to psychologists, laughter is a response to stimuli that helps us process and resolve incongruence in mental information. In other words, when something doesn’t fit with our mental expectations, our minds use laughter as a response to the surprise and relief of realizing a perceived threat isn’t valid.

Cognitive-behavioral therapist Dr. Sarah Davies elaborates: “Laughter is an essential part of the human experience, encompassing the release of tension, social bonding, and even improving overall health. It’s such a powerful tool that comedians dedicate their lives to mastering the art of making others laugh.”

How to Make Someone Laugh: Types of Humor

In order to make someone laugh, you’ll need to understand the diverse forms of humor that cater to different tastes and preferences. Cognitive psychologist and humor expert Dr. Peter McGraw points out that there are several primary categories of humor:

  1. Physical Humor: This is a non-verbal form of comedy that relies on body language, slapstick routines, and exaggerated facial expressions.
  2. Verbal Humor: This is the traditional form of humor that uses puns, wordplay, and ironic comments to elicit laughter.
  3. Situational Humor: These are jokes that arise from a particular context or situation, like a job interview gone wrong or an awkward date.
  4. Intellectual Humor: Refers to jokes that require abstract thought and knowledge of obscure topics.
  5. Observational Humor: This type of humor involves drawing light-hearted attention to everyday occurrences, like office pranks or strange habits.

How to Make Someone Laugh: Tips From the Pros

We spoke with a few stand-up comedians for their take on how to make someone laugh:

  • Relax and be yourself. You’ll know when you’re on the right track because your audience will start to mirror your emotions.” -Patrick Stewart, comedian
  • Be bold and take risks. Don’t worry about offending people; if it’s funny enough, they’ll get over it.” -Dane Cook, comedian
  • Focus on the relationship between you and your audience. Even if your joke bombs, establish a connection with them and you’ll have their attention.” -Bill Burr, comedian


So there you have it: the art and science of making someone laugh. Whether you’re looking to crack a few jokes at dinner parties or become an aspiring stand-up comic, understanding the nuances of humor can help make your conversations more enjoyable and memorable. Now you have the skills to deliver a few good laughs!

With that said, keep in mind that not everyone is going to appreciate or understand your jokes. It’s important to be mindful of others’ feelings when cracking jokes and ensure that no one is made uncomfortable by the experience. With a little bit of practice, you’ll be mastering the art of making someone laugh in no time!

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