Do You Talk Funny: Summary and Review

Do You Talk Funny

Do You Talk Funny: 7 Comedy Habits to Become a Better (and Funnier) Public Speaker by David Nihill

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Do You Talk Funny


A summary of standup comedy techniques.

Find the funny

It took our speaker about 1:30 to get to the funny when it could have taken approximately 40 seconds or less.

Exercise: Link Stories to Topics and Identify the Funny

Imagine your best friend, partner, or coworker completing this sentence:

(Your Name here) is always talking about…

Now work to find the key point to each story. Where is the funny anecdote, interesting bit of knowledge, or the entertaining part? Work to cut out unnecessary words and re-tell the best stories following the Joke Structure (i.e. Setup, Punch line, and Taglines if you have any). Don’t worry if you can’t come up with anything immediately. Often this process can take a few days or even weeks.

Exercise: Funny Story File

  • Bullet point list of stories


  • Travel
  • School
  • College
  • Parties
  • Work
  • Interaction with family
  • Embarrassing situations
    • Looking at old photos or calendar will help jog memories
  1. General Topic
  2. Your Stories
  3. Find the Funny
  4. Joke Structure
  5. Details
  6. Permanent Beta


Add local references to your jokes

“But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?” The University of Texas was undefeated and Rice University was winless at that point in the year. The line got a huge laugh.

Always write in the present tense

You never want to write, “I was walking and I saw.” It should be “I’m walking and I see.” Even if the event happened many, many years ago, you want the audience to be living that moment with you as if it’s happening right now.

7 comedy habits

  1. Start with a story
  2. Find the funny
  3. Write funny
  4. Rehearsed Spontaneity
  5. Delivery: Start Strong, Finish Stronger
  6. Control the Audience
  7. Close the book, but not fully, permanent beta
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