How to Be Funny When Nervous

Poke fun at yourself when you are feeling nervous.
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Using humor when you are nervous can be tricky. Your palms are sweaty and your heart is beating fast, but you don't want anyone in the room to know that. Instead, you want your friends to laugh heartily at your jokes as you pull them off with finesse. Try showing a bit of vulnerability with your bravado, and your audience will be that much more sympathetic.

1 Poke Fun at Yourself

The easiest way to be funny when you are feeling nervous is to poke fun at yourself, advises communications consultant and author of the book, "Small Talk, Big Results," Diane Windingland, on her blog. Self-deprecating humor shows that you don't take yourself too seriously and aren't too worried about the fact you are nervous. For example, if you were telling a story to a group of friends and lost track of what you were saying, use the joke, "Sorry guys! I just let my mind wander, and it didn’t come back."

2 Relieve Nervous Tension

Physical activity can help to relieve nervous tension -- so consider doing something active that is also funny. Do cartwheels through the campus quad or run backwards during track practice. Do the moonwalk or the "Thriller" dance at your cousin's wedding reception. Moving your body will help to relieve any built-up anxiety, and you will probably get a few laughs at the same time. Just be sure that your behavior is within reason for the situation.

3 Visualize Laughter

Imagine your friends and family laughing at your jokes and being interested in your stories. As you move your attention toward your audience, your nervousness should start to dissipate. If a joke that you tell bombs or a story doesn't get the reaction you were hoping for, come back with a silly remark such as "Tough crowd!" Try not to take things too seriously or dwell on mistakes that you make. Keeping the mood light and fun will make the situation more humorous for everyone.

4 Emulate Comedians

If you want to be good at something, watch and learn from the experts, advises the Teen's Health article, "5 Ways to Beat Pre-Performance Nerves." Pay attention to sitcoms, listen to comedians and find ways to bring their use of humor into your own repertoire. Practicing funny stories and jokes many times before you tell them in public is a good way to reduce nervousness. Be prepared with a few one-liners and funny anecdotes that you know by heart, and you will be able to manage any awkward situation with ease.

Arlin Cuncic has been writing about mental health since 2007, specializing in social anxiety disorder and depression topics. She served as the managing editor of the "Journal of Attention Disorders" and has worked in a variety of research settings. Cuncic holds an M.A. in clinical psychology.