Nothing makes a speechwriter’s stomach flip faster than hearing their client utter these horrifying words: “I want to be funny.” It’s not that being funny isn’t awesome. It’s just that there is an equation that includes “Funny” and it’s this:
(Funny + Script) / You = Awkward
Yep. Not always, but generally, speeches that are scripted to be funny end up being just seat-fidgeting awkward. The good news, if you want to call it that, is that like other equations, it’s possible to jimmy this one to make Funny stand alone. If you do that you get:
Funny = (Awkward * You) – Script
So there. Just tell that to your client.
What’s kind of crazy is that there is real truth to this equation. What people like and what people laugh at is you being you. You telling jokes that you think are actually funny. You responding authentically to what is happening around you. You going off the script in order to engage your audience and let them know you’re there with them and not in some polished teleprompter Neverland. What’s funny, dear speaker, is you being funny (looking! Ha!)