Master the Art of Dry Humor | The Johnny Depp Video Breakdown

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How to Develop Dry Humor

Three Parts:

Dry humor is all about subtlety. It’s so subtle, in fact, that many people believe it’s not something that can be learned. But like anything else, sharpening your wit is mostly a matter of practice. The more you jokes you make, the more you’ll get a feel for how to gauge your listeners’ reactions and find out what makes them laugh. With time, you’ll learn to recognize golden opportunities to insert a bit of well-placed deadpan humor.


Familiarizing Yourself with the Style

  1. Identify the characteristics of dry humor.Dissect the finer points of the style, from setup to punchline and even down to small cues like body language and tone of voice. The art of dry humor is known, for instance, for its deadpan delivery, rapid retorts and absence of exaggerated body language.Think of humor as a tool—before you can use it, you have to know how it works.
    • When something that makes you laugh, make a note of what you found amusing or memorable.
    • Dry humor is sometimes trickier to pin down than other types of humor because it’s so understated, but it can be found in just about every major comedy production.
  2. Study successful comedians.Make comedic movies, sitcoms and stand-up routines part of your regular viewing diet. Assign yourself humor homework by making a point of watching a new film or comedian every day. Some of the world’s funniest entertainers are masters of piercing wit, and they’ve put their techniques on display for you to learn from.
    • Don’t limit yourself to newer examples—dry humor can be found everywhere in classic comedy.
    • Pay particular attention to the “straight man” character in whatever you’re watching—this is the one that uses subtle cues to get a reaction rather than silly hijinks.
    • Some famously dry comedians include Bob Newhart, David Letterman, Mitch Hedberg, Billy Murray and Jerry Seinfeld.
  3. Pay attention to your surroundings.Be on the lookout for funny, interesting or unusual scenarios wherever you go. Reflect on the ways people interact and zero in on what’s uniquely absurd about their actions. Remember: no subject is too mundane to provide material.
    • One of the greatest strengths of people with a dry sense of humor is their ability to see any situation as an opportunity to make a side-splitting quip.
  4. Practice.Put the principles you’ve been studying into action, even if there’s no one else around. Make cracks to yourself while you’re in the shower or watching a bad movie. Imagine how you would reply to someone who’s dull or rude to you. In time, jokes will start coming to you naturally.
    • Do a little verbal sparring with someone you know who has a quick wit.
    • Once you get into the groove, you can begin casually working humorous stories and remarks into everyday conversation.

Delivering a Joke

  1. Keep your delivery subdued.Instead of turning a story or joke into a theatrical display, downplay your physical expressions and let your observations speak for themselves. It’s not necessary to yell, wave your arms around or do silly voices. Dry humor is inherently subtle, so the less attention you draw to yourself, the easier it will be for your audience to pick up on your meaning.
    • As much as possible, resist the urge to laugh at your own jokes. A straight face will make you seem more in command and give your words added weight.
  2. Perfect your grasp of sarcasm.Never miss an occasion to point out the ironic connections between things and events. A good rule of thumb is to state the opposite of how you really feel to make the contrast more pronounced. Since it doesn’t have the benefit of wild gestures, goofy expressions and other antics, dry humor depends on irony to make an impact.
    • Sarcasm is all about saying one thing and meaning another. For example, if someone asks you if you like children, you might reply with “Sure, who needs things like sleep or money?”
    • There’s a thin line between playful sarcasm and mean-spiritedness. Be aware of how you sound to avoid hurt feelings.
  3. Use clever wordplay.Think about what other meanings a word might have other than its most immediate one. Experiment with tweaking similar sounds or seemingly ordinary turns of phrase to come up with imaginative new uses. Not only does this give you a wider range of possibilities to choose from, it’s also more gratifying for the listeners who get the joke.
    • A jab like "Next time I see you, remind me not to talk to you" can leave an onlooker in stitches once it's had time to sink in.
    • Puns and other feats of phrasing should still make sense in context. If they don’t, they may end up just being confusing.

Helping Your Jokes Land

  1. Put yourself out there.In order to score a laugh, you have to be willing to take a chance. When an opening presents itself, jump in. Train yourself to become a good listener, as a keen ear will allow you to spot opportunities and help get your wheels spinning.
    • Build up your comfort level by trying out jokes on your close friends or family before you use them in a larger setting.
    • Don’t be discouraged if a particular comment doesn’t have the effect you want it to. Just reset and give it another shot.
  2. Get your timing down.When you tell a joke is every bit as important as how you tell it. A lighting-fast retort has the power to catch the listener off guard and leave a lasting impression. In other cases, a short pause can make the payoff that much more hysterical.
    • The key is to be able to recognize what type of delivery is needed for a given situation.
    • Wait for the perfect opening when you have your audience’s full attention. Background noise and other distractions can cause a good one-liner to go unnoticed.
  3. Take your listener by surprise.Tailor the punchline or payoff of your jokes so that they say something unexpected about your subject. Humor doesn’t work if it’s predictable, so your objective should be to force people to think about things in a different way.
    • Pass over obvious jokes in favor of a more original approach.
  4. Know when to quit.No matter how funny you think you are, there will be times when everything you say falls flat. It may be the wrong time or place, or perhaps you’re stuck with an unresponsive audience. If your attempts at humor aren’t being well-received, it’s usually best to just drop it and try again when the mood is lighter.
    • Consider the circumstances before you risk crashing and burning. A careless remark at a no-nonsense event like a funeral or work meeting may be a recipe for awkwardness.

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  • Trust your instincts. There’s no exact formula for crafting the perfect joke.
  • For a good look at how to pull off droll delivery, check out a few British comedies. The British have turned clever witticisms into an art form.
  • Browse YouTube for clips of dry comedy at its finest. This can also help you discover new favorite comedians and shows.
  • Give it time and learn as you go. It can take years for your sense of humor to come into its own.


  • Steer clear of controversial topics, such as politics, religion or sexuality, unless you’re confident that your listener will find them funny.
  • When told to the wrong audience, a harmless joke may come off as inappropriate or offensive. Be conscientious about when and where you employ your wit to get people shaking with laughter instead of shaking their heads.

Video: Improve Your Sense Of Humor & Personality | 7 Tips To Be Funnier

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