How to Tap Your Inner Tina Fey

I didn’t see it coming until it wound up in my mailbox, but when I opened the wrapper from Bloomsbury Publishers, my laughter would have scared the mailman.

Pride-and-Prejudice2After all, nothing prepared me to hold and behold an adaptation Jane Austen’s timeless classic, Pride and Prejudice, that features an all-guinea pig cast decked out in period muslin. They’re all there, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth and Mr. Wickham and Lady Catherine, absurd and adorable in their finery.

The experience made me appreciate yet again the power of humor. I’ll never think of that title in the same way again, which is kinda creepy and remarkable, am I right?

The point being, humor is a gift well worth exploring if you hope to make a favorable, if not indelible, impression on others. Meeting planners in particular might use the comedic side of life to their advantage in any number of ways, from trading ingenious bons mot with clients to engaging the attention of a wayward team.

Here are 5 tips on how to tap your inner Tina Fey or Bill Murray, courtesy of Matt Hovde, the artistic director of the Second City comedy club in Chicago, where their careers took flight.

Don’t try so hard

Want to turn off a room in a hurry? Tell a joke. In the wrong hands, which is to say anyone who has not headlined the Borscht Belt, jokes fall flat, flat, flat. They’re corny, predicable, old school. You may be remembered, but not in a good way. Instead…

Observe and report

What do Tina Fey, John Stewart, Amy Pohler, Paula Poundstone and Stephen Colbert have in common? They make their living mall cop–style by observing and reporting what many of us somehow miss about the world around us. Most of us do this subconsciously as we sift and sort the news of the day and the idiosyncrasies of those around us; we just don’t think to explore ways to reuse it in a creative way for the entertainment of others. Learn to develop that response. It not only promotes mental health; it also can lead to some hilarious improvisation if you can learn to say…

“Yes, and…”    

If you’re a Monty Python fan or have ever surfed onto the TV improv show, Who’s Line Is It Anyway? you’ve seen the mayhem that can result when a character utters these two words. The fun is generated by both the often-absurd confession implied by the “yes” (for instance, “Yes, I am a rhinoceros”) combined with the unexpected, often equally outrageous detail that follows the ellipsis (for instance, “my nose still itches”). Practice with a friend; it will help you tap into your whimsical side. To further hasten that process…

Talk silly

No, no – not all the time; just as an exercise to help you connect with the whimsy we often overlook by taking our lives and language too seriously. Those around us enjoy a break in routine, a reason to laugh and a roundabout, spontaneous opportunity to connect on a human level. Extemporaneously goofing, even to yourself, on such preposterous, underappreciated gems of our vocabulary as kerfuffle, cattywampus, twitter and octothorp (see also: hashtag) can loosen the tongue and help you…

Get over yourself

funnythumbWant to loosen up the group? Start by poking fun at yourself. Humor soon follows when we drop the ego, dismiss our inner hall monitor, and allow our wild child to run amok.

Humor is life’s secret handshake, our way of acknowledging that we’re all in this together, none of us is perfect, and we may as well enjoy the ride.


Photo credits: Tina Fey photo by Featureflash /; Guinea Pig Pride & Prejudice: photography © Belmondo 2015; Shutterstock.

Jay MacDonald

Jay MacDonald

Jay MacDonald is an award-winning journalist, author and blogger who incorporates humor and human interest into a broad range of topics. Follow him on Twitter @omnisaurus

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