Self-Deprecating Humor: How to Find the Funny in Your Life

Have you ever tried to think of something funny to say and drawn a blank?

Have you ever wanted to incorporate humor into a presentation, but didn’t  know how?

There is a simple tool:  Self-deprecating humor.

Put yourself down to bring the laughter up!

In addition to being funny, self-deprecating humor makes you seem:


–more confident–confident enough to point out your faults

–more modest–not a puffed up egomaniac

–more likeable–your failings can make you more relatable

A great resource for developing your own humor is Judy Carter’s book, Stand-Up Comedy: The Book.   I’ve paraphrased and simplified some of the material in the book to give you a 3-step process for developing material that pokes fun at yourself.  I call it the LAF process.

  1. Lists–write lists of traits and issues
  2. Attitude—add attitude
  3. Formulas: Apply some humor formulas

1. Lists

Brainstorm under the following categories.  I’ve bared my soul and listed some of my personal issues.

Negative Personality traits/shortcomings Unique traits(esp. physical) Things that make you angry Things you worry about Things that frighten you
controlling 2nd degree black belt Losing things Forgetting where I parked Unprotected heights
Too task-oriented Unaccountable people Getting fat Jump scenes In movies
Directionally impaired Bad traffic when I’m in a rush Running out of money

2. Attitude

  • Rant and rave on a topic without trying to be funny.  I hate . . .
  • Then try to take a mocking attitude. I love . . .  or I’m proud of  . . .

3. Formulas (all involve incongruity)

  • Exaggeration
  • Set up . . . Punch line
  • Rule of 3’s  (expected, expected . . . unexpected)
  • Use a prop?

Here was my attempt on ranting and adding some humor formulas to my trait of being “directionally impaired” (more politically correct than “directionally disabled”):

I hate getting lost.   I guess I’m directionally disabled.  It’s disability that gets no respect.  There are no special classes in schools for students who can’t find their way to the bathroom.  People make fun of me—“she gets so lost . . .  she can’t find her way out of a paper bag.”

I hate getting lost.  Nobody wants me to be the driver. My children don’t even like going places with me—they don’t buy the “scenic route” line any more.  The last time I told them we were going to the Mall, they ran to their rooms . . . and packed overnight bags.

I hate getting lost.  Now that I have GPS Navigation on my phone, you wouldn’t think it is such a problem.  But I think my GPS is defective—or not very good at math.  Almost every time I take a turn it says “recalculating.”

I hate getting lost.  When I get lost 3 things come to mind:  where am I?  Will I be late? And, I’m sure glad I always have  . . . my overnight bag!

Your turn!  LAF your way to being funny!

More Do’s and Don’ts of Self-Deprecating Humor

About Diane Windingland
I speak for organizations that want their people to have better, more profitable conversations.

5 Responses to Self-Deprecating Humor: How to Find the Funny in Your Life

  1. Todd Folstad says:

    Very Good Diane!!! I’ve been using this tactic for years – the only time it doesn’t work is when you’re around overly sensitive people who start telling you that “You Shouldn’t Put Yourself Down”. They just don’t get it. Oh well, theres one in every crowd . . .

    • Thanks, Todd–I know you do job coaching and I was wondering your opinion of using self-deprecating humor in an interview. It could be a tricky thing because you don’t want to say anything that makes you look incompetent. But, it could be effective and humanizing when you talk about “lessons learned.” Your thoughts?

  2. kimterry says:

    Diane, I was casting about for examples of funny how-to’s for my Comp I students’ assignment to write a funny how-to essay. May I use this entry as an example?

    Check out my blog entries, too, at

  3. Pingback: Leadership and Humor: What Works (and What Doesn’t) | Small Talk, Big Results

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: