Recently, Ami and I were talking and she asked if I could help her get her funny back. If you read this site, you know that Ami is usually a very funny person, so her question came as a bit of a shock.
“You lost your funny?” I said. “When? How? Where?”
“Well, I came back from Paris, and then my boyfriend and I broke up, and then it was my birthday and the holidays, and then I started doing a lot of hot yoga … there’s this guy who’s always in my class and he smells really bad, and once his shorts came down–”
“That’s funny!” I interrupted.
“No,” Ami said, “because I saw he had completely shaved his pubic region. And then it wasn’t funny anymore, just gross. Now I’m not funny. I think I have anhedonia.”
Obviously, Ami’s life has taken a very unfunny turn. Once, a few years ago, I lost my funny for three months. It was horrible. I didn’t make jokes. I stopped watching my favorite sitcoms. At one point, I literally saw someone slip on a banana peel outside the DMV, and I didn’t even laugh–it was that bad. But eventually I found my sense of humor again, and I’m confident Ami can too.
Below, check out my tips for finding your lost funny, and Ami’s thoughts about implementing them in her own life…
Funny Suggestion #1: Watching funny movies.
Ami’s Response: My go-tos for guaranteed belly laughter are “The Office” (UK), “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” (both TV shows … does that count?) “Waiting for Guffman,” “Best in Show,” “Spinal Tap,” “Welcome to the Dollhouse” (I know most people don’t find it funny, but I do) and “Meet the Parents.” Maybe I am watching too many cooking shows? Dream life status: guest judge on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” I just want to be in the presence of people who can make that caliber of joke.
Funny Suggestion #2: Hanging out with funny people.
Ami’s Response: As I’ve stated, I aspire to hang out with RuPaul and Michelle Visage, but I don’t know them YET. The funniest person I do know moved to London. The other funniest person I know lives in Los Angeles. But I have lots of funny friends here … so that’s covered.
Funny Suggestion #3: Hanging out with people who think you’re funny (may be different people than the ones above).
Ami’s Response: Currently, the only people who think I’m funny are my two best friends and my mom and her dog. I don’t see my mom or best friend #2 all that often because my mom lives across the country and BF #2 has a kid. I have another friend who thinks I’m really funny but she had a kid and moved away. (I’m realizing right now that a lot of my funny people have given birth or moved out of town … do not care for this trend.) My friend who had a kid and moved away liked when I sang “The Final Countdown” in a really loud voice. She also liked my bad dance moves. I liked how she told me that she hates walking behind people going into/or coming out of the subway because she’s convinced she’s “swallowing their farts.”
I was like, “What makes you think that?” and she was like, “Because I always fart on the subway stairs.”
This may be one of the funniest things anyone has ever said to me. Yay! I’m remembering funny things! I need to call her.
My one concern in this area is that I’ll end up like this guy I dated, who used to tell me dumb jokes to try to get me to laugh at him. When I’d tell him that I hated his jokes, he’d whine, “You don’t think I’m funny! Everyone thinks I’m funny.” That was not a good look.
Funny Suggestion #4: Reading funny books/essays.
Ami’s Response: I’ve been reading only Lorrie Moore’s books for the last few months (with a brief break to read Going Clear, a Scientology expose). I find Lorrie Moore wickedly funny, but her stuff is also really dark. Thematically, she likes to to deal with death, broken relationships, childlessness. God, no wonder I have anhedonia. But I can’t stop, won’t stop reading Lorrie Moore!
I’ve already read everything by David Sedaris, Chelsea Handler and my friend Sara Barron, whose book People Are Unappealing is the funniest thing I’ve ever read. Not exaggerating, I read it three times. I went to a comedy show on Valentine’s Day. Does that count?
Funny Suggestion #5: Don’t be afraid to be not that funny–perfectionism kills humor.
Ami’s Response: Well, Winona. I think we’ve gotten to the root of my problem here. I am a hopeless perfectionist who never thinks anything I do is good enough. I’ve talked about this in therapy ad nauseum. I am so self-critical it hurts. I’ve always been this way. When I was in 2nd grade I used to cry if I got less than 100 percent on a test. Seriously, if I knew precisely how to make this stop, I would have stopped it 22 years ago. Right now, I’m working on “accepting love.” That sounds very New Agey and navel gazey as I write it. It must not be working. Back to therapy?
Funny Suggestion #6: Try to look at life in a less serious way. Life is so freakin’ funny, all you have to do is look around.
Ami’s Response: I agree completely! But sometimes I find really inappropriate things funny … things that aren’t funny to others. What if you’re the only one who thinks something is funny? Please advise.
Funny Suggestion #7: Basically just surround yourself with funnyness–it’s bound to rub off on you!
Ami’s Response: In my mind, I’m picturing this as a McDonald’s play structure with that thing you dive into with all the balls. You know … a whatchamacallit! Whenever I feel unfunny, I am going to experiment with visiting the whatchamacallit in my mind. Maybe Gerard Depardieu will be there. I find him incredibly funny.