FRESH YARN presents:

How to be Funny
By Taylor Negron

Are you funny? Take the test. What's the difference between a girlfriend and wife? 45 lbs. What's the difference between a boyfriend and husband? 45 minutes. How do you get a sweet little 80-year-old lady to say Fuck? Get another sweet little 80-year-old lady to yell *BINGO*!

If you answered any of these questions right, you may be funny. But don't go book yourself at the local Comedy Fuckle Hut…let's go on.

Here is a hypothetical situation--you're walking across town and you see a man fall down a staircase. What do you do? Run after him to help? Burst out laughing and fall on the floor? High five a stranger?

If you answered the former, you may be funny. Go on, but let's not get carried away. Being funny is up there with being a nurse, if you don't do it right you can hurt somebody.

So here are some tips and insights into creating a comic persona.

One: Remember comedy is timing and distance. Only recently has Abraham Lincoln (or your ex-lover) become a punch line. Be calm and the laugh will come.

Two: These are Dangerous times to be funny and you must be careful not to offend. For example, this year Moon Walking in a school yard is not an excellent idea, nor is any references to a certain Dyslexic Texan who lives in the White House.

Three: If you can't be funny you can make fun of people. People with phobias are great butts for jokes. My friend is terrified of bugs, puppets, birds and olives (she thinks olives are dead people). I once served her a martini and she ran out of my condo so fast she hit a tree and knocked herself out.

I am still laughing.

But let's go on and check if you're funny. Have you ever ended a joke with: "Well, you had to be there?" Then maybe you're not funny. But, if you end a story and the listener is spitting milk from 30 years ago out of her mouth and howling like a dog in a Meryl Streep movie, maybe you have a chance.

I am a highly qualified advisor. I am a stand up comic. I have been on the Tonight Show. I have also performed in a Roller Rink for Jewish singles in Syracuse. My stage patter is tireless, kinetic and I sometimes exhaust myself and, yes, sometimes I wear dashikis and use street slang. Hey, babe--trust me on the subject--I haven't done too bad for a Struggling Cartoon Model from Glendale.

Yes, you heard me right. Because of the size of my huge head I worked tirelessly in the Cartoon Modeling industry in my formative years. By the time I was 14 I had appeared in coloring books, on lunch boxes and bedspreads.

I made my shortcomings work for me. So should you! This is the Rosetta Stone to being funny. Some people use comedy as a defense. I was a geek in High school. I was the one who came into class pushing a projector wearing Slacks up to my rib. I wore a dickie with no shirt. As you can gather I was the last one to be chosen on a Baseball team. I got used to never getting picked, but what I could never get used to was--the collective moan of the team I was assigned to. I had to make them laugh. I had to survive. (In my high school yearbook they listed my hobbies as "playing in the dirt and watching the Dinah Shore Show.")

If you're too cool and were not a geek you can still be funny… if you dare to be funny in your own life. Not only is it fun, it makes the mundane bearable. For example my phone number is one number off from a woman called Christine O 'Dowel.

Every day I get phone calls and messages for Christine O 'Dowel. Some days I get up to five phone calls from her old friends; Lawyers, Doctors, Vets.

I know too much about Christine O 'Dowel: her cat's kidney problems, her father's broken hip.

One day the phone rang, I ran into house trailing mud and slipped onto a freshly cleaned floor.

"Hello Is Christine O'Dowell there?" I rubbed my aching butt. "No," I cracked.

The voice on the other end continued, "Please tell Christine that her breast implants have arrived and the surgery is as scheduled for tomorrow ..."

I hung up and returned outside. The following day at the same time the phone rings again. The voice on the other end was chipper. "Hi, is Christine O 'Dowel there?" I snapped "No! She is having her boobs done."

I could hear the chipper voice on the other end stilled. I was the only one laughing. The joke's on Christine O'Dowell …someone has to be the butt of the joke.

I had to move fast and humor got me through this rough patch. Maybe we all can't perform our own HBO special, but with some planning, you can turn your own life into a long Groucho Marx Movie.

So try it.

Have you noticed that they put advertisements in with your bills now? Like bills aren't distasteful enough, they have to stuff junk mail in there with them? Well, here's how I get back at them and so can you. Along with my check, I stuff garbage into the envelope, then I mail it in. Coffee grinds, banana peels, old balloons...Then I write a note, "Could you throw this away for me? Thank you." It's fun. It's political. It's humorous. There are lots of ways to be funny and as I always say… "If the lampshade fits, wear it."

I have to go… the phone is ringing. I hope it's for Christine O 'Dowell. If it is, I am going ask the caller this question: "What do you get when you put 50 lesbians and 50 politicians in a room together?" If they answer "100 people who don't do dick," I think I will have made a new friend.

©All material is copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without permission