Humor is a vital virtue. It cures the soul and strengthens friendship. If you ever lack jokes, try the long-winded, ridiculous rant of what everyone knows is no more than nonsense. Friends love being irritated by friends because it feels like home.
Humor at the expense of self is the perfect way to disarm. Don’t cut or beat yourself, just let your tie get out of place and celebrate your own bad hair day. Here’s how: “Oh, I’m having a bad hair day. I guess it’s my turn.”
Smiles need teeth. Coffee and chocolate are like good play, they improve with a little bite. Don’t be afraid to add a little zest to the scene around you.
A classic ice-breaker is banter about food. Threaten to put the chef to work. Demand daily delivery. Or, accuse dinner of being “too bland” so you can steal another bite. Don’t compliment directly; pretend to complain in a way that implies the compliment. Give people an equation to balance by using math easily doesn’t add up.
One secret to comedy is the surprise ending. “Thanks for the applause, both of you.” An old favorite is taking three pieces of pie while party-goers gawk, then walking off with the pie. That touches on the “yes and” secret to good improvisation: Accept everything and compound it with whatever comes to mind. Never reject.
Try the insult by non-insult, doctors are an easy target. Find any excuse to mention “apples”, then act worried you’ve offended the doc. Nothing is as insulting as telling someone you don’t mean to insult. And, nothing is as disarming as an insult obviously unwarranted.
When you must point out a flaw, insult yourself more, then your point can’t be disputed and no one loses skin. Witty charm disarms because few things are as disarming as someone already disarmed. The more undignified, the less self-concerned, the more disarmed, the more disarming you are to others. Try brazen over-self-confidence, “I’d apologize, but I’m not sorry. I’m too much of a scoundrel.” Humor may be bad form by the book, but bad form is hardy and hardihood makes others feel good—not merely making others feel good “about you”.