There is no one-way to be funny on stage, but one of my favourite comedy styles for both comedians and speakers is the “show-no-emotion-style”. A style we can all learn from as professional speakers.

A few days ago I had the privilege to be the only external keynote speaker when the company Monitor ERP had their big customer event in Penang, Malaysia. It was an amazing event and during the following gala dinner they had invited Harith Iskander, AKA “the Godfather of Malaysian Stand-up Comedy”.

Harith has been doing stand-up comedy for decades. After his show I had a chance to catch up with him. I asked him about his style of comedy where he tells the joke with a straight face – ie without laughing.

He told me: “That is the best way to do it.”

And I am inclined to agree. If not the best, at least one of the best.

By telling a joke and not laughing at it yourself you are creating this feeling in the audience that you “do not even know you are funny” and then when you ARE funny that becomes even funnier…

The opposite – to laugh hysterically to your own jokes – risk creating a feeling with the audience that you think you are funny, or that you are trying to force them to laugh…

Of course there are all kinds of comedian delivery so there is not “right or wrong” here. But I do want to encourage you at least study the style of comedians like Harith.

Personally I use this technique in combination with tell-a-joke-and-smile to get a good mix.

to SMILE while telling jokes is not the same as laughing at your own jokes. The smile gives the feeling that you are enjoying yourself on stage, that you are enjoying telling the jokes to the audience. A laugh is signalling that you think you yourself is funny. Big difference.

Perhaps the biggest lesson for me talking to Harith was to reflect over the kind of comedic delivery that I want to have as a speaker. So I pass that insight on to you today: What kind of comedic delivery do you want to have as a speaker? And is that the style you have todday?

(You can check out his videos on YouTube, here is one.)


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