Bringing The Funny Out In Others By Andy Meadows

Being funny is a huge advantage for on-air personalities. It allows us to add to any content and make it our own, making it more likely to stick with the listener. It also helps us come up with those great outs that tie a nice bow on any break and smoothly transition to the next element. Being funny is also incredibly hard to teach. That’s because generally people were either born naturally funny or, by the time they get to us, they’ve already developed the ability to be funny through interactions with family, friends and coworkers. Yes, we can certainly teach them how to improve on that and make it translate better on-air to create what I call radio funny. But, we can’t really teach someone who isn’t funny to be funny. All that being said, there’s a skill that’s even more critical when we’re on the air, knowing how to bring the funny out in others. Here are a few keys to developing and honing that skill.

It starts with fully embracing the best idea wins or for the show mentality. To bring out the funny in others we HAVE to allow the open sharing of ideas when developing content. That entails not being married to our own ideas. Remember those can always be saved and repackaged for something else later. Plus, it requires creating an environment where everyone on the team feels completely comfortable sharing those ideas. 

When executing the break on air we have to make sure we leave room for others. That means having an economy of words approach to delivering details, just enough so the listener isn’t lost or confused but not so much they get bored with the story and zone out or even tune out. With cohosts and especially with callers, we also have to be comfortable with a little bit of silence to give them the space to contribute that funny line. Obviously with recorded callers that can be edited out, but live with a caller or cohost it takes some getting used to because we’re trained from early on to fill any dead air and to us milliseconds feel like a long time.

This kind of expands on the last point but it’s where many on air talent fall short. To bring out the funny it’s critical that we become better listeners than talkers. Having the gift of gab can land us on air but if we ever want to move up the ranks and truly excel we’ve got to learn to listen more and talk less. We also have to resist the urge to be in our own heads thinking more about what we’re going to say next instead of listening so we can properly react, respond and direct the conversation to a good place. That’s the number one skill required to be a good interviewer and it also applies to getting the best out of a co-host or listener.

Finally, we’ve got to be willing to sometimes be the setter instead of the spiker. If we’re not funny at all ourselves, which is sometimes the case and that’s okay, it’s pretty easy to slide into the role of being the setter. But, the funnier we are the more restraint we have to show to sometimes let someone else spike the ball and get the glory. If we want to consistently defeat the competition we have to care more about winning than who scored the points and when we play the one up game nobody wins. Plus, at the end of the day if it happens on our show, ultimately we all get the credit when it comes time to hand out raises.

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Pic by YuriArcursPeopleimages for envato elements.