What is Observational Humor & How to Be Good at It?

As you are aware by now, we love talking about the different types of humor on our blog. After all, laughter makes life ten times as fun! Whether it is your coworker, a family member, or a dear friend, we bet you love a person who can make you laugh.

Today, we are talking about observational humor. This particular humor type is funny mostly because it is so easy to understand and, most importantly, it is relatable.

If you haven’t heard about it before, don’t worry. We will be covering everything you need to know to understand observational humor in all its glory.

Not only that, if you are a good observer already, you might find out that you can take advantage of that and become an even funnier person!

Let’s get started.

What is observational humor?

What is Observational Humor?

Here is the most simple explanation we can give you:

Observational humor is humor that revolves around various, often ordinary things from our everyday lives. The comedian uses highly relatable settings and events and gives them a funny twist.

Often, the point is to observe unnoticed and mundane daily events that are universally familiar. Still, we do not actively notice them, and when they are presented to us in a funny light, we cannot help but laugh.

Simply put, any comedy that addresses daily aspects of ordinary lives is known as observational comedy.

It is also a very popular type of humor among stand-up comedians.

How to Recognize It?

How to recognize observational comedy?

You know you are listening to an observational comedian when they get you laughing by talking about the most unexpected situations that never even occurred to you.

Usually, the whole idea of observational humor revolves around these common starter questions:

  • Have you ever wondered why *insert a common daily event*?
  • Have you ever noticed that *strange thing*?

An example of an observational joke can be:

Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?

See how you can easily relate to that? It’s simple, but it works!

Related: What Makes Something Funny? – The Secret Behind Humor

Why Do We Like Observational Comedy?

You might have come across people who have the power to turn various absurdities of life into a laughing stock and make them feel less absurd. They can take a closer look at the tedious and boring side of life and present it as a joke to you.

We believe that is a wonderful skill to have. Also, such humor helps you connect with a larger and more diverse audience at the same level.

Irrespective of which backgrounds we come from, we are all humans, and our everyday lives do not differ that much. That is why there are various points in which all of us might have common grounds.

Observational comedy cleverly takes advantage of this phenomenon and helps us enjoy a different view of life from time to time.

Comedy has to be based on truth. You take the truth, and you put a little curlicue at the end.

Sid Caesar

Observational Humor Examples

When it comes to understanding a particular type of humor, nothing beats watching masters at work. Here is a list of some of the greatest observational comedians of all time:

  • David Brenner,
  • Jerry Seinfeld,
  • Bill Burr,
  • Dave Chapelle,
  • Ricky Gervais,
  • George Carlin,
  • Louis C.K.
  • many others.

Just watching a couple of videos from a few comedians on this list will lead you on one of the funniest Youtube marathons you have ever done in your life.

If you want a recommendation to start with, we are sharing one of our favorite bits from Bill Burr about owning a dog:

How to Polish Your Observational Humor Skills

Now, let’s say you wanted to give observational comedy a shot and see how you can improve quickly.

Let’s go over five key tips we can share to help you out:

Tip #1 – Look Around & Observe

Surprisingly, comedy is mostly about how successful a comedian is at observing things. When it comes to observational humor, the name itself tells you that it is twice as important.

It would help if you kept a constant eye on what is happening around you and how people perceive it. Also, it is important to think about how you, as someone skilled in observational comedy, should look at the situation.

Here are some clever ways you can start practicing your observation skills:

  • Each evening, pick one mundane task you did that day. Think about any absurd elements or funny twists it includes that you may not have noticed before. You will be surprised at the number of joke ideas that come to your mind after just a week of doing this!
  • For a more soothing task, go for a walk alone. Start playing close attention to different sounds around you. These walks are known as soundwalks. What do you hear, and where does it come from? Take mental notes as you walk.
  • Try to notice patterns all around you. You will soon start to see dozens of clothing prints, wall decorations, paintings, etc. While it does not directly relate to comedy, it can help you pay more attention to your surroundings.

Tip #2 – Let Your Imagination Dance

Unfortunately, due to the nature of our lives and the everyday rush to get things done, our thought process is somewhat limited most of the time.

We are not anywhere near as imaginative and creative as we can be.

There is a reason for that. It would be hard to function in most situations if you wanted to act, talk, and do as you please all the time. Your imagination sometimes has to lie low.

However, when it comes to observational humor, the last thing you need is to restrict your thoughts. Let your mind wander without any limitations and see the world with a different set of eyes.

Pair your new mindset with the observational exercises we mentioned above, and you will start to connect things faster than ever.

Before you know it, you will have a wide repertoire of things to tell jokes about!

Let your imagination run free.

Tip #3 – Don’t Be Afraid to Share

There is one particularly interesting thing about observational humor.

Quite often, the jokes that observational comedians tell touch on very private parts of our lives that we rarely talk about with other people (especially strangers).

The fact that it is so rare to hear anyone mention these things, let alone make jokes about them, makes those jokes ten times as funny!

Anything from weird things that happen during visits to the bathroom to embarrassing stories from public transport can work.

It’s important to remember that, most likely, if something happens to you, it had already happened to several other people too. Feel free to set your insecurities aside and tell that hilarious observation that you have been too ashamed to say out loud!

Tip #4 – Ask Yourself Weird Questions

Here is another tip that can help you get your creative juices flowing.

Take any random situation from your life into consideration and question yourself regarding it. Usually, what-ifs are the best questions to ask yourself for discovering some funny observational humor ideas.

Let’s take a look at some interesting examples:

  • What if I started wearing pants backward every time I went outside?
  • What would happen if our knees were able to bend the other way?
  • What if I didn’t blink each time I have a conversation?
  • What if I started rocking a Charlie Chaplin mustache?

You can see how these thoughts lead to some funny situations. Have some fun with yourself and see if you come up with some hilarious jokes.

Tip #5 – Let Your Audience Pitch In

As we said before, one of the best things about observational humor is how relatable it is.

Once people start connecting your jokes with things that happen in their own lives, you will have their full attention in no time.

What is the quickest way to speed up this process?

Allow them to pitch in by asking questions and encouraging them to share their own experiences now and then. Doing this will also help you have more interesting conversations with people in general.

After all, humor is all about sharing experiences, connecting with others, and developing a positive outlook on life.

Your Turn

We hope we have helped you develop a clear understanding of observational humor and potentially inspired you to try it out yourself.

However, now, we would like to hear from you!

Who is your favorite observational comedian?

Let us know by leaving a comment down below.

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4 Comments. Leave new

  • Paul Pacheco
    October 2, 2021 01:42

    I am a big fan of Dave Attell & Jeff Ross. I have seen Dave Attell perform live a total of 7 times, 4 times were in New York at the comedy cellar….

    • Great suggestions, Paul! We love Dave’s energy and Jeff’s roasts and are happy to hear you are such a fan of them too!

      – Milan

      • Paul Pacheco
        October 13, 2021 10:07

        Just went to New York on 10/8, went to a comedy show at the comedy cellar, it was a minute show, afterwards I got to talk to Dave Attell for about 5 minute s, we talked about the absurdities of the current state of the world, he high fived me before telling me he had to bounce but said it was a pleasure to converse with me,,,it made my nite ..


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