I’ll say it once, and I’ll say it more than once:
Writing is unconscious. Unencumbered. Exhilarating.
Writing is fun.
Editing is the bullshit we all hate doing.
We start with an idea, and go with the idea. Say yes to anything that comes through our mind. A beautiful waterfall without the jagged rocks getting in our way.
Until our conscious side stops us from falling to our death.
I treat oral communication the same way.
I’m in a car with two other people. I met these new friends while camping. One of them told me I was quick. I don’t remember what happened (hence the black out), but I remember her saying I had a quick wit.
So I told my two new friends my story:
“Yeah, it’s because I ride on the stream of consciousness. Right now, I’m blacked out, going off of instinct and experience. But it took me fifteen years to get to where I am today.”
And my other friend fisted me.
He fist-bumped me.
Here are the perfect steps to having a quick wit:
1. Stop Thinking
When we think, we die. Go with our gut and make up shit. No one cares. If the joke doesn’t land, great. That’s a learning experience.
Better not talk about meat at the National Vegan Convention.
Stay in the moment and be present. Figure out what people are saying, how they’re saying it, and react normally. But quickly. Because we’re blacked out, we aren’t worried about the context of what the other person said. We’re finding the perfect time to say a witty comment or offer a silent nod. Feel out the situation, and go with the flow.
2. Practice on TV Characters
We have a pause button on our remote. Or our laptop. Whichever you prefer. Before the next character responds to the other, try to quickly have a dialogue with another character on TV. This is our private practice, seeing if we have a funnier comment than the writers of the TV show. If we do, then let’s all go to Hollywood right now and make it. Because we’re flipping geniuses.
3. Absorb Information
Memorize stupid facts and store them in our upside-down bowl where our brain resides. These uninteresting factoids can come up casually in conversation.
For instance, did you know that Noah built his ark and then got drunk afterwards?
You thought the story ended with the dove and olive branch and peace? Hell no. Keep reading. It’s fucking intense.
I don’t know when that tidbit will come up in conversation. Maybe when we’re talking about building boats. Or being a drunkard and not taking care of our children when we’re 600 years old.
4. Shorter is Key
A long soliloquy about death doesn’t work. Make it one or two sentences, then stop. Hit on the laugh.
One word answers work, too. Again, we’re not thinking. If we happen to talk for a minute straight, fine. We’re bringing value to the humans around us. Let it happen.
5. Make Your Partners Look Good
Ask them questions. Keep the conversation going in their direction. When they talk more, we have more chances to respond with a witty remark. Find the sweet spot.
Also, set up our partners with a great set-up. These are called assists, or bullshit, according to Kobe Bryant. Involve other human beings into our life.
6. Don’t Have Fun (optional)
A dry sense of humor can work. Don’t laugh, don’t smile. Let others try to figure out our style. Some will laugh, others will feel uncomfortable. Let them feel uneasy. They’re already uneasy thinking about paying their phone bill. What’s one joke going to do?
A serious attitude can mask how funny we really are. Instead…
7. Have Fun (mandatory)
Try having a wet sense of humor. Side note: is it called wet humor because people cry or piss their pants when they laugh at the jokes? And is dry humor the opposite, where it’s a desert full of dry eyes and pants?
See? That last paragraph is “haha” funny, but not “HAHAHAHAHA OMFG That Was Amazing!!! I’m Dying!”
And that’s why I gotta get better at being funny.