The Dos and Don'ts of Telling Jokes on Stage


When it comes to public speaking, humor can be a valuable tool to engage and connect with your audience. However, telling jokes on stage can be a tricky business. If done poorly, it can be awkward or even offensive. In this article, we will explore some dos and don'ts of telling jokes on stage.

The Dos

  1. Do practice your joke delivery. Timing, tone, and pacing are important when it comes to telling jokes. Rehearsing in front of a mirror or a small audience can help you refine your delivery and ensure that your joke lands well.

  2. Do use humor to lighten the mood. Adding a well-placed joke can help make a serious topic more approachable and relatable. It can also help ease tension or nervousness in the room.

  3. Do use self-deprecating humor. Jokes about your own flaws, mistakes, or quirks can help your audience connect with you on a human level. It can also help you come across as humble and genuine.

  4. Do be respectful. Avoid making fun of people's appearance, ethnicity, religion, or other sensitive topics. Even if your intention is not to offend, it can alienate your audience and sabotage your credibility.

  5. Do read the room. Not all jokes work for all audiences. Understanding the demographics and mood of your audience can help you tailor your humor to be more relevant and appealing.

The Don'ts

  1. Don't force humor. Trying too hard to be funny can backfire and make you come across as desperate or insincere. If a joke doesn't fit organically into your speech or doesn't feel authentic to your voice, it's best to skip it.

  2. Don't use offensive language or humor. Jokes that are racist, sexist, or homophobic have no place on stage. Even if you think they're funny, they can be hurtful and disrespectful to others.

  3. Don't use humor to mask incompetence. If you're giving a presentation or speech that requires knowledge or expertise, relying too heavily on humor can be perceived as a lack of preparation or knowledge. Make sure your jokes enhance your message, not distract from it.

  4. Don't be insensitive to the audience's mood. If your audience is not in the mood for humor, it's best to avoid telling too many jokes. Reading the vibe of your audience is essential for a successful speech or presentation.

  5. Don't make jokes at the expense of others. Even if the person is not in the room, making fun of someone behind their back is unprofessional and immature. It can also come back to haunt you if your words are repeated to the person you talked about.


In conclusion, telling jokes on stage can be an effective way to connect with your audience, but it requires skill, sensitivity, and practice. By following the dos and don'ts outlined in this article, you can increase your chances of success and avoid potential pitfalls. Remember, humor is a powerful tool, use it wisely.