Here are seven steps to becoming the life of the Super Bowl party! Hey, impress party-goers with your new found prowess!
1. Learn to listen in a different way. One of the tenets of being a good listener is to reflect what that person has just said in your own words. It shows that you processed their ideas. In being witty, however, you’re going reflect their words in a different way. You’ll be implying that you understand them by comparing their statement to something else. The more “something else” you know, the more comparisons you can make, and the wittier you can be.
2. Use creative and vivid exaggeration. Let’s say your friend is telling you how cross-eyed his teacher is. You can say, in response, “So she’s so cross-eyed that when she cries, the tears run down her back?”
3. Use puns. Take a word or phrase that the other person just used, and use it in a different way that still ties into the conversation. Let’s take the example from the previous step: “…the tears run down her back.” If you’re feeling witty, and there happen to be a pair of stethoscopes around, hold them up mimicking a doctor and say “Evidently a case of bacteria!” Of course, if you are a doctor, or even an aspiring one, you don’t need to have the prop. If there wasn’t any medical context to the conversation, however, the response would be totally random, and not very witty. You can also use a word in a sentence in a way that more than one of its meanings are relevant. See the Warnings for an example.
* Learn from the master: Read Shakespeare. His use of puns in dialogues is widely regarded.
* Other “masters” of witty puns are the characters (though we can thank the writers) of the television show “M*A*S*H”. An average episode can provide several examples of witty puns, as well as some of the pitfalls in overusing them.
4. Use metaphors. Let’s say someone says, out of the blue, “It’s 6 o’clock!” You can say “Thank you, Big Ben!” (“Big Ben” is a nickname for a giant clock in London.) This is a particularly sarcastic example, because you’re also implying (by saying “thank you”) that you didn’t care to know what time it was (because you’re obviously not thankful!) but not all metaphors have to be sarcastic. Describing a messy desk, for instance, as the “North Pacific Gyre” is a witty and creative way to say it’s quite messy. You can also use witty metaphors to compliment or admire someone.
5. Respond with a relevant quotation from a movie, book, or significant figure. The more obscure the reference, the wittier the statement–but the greater the confusion if the person you’re talking to doesn’t know what you’re referring to. If someone says “I’ll try” and you say “Do or do not; there is no try.” –they may, or may not, realize that you’re making a Star Wars reference.
6. Reply quickly and nonchalantly. The wittiness is not only in how creatively you can link ideas and draw comparisons, but also in how quickly. And keeping your witty remarks in a casual tone makes it look like it was so easy. A playful smile and a raised eyebrow can also add a nice touch!
7. Dress the part. Part of being witty is looking the part. Intelligent people are often stereotyped as wearing glasses, for instance. The more trendy and up-to-date the better. A beret or other hat will also enhance your wit. If you are a man, an age-inappropriate sport coat is a good idea.
* Use your comments sparingly. If suddenly everyone hears the same references over and over again, they will start to doubt your wittiness and intelligence.
* Using your wittiness to put people down without them realizing is low. (This is the pun referred to earlier. It’s moralistically “low” and also figuratively “low” because you put someone down. And if you needed that explanation, then you haven’t read the article very thoroughly yet.)
* Some aggressively witty individuals may take your use of wit in a conversation as an invitation to engage in a “battle of wits.” While this can be an enjoyable and engaging activity, it also has the potential to seem personal. Be prepared to set your limits and respect the limits of others to avoid hurt feelings.
* There is such a thing as being too witty – there is indeed a fine balance between making witty conversation and being a complete twit. When pursuing wittiness, be sure to listen carefully to yourself as much as the person you’re engaging in conversation. If even you don’t believe in what you’re saying, odds are that no one else is either.
* Don’t try too hard to be witty, as this could hurt your conversation severely. Instead, try to listen in on the flow of things and go from there. Believe it or not, some people do not like wit in their every day conversations about work and auto mechanic nuances!
* Putting people down for a laugh is not witty, it’s low and uncreative. If you can’t make a joke without putting someone else down, then you are not witty and you shouldn’t try to be.
* Don’t just take something from a tv show. Be creative. Develop your own signature humor.