How to Be Quick-Witted!!

Do you want to learn how to be quick-witted?

I'll bring my 
Skill, Knowledge, Expertise, and Wit
to the table, hope to SKEW your perception of life,
 and help you increase your wit response time (a BIG companion to being clever)!

Let’s start with my definition of wit:

WIT = Wordplay Wielding Wonder When Weaving Wisdom With Wisecracks

So, I’m alliterate…

There are 3 things that one must work on in order to be witty…and, just by coincidence (is it REALLY a coincidence?), WIT tells us what they are:

Wisdom
Impulse
Timing 

Be Quick on your Feet!

Wisdom: You have to be somewhat knowledgeable to be witty.

Cavemen could not be witty.
Caveman one: “Ugh!!”
Caveman two: “Arrgh!!”
Caveman one: “Ugh!!”
Caveman one and two: “Hahahahahahaha!”

In renaissance times, wit was synonymous with wisdom and intelligence.  Their version of movies and television shows were often parlor games in which they would get two known “witticists” into a room together.  Here they would “fence” with words.  The verbal “thrust and parry” were a great source of entertainment in those days.

Nowadays, you can see this game going on in a more base way…”You’re mama’s so fat, every time she turns around its her birthday!”
Even then, you have to have some wisdom to pull it off.  What if someone didn’t know that it takes a year for the earth to go once around the sun…then that statement wouldn’t be funny.
You have to be able to relate to those who are receiving the wit.  You wouldn’t tell a spleen joke at a dental convention…it wouldn’t work.  Know your audience.
Wisdom is a tricky thing when it comes to wit.  In order for you to be able to work your wit in any kind of crowd, you have to know a little about a lot, and it’s even better if you know a lot about a lot.  What it comes down to is keeping an open mind, being perceptive and, most importantly, retaining what you have observed.  You don’t really have to work at it, just be aware of it…if you learn something new, consciously make sure you commit it to your long-term memory.  You’re going to be surprised how much it will help you come up with on-the-spot quips, quotes, and quick-witticisms.
 

Side note: You must have a certain kind of mind to be quick-witted.  For those of you who don’t think you have that kind of mind, fear not…you can develop it.  Also, becoming quick–witted is not an overnight process…so don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t happen immediately. I have helped many people improve their wit skills.  I run a workshop in my WIT seminars (named the University of Unrefuted Imaginative Thinkers…Double U – I – T) where I get in depth about how to improve the speed of your thinking.


Let’s now move on to:

Impulse: You have to be somewhat impulsive in order to be witty.

Executives from Large Corporations cannot be witty:
Executive one: “I need this done yesterday!”
Executive two: “It will be done before that.”
(Two years later)
Executive two: “It’s done, sir!”
Executive one: “Wow, that was fast!!”
Executives one and two: “Hahahahahahaha!”

Impulse has a lot to do with the humor of wit.  What does your mind do when it hears something?  Does it stay on a normal track of thinking (blah) or does it devise a double entendre, produce a pun, plan a paradox, conjure a conundrum, originate an onomatopoeia, spawn a second meaning, or actualize an alliteration to what was just said.

This is what happens to me anytime someone tells me they “had a ball!!”…there are at least three different scenes that pop into my head:

  1. I picture them dancing in elegant costumes with Mardi Gras-type masks in a huge hall
  2. I picture them crying their eyes out uncontrollably
  3. I picture them, as a child, with a doll that resembles the star of “I Love Lucy.”

(All of these things mean “I had a ball/bawl/Ball…”)
That’s impulse…what your mind does automatically when it hears something.
The best way to be impulsive is to be aware of it 24/7.  Every hour of every day, when somebody says something, think in your mind how his or her words could be construed, twisted, or made to have a second meaning.  The impulse is to get the wordplay going on in your brain.  Then say it…if it’s appropriate.  I’ve seen people say funny things at the wrong time (that’s the next section).  Don’t be afraid of what other people think of your repartee.  And just so you know…you will fail many times!!  There’s a saying in the comedy industry – “You have to bomb at least a 100 times before you’re considered an amateur!!”  Just keep doing it.  The more you do it, the better you’ll get.

When I was in elementary school, I had a friend who nobody wanted to hang around with because of his physical attributes.  He was chubby, short, and pink.  I liked hanging around him ‘cause he was a good guy, but the rest of the kids were often mean to him.  One day I noticed a bunch of 5th and 6th graders in a group standing around and laughing.  As I got closer, I realized that my friend was in the middle of this group being impulsively funny.  He would tell a joke, they would laugh, someone would say something and he would come back with an impulsive funny retort.  They loved him!  I was amazed!!  To this day, I don’t know if he had worked on being funny or if he was just a natural.  I guess it doesn’t really matter.  That kid was never made fun of again.  His life was turned around.  He had some new-found and well-deserved respect because of his wisdom, impulse, and…

Timing:  You have to be somewhat punctual in order to be witty

Women who might be pregnant could never be witty:
Woman who might be pregnant: “I’m late!”
Father to be: (hysterically) “Hahahahahahaha!”

When I was in elementary school – I was the class clown, when I was in junior high – I was constantly the center of attention, but something happened to me in high school.  Maybe it was peer pressure, maybe there was a girl I was trying not to scare away, maybe I was trying to find myself…but I became extremely shy.  I wasn’t the class clown anymore.  I wouldn’t put on whole shows during lunch like I had before.  And then one day in a social studies class, my teacher was droning on about graveyards and cemeteries.  She happened to ask if any of us knew why they put fences around cemeteries.  To this day, I don’t remember if I had ever heard the joke before, and I don’t know if the teacher was actually setting up the joke or if she was serious, but my timing was impeccable.  I couldn’t help it…the old me showed up for a second and I blurted it out… ”Because people are dying to get in!”  The whole class laughed uncontrollably for about 5 minutes.  After that, girls started coming up and talking to me.  Some of the cool guys in the school acknowledged me.  The “funny” me started showing up again and I’ve been that way ever since.  All it takes is one time getting your timing right and you’re hooked.

Timing is definitely a skill…you have to work on it.  I wish I could say that I have had perfect timing all my life…but it would be a lie if I did.  Even the most famous, popular, and talented comics in the world have DIED…but they kept going.  It’s a terrible feeling when people look at you after you’ve said something that you thought was absolutely hilarious and just stare at you…maybe even give you dirty looks.  But that awful feeling doesn’t even come close to the exhilarating feeling you get when you’ve hit the mark, when you’re delivery is perfect, and when the people who were there to partake of your wit are curled up in a ball on the floor laughing their guts out.

On one occasion, late at night, in a grocery store, there was only one checkout girl and a long line.  I made the line wait even longer because of something I said that made the checkout girl double up in a ball and laugh incessantly.  She couldn’t do her work for an extra few minutes.  My timing was perfect.  People at the back of the line saw her doubled over and thought that she was having a seizure or something.  As I left, she was still laughing.  Maybe she was just due.

I wish I could tell you that there is a secret to timing, but there isn’t.

Well, O.K., there is. And all you have to do is answer this question:
How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

Answer:
Practice, practice, practice.

That’s the secret…just keep practicing.

In conclusion, I will say this, to wit…wax your wisdom, improve your impulse, and tune up your timing.  It will change your life for the better, forever…I promise.


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About the Author

Biography of
S. Frank Stringham

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