7 Ways to Be a Lovable Smart Ass
Ah, Smart Assery. When done right, it can be a fun and positive thing. When done wrong, it can be painful, annoying, and downright mean.
Many people have different definition of what exactly a “Smart Ass,” is, and some are more positive than others. For the sake of this post and this blog, let me share with you what mine is:
Smart Ass: – A person who sees the humor in everything and enjoys pointing it out, specifically humor in the ridiculous, contradictory, and self-defeating things that people do.
There’s nothing in there about being obnoxious, rude or annoying. It’s just a humorous way of looking at life. Like with any kind of humor, there is a line that separates lovable smart asses from annoying smart asses (or, “jackasses,” if you will…)
Here are 7 ways to make sure you are a Lovable Smart Ass:
Do Try to Know Where the Line is Before You Joke
There are some topics that, even if you don’t find them offensive, are common enough touchy subjects that you should get a handle on the perspective of the group before you joke about them. Weight, illnesses, money (or lack thereof), etc. Jackasses love to get a rise out of people by crossing the line. Lovable Smart Asses like to spread good cheer by not crossing the line.
If you are such a weak comedian that you need to resort to these obvious types of jokes, then you are nowhere near ready to be a lovable smart ass. Any idiot can make the obvious joke. Moreover, every idiot will make the obvious joke. If you make it too, than you are in the same category as the idiots.
Every so often you may say something that offends someone in a way that you could not have foreseen. I once made a cat joke not knowing that this one woman’s cat had just died. Hey, Ding Happens. But after that, you can be damned sure I didn’t make anymore cat jokes…
Don’t Make Fun of People You Don’t Like
This is one of my personal rules. If I don’t like you, I won’t make fun of you because a) joking around is something I do with friends, not people I hate, and b) it’s too easy to get personal and start using humor as a weapon when making fun of people you don’t like.
This is one of the reason’s smart assery can get a bad name. Too many people use humor as a pseudo-passive aggressive way of attacking people they don’t like. If you do this, then one of two things is true:
- You are a child. Literally, still in middle school, because that’s where this really happens.
- You are an intellectual and emotional child. Stop doing this, and learn better ways of interacting with people.
Do Be Able to Take a Joke
If there is one thing that will clearly move you out of Lovable Smart Ass territory and into Jackkassville, it is this: if you’re the guy who likes to tease and make fun of everybody, but then gets offended or hurt when someone makes fun of you, then you are a jackass.
At this point, you have two options:
- Grow up, stop whining, and learn to take a joke.
- Stop joking around and trying to be a smart ass. You don’t have the stones for it.
Do Pay Attention To the Response You Get
You think something is funny, so you say it. Great. How does everyone else react to it? Do they laugh? Do they build off of it? Or do they basically ignore you? If they ignore you, don’t think it’s because they didn’t hear you or they didn’t “get it.” It’s because your joke was either unfunny or crossed the line.
Most importantly, if you are poking fun at somebody, how are they reacting? Are they laughing, or just looking embarrassed? It doesn’t matter if you have 20 people in stitches; if the butt of your joke is not having fun, then you have left Lovable Smart Ass territory.
Also, learn the difference between real laughter and fake, “I’m just laughing with you so people don’t know my feelings are hurt,” laughter.
Don’t Monologue. Do Dialogue.
Lovable Smart Assery is a team affair. You make a comment or joke. Someone else can then makes a joke or comment that builds on what you said. Then you do the same. And so on and so on. In this way, you ensure three things:
- Your humor is engaging people and adding to the conversation
- You do not come across as an egotistical needy performer type who is trying to dominate the conversation
- Your joking is actually being appreciated and enjoyed.
“But Avish, what if no one the group builds off of what I said?” Then what you said wasn’t very good. Let go, move on, and let someone else lead.
Do Be Able To Be Serious
Can you switch seamlessly back and forth between joking around and being serious? Do you have the sensitivity to know when to do so? If you want to be a lovable smart ass, you had better learn.
Don’t Say Every Joke You Think Of
One of my biggest “comedy pet peeves.” Not every joke needs to be told. No matter how funny you think it is, or how appropriate, or how great, if the time is past, you have to let it go.
It’s a concept I like to call, comedic control. Your self-control in not telling what you think is a great joke will serve you in many ways, including, (but not limited to): gauging people’s responses, knowing where the line is, training your creative mind that ideas are infinite, allowing you to play observer to see how others are interacting, making sure you are dialoguing, etc.
Do Put Relationships Over Humor
The two worst bits of human interaction advice I ever got where:
- A friend in high school telling me that his life philosophy was, “f@%# ‘em if they can’t take a joke.” I was very impressed at the time
- A friend in college saying, “he should be fine with it because that’s how I would want people to interact with me”
Stupid, stupid, stupid.
(I also realize how stupid it is to rely on life-long advice from people in high school and college, but it’s amazing how stuff sticks with you)
“F!@# ‘em if they can’t take a joke,” is stupid because all people’s humor is different. I agree that we all need a sense of humor, but this statement is used in a much more selfish, “I was just joking around so screw them if they can’t take it.” It’s a way of justifying your jackassery and unwillingness to be flexible in your interactions with people.
“That’s how I would want people to interact with me,” is the same thing. Nobody cares how you want to be treated. Your best bet is to follow the The Platinum Rule: “Do Unto Others As They Want Done Unto Them.”
At the end of the day, life is really all about the relationships we have. If your humor and Lovable Smart Assness is enhancing and improving those relationships, good for you. If not, then let it go.
By Avish Parashar. As the world's only Motivational Improviser, Avish uses techniques from the world of improv comedy to engage, entertain, and educate audiences on ideas around change, creativity, and motivation.
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