Humor thrives when people in the conversation enter The Play Zone. The play zone is fertile ground for fun and humor, and occurs when someone adds a playful remark embraced by all parties in the conversation. Let’s put a normal conversation up against a playful conversation to highlight the stark contrast.
You’re at your friend’s house and accidentally bump your head on his kitchen cabinet.
YOU: Ouch, that kinda hurt.
FRIEND: Are you okay?
YOU: Yeah, I’m fine.
FRIEND: Okay good.
The conversation was awkward, serious, and didn’t lead anywhere.
Luckily for you, a time machine appeared and you traveled back in time to the moment you bumped your head. But this time, your brain is trained to look for playful responses as well as serious. You decide to…ENTER THE PLAY ZONE (cue crazy techno music!). This time you say:
YOU: Ouch, you’ll be hearing from my lawyer.
Your friend happens to enjoy the play zone as well and offers a playful comment in return.
FRIEND: You’re suing me? Can we settle outside of court? How much do you want?
YOU: I’ll only accept a bag of Doritos, and if they’re not ranch flavored, then no deal.
You get the point. Good times are had at the play zone.
Play often involves a little acting (don’t worry, not the Johnny Depp or Jennifer Lawrence kind of acting!). Even a subtle change in voice or mannerisms can go a long way. But don’t overdo it.
Check out the following example:
JACK: Macadamia nut cookies are by far the best of all the cookies.
JILL: I’ve never had one.
JACK: Oh? You might like it.
But if Jack felt like being playful, he could act stunned instead.
JACK: Are you serious? Then you haven’t lived!
Of course, the people, the mood, the context; all play a part in how much conversational play is acceptable.
Playing often involves a level of disagreement as well. It’s fun to disagree on light-hearted topics. Feel free to make up hypothetical situations and funny intentions.
FRIEND: I missed you.
YOU: Yeah right – you were probably partying every night I was gone!
FRIEND: I kind of like him.
YOU: No you don’t, you just like his body. Admit it. You can’t resist a six-pack.