I Have No Sense Of Humor: How Can I Make Kids Laugh?


For some, one of the most nerve-racking moments is when in the company of kids, and a major reason for that is not being able to entertain them. After all, entertaining kids is a go-to management strategy. What’s the best approach for a person who says, ‘I have no sense of humor’?

When a person says ‘I have no sense of humor,’ the best approach is to show how humor can be learned. Research backs humor for maintaining healthy family relationships, as well as its use in the classrooms to maximize learning, making a sense of humor worthwhile for anyone to learn.

To be clear, I’m that person who said, I have no sense of humor. Jokes flew over my head and I certainly wasn’t dishing them out either. Yet, as I entered teaching, I quickly realized I needed something to grab my students attention and short of buying expensive ‘learning’ toys, working on my (lacking) sense of humor was the most relevant, inexpensive method.

Signs You Have No Sense Of Humor

So let me share from my experience as a non-funny or somewhat humorless mom and retired public school teacher what I’ve learned about humor, and how I managed to deal with it. But first, you have to be able to recognize the signs you have no sense of humor, and then you’re able to move forward from there.

Some signs you have no sense of humor are: trouble visualizing; being too literal, boring or rude; and in extreme cases, attributes of a mental illness or personality disorder like schizophrenia, autism, or narcissism can affect your sense of humor.

Keep in mind it’s possible to learn or improve upon a sense of humor for most.

Trouble Visualizing is a Sign You Have No Sense of Humor

Visualization affects sense of humor because picturing in your mind the ‘joke’ is part of humor. If you have trouble seeing the scenario or situation mentally when someone tells a joke, you’re going to struggle to find the part that’s funny, too.

However, it’s possible to improve your ability to visualize. You just need to be strategic in your practice.

As a teacher, one of the first reading skills I taught students is visualization. Visualization helps students understand what they read more comprehensively.

Steps I’d use with students to build this skill:

  • Picture it by closing your eyes and zeroing in on what’s happening.
  • Imagine by using all of your senses: what colors do you see; what sounds do you hear; what can you feel…depending on the descriptions read (or heard, if it’s a joke someone just told, for example).
  • Retell aloud what you’re picturing or visualizing.
  • You can take retelling aloud by writing it down, too. For some people, this extra step is very powerful.

As an adult, you can work on visualization when you read, but also you can actively practice using photographs or pictures from your phone. Look at a picture for 20 seconds. Then close your eyes and visualize it. After a minute or two, open your eyes and look at the picture again. How did you do?

If you struggle with visualization, it just takes a bit of targeted practice to improve it and likewise, improve upon your sense of humor.

For more about families and humor, I recommend these other titles:

Being Too Literal is a Sign You Have No Sense of Humor

Ironically, literal humor jokes have become quite popular on the internet, in memes or YouTube videos.

Most young children are known for being literal but as we grow up, we begin to pick up multiple meaning words and phrases and use them frequently in our everyday life. However, some people don’t grow out of the tendency to take things literally and this can affect a person’s sense of humor.

Many jokes rely on double meanings. Thus, if you struggle with literalism, you’re apt to have jokes fly over your head (that is, you won’t understand the hidden meaning behind the punchline…the joke isn’t really flying over your head).

It’s not easy for a person to change how he or she thinks, so telling a literal-thinker to ‘stop being so literal’ is not the best approach. Rather, if you or someone you know is a literalist (Source: Free Dictionary), it’s best to guide him or her to abstract thinking.

To move beyond literalism, practice thinking deeper. Use context and situation to inform meaning instead of taking a shallow, basic understanding.

Special Note: Although taking things too literal is indeed a sign of a lack of sense of humor, there is a sub-genre of literal jokes. These are jokes that are funny because the punchline is ‘literal’. However, it is highly unlikely a literal person would find the jokes funny.

Example of a literal joke:  (Joke) What gives you butterflies every single time, no matter how many times you've experienced it? (Punchline)- Buying Caterpillars

Being Thought Boring or Rude Are Signs You Have No Sense of Humor

Sometimes it’s not literalism or trouble visualizing that affects a lack of sense of humor. Sometimes it’s just being rude or boring.

Most of the time rudeness doesn’t take the form of being outright mean or insulting, but it’s when you are dismissive or not listening. This behavior can also be a reason a person misses a joke and is considered humorless.

One way to correct this is to actively listen when someone is talking or in a conversational setting. This way you are paying attention and less likely to miss overtures of humor or attempts of jokes.

In addition to being rude, a reason someone may be considered humorless or lacking a sense of humor is just simply put, that they are boring.

What does it mean to be considered boring?

A boring person is sometimes described as serious or somber. It is not likely a person thought to be boring can change this overnight, becoming Mr. or Miss Captivating! However, a boring person can improve over time.

Suggestions for overcoming boring:

  • Be more impulsive. Remember the ‘Opposite George’ episode of Seinfeld? Be like George, and start making some choices opposite of your norm. This unpredictability can liven up your persona.
  • Take up some hobbies. This will open up your daily routine and help you get out of your comfort zone. You’ll also meet new people and that makes it easier to make new, fresh impressions.
  • Focus on others, rather than yourself. This may seem counterproductive to your goal, but most people want to focus on themselves, so give them the chance to do it in social settings.
  • Listen more than you talk! Similar to the above suggestion, but when in social settings, try to spend more time listening to others. This way you are less likely to miss jokes and humor, and have more chance to laugh!

Mental Illness or Disorder Can Affect Sense of Humor

Now the last sign that a person lacks a sense of humor is far more extreme (and less likely) than the others already mentioned. And that is: traits of having a mental illness or disorder.

People who suffer from schizophrenia or autism, or those who have traits of narcissism, often seem to lack humor. It’s more difficult for people with personality disorders to be socially adept and comfortable with others.

Often people with these issues have trouble with back and forth conversation, in large crowds, or handling unstructured settings like parties. For some, it’s even difficult to hold certain jobs especially if the jobs deal with people on a regular basis like the service industry, education, or even some business fields.

Thus, being able to display or reciprocate humor is not surprisingly a needed trait. And it’s not easily changed.

Some ideas to help those with mental illness or disorders (or tendencies towards those):

  • Talk about it with your doctor or therapist, first and foremost.
  • Practice humor devices with safe people, family members or friends.
  • Don’t jump in too quick; rather ease into social situations.
  • Learn to listen more than talk.
  • Watch popular TV shows that most people find funny (or better yet, watch YouTube clips). This will help familiarize you with acceptable and appropriate humor.

What’s A Person Called Who Has No Sense Of Humor

Having a sense of humor is helpful in most situations, professionally and personally. Learning to improve your sense of humor is a worthwhile aim.

A class clown is often the most coveted role of kids because they seem most popular. So what is the opposite of class clown? In other words, what do we call a person who has no sense of humor?

A person who has no sense of humor is called humorless, for starters. As well, a humorless person might also be called stiff, snobby, serious, thoughtful, boring or possibly, just shy. Their lack of a sense of humor can lead to the thought that they ‘just don’t fit in’ by themselves or others.

So let’s think about what this means…to be humorless. I’m sure we’ve all encountered people we thought fit the description, but how is it defined?

humorless: 1) lacking a sense of humor; 2) lacking humorous characteristics

Merriam-Webster

So what should you do if you’ve been on the receiving end of this description (according to Merriam-Webster)? All’s not lost if you’ve been called humorless.

Just like in the above section addressing boring, there are steps you can take to brighten your reputation, and similarly, improve upon your sense of humor.

Suggestions for overcoming humorlessness:

  • Actively practice humor. Take a brave step and tell a joke or share a funny story from your everyday life. It doesn’t have to be hilarious but the more you do it, the better you’ll get at figuring out what makes people smile or laugh out loud. ore impulsive.
  • Make jokes a part of your daily living. You can do this by reading joke books or comic strips, subscribing to YouTube channels, or watching comedy specials.
  • Focus on others, rather than yourself. This one is a repeat from above but worth it!
  • Smile and laugh more. This makes you seem more fun and therefore, less boring and humorless.
  • Listen more than you talk! Similar to the above suggestion, but when in social settings, try to spend more time listening to others. This way you are less likely to miss jokes and humor, and have more chance to laugh!

Mom Sense Of Humor-If You Have No Sense of Humor

One way moms can improve their sense of humor is to have fun with their children.

According to this 2016 report, family therapists regularly incorporate humor into their approach working with struggling families. Thus, even if moms characteristically struggle with humor, it’s worthwhile to work on it for your family’s sake.

Moms who have no sense of humor can actively work on improving that for their family. They can do this through playful activities with their family; incorporating humor in their routines; and by actively practicing humor. Moms have a ready and willing audience to practice on: their kids.

As said, one way to build humor with your kids is to use it strategically through routines or regular activities. For instance, our Fun Jokes For Kids Coloring Book found on Amazon is a great tool for embedding humor through kid-friendly activity.

Example of a joke moms can use from our joke/coloring book: (Joke) What time do ducks set their alarm clock? (Punchline) The quack of dawn!

Another thing moms can do is make their jokes predictable. This means it is not the joke that is so funny, but the repetition and kids, regardless of age, appreciate the repetition and the effort for continuing it!

For me, I have some running jokes with my kids. For example, one of the twins detests bananas and the other feels the same about mushrooms. So of course, when I’m calling them for dinner, I always make a habit of telling Ronin (the banana hater) I included extra bananas in his, and mega mushrooms for Ethan! It’s not at all funny, but it still brings smiles and chuckles!

So, moms out there who lack humor, don’t give up! Kids truly don’t expect you to be Rebel Wilson (and even if you were, they wouldn’t find it funny!). Any attempts of mom humor will naturally bring eye rolls and sighs, but go ahead and do it anyway!

They secretly love that you try!

Dad Sense Of Humor-If You Have No Sense of Humor

‘Dad jokes’ is so well known in modern culture it’s become its own a sub-set of joke type.

Just as explained in the ‘mom section’ above, a sense of humor is vital for family well-being, according to research on the topic. Therefore, dads who lack a sense of humor should do their best to improve on that.

Dads who have no sense of humor can work on this in order to help their family, just like with moms, since research tells us humor is important for familial relationships. Dads can work on humor through consistent, targeted playful activities with their family, giving them practice they need.

Dads can also share humor with their kids by telling jokes. After all ‘dad jokes’ are a thing, right?

Dad jokes or puns are some of the easiest jokes to learn and tell. For those with no sense of humor they are great! You just have to tell the worst, most obvious jokes you can find in order to make yourself the actual butt of the joke.

These jokes aren’t really about the jokes themselves. They are self-deprecating by nature. You are ‘the dad’ telling the embarrassing ‘dad joke’. That is the funny part.

Own the dad jokes and tell them unapologetically and eventually they will all secretly enjoy your antics.

Ways to up your ‘dad joke’ game:

  • Actively search for jokes that relate to your kids. If they’re sports fans, look for bad sports jokes to toss around. If they are gamers, try out some video games humor on them. Just make it full of puns and bad punchlines.
  • Make a routine of it. Maybe start every ‘good morning, rise and shine’ with a joke.
  • Never pass up the opportunity for a pun! Puns are well known for being cheesy and that makes them ‘dad joke’ worthy.
  • Spend quality AND quantity time together. Have you ever heard the sentence, ‘you had to be there’? Well, that’s because often the best jokes can be found during shared experiences. So whether you’re watching silly movies, doing yard work, or roughhousing, you can find plenty of opportunity to laugh.

Teacher Humor- If You Have No Sense of Humor

Teachers are urged to be careful with using humor because studies show it has the power to raise or lower the affective filter for learning. However, humor is necessary for establishing a safe learning environment, so teachers should be willing to work on their own sense of humor, too.

Teacher humor is vital for creating a safe, nurturing learning environment for students of all ages. Teachers who lack humor should be willing to work on that in order to support their students. Teachers can do this through direct and indirect measures to bring humor into the classroom.

“Beginning teachers may be surprised that often what they’ll be relying on in the classroom is not what they learned in their college-prep courses. Instead, they’ll find it’s a sense of humor that’s most important for classroom management.”

Jackie Booe (me), retired public school teacher of 18 years

As well, a good sense of humor is the best teaching tool for grabbing and keeping students’ attention and creating an environment for learning!

But not all teachers come equipped with a sense of humor, so what can they do?

Here is a list of what I’ve found helpful for building my own (lacking) sense of humor, from admittedly personal trial and error:

  • Talk with your students. This is the best way to get to know them and their likes/dislikes. This makes it easier to connect with them through humor.
  • Share humor strategically. Incorporate (age-appropriate) memes, comics, jokes, etc. into your lessons as they fit.
  • Smile and laugh often. The more you smile and laugh, the more they’ll see you as fun.
  • Make your classroom fun. Add humorous touches from posters to quotes to silly art or stuffed animals around the room. My students enjoyed my Groot and Minions stuffies!
  • Don’t take everything so seriously. As much as you enjoy your subject-matter, realize not everyone feels as passionately about Algebra and Idioms. Instead aim to have your classroom a place to feel comfortable just as much as a place of learning.

What’s The Punchline For Having No Sense of Humor?

So, that’s a little bit of what I’ve learned about having no sense of humor, from my own personal experiences to my professional studies. I hope you can use this to help yourself, or others, who may struggle with humor.

For more about families and humor, I recommend these other titles:

Jackie Booe

A mother to four kids, grandmother ("Oma") to a growing number, a retired teacher for over 18 years, and a wife to Mat since 1994, Jackie knows kids and laughter. She holds a license to teach in 3 states and is certified to teach elementary, secondary English, and English Language Learners, with practical experience at all levels. She holds three degrees in the field of education and has taught education courses online at the university level as an adjunct professor, too. She has mentored numerous education interns, hosted professional development for educators, and tutored, in addition to homeschooling her own children.

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