From an analysis of 50+ Jennifer Lawrence videos

Siyan Li
Siyan Li
Sep 3, 2018 · 5 min read
Photo by Dan Cook on Unsplash

I have had a lot of tongue-twister moments.

I Am Having Dinner with the Guy I Really Like.

But I haven’t said anything interesting or even remotely amusing for the last hour. My heart is racing and sweat is beading. It’s all getting kind of awkward. My inner self is mocking me - such a loser! I can’t come up with anything on the spot. I feel dumb and ashamed.

The next day, I wake up in the morning and a great line pops into my head. I kick myself and scream “Damn it! Why didn’t I think of it yesterday?!” The moment only lasted a moment. It’s gone forever.


I have always been fascinated by people who are naturally funny.

I want to be funny.

So, how to be quicker witted? A quick Google search will suggest “listen carefully”, “be surprising”, “learn to appreciate irony”. I am sure they are all true. But How?

Take comedy classes or read loads of books authored by comedians?

What if You Can Watch TV and Become Funnier?

Hey, I found another way — a widely acknowledged way to learn almost anything — mimic the best. This time, it’s quite entertaining as well.

In my opinion, Jennifer Lawrence, one of the most famous movie stars on the planet, is insanely funny. Yet her humor is effortless and natural.


Having completed a quick analysis — no, okay, a detailed analysis of 50+ of her video clips in talk shows (yes, I have mild OCD tendencies), there are some clear patterns — the strategies she often uses to be funny.

The 3 easy-to-apply strategies by Jennifer Lawrence are:

1. Give the opposite answer for a yes/no question;

2. Substitute yourself for another character;

3. Pretend that it’s a gift!


How to Spot Your Cue to Be Funny and Come Back on the Spot

Give the Opposite Answer for Yes/No Questions

Yes, it is that simple. If people are expecting you to say yes, you say no; if people are expecting you to say no, you say yes.

Let’s see an example from Jennifer.

This clip was filmed just after Jennifer shot to fame with the Hunger Games. Don’t forget, at the time she was only around 20 years old.

Given all these, the reasonable and expected answer to “Are you used to it (all the attention and publicity)?” is “No.”

I bet 99 out of 100 people would have answered Ellen’s question with “No! It’s overwhelming/amazing/crazy” with their heads shaking, modesty taking control and giving you chapter and verse of how lucky they are and who they want to thank.

Not Jennifer Lawrence. Although the truth is indeed she was not used to it, she said “Totally”.

A yes/no question is your cue.

Your first answer doesn’t have to be your real answer, you just have to lay it out there right after the question. Then, give your real answer, which is what Jennifer did after pausing for raucous laughter.

The magic is that the moment you give the opposite answer (in this case, it’s “yes” to a question whose expected answer is “no”), you have surprised the audience, so they laugh, then you can move on to your real story.

I tried this technique myself in a similar situation.

At a dinner, a group of newly acquainted friends were talking about each other’s background. Knowing that I’m a scholar from China, a guy teased, “So you must be one of those one-in-a-million super smart Chinese students selected by the government?”

I said, “OH YEAH.”

Raucous laughter! Of course, I’m probably not. :)


Substitute Yourself for Another Character

If you and your friends are talking about an experience, a story or anything where there are at least 2 characters involved (including you), then this could be your chance to be funny. Example:

In her story, when Jennifer Lawrence got into a bar fight in Budapest, there are 2 characters involved: Jennifer and the aggressor.

Seth implied that Budapest was a dangerous place for Jennifer to get into a fight. But Jennifer pretended that Seth was not referring to her, but the other character in the story — the aggressor.

Simply substitute “you” for another character in the story.

Bonus example:

In the movie Fifty Shades Freed, Ana asked Christian, “if you are not coming with me to the forest, what if I run into a bear?”

“Too bad for the bear!” quips Christian.

Christian substituted Ana with the other character in the story — the bear.


Pretend that It’s A Gift!

When we talk about something sad or uncomfortable, we usually talk about it in a sad or uncomfortable way, maybe with some laughs, but awkwardly.

Not Jennifer Lawrence! This is probably one of the biggest reasons why we think she’s one of the most relatable celebrities out there — her self-deprecating humor. She’s got all kinds of unusual traits — some of them can be weird, saddening or even painful. But instead of mourning over them, she sees them as a gift!

“I’m so flattered!” and “I’m so blessed!” can be your go-to comeback lines when you are in sad or awkward situations, when you are uncomfortable talking about something, or even when you’re facing seemingly offensive comments.

This time, instead of giving you an example where I pulled it off, let me give you one where it went flat.

Whilst watching Narcos, I texted a friend, “Diana is dead! So sad…”

The friend texted back, “Diana? I hardly remember that character.”

I replied, “I love women who are named Diana. Many of them are just amazing.” His response?

“You love women??? LOL”

I tried to comeback: “I know, I’m so blessed!

<Crickets…>

Later when we met in person, we discussed it again — he couldn’t stop laughing after I explained. I realized that the reason I didn’t get a response then is this: you must only use the line “I’m so blessed!” when responding to something sad and painful!

The contrast between the expected response and the one you give is what it takes to pull this line off.

Let’s Crack Some People up, Shall We?

Those little hacks can help you make people laugh. Still a lot to digest though! Maybe try practicing them one by one?

Even if you fail, like I did, it is still immensely fun anticipating their responses!

If you’d like more tips on becoming funny & witty immediately, check out these 5 insanely easy lines!

The Post-Grad Survival Guide

We're confused twenty-somethings. We dish on our post-grad blues, successes, failures, and everyday life right here. Featuring topics related to work, relationships, travel, finances, and so much more.

Thanks to Tom Kuegler

Siyan Li

Written by

Siyan Li

Anyone Can Be Funny. 5 Insanely Easy Lines to Make You Witty Immediately: bit.ly/2PIFW4M

The Post-Grad Survival Guide

We're confused twenty-somethings. We dish on our post-grad blues, successes, failures, and everyday life right here. Featuring topics related to work, relationships, travel, finances, and so much more.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade