Humor Me


Austin Klinock

Slider image illustrated by Josh Kolkin. 

Please allow me to introduce myself

I’m a man of sarcastic taste

I’ve been around for a long, long year

Said many a bad joke in good faith


Pleased to meet you,

Hope you guess my name

 For those of you who may be a little confused, that introduction was a satirization of Sympathy for the Devil, a song written by the Rolling Stones in 1968 (as well as a personal favorite of mine). You may be thinking something along the lines of: “Well that’s an odd way to start an article,” and if that is the case, you would be correct. This article begins in a manner that reflects its general purpose: a presentation of the practical applications of humor in regard to one’s self-confidence. But before I get into that, let’s go over my credentials.

My sarcastic demeanor may be one of the most defining aspects of my personality, from my love of satire to my general use of sarcasm in everyday conversation. I like to say that I inherited this gift from a long line of faciousus forefathers, but in reality, it was developed as a way to compensate for being introverted from a young age.

Sarcastic remarks and expressions can be defining characteristics of a person. Image by Austin Klinock.

Social interaction with tall scary strangers proved to be quite a daunting task. As child, the prospect of being seen as shy and awkward was a constant threat that had to be avoided at all costs, which in bitter irony, caused me to be both shy and awkward. In an effort to break this paradox, I discovered that taking a slightly humorous and lighthearted approach to an otherwise uncomfortable situation was the key. By doing this, one can ease the tension and allow themselves to remain calm and collected.

Wendy Anderson, a Child and Family therapist for Jewish Family Services, is known for her comic sensibilities. “When a child, adolescent or adult walks through my door for the first time, it can be a very scary experience,” Anderson says. Through the use of her “silly books,” toys such as her “Hulk hands,” and other implements of happiness, she leaves a positive impression on her patients that allows them to be more open. “It helps to make the space comfortable, build a connection, and understand who I really am.” But how does all of this tie into building self-confidence?

I was pondering this question a few days ago during a dental appointment. My hygienist, Sawyer Gwaltney, was cleaning my teeth whilst simultaneously attempting to have a conversation with me, in spite of the sharp metal objects in my mouth (an action which I referred to as “picking my brain.”). About 10 minutes into this obviously one-sided conversation, she suddenly began to talk about how she had managed to overcome her shyness as a child. Upon hearing this, I nearly jumped out of my chair (not a smart thing to do when there is a hook in your mouth) and asked her to elaborate. She explained that she would force herself into social situations in which she knew she would be uncomfortable, and by doing so, gradually became more and more self-confident. By overcoming discomfort, she became more confident in her ability to thrive in social interactions.

Humor is an excellent tool to accomplish this goal. As Anderson put it: “In social situations, using humor can actually help strengthen relationships, defuse conflict, and enhance personal interaction. When we use humor, it releases endorphins which in turn trigger a positive feeling. When we feel positive we typically feel better about ourselves, et voila.. self-confidence!”

Humor and positivity can help contribute to a rise in self-confidence. Image by Austin Klinock.