27 thoughts on “Class Clown: Why are ADHDers So Damn Funny?

  • March 8, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    “You’ve just burned the house down but you say, “Well, honey, at least I remembered to lock the door!””

    I love it! My therapist always marveled how I could talk about traumatic events in my life sprinkled with humor. I agree that it has to do with our ability to make connections where no one else can which also supports my belief that ADHD is more likely an evolutionary adaption to an environment inundated with with constant stimulus. Those of us able to harness and use find that we excel because of our ADHD rather than in spite of it. As an IT person it has become in invaluable tool for multitasking and allowing me to work on several projects at once. Where I struggle is when I am asked to focus on one project that is limited in scope and definition.

    • March 9, 2010 at 4:40 pm

      Hi Kenneth. Thanks so much for reading my blog, and for sharing your experience. I can so relate to what you say! I guess we need a lot of stimulation to keep us focused, I’ve read about that and will blog about it in the future. Good to hear from you here on Psych Central. Hope you enjoy the rest of this week’s ADHD from A to Zoë. Take care!

      • June 30, 2016 at 8:58 am

        Just googled Comedians and ADD and read this article. I’m no comedienne, but I’ve had my fair share of troubles being the class clown, talking too much, laughing at things others don’t see funny, etc. I’ve never been diagnosed, but I suppose I’ve always had ADD. I’m not sure I have ADHD. I’ve recently accepted the fact, after being told that I’m an “external processor”, that it takes more for me to be focused than the average person. When talking with someone, I feel much more engaged and focused.

        I, too, am in the IT field and I think I do a good job.

        Oh, and I, too, think I am damn funny!

  • March 9, 2010 at 1:25 am

    Fellow funny female ADHD-er w/ hyeractivity here. One thing I have noticed about my humor is the situational strength or weakness. I am generally funny however I am mostly not funny when I am out for a jog with my running club. I am really funny when playing games. Have you ever noticed that?

    • March 9, 2010 at 4:34 pm

      Thanks for your response, and for reading my blog. It’s cool to know there are other women ADHDers out there with the H! For me, the humour is turned on most of the time, but does me a disservice when I am nervous, anxious or otherwise feel threatened in some way. Then it feels like I’m using the humour to dissipate the nervousness, but it never works that way, rather it adds to and compounds the situation. I’m slowly learning to control this, but it’s tough. One thing that helps tremendously is I’ve recognized the problem; I’ve given myself permission to be myself – specifically: to recognize whatever feeling is giving me difficulty; to acknowledge it without judgement; and finally, to breath into it and just let it be. At the same time, I’m consciously relaxing and not giving in to that knee-jerk reaction to say something, anything, to get past the difficult emotions. This almost always clears my head and keeps me calm enough to stay with the situation and respond more appropriately. Each time I do this, it gets easier. (Wow, talk about multi-tasking! All this is going on in my head while the other person is speaking. It’s amazing, really, what we do with these busy heads of ours!) Thanks again for taking the time to read and respond! All the best to you!

  • March 10, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    “HEY! This ain’t funny … 😉 Ha” Don’t ya mean: wanna bullet with that Laugh? c-ya

  • March 10, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    Hmm, I never thought of myself as “being funny,” although I definitely have a quirky sense of humor. (For the record, I’m a 30 something woman with ADHD, with the H mainly manifested as impulsivity, not hyperactivity).

    Instead, I think of non-ADHDers as often being too serious, no-nonsense, humorless. Or often amused by things that aren’t really that funny. Maybe ADHDers tend to like more outrageous humor, consistent with life arenas where we seek more stimulation than others do. And Robin Williams and Jim Carrey can definitely be described as outrageous!

    • March 11, 2010 at 3:26 am

      Thanks for your comment, Robyn. I was especially intrigued by your description of your hyperactivity. You might be interested in tomorrow’s blog, “H is for Hyperactivity,” for another flavour of the “H.” I’m also thinking that both Robin Williams and Jim Carrey seem to strike a chord (or a funny bone) in a lot of people, ADHDer or not. In any event, I’d love to see a world where we don’t need to hold back so much on our humor, where it’s ok to laugh at work more often, to bring a smile to a stranger’s face, and to just generally commit random acts of funny. That’s a commitment I have and it cheers up not only me, but others, on a fairly regular basis. Keep smiling!

  • March 13, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    At work even tho I was the most knowledgeable about the product and somewhat efficient (not being able to stick to one task for to long) I was always recognized as the funny one. Even when my agents where down or where having a hard time it was easy to bring them back with a few chuckles. This of course did me little good when it came time for review. But none the less I still feel I did a good job.

    One of my more memorable times when humor was not appropriate: Customer called in with a virus on his computer and was obviously very mad that his computer was not working. ” Well I have some good news and some bad news, bad news is you have a computer virus. Good news is I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance by switching to gieco ” Needless to say the customer had the pleasure of my supervisor assisting him with his issue.

    • March 14, 2010 at 6:07 pm

      Thanks for your comment, Jarom. It seems like you have a lot of insight into your humor and how it works (or not) in your life. Do you feel that you’ve learned from incidents like the one you shared, or do you still find that sometimes your humor comes out in inappropriate ways? I’m wondering if you have any tips for the rest of us? I find that I’ve been able to minimize my inappropriate expressions of humor, but it’s still pretty difficult sometimes, especially when I think my comment is super-funny! The pressure to hold back almost feels like a physical effort! Then I remember the skill of taking all factors of the situation into account, not a natural talent for me. I tend to weigh humor above all, which, obviously, most people don’t. Maybe it’s because laughter feels so good! Anyway, you don’t need to respond unless you feel like it. I appreciate your contribution and thanks for reading my blog!

  • July 11, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    About me, a friend said “Her humor is so dry she crackles”.

    My father said “Well there is one thing about it SHE has always made us laugh”.

    Me: “They landed the space shuttle at JFK today can you believe that?” My husband: “No they did not”. Me: “Yes they did, I just heard it on the news”. He walks away baffled. Little did I know he was in interpreter mode. When he returned he said to me “are you sure it was JFK”. Me: “Yes!!!” Him “Could it have been Kennedy as in Space Center?” Me: “Hmm, but they said Kennedy” (thoughtful pause while he counts down to himself) Me: “Nevermind!!!” and we break in to deep laughter.

    I was not the class clown. But I would impulsively speak about random subjects only realizing after I said it that the whole class had moved on to something else. Conduct grades = C. I got here with or I have developed a wonderful sense of humor which my husband and I get. Are we born with that sense of humor or do we develop it to compensate? Let us hope we find out through your generous writing and interaction with your readers.

    • July 12, 2010 at 7:19 am

      lol! Thanks for sharing this anecdote, Denim! I laughed right along with you…great way to start the day! I think it’s fantastic that we can laugh at ourselves, too; such a great stress-buster and SO much healthier than getting upset about our blunders. It probably doesn’t come across in my blog posts, but yes, I can (and very often do) laugh at my own little foibles and faux pas. Someone’s got to! ha ha…
      Take care,

  • July 22, 2010 at 9:17 am

    Zoë said: “Sometimes humor just isn’t appropriate…”

    Those 5 simple words explain a lifetime of trials and tribulations. I’ve always understood that great humor depends more upon timing than upon content. But it took me 50 years to understand why my sense of timing was not universally shared….

    • July 22, 2010 at 9:28 am

      The good news is, with practice, you can get the timing down just right! Keep smiling, Jerry! Keep laughing!!

  • May 23, 2011 at 5:25 am

    Wow, very inciteful dialogue. I look forward to reading more on this blessing of a syndrome. Besides urself, Zoe, who else should I look into pioneering study on this? Perhaps not the most decorated, but endorsed by you?

    • May 23, 2011 at 3:58 pm

      Hi PJay.
      Thanks for dropping by!
      To answer your question, I have a number of favourite ADHD gurus. I’ve mentioned the ones whom I feel have contributed the most (so far) to my understanding in my blog previously, and so far, they include the following:

      Dr. Timothy Bilkey, Psychiatrist, founder of the Bilkey ADHD Clinics
      – for my interviews w/Dr. Bilkey, click here
      – Dr. Bilkey has the most experience INTERNATIONALLY with ADHD of anyone I’ve interviewed so far. His insights and perspectives on adult ADHD are insightful and brilliant, he’s a joy to hear at his lectures and a wealth of knowledge. I eagerly anticipate, (and will review) his upcoming book

      Dr. Russell A. Barkley, Psychiatrist
      Taking Charge of Adult ADHD, best recent publication on Adult ADHD
      – Dr. Barkley has expanded on the symptoms of an adult with ADHD and made them so much more understandable, it’s amazing. He takes what others have described as a trait or symptom on a cold, clinical list of symptoms, and put flesh and bones on it, describing what it actually feels like to have adult ADHD and the many nuances and flavours that our symptoms can take on. While most (if not all) experts agree that there are many “flavours” of ADHD, Dr. Barkley does the actual work of nailing down descriptions of the way our minds work (and fail to work), and why. He gives real-life examples of our cognitive processes and what we’re missing that makes our lives so difficult. His examples are concrete and vivid, and those of us with ADHD will sigh with relief when we see that SOMEONE can articulate what’s going on for us – AND – as importantly, can give us a roadmap to lead us onto a path where we’re not only coping with our traits more successfully, but actually experiencing more successes and satisfaction in life.
      – for a teaser, watch Dr. Barkley’s insightful, poignant and passionate rebuttal to the “ADHD as a gift” camp HERE

      Dr. Gabor Maté, M.D., clinician, author
      – I’ve interviewed Dr. Maté several times, but have not included an interview w/him on my blog as yet (although I have referred to his book and quoted him many times, here, and in articles for various magazines)
      – Dr. Maté is truly a pioneer in that his theory about the origins of ADHD runs counter to current expert viewpoints. I find that I resonate with his ideas, and would highly recommend anyone with ADHD to check his work out for her/himself. His book is called Scattered Minds, How Attention Deficit Disorder Originates and What You Can Do About It

      Rick Green, ADDer, Filmmaker, Director, Producer, ADD & loving it?!
      TotallyADD, most fun / informative website
      – For starters, check out the video, Syndrome, one of my all-time favs!

      Karen O’Donnell, ADDer & filmmaker
      A Mind Like Mine, fantastic, comprehensive, entertaining and dramatic documentary on adult ADD – a MUST SEE!
      – Karen’s website: Wordshop Productions Inc.

      And, finally, it’s not new, but it’s still a classic and invaluable part of an ADHDer’s education and self-discovery:

      Dr. Ed Hallowell and Dr. John Ratey’s, Driven to Distraction
      – what can I say? It’s the ADHDer’s bible

      …Hope that helps.

  • August 5, 2011 at 7:10 am

    This is a really helpful article, my 6 year old is about to be diagnosed with ADHD, and one of the things I love about him is his sense of humour… and not just because he’s pretty much the only person who laughs at my jokes.

    The Doctor he’s been seeing has suggested prescribing Ritalin (as a diagnostic tool! if he becomes ‘normal’ on ritalin he has ADHD) and one of the main reasons I’m dead against that is the thought of Sam loosing his sense of humour.

    • August 5, 2011 at 7:34 am

      Hi Peter.
      Thanks so much for your comment, and I’m wishing you and your son all the best.

      As for losing his sense of humor if he takes Ritalin – it’s highly unlikely. I was worried about the same thing myself, that being on a stimulant medication for my ADHD would take away my edge, turn me into a zombie (then again, I could probably make a movie if that were the case, lol), but no – none of these things happened. In fact, I went on to write a standup comedy piece about – you guessed it – living with ADHD! LOL

      Please remember too that if you and/or your son are not happy with how he’s feeling on meds, you can always change the dose, or change the medication. Fortunately, there are plenty of options available today.

      All the best,

  • August 5, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    Really liked the background on humor in this post. I make inappropriate comments on a regular basis. But since I spend so much time alone, I primarily entertain myself. Like the time I opened a vitamin bottle with a hatchet. Made sense to me…

    • August 6, 2011 at 12:13 pm

      Debbie, you’re a riot! Thanks for sharing!

  • August 5, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    Yeah, but those example weren’t funny…and I’m not sure what they have to do with adhd, anyway…

  • December 11, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    I had an adhd partner and he was very funny at times, but most of the times it went overboard to just being rude, inappropriate, weird and with out any sense of self-control (too much sexuality or coarseness et c). I think its funny on stage, but to live close by (he was not medicated or took responsibility for his condition) was just not funny most of the time, just bizarre and hurtful.

    • December 11, 2011 at 4:56 pm

      I hear you, Sophia. Thank you for taking the time to express your thoughts and to share some of your story. Being “inappropriate” or “over the top” or “bizarre” with my humour is one of the things that got me into trouble at times before I was diagnosed with ADHD; I’m so glad I’ve had the opportunity to learn how and why my brain is the way it is, and to learn how to take my creativity and ground it in more thoughtful, considered expression (most of the time.) I agree that it’s essential for adults to take ownership of their own stuff, and by acknowledging the less-desirable aspects of ADHD, and learning lots of coping mechanisms, I can actually now trust my spontaneous humour more and more. Part of that is that I’ve relaxed and slowly learned to trust myself, to rebuild my self-esteem, and to not be so anxious and worried any more about saying the “wrong” thing. It’s a bit paradoxical, but it’s made life a lot easier for not just me, but for those around me. I hope your ex is getting the help and support he needs, if he’s chosen to address his ADHD.

      Take care,

  • April 6, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    🙂 I’m 13 and i have adhd and i do teen stand up in Birmingham 😛 I really enjoy it,at home all my friends are boys mainly because many girls at my school are bitchy and do not laugh!
    But i’m also very annoying/immature according to my friends….
    But yeah i would call myself “funny”

    • April 6, 2012 at 3:56 pm

      Wow, Phoebe that’s amazing? Do you have any Youtube clips of comedy we might enjoy? If so, please feel free to send the URL!
      Keep laughing!

      • April 7, 2012 at 4:13 pm

        Nahhh i dont really use YouTube…
        To many weirdos on it,is there any chance you could give me a few tips for living with teen adhd please:)
        Many Thanks

      • April 11, 2012 at 7:47 am

        Hi Phoebe.

        Just back from Easter holidays (and I’m paying for it!)

        I like your question a lot, and have decided to put my answer in a blog post so others can benefit too. Thanks for asking, and look for my response early next week, ‘k?
        And btw – I hope you don’t give up entirely on YouTube… there is some GREAT STUFF on there! I’ll include a few clips that will be relevant to you in my response, and you can watch ’em or not, your call. Sound fair?

        Take care!


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