Without a doubt, online communication is one of the most defining turning points that humanity has ever reached. The amount of information accessible to us is staggering when stacked up against our prior history. Chief among those information resources, lately, are “TED Talks.” They feature presentations from some of the most innovative and intelligent minds from various communities, and always have something to offer to the average listener with time to spare. In addition to being extremely informative, TED talks can also be exceptionally human; we’re meant to relate to the ideas that people are presenting, and the best speakers have mastered this art. In the following article, we’ll introduce you to 10 of the funniest TED Talks of all time.
Give any of these a listen, and you’ll no doubt agree with us!
TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design. All of the lectures given under the TED banner take place at the intersection of these ideas, and while you might think that it’d be a limiting thing, the reality is that some of our society’s most pressing, important topics can be found here. TED doesn’t just ensure that these topics remain relevant; it gives a speaking platform to experts in various fields so that they can bring their ideas to a much wider audience in an exceptionally relatable way.
The people that you’ll hear in TED talks are brilliant and experienced, sure, but they’re also great at public performance. Many people choose to turn into TED Talks not because they’re a method of remaining informed, but because they’re genuinely funny! And they’re just as easy to access as any other type of online performance, such as podcasts. No cost involved, whatsoever. Subscribe, listen, enjoy!
Before we delve in, it’s important to at least set some expectations, especially for those who’ve never set aside time to partake in a TED Talk or two. First off, these shouldn’t by any means be considered “news.” They’re not particularly journalistic, and they’re not made of short “sound bytes” in the way that contemporary news is. If you’re going to listen to a TED talk, you should instead expect to settle in for a lengthy, well-informed dialog about a specific topic. Those with short attention spans might not enjoy them quite as much!
Secondly, TED Talks occasionally tackle controversial topics. A person’s ability to enjoy them is somewhat dependent on the ability to tuck away preconceived opinions on hot-button issues and simply listen. If that’s up your alley, then check these out!
10 Funniest TED Talks of All Time
The following TED Talks are arranged in no particular order. We’ve curated this list not based on how informative each of these presentations is, but on how funny they are. It should be understood that humor is rarely the purpose of a TED Talk, so much as it’s a useful platform upon which to communicate ideas.
Therefore, while some of the speakers on this list will be hilarious, you won’t be hearing stand-up comedy. You’ll be hearing talented speakers presenting critical, innovative directions of thought.
Rated as one of the funniest TED Talks ever hosted, this presentation by Maysoon Zayid is just as good as any comedy routine, though it’s a hell of a lot more touching. This is an example of the experience that a listener can gain from listening to TED presenters. Zayid is an actress, philanthropist, and actor, in addition to being a spokesperson for the disability community.
This is another presentation that walks a tight line between comedic and informative but eventually manages to be a perfect representation of both. James Veitch explores the wondrous world of spam email, illustrating the hidden comedy of it as well as the potential pitfalls that spawn when you choose to interact with it. He also helps to illustrate just how commonplace things like “spam” have become in our internet-obsessed culture.
While this particular TED Talk is better reserved for adults (who will simply understand the humor far better) it’s among the funniest that you’ll hear. Mary Roach delves into history and experience, both absurd and practical, to find out more about the elusive nature of the orgasm. Some of the things you’ll learn will be outright outrageous, but it’s all grounded in a thoughtful, intelligent, and consistently funny framework.
What happens when you finally need to talk to your kids about the way that more kids are made? The most familiar element of biological life–biological reproduction–gets all kinds of messy when left in human hands, and Julia Sweeney hits the nail on its head with this hilarious talk. It comes in the shape of frog reproduction. Give it a listen, and you’ll see that it gets even better.
One of the things that ‘The New Yorker’ is most regarded for is its longstanding publication history of cartoons. Rife with political and social commentary, they always seem immaculately placed in each issue, and always seem to contribute to the larger themes of the pieces they compliment. In short, they’re perfect. Bob Mankoff–the man responsible for analyzing and selecting many of them–talks about the process of finding perfect cartoons amidst the hundreds of submissions that ‘The New Yorker’ receives every single month. This TED Talk will have just as much insight as any other, but it’s about this man’s journey and his niche in a professional trend that doesn’t often get an examination.
Shawn Achor is an extremely thoughtful psychologist, but the way that he presents his ideas, here, is no shortage of hilarious. He examines the work ethic in the United States, as well as the longstanding assumption that we should all be working more in order to be happier. It’s a habit as old as the “American Dream,” which makes it all the greater of a subject for a humorous TED Talk.
Emily Levine is a philosopher and a comedian. Juxtapose that with the title of this TED Talk, and you might think you have an idea of where she’s going to take the discussion, but I promise that you’ll be surprised. What she’s truly an expert in is reading the connective line of our culture–the things that we take for granted on a daily basis about how our world operates. She pulls them apart like taffy, exposing our assumptions about simple things in an enlightening way that demands your attention. For sure, this is one of the best presentations on this list.
For most people, the reality of nerd culture extends far beyond simple expectations and stereotypes. Ze Frank will let you know the bounds of said culture in this hilarious TED Talk, wherein he talks about nerd culture in tech. While you probably won’t stop laughing from beginning to end, you’ll certainly learn that those who celebrate nerd culture are some of the most prolific creators and innovators in our society.
More than ever before, there’s been cause to question some of the age-old practices and rules that we enforce in education institutions. While education is more important than ever before, innovation and discovery with regard to how we learn has made this a prominent, relevant discussion. Sir Ken Robinson tackles the issue head-on, and speculates on what type of system might best nurture the creative potential of young people in modern schools. Of course, he brings a great deal of humor to the issue, but this TED Talk is no less enlightening for it.
Online culture has given us a lot of things, but chief among them has been a swamp of different procrastination avenues. We’re a horribly distracted species, and always have been! Tim Urban presents a talk that is built upon his own experience with procrastination. It’s insightful, hilarious, and might just change the way that you think about “wasting time” online!
There you have it! 10 of the funniest TED Talks that you’re ever going to see or hear and all of them are entirely free to view. Click through some of the links that we’ve provided throughout this article to get a better idea of just how humorous TED presentations can be when a masterful speaker is behind them. They provide ample opportunity to find your comedy and your thoughtful discussion all in a single place.
However, there are far more TED Talks than we’ve listed here, as you can probably see if you click through to the TED website. There are even hilarious presentations that we didn’t have room for on this list, so if you happen to stumble upon any that you feel deserve a spot in our “top 10,” let us know in the comments below! Meanwhile, enjoy some of the funniest talks of all time. Consider sharing this post, if you enjoyed our content!