I have this problem a lot too sometimes, and overthinking almost always makes it worse. It's the moment I just let go and say something
, even if it's not a funny response, that helps put me at ease and say funnier things more naturally afterward.
The simplest, short answer I have is: be random. Start observing everything around you and start making connections between things that are kind of unusual, random, and interesting.
I feel aiming to be interesting
will trump just trying to be funny, and more often than not, just being interesting alone will get laughs.
Speaking with an air of confidence (not arrogance) and inflection in your tone will help a lot too in social gatherings. I still have this problem sometimes, mostly around people I don't know that well, but I am working on it.
In general, you will always want to talk about things that fall into one of two categories: either new, unusual, and interesting things that someone doesn't know about
, or relating to someone with something you both know about or have experienced.
Something new and unusual would be like something you read about in the newspaper or on a wikipedia entry online. Something to relate with people you're with could be the setting you're in or a shared past: have the same friends to talk about, the food you guys are eating, that weird guy you saw walk by who has a dog dressed in a hawaiian shirt. Making fun of your environment is a great tool, because weird stuff is happening all the time.
When people tease me and I can't come up with a response, smiling/laughing without a reply is a normal, nervous response. Usually if it's an playful insult, one kind of all purpose reaction (which works for both girls and guys) is to say, "Wow, I... can't talk to you anymore"
and put your hand up and playfully walk away while smiling. On paper this sounds super serious but it's all about the delivery! You have to have a totally exaggerated delivery, like you're saying "WOW" with your eyes open, and still smiling but somewhat in awe.
You can study and watch standup comedy, but that's probably not your main problem. The biggest hurdle in saying witty responses is really the delivery and not what you actually said--because if a genuinely witty remark comes off sounding like you were completely serious, it won't work (and could possibly come off as offensive!) The hardest transition for someone who hasn't built up a social 'reputation' for making funny remarks is to get used to conveying that delivery through their voice.
I could honestly talk about this for ages (sorry for the long reply) but if you're interested in more tips on how to be funny, visit my website at: socialhumorbutterfly.com
Hope I helped!