First of all, make sure this is really something you want to do. I suggest you find clips of parrots talking and play them on an endless loop at maximum volume for a whole day before you make up your mind. Unlike the video, the parrot cannot be turned off and does not have a volume control.
Once you have established that you really want a talking bird, then get a young one. Unless you want an African gray, because grays learn new words and sounds through their whole lives. Make sure you get a male, because you will also have better luck. The Bird Channel has a lot of good information and tips on teaching a bird to talk. http://www.birdchannel.com/bird-behavior-and-training/bird-training/10-tips-to-teach-your-pet-bird-to-talk.aspx
Birds are pretty smart, so if you teach your parrot language the way you do for a child, which is mostly without thinking about it, you will get good results. Here’s more on that subject. http://www.parrotparrot.com/parrot-behavior/teaching-parrots-to-talk/
Avian vet Rob Marshall is highly regarded in aviculture, and shares his knowledge often. Here’s his input via Avian Web. http://beautyofbirds.com/talking.html
Back over to Bird Channel, for advice on what to do if your bird learns a bad word. Redirection is the behavior you need to learn. http://www.birdchannel.com/bird-behavior-and-training/bird-tricks-training/teaching-your-bird-to-talk.aspx I wonder if I can get Maynard to yell Kelp! Instead of Help!
A warning to anyone who purchases a bird ONLY because they want a talking parrot. Not all male African grays will talk, and not all parrots of any type or sex will talk. It’s a shot in the dark, so to speak. Following all the tips and hints in the various sites linked here will get you a better chance at it, but you must be committed to loving and caring for your pet no matter what. If you aren’t prepared for that eventuality, get a goldfish. http://www.petyak.com/Birds/Training/Articles/Teaching-your-Parrot-to-Talk/
Another issue to get over is that the very best talking parrot is the small, not so colorful budgerigar, called a parakeet in the USA. Some people of the male persuasion may not consider a budgie to be an impressive enough bird. They picture a huge scarlet macaw on their shoulder, talking away. Well, that’s just crazy talk. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WB-FQDqyr4o
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phxCIuPq9MA This macaw has a pretty good voice, but not much of a vocabulary. And remember, a budgie only weighs about 30 grams. A scarlet macaw will tip the scales at 1000 grams.
Maynard is pretty good at making a sound or saying something that matches what is going on around him, like laughing at the jokes, but that’s just sheer luck for him. This CAG however seems to have a clue as to jokes, to the point where she laughs at her own witticisms. http://onlineathens.com/features/2012-03-01/craige-jokes-between-birds-dogs-and-humans
Hang in there to the weekend, and I’ll be back on Sunday.