Tag Archives: comedy

Comedic Writing Tips

There are six essen­tial ele­ments of humour, sug­gests Dilbert’s Scott Adams, as he looks briefly at how to write com­edy:

  • Pick a Top­ic: The top­ic does half of your work. I look for top­ics that have at least one of the essen­tial ele­ments of humor: Clev­er, Cute, Bizarre, Cruel, Naughty, Recog­niz­able.
  • Simple Sen­tences: Be smart, but not aca­dem­ic. Prune words that don’t make a dif­fer­ence.
  • Write About People: If you must write about an object or a concept, focus on how someone (usu­ally you) thinks or feels or exper­i­ences those things. Humor is about people, peri­od.
  • Write Visu­ally: Paint a funny pic­ture with your words, but leave out any details that don’t serve the humor.
  • Leave Room for Ima­gin­a­tion: Leav­ing out details allows read­ers to fill them in with whatever image strikes them as fun­ni­est. In effect, you let read­ers dir­ect their own funny movie.
  • Funny Words: Funny words are the ones that are famil­i­ar yet rarely used in con­ver­sa­tion. It’s a bonus when those words have funny sounds to them.
  • Pop Cul­ture Ref­er­ences: Ref­er­ences to pop­u­lar cul­ture often add humor.
  • Anim­al ana­lo­gies: Anim­al ref­er­ences are funny. If you can­’t think of any­thing funny, make some sort of animal/creature ana­logy. It’s easy, and it almost always works.
  • Exag­ger­ate, then Exag­ger­ate Some More: Fig­ure out what’s the worst that could hap­pen with your top­ic, then mul­tiple it by ten or more. […] The big­ger the exag­ger­a­tion, the fun­ni­er it is.
  • Near Logic: Humor is about cre­at­ing logic that a‑a-a-lmost makes sense but does­n’t. No one in the real world could put gum on his penis and retrieve an iPod from a storm drain. But your brain allows you to ima­gine that work­ing, while sim­ul­tan­eously know­ing it can’t. That incon­gru­ity launches the laugh reflex.
  • Call­back: A call­back is when you end with a funny ref­er­ence that already got a laugh. It puts a nice peri­od on your humor writ­ing.

I won­der how much of this applies to speak­ing, too?

via Ben Cas­nocha

George Carlin’s Last Interview

Shorty before his death last year, comedi­an George Carlin gave what was to become his last wide-ran­ging inter­view—with Jay Dixit, seni­or edit­or of Psy­cho­logy Today.

Carlin dis­cusses many things in this inter­view; from detail­ing his meth­od for com­ing up with mater­i­al to his use of tech­no­logy and this on the advant­ages of being an older comedi­an:

A 20-year-old has a lim­ited amount of data they’ve exper­i­enced, either see­ing or listen­ing to the world. At 70 it’s a much rich­er stor­age area; the mat­rix inside is more tex­tured, and has more con­tours to it. So, obser­va­tions made by a 20-year-old are com­pared against a data set that is incom­plete. Obser­va­tions made by a 60-year-old are com­pared against a much rich­er data set. And the obser­va­tions have more res­on­ance, they’re rich­er.

[…] Now at this age, I have a net­work of know­ledge and data and obser­va­tions and feel­ings and val­ues and eval­u­ations in me that do things auto­mat­ic­ally. And then when I sit down to con­sciously write, that’s when I bring the crafts­man­ship. That’s when I pull everything togeth­er and say, how can I best express that? And then as you write, you find more, ’cause the mind is look­ing for fur­ther con­nec­tions. And these things just flow into your head and you write them. And the writ­ing is the really won­der­ful part. A lot of this is dis­cov­ery. A lot of things are lying around wait­ing to be dis­covered and that’s our job; to just notice them and bring them to life.

Thanks, Andy