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