Tips for Writing Comedy
You may consider yourself a funny person for having the knack of making your friends laugh. Try to put your jokes in writing form and you’ll see just how difficult it is.
Writing comedy is harder than it looks. Jerry Seinfeld once said that being funny is hard work. Considering that his jokes were rarely funny, that must be true.
So, how do you write a good comedy?
Writing Comedy Like True Comedians
We can’t tell you how to be funny, but we can give you some hints and pointers to make people laugh easier for you. Whether you’re writing standup comedy material, office play, or comedy screenplay, these tips can surely help you out.
Combine unexpected elements
Things that go well together are not funny. You need to put yourself or the characters of your story in unusual settings. For instance, in an office, having people facing computers in their cubicles is normal. What is not normal is having your coworker turning your cubicle into a ball-pit while you’re away. It’s a hilarious setting ripe for more comedic follow-through.
People laugh when things defy their expectations. A good comedy writer leads the audience to expect a certain outcome and completely smashes it.
Remember that Friends episode when Rachel and Chandler are eating cheesecake off the floor and then Joey comes? You expected Joey to blurt out some snarky remarks about the two, but he pulled out a fork instead and joined them. That was hilarious.
Repeating a joke with minor differences can make people laughing on the floor too. Here’s an example:
How do you put a giraffe into a fridge?
Open the fridge, put the giraffe in, and close the door.
How do you put an elephant into a fridge?
Open the fridge, take the giraffe out, put the elephant in, and close the door.
You see? Both the questions and answers are repetitive, but there’s a little difference that makes all the joke.
Standup comedians often use callbacks to their advantage. A callback means taking a joke previously mentioned in the beginning and using it in a different context later in the act. Since it’s been a while since the joke was mentioned, the audience may take a split second to realize it before the burst into laughter.
Funny things happen all the time, but you’re going to miss out if you remain locked up in your room. Go outside and see the world. You’ll see kids doing stupid stuff, people run into funny little accidents on their way to work, dads cracking unfunny jokes to their poor offsprings, and many more.
The finest comedians are true storytellers. They draw real emotions from their audience using a story that the audience can relate.
Think like a comedy writer and turn the funny little things you see into something even funnier. It takes practice, but you’ll get better with time.
One more thing: If you plan to show your comedy writing to other people (like producers, for example) you may want to make sure it’s not filled with typos and misspellings. The jokes may zoom past their heads and make for an awkward situation where you need to explain the jokes.
Do yourself a huge favor and run your comedy writing draft through the online spelling checker. Not only it searches for misspellings, but it also looks for grammar mistakes. You definitely should give it a try.