Monday, December 5, 2011

Tips for Comedic Writing

I now get "fan" mail from people who read my newsletter or other projects. I love that people enjoy what I'm writing and get a big kick out of it. I was talking to a gal the other day that said if my newsletter didn't show up in her in-box every Sunday morning she would be worried ... oh, and disappointed. I hear that all of the time, which says a lot about the power of consistency when marketing your business or product. I also get asked how to write comedically, which is a tough question. So, let's see if I can dissect it some way that makes sense of the nonsensical.

Let's start with the basics: sense of humor or more like do you have one? I know, I know that's off the charts madness to believe that one requires a sense of humor to writing something funny. Mind you, I'm not talking about stand-up comedy. I am talking about writing. Believe it or not those are two entirely different art forms. Although I did have a gal tell me I should do stand-up, I begged off that one. When I get in front of a group my more serious personality emerges so probably not a good idea. BUT on paper, let her rip! Yes, I have a sense of humor. I think daily living is loaded with nonsense. Many jokes come from my observations of the ridiculous. In fact, people provide the best fodder for material.

Making fun of vs. teasing or bullying. In humor, you always walk a fine line between funny and mean spirited. If you cross the line to just mean spirited, in my opinion, it's no longer funny. I can't remember her name but there is a female comic whose entire act is built around mean-girl jokes. I was not amused by her ... click! You can entertain people with your wit and humor without being just plain nasty about it.

Absurdity and stupidity. I am an observer of the absurd. Absurdities can be found all around us. People are the best place to start. We live in a culture with people who have foot-in-mouth disease (FIMD) and often don't even know it. I never overtly call out those with the heinous illness, but why get mad when someone says something offensive, stupid, insulting or rude? Just make fun of what they said in an amusing way. So let me give you a few examples of my all-time favorites and show you how I make it funny.

"You know a 'real' publishing company." Yes, as opposed to an imaginary publishing company with all of my invisible books. Nope not real! All fake. Hey, watch out not to spill your coffee on that imaginary book! In this example, I use sarcasm and make fun of what was said. I tend to use sarcastic comments to turn a response on its ear.

"Do you like romance books?" "Oooohh nooooo!" The woman who said this gesticulated like a crazy person too. So, to write this in its proper form, I over exaggerate the already exaggerated response. I even add a few extra "Os" to show you the full extent of her revulsion toward my simple, innocuous question. And then I remind people, the question wasn't: "Do you want to have sex in the street ... right in front of me?" Her over-to-the-top response might have been more appropriate to that question. You see how I wrote this? I took something already crazy and exaggerated, increased it, and then showed where this ridiculous response might have truly applied.

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