How to write funny

I’m preparing my notes in advance for when I become a rich and famous author and am asked to travel about giving lectures for big fat consulting fees. At the end of this blog you will be asked to complete a survey, ranking me on a scale of one to five. Please feel free to fill out twenty or so. You can get creative with the names you use, although I. M. Hurling has already been taken.

For those of you who would prefer to take a nap during this blog, you can move to the back of the lecture hall now. We’ll wait.

Let’s break down how to add some humor to your writing:

  1. We laugh at what surprises us. Lists are particularly good for this. I like to use “the rule of three.” You can do this by using two perfectly reasonable things to illustrate your point, then throw in something totally off the wall for the third.
    1. I think that all seniors with their original hips should take up ballroom dancing. You’ll learn the box-step, the dip, and the fastest route to the emergency room.
  2. Irony should be in every humor writer’s grab bag. The Hitchhicker’s guide to the Galaxy is all about the quest for “the meaning of life, the universe, and everything.” After seemingly endless searching, they come up with the rather disappointing answer: “forty-two.”
  3. Exaggeration and understatement are valuable tools.
    1. Dave Barry is a master of exaggeration. … the taxi has some kind of problem with the steering, probably dead pedestrians lodged in the mechanism, …
    2. In Monty Python and the Holy Grail, there is an epic battle between King Arthur and the black knight. When Arthur cuts off both of the knight’s arms, he answers, “Tis but a scratch.”
  4. Developing a strong sense of humor starts with examining what is funny in yourself. Our flaws make us laughable.
    1. I find that it’s important to keep a positive outlook whenever I’m climbing behind the wheel of a couple tons of steel. In all my years of driving a motorhome, I’ve only ripped the tailpipe off once, and those traffic cones had it coming.
  5. Circle the wagons.

One of my favorite techniques is to end a blog by sneaking in something from … Mr. Hurling, if you continue that, I’ll have to ask you to leave!

19 thoughts on “How to write funny

  1. I love it. I have some writer friends who write beautifully but frankly suck worse than my vacuum cleaner after a quick trip through my kids’ rooms when they try to write funny. I’ll be sharing your tips with them … under an alias… I’m thinking of using Karla T…

  2. I was going to go back to bed because I’m freezing cold, but Pamelot tweeted your link and she’s got good taste in blogs, so I’m foregoing the numbness in my fingers and the lack of feeling in my toes to read and I’m so glad I did! It was so worth the sacrifice! Now my nose is running. I know, why don’t you turn on the heat? Long story.

  3. MR Hunter is right. Like a magician giving away tricks. Or a hooker. You should be ashamed. Oh alright, we won’t kick you out of the club, so long as you do not vote us co-presidents of the universal meat packers union, chapter 42. We can’t hold office for undisclosed reasons.
    *****Five Stars

    ~the lisas slept here

  4. Dang. I knew there were five things I wasn’t doing. I just couldn’t put my fingers on them. Now I’m good to go. Funny comes more natural to me than any other type of expressionism. Sometimes, however, “my” funny isn’t near as funny as I think it is. I have to watch that. Like now….oooops.

    (I’ll be waiting for that advice from Pamela……er, I mean Karla T)

  5. Survey??


    There were five points and you score high on all of them…

    Did I just take a survey???

    • ‘Fraid so. And I didn’t even try to sell you on something after the survey. Of course, once I’m all famous and stuff, I’ll gladly except an honorarium.

  6. “I’ve only ripped the tailpipe off once, and those traffic cones had it coming.”

    So did that crossing guard, and the old lady in the wheelchair, and those nuns, and the homeless guy with the cartful of beer bottles…

  7. Speaking of names, I.P. Knightly says who wrote, “Rusty Bedsprings”…ok, I know that’s an oldie….

    God, Karla…you have done it again…! Get this book out to us, so we can die from laughter…it is a murder comedy isn’t it…? LOL

    • I have a friend doing the line editing right now, then I can make corrections and start querying. I promise to keep you in the loop.

  8. I loved this blog, Karla. As far as the scale, you are too far off it in a positive way to track it.

  9. Excellent tips. I think “exercising” your funny is also a great thing. And I want to help! So I will send you my posts in advance of posting so you can add more jokes (and make mine funny when they are not). Whatdya think? 😉

    • Turns out my funny is kind of lazy. It would probably just sit back and sip mimosas while your funny does all the work.

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