How to Write Comedy
- Relax! Try to write a brand-new joke. Right now, off the top of your head. Did it work? Probably not – some people can be funny on command this way, but most of us find it extremely difficult. In order to write a funny comedy, you have to let inspiration hit you in its own good time. You can’t force it.
- Figure out what makes you laugh. When have you laughed hardest? Think about a movie, book, or standup comedian that gets you every time. What were you laughing at? Was it awkward situational comedy? Physical comedy? Gallows humor? Everyone has a slightly different sense of humor, and it’s important to write in a way that you find humorous – in order to do that, you have to think about what makes you laugh.
- Keep a “humor journal.”If you’re like most people, you’ll find all sorts of things funny as you go about your day. It might be something you see, something a friend says, or just a funny thought that pops into your head. Comedy writers keep track of these thoughts by carrying a small journal everywhere they go so that they can write down whatever makes them laugh and use it later in a story or joke.
- Don’t ignore plot and characters. Humor is great, of course, but it’s not enough by itself to drive a story. A comedy can’t just be one joke after another – it’s got to give an audience characters that they can relate to, and there has to be some kind of narrative along the way, with character development and a beginning-middle-end structure.
When to Use Comedy
Comedy is great for creative writing. It’s very entertaining to read, and can be fun to write as well. However, comedy is also very challenging to write! So it might not be the best choice for a school assignment – you can easily find yourself stuck when inspiration runs out, and that’s not a good situation when you have a deadline to meet. Especially if you’re not used to writing comedy, it’s best to do it when you can keep working on it over a long period of time, not when you’re under pressure to get it done.
In formal essays, comedy is usually not appropriate. While some teachers/ professors enjoy a little comic relief, many others will take it as a sign that you’re not serious about the assignment. Or, take it as a sign that you’re spending too much time goofing off rather than studying and analyzing information. So the risks are high – misplaced comedy can really hurt your grade – but the potential payoff is pretty small.