What’s So Funny?

Years ago, when I was first starting in comedy, I worked with a headliner comedian who said he hadn’t written a new joke in 11 years. Why do so many comedians and comedy writers have such a difficult time writing material? Are you one of those comedians? Do you write everyday? Do you have a difficult time coming up with stuff that’s funny? That might be your dilemma.

What?!

Yeah, that right there! That might be your dilemma; you are trying to come up with something “Funny.”

A comedian or comedy writer doesn’t just come up with something funny, he’s able to take just about anything and turn it into something funny. See the difference? When you sit down to write; you look at the news, read the N.Y. Times, look at the headlines on the internet. Do you ask yourself, “What’s so funny?” What’s funny? Nothing is funny, because most news reports the facts. (I said most because, well, there’s FOX). But what do you do with something that’s not supposed to be funny? The answer is: you do your job. It’s your job to turn it into something that is funny and you do that in comedy by applying comedic formulas.

Two guys walk into a bar…

I come from a large family…

My father was a bastard…

I’m Irish and American Indian…

I have five kids…

Millions of fish washed up in the harbor around Redondo Beach…

On the face of it are any of these lines funny? If you said yes, you’re either really damn funny or your need your head examined! Either way, both are great qualities for being a comedian…

At first glance, those lines are not funny. They don’t read funny. So, what’s so funny?

What’s funny is that you can take these lines and easily turn them into something that is funny. First, you have to understand the basics of what makes people laugh [link]. Once you understand that, you can start to apply the basic comedy formulas. They are basic, but they are so powerful that, when used correctly, they can trigger the laughter from an audience and that’s what you’re looking for as a comic.

I’ll take these lines and use two comedic formulas (Incongruity or The Reverse) to make the lines funny by doing a take-off (commenting on the sentence).

First, if we know that surprise is the number one element that triggers human laughter, then we know we have to try to get into the head of the listener. Let’s look at the first line:

Two guys walk into a bar. In the listener’s head, what are they thinking? What kind of bar? A bar that serves liquor would probably be the best assumption right? So let’s change the meaning of the word “bar.” What if we changed the meaning of the word bar to like a post or a steel bar that’s hanging so low that we would bump our heads on it if we didn’t duck. Now how does the line read?

Two guys walk into a bar…which is kind of stupid, cuz’ if the first one hits it, the next one’s gonna see it, right?

See what we did there? We shattered the audience’s assumption of the meaning of the word ‘bar.’ And came up with something funny. So if we look at the other lines we might have:

I come from a large family…four moms, five dads.

My father was a bastard…he wasn’t a bad guy, he just didn’t know his father.

I’m Irish and American Indian… you know what that means; I pretty much have V.I.P. seats waiting for me at any A.A. meeting.

I have five kids… so I’m half-Mormon…

Millions of fish washed up in the Harbor around Redondo Beach… There’s good news and bad news; The bad news is it’s going to take weeks to clean that up that mess. The good news is: Now the common man knows what it smells like when Kirsti Alley sunbathes nude.

So instead of looking for something funny to write, just find something and turn it into something funny.

Then when someone asks, “What’s so funny?” You’ll be able to say, “Me!”

How To Write Comedy | Conan Writer Rips On His Boss…

Conan Writer Deon Cole talks about Conan’s tattoos…or the lack thereof, and how he wrote a joke that didn’t make the cut…

Deon talks about how he became a writer on "The Conan O’Brien Show." It’s an interesting story and revealed a side of Deon that I’ve seen before, liked and I’m glad to see he still embodies it. I have enormous respect for Deon. He can get on CNN and talk about a joke that didn’t make the cut. Talk about keepin’ it real, huh? We spend so much time trying to show how good we are, because we have fragile egos and Deon just lays it out for all of us. What does that teach me as a writer and comedian? It teaches me that candor is cool.

When you’re honest with the audience they love you for it. Relate it back to the Ricky Gervais video in my previous post: Rick said that "comedy is about empathy…I want to see someone who stumbles and falls and brushes himself off…" Important lessons. How do you apply this lesson? Time and time again I am asked what if I bomb? What if the audience doesn’t like you. If you’re just trying to get from point A to point B and encountering obstacles along the way, we will like you. We will root for you. In other words, let us see you stumble. Let us see you get back up, because we will root for you the whole way!

How To Write Comedy | New Jokes about Holly Madison’s Boob Insurance

 

Holly MadisonJust for kicks I wanted to write some quick jokes about a random story that showed up in the news. This is what I came up with. Please feel free to share your own jokes on this premise. I use a technique called the listing technique and it usually helps me to write about 15-20 jokes in a short period of time. Want to learn this technique visit my blog on how to write comedy.

 

Former Playboy Bunny Holly Madison has taken out a 1 million dollar insurance policy on her breasts. (INSERT PHOTO) — for a million dollars you’d think she could’ve at least gotten full coverage.

 

or… I’m not saying I speak for all men, but thankfully her insurance company only offers partial coverage.

 

By the way those things defy gravity you’d think those implants were made of helium.

 

…an insurance policy is a lot like magic, with one wave of a premium her breasts became an ass–set.

 

I don’t know what insurer underwrote that policy, but it looks like a perfect job for the “Good Hands Company.”

 

…and…actually I think Lloyd’s of London was the underwire…I mean, underwriter. See, if she came to me I could’ve just given her a piece of the Rock.

 

The rep from Lloyd’s of London called her boobs a work of art. Really? I thought Lloyd’s only insured original pieces?

 

She should also get auto insurance considering that you could probably drive a Prius through that cleavage.

 

The only thing stretched tighter than the skin on her chest is the budget for the United Postal Service.

 

That’s not even a scoop top. It’s more like a convertible!

 

Look what my boyfriend got me for my birthday–Twins!

 

When I told people I subscribed to Playboy for the articles. Those are the two articles I was talking about.

 

You know the competition is fierce to be a pretty lady, when the only thing natural about you is your ear wax.

 

When she got her boob job–surprise!–yes, it’s a boob job, she went from A’s to a D’s. Ironically that’s the same reason she dropped out of Portland University.

 

She’s not secretive about the work she’s had done. She’s got fake boobs, fake hair, a fake nose. I mean I wouldn’t kick her out of bed…yeah, she might shatter.

With the money she costs to maintain, she should’ve changed her name to Porsche.

 

It’s reported that she’s had at least nine plastic surgeries. I mean, she’s hot, but at what point are you better off just fucking the cosmetic surgeon?

How To Be A Famous Comedian (Pt. 3)

As we stated in the earlier versions, the path on how to be a famous comedian can be tricky and evasive. Even if there were clear, concise, sure-fire steps one could take in learning how to be a famous comedian and even if you followed those steps to the letter, there is no guarantee that you would become a famous comedian. Believe it or not, even if the steps were known by everyone, only two percent of the readers of the steps would follow them and even less than that would achieve a level of fame that would fit our perceived definition of “famous.”

That being said, there are steps you can take to reach a level of success in comedy. In my view, when you reach a level of success in which you are supporting yourself in a comfortable manner by telling jokes for a living, you have become successful, or certainly reached a milestone of sorts, in your journey on how to become a famous comedian.

“Famous,” in this regard becomes relative to one’s definition.

You should be careful in setting your own definition of “famous.” Your desire for wanting to learn how to be a famous comedian should also be in place for the right reasons. Fame for the pure sake of fame is hollow. You wind up in the same category as “Balloon Boy’s” father, Tarek and Michaele Salahi, the White House party crashers or some wiry, crack addict who gets on a segment of Jerry Springer called, “Pimp My Bride!”

Becoming a comedian is a lot of work. It’s not easy. But it is thrilling! I’ve been a comedian for 25 years. I’ve reached a level of success where I am making decent living doing comedy. I haven’t worked a full-time day job in a very, very long time. I’ve almost forgotten what that’s like. I love what I do and everyday I get to wake up and say, “today I get to write jokes.” I love the challenge of finding something to write about everyday, soliciting work, selling jokes and getting up on stage and performing. I absolutely thrive in the work and the challenge.

If there were steps in learning how to be a famous comedian, they would go something like this:

  • Master the the techniques in crafting comedy material (CLICK HERE and watch in real-time as I write 15 jokes in 30 minutes!)
  • Write strong material, from a unique original perspective. Must have structure and regular solid laugh points (every 18-20 secs.).
  • Perform as much as possible. Get smooth. Get solid.
  • Get on television. (You do this by getting good and getting seen, either in clubs, festivals or submitting yourself to the shows and following up). and if that fails…
  • Set yourself on fire at the Oscars or throw a pie in the face of Rupert Murdoch!

In other words, if you are getting into comedy just to be a famous comedian, don’t! It’s a long journey and has to be done for the right reasons. You’ve got to absolutely love it and you’ve got to be willing to do the work for the sake of doing the best work possible. If you’re doing it for the fame and to get on T.V., it would be easier to build your T.V. appearances by impregnating your sister and getting a slot on Jerry Springer.

How To Write Comedy | Video Tutorial

Being able to produce material on a consistent basis is one of the keys to succeeding in comedy. Whether you are a writer, or want to be a standup comic, you must be able to write material that has structure.

I’ve been asked time and time again to give a demo on how to write comedy. Since joke writing is the building block of comedy writing, as a whole, I am going to demonstrate it here.

The total video is around 47 minutes. It shows the recommended prep necessary to take on the task of writing and some background information to get you ready. Also be warned, this is NOT for kids. There is some NC-17 stuff here.

When you are writing comedy you never, and I mean NEVER edit yourself in the first draft. You always save that for the second or third pass on the the material. So if you are sensitive to language (most of it written) and you are limited on time… then DON’T WATCH THE VIDEO!

If you want to REALLY see the joke writing process and learn one of the fundamental steps in learning how to write comedy, then grab your notebook, a cup of coffee and enjoy!

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NOTE: THIS IS ONLY ONE METHOD ON HOW TO WRITE COMEDY…