5 Of My Best Comedy Writing Tutorials Online

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5 Of My Best Comedy Writing Tools

Let’s get right to it!

I’ve been posting and blogging about comedy writing tools for several years now, giving you the best tools that I use to write comedy. I’m loving every minute of it!george-carlin_98_percent

In this post I’m sharing with you my 5 favorite writing tools online. It’s a combination of tools I’ve already posted, but you may have forgotten they were there or missed them because you didn’t see the post.

Look at them now because soon I am going to be locking them in the vault and only using them for online courses.

These tools work whether you are a one-and-two-liner comedian or whether you are a story-teller.

These tools work for coming up with jokes for Clubs , Corporate, Late Night, Sketches, Screenwriting, or novel writing.

The structure of comedy is as important to the laugh as hitting the right notes in the right key is important to the music.

In other words, without the structures, there is little or no laughter.

Every comedian who’s made you laugh from Jerry Seinfeld to Kevin Hart; from Jim Jefferies to Bill Burr; from Louis CK to Amy Schumer, they all utilize the structures I teach in my courses and in my eBook writing system. They all use them, even if they don’t know it!

George Carlin said to me, “I know 98-percent of the time that a joke is funny before I get it on stage.” I asked him how he knew and he said, “because I know they contain all the elements necessary for a joke to be funny.”

So here we go!

 

1. Joke Writing 1-2-3

This was the second one I shared with the public when I first started writing my blog. It’s a simple method I use when I am staring at a blank page or computer screen saying, “I got nothin!” I just run this scenario through my head and I always wind up with something; usually about 5 minutes of new material! The good thing is I can use it starting from complete scratch!


2.How To Write Jokes [Video Tutorial]

video_tutorials_-logo
This video tutorial was the first of its kind ever put on the internet. May still be the only one of its kind. Where I start with a simple headline from the news and I walk you through the procedure as you look at my computer screen. It’s like you’re looking over my shoulder while I write jokes and show you one of my processes for generating material. This technique has helped me to write thousands of jokes over the years. 

3. How To Write Jokes For Corporate [Video Tutorial]

title-insuranceAnother first of its kind as far as the viewer being able to watch joke writing in a certain niche in a real-time environment. In this video I will take the corporate subject matter of “Title Insurance” and walk through my process as I basically write 10 minutes of Title Insurance jokes. Inspired from a phone call I received from National Title asking me how much I charge to perform at one of their events doing at least five minutes of Title Insurance humor. After I quoted them my fee I knew I better be able to write some title insurance jokes. So I start from scratch and write 10 minutes in less than an hour. Take a look at the process if you want to learn how to write comedy for corporate engagements. Definitely worth a look!

4. Comedy Writing Quick & Simple

Most people I run into who are trying to write comedy, think that comedy writing is a mystery. They think it’s got to be really clever and difficult. Some of the best comedy is the simplest comedy. Much of it comes in the form of opposites. One of the easiest ways to get to the punch is NOT to think of something FUNNY but to think in opposites. This exercise gets you there fast. It may seem simple, but it’s powerful. I’ve used this in sketch writing, screenwriting and in stand-up. Always effective!

 

5. How To Write Comedy Like Bill Burr

2013-07-07 21_25_30-Bill Burr - Epidemic of gold digging whores - YouTubeI love Bill Burr! He’s a terrific and expressive comedian, who loves to take the alternate point of view on popular social opinions. His technique is masterful, but when someone told me that Bill doesn’t use any comedy structure, I just had to show them not only that he does, but how he does and exactly where he uses it. Take a look at this Bill Burr video and then watch as line-by-line, you get to see where he places the key elements that trigger the laughs!

 

So there you have it

Five of my best tools for writing jokes. But here’s the thing: This barely scratches the surface of the tools I use on a regular basis to write jokes. In my classes and with my online courses, I teach 23 different approaches to writing comedy. Remember, there’s no single way to approaching comedy writing.

But these tools will give you a process to make it easier. I still use the old-school method of getting an inspiration and talking it out on stage until it develops into a solid routine, but I prefer to use the George Carlin method: write it funny so you know it’s funny before you take the stage!

I hope you enjoy this list of tools. Remember they won’t stay online long, so use them, share them with others and please feel free to leave a comment below and let me know how you’re doing!

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10 Ways Lady Gaga Can Help You Turbo Charge Your Comedy Career

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10 Ways Lady Gaga Can Turbo Charge Your Comedy Career

Are You Serious?

I can hear it now… the voices saying what the f*@k?!

What do you mean, Lady Gaga?

It seems difficult to believe, after all, we’re comedians.

Haven’t we all made fun of Lady Gaga?

I know I’ve done some jokes about her; A meat-suit, really?

But here’s the point: Comedians love to talk smack about people. In one way it’s our job. Isn’t that what we do; make fun of stuff?

But we also have to realize that we can learn from those very same people that we make fun of.

Lady Gaga has built an incredible career. She has tens of millions of followers on social media and her fans don’t just tolerate her, they LOVE her!

So check out the SlideShare presentation below.

It might actually help you choose a direction, give you some ideas and finally light a fire under your lazy comedy ass!

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9 Stand-Up Comedy Specials Worth Streaming This 4th of July

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4th-of-July

9 Stand-Up Comedians Worth Streaming on Netflix Now!

I love the 4th of July!

It’s another reason to eat and drink and celebrate something we don’t really get. As comedians or comedy writers, the 4th of July should provide great fodder for material, especially since so much comedy is about dichotomy and paradox. Hobby-Lobby-store-us

And the idea of a FREE America is loaded with it.

Let’s celebrate Independence Day where we are FREE! Let’s celebrate FREEDOM!

In a country where we see somewhere around 40,000 new laws introduced into the books in a single year (2010), the definition of ‘free’ certainly comes with certain (with heavy sarcasm) inverse proportionality.

Isn’t there irony in the fact that just days after the Christians celebrated the Supreme Court ruling favoring Hobby-Lobby, (stating that companies with religious compunctions don’t have to pay for medical insurance to provide female employees with birth control), we celebrate our national day of “Independence.”

It’s comedic irony!

But that’s the beauty of comedy!

Inverse proportionality, paradox, irony and dichotomy rule when it comes to writing comedy.

That’s why, with the help of the folks over at Crushable, I’m posting the 9 Stand-up Comedy Streams You Can Watch on Netflix right now:

1. Aziz AnsariBuried Alive

You might know him as Tom Haverford on the NBC show Parks and Recreation.

It’s no wonder his career got started with an MTV sketch comedy show Human Giant. His stand up is much the same with act-outs of life situations that will make you think, “How come I didn’t think of that?!”

 

2. Louis C.K. – 3 Specials

That’s right! Louis has 3 specials on Netflix as we speak; Live at The Beacon Theater, Chewed Up and Hilarious. Which one to watch? This is a no-brainer, watch them all! Louis was named best comedian alive today by Rolling Stone Magazine and there’s a reason for that. Check him out!

3. Women Who Kill – Certified Funny

It’s all in the title: This special has features 4 funny girls, Amy Schumer, Rachel Feinstein, Nikki Glaser and Marina Franklin.

Females have been making their mark in comedy and these four girls show you why. This is my kind of chick-flick!

 

 

4. Craig Ferguson – I’m Here to Help

Craig is getting his stand-up out there because he’s no longer going to be hosting his Late, Late Show. He’s also going to be hosting a new game show currently titled “Celebrity Name Game” produced by Freemantle Media.

 

 

5. Maria Bamford – The Special Special Special

To be quite honest, I don’t know how this one even made this list. I like Maria Bamford, but in this special, Maria spends 42 minutes doing comedy in her parents’ living room of their tract home in Eagle Rock, California.

Thank God my parents are already dead, because if I did that to them, it would’ve killed them—or put them to sleep—as this show did to me.

It is, however, an interesting experiment about how important an audience is to spread the energy of laughter. Is the funny getting away from Maria? Check it out and see.

 

 

6. Jim Gaffigan – Mr. Universe

Jim Gaffigan is a comedian that just makes me laugh. He’s filled with recognition and simple-truth/act-outs, (much like Aziz Ansari). Gaffigan actually has 2 specials on Netflix worth streaming. He also has Beyond the Pale.


7. Morgan Murphy – Irish Goodbye

This gal is funny! Not a lot of glam, just pure comedy genius. Originally from Portland, Oregon, this gal spent time writing for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. You will also get inspired by reading her tweets! @morgan_murphy.

 

 

8. Bo Burnham – What

You think comedians hate guitar comics? Bo Burnham shows that musical comedy is not dead as this 23-year-old—yes 23! (Feel like a loser yet?), plays to a packed house. Bo uses the a lot of paradox and surprise with his songs. Very entertaining. And he must be, dude has massive video downloads.

Hey! comedians who hate other comedians who do music: This guy has over 4 million views on just one YouTube video? How many hits do you have on your video about ‘Online Dating?.’

9. John Mulaney – New In Town

Mulaney was a writer for SNL, need I say more?  He’s a master of Simple Truth/Act-outs, one of my favorite comedic techniques and also usually a favorite technique of comedians who are known for writing sketch comedy. Definitely worth a look!

 

 

So this Fourth of July why not celebrate your independence by popping the top on some beers, turning on the Netflix and streaming some great comedy. And remember to drink responsibly, don’t drive drunk, don’t be drunk in public and don’t urinate in public or disturb the peace, or become a public nuisance, but aside from that go out and be FREE!

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What Louis C.K. Sarah Silverman and Others Did BEFORE They Were Famous

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Louis C.K.

Save This Article! Share it with Others!

Take a look at Emily Zemler’s article in Esquire on Louis C.K., Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer and others on how and what they did before they became famous.

I always love reading about this stuff!

Most of us get acquainted with notable comedians only after they hit it big. The challenge and the mystery of their success can be so ominous and make us feel like we could never do it.

Early in our careers, every show seems so crucial. In the article Louis C.K. talks about his first time on stage and how he couldn’t fill five minutes and then didn’t do stand up for another two years!

He also talks about other failures.

This should instill in all of us how important the journey is. That not every or ANY show is a “do-or-die” moment, that mistakes can happen and they can be BIG. I mean how many of us even knew that C.K. made a movie, let alone a couple?

There Are No SINGLE Opportunities

Every career has its ups and downs. Some of us put so much faith in that ONE opportunity we had and blew.

There are no ‘single’ opportunities.

There is the journey of ups and downs. Some ‘downs’ feel catastrophic when they happen, but none except death can keep you down forever.

If I were you; which I’m not—Thank God—because I’ve seen the way you dress and that deep v-neck shirt does not look good on me—but if I were you, I would link that article, screenshot it, save it and use it for a reference each time you feel that you’ve failed or that your career is going nowhere.

Read the article, understand that the great ones failed too. Then get out, get up and do your funny.

And if they don’t laugh, rewrite, get up and do your funny again!

Great article Emily Zemler! Thanks for instilling hope in all comedians who are pounding it out.

P.S. This article was shared with me by Rick Olson; follow him on Facebook or Twitter . Dude’s always finding good stuff!

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Learning How to Write Comedy Doesn’t Need to Be A Mystery

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COMEDY TECHNIQUE – COMPARE & CONTRAST

 apples_and_oranges
Writing Comedy does not need to be a mystery..

How many times have you sat down and stared at a blank page or a blank computer screen trying to find something funny to write?

Discovering how to write comedy on a regular, routine basis does not need to be a mystery.

There are a vast array of techniques that you can apply on a daily basis during your writing sessions that can help you generate a ton of material.

The Compare and Contrast (also know as complex to simple) comedy structure is a very simple, yet very powerful comedy structure that can get you quick laughs.

It’s used by all the top comedians to varying degrees and is a very effective tool.

Bill Burr uses compare and contrast in a self-deprecating way in order to belittle himself or his achievements.

He’ll compare the achievements of others then reference his own achievements to point out that in comparison to the other persons achievements, he is insignificant.

This taps into the superiority laughter trigger, (making the audience feel superior) and usually winds up with a solid laugh.

Bill uses this in his bit on “Gold Digging Whores” when he talks about the achievements of Arnold Schwarzenegger:

Bill Burr – Compare & Contrast Joke Technique

“Anybody here think they could move to Austria, learn the language, become famous for working out, then be a movie star, then marry into their royalty, then hold public office? How many lifetimes would you need? I’m on my third attempt at Rosetta Stone Spanish!”

Here he gets laughs and an applause break! My theory is that the laughs come from the superiority laughter trigger, but Burr also utilizes recognition and says, “Rosetta Stone” Spanish.

He doesn’t just say “I’m on my third attempt at Spanish.” When he says “Rosetta Stone” ask yourself if you get an instant image of the Rosetta Stone brand in your mind’s eye.

In addition to the image, Rosetta Stone is known as the best method for learning a language fast, so Burr is really cutting himself down.

It’s the recognition of Rosetta Stone that takes that joke up a notch so the applause break comes as part of the recognition.

The audience can’t just laugh they want to give Burr more accolades than just laughter.

*Want to see a full breakdown of how Bill Burr Writes Comedy?

There are several ways to use Compare & Contrast as a comedy structure:

Compare & Contrast Act-Out

Amy Schumer finds this technique extremely useful in creating laughs for her act. In a video on “Certified Funny” Schumer uses this technique very effectively within the first 30 seconds of her act:

 
Amy Schumer – Compare-Contrast Joke Writing Technique

Schumer:

“I’m not shallow at all…

like the guy I’m seeing right now, isn’t even good-looking. Setup

“I’m serious.” Focuser

No one’s ever like: Setup to the Act-out (Here it comes!)

“Who’s that?” Act-out (Compare)

They’re like: Setup to the contrast

“What Happened? Is he Ill? Should we call someone?” Contrasting Act-out

See how cleverly Schumer uses this technique to create the laugh on the way to the “A” joke of ‘not being shallow?’

Once you understand the power of Compare and Contrast as a comedic structure, you’ll be able to plug it in to your act when you need an additional laugh.

One of the advantages of this technique is that it is truly structured. The audience will quickly focus when you hit them with a compare and contrast line.

Because by it’s nature it’s one of those lines that gets just gets audiences focused. That’s one of the reasons commercials that use that side-by-side comparison are so successful. Because it’s sort of a puzzle and an audience gets to participate mentally.

Also much of compare and contrast is dealing with the recognition laughter trigger. The comparisons are familiar to an audience and if you’ve read my book or are familiar with the psychological laughter triggers of a human being, then you know how powerful recognition can be.

Exercise:

Pick 3 Compare & Contrast Subjects and Write 5-10 Comparisons for each. You don’t have to be as clever as Schumer or Burr. In fact I want you to do simple comparisons for your exercise. It will help you mine your brain for these contrasts and help you to train yourself to recognize them in your daily life: Here are some examples:

  • Men – Women
  • Conservatives – Liberals
  • Gay People – Straight People
  • Rich People – Broke People
  • Hot Chicks – Ugly (or not so hot) Chicks
  • Black People – White People
  • Fat People – Skinny People
  • Cats – Dogs
  • Casey Kasem – Ryan Seacrest
  • Mother’s Day – Father’s Day
  • Tony Stewart – Martha Stewart
  • Jews – Catholics

We could go on and on, but…

Let’s take the simple example of Women and Men. I was at my niece’s graduation party recently and lots of family showed up as well as my niece’s friends. The World Cup was on and it was an interesting observation to see how quickly the genders split up and found their spots at the house. The Men were inside the house watching the World Cup and the Women were outside sitting in the Gazebo.

Men and Women

The conversations the men were having and the conversations the women were having were the same only different: Men were like, “Did you see that play? That’s ridiculous! If that’s not a damn foul, I don’t know what is!” And the women were like, “Did you hear who Kim is dating?” It’s ridiculous! He’s 10 years younger. If that’s not craddle-robbing I don’t know what is!”

So, in also utilizing the “Paired-Phrase” structure, in paring the rhythms of the two act-outs, we also heighten the joke.

Another Example: Specificity

Is it me, or did you notice how when you saw Casey Kasem and Ryan Seacrest, the specificity of those items conjured up new ideas. Was there more focus? Did you see images? Sometimes getting specific can give you more motivation to write jokes.

In the example of Tony Stewart (Nascar driver) and Martha Stewart (Magazine editor, entrepreneur), I actually got that idea from Twitter. I was looking through tweets and I saw the name “@Melissa Stewart” and at first glance I thought it was @MarthaStewart.

So in looking for an exaggerated incongruity I thought it would be funny to mistake @MarthaStewart for an opposite, say, @MartyStewart.

In a compare and contrast exercise in my head I said, “If I followed @MarthaStewart I could finally get my master bedroom to coordinate. If I followed @MartyStewart I could probably do the same, but it would be in a bold sports theme.

The thinking being, of course, that we associate good decorating with Martha Stewart while Marty sounds like a beer drinking guy who spends his weekends watching sports.

In a revised draft, using specificity, I decided that in might be better to use a more commonly known Nascar driver, Tony Stewart, (yes, I had to look him up). People who know Tony Stewart. His name is used often enough in middle America.

So the joke might wind up reading:

“I was on Twitter and instead of following @MarthaStewart I accidentally followed @TonyStewart. My rug still ties in the room, but in a bold @Nascar theme!”

Are you starting to get some ideas? Now get to work and write your own! Have fun!

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