One of the most common comments I get from students and other comedians is, “I just can’t think of new stuff, ” “I’m blocked.” That’s a common ailment for writers and comedians alike. Even the greatest writers had blocks for new ideas. The thing to remember for comedians is that ANYTHING can be FUNNY! It’s just how you perceive it. We’ve spent our lives being taught how to think a certain way; to not “make waves, ” to maintain the status quo. As a result we encourage our minds to develop linear thought. The problem with that is most comedy is incongruous. So if we just go through life and accept things as they are we forget to think of things comedically or in other words, how they should be in our minds.
As a comedian or humor writer you must always think of the “what if?” It’s the ability to let the imagination dance. Allow your mind to put two things together that don’t usually go together. Allow yourself to think of someone behaving outside how a normal person would behave or allow yourself to put a person who behaves in a certain way into a situation where his normal behavior wouldn’t fit.
It makes waking up fun. You can think of things just to start your day. For example, I’m spending the weekend at my in-laws this weekend and I woke up with light streaming through the the paper blinds that are in the window and I thought:
“I think every in-law has these paper blinds in the guest room. You know, then kind that catch the sun diffuse it so it beams enough light to illuminate a stadium. You might not be able to sleep, but you could clearly see Derek Jeter pull a 5-4-3 double play! It’s their way of saying, “don’t worry, they won’t be staying long.” And mother-in-laws love to start their day with laundry don’t they? What are they thinking? “If I don’t get these towels on before the sun comes up, there might be trouble.” I mean who washes towels every single day?! As it turns out, Mother-in-laws do! I love my in-laws, they are good people. They’re generous, compassionate, intelligent: Their problem is they believe that whole Benjamin Franklin “early-to-bed-early-to-rise, nonsense. If I’m at their place and I roll out of bed at 10 am. They’ve already gotten in a trip to the bank, a run to the grocery store and they have enough clean towels to last a week and that just pisses me off!”
It’s a rough draft, but it came out of simply allowing myself to make an observation on the first thing I thought of this morning, think incongruously by fitting two ideas (stadium and bedroom light) together to form another thought and then remembering to write them down before I forget them because new ideas came into my head about other observations like, “Why do in-laws always have old dressers with locks on them? Did they have problems with disappearing socks back in the day, before dryers? Is that how they kept them from getting away?”
Remember to observe, ask “what if?” and write it down!