How to Be Funny

Fresh kumquat against a matSo Copyblogger (for whom James writes regularly) recently ran an article on how to be 20% funnier than you currently are. Now, I enjoyed this article, so I’m not going to trash it. I will say that I think the author missed some seriously easy ways to inject humor into your writing. Here goes:

Follow Your Own Train of Thought

Every one of us has a weird train of thought. When the person next to you randomly pipes up and asks, “Hey, do you like blueberries?” he did not get there because someone walked by with a giant blueberry on his shirt.

No. The person thought something like, “That girl is incredibly pretty. Nice rack, too. I wonder why they nickname breasts after fruit. Peaches, melons . . . I guess small ones would be plums or nectarines. Flat-chested would be blueberries. Man, blueberries sound good.”

What came out of his mouth was, “Hey, do you like blueberries?” The way he got there was way funnier, though.

This is true in writing, too. When you come up with an idea for a blog post, think about HOW you came up with it. I wrote a post for MwP that began with me thinking about a technique my friend uses for his workouts through to the phial of Billy Bob Thornton blood Angelina Jolie probably still has in a memory chest somewhere on to pink elephants and finally winding up in jewelry.

Here it is: Click here and go read it. I just let my train of thought come out on the page. If I thought of something random that was funny, I wrote it down.

Don’t edit your train of thought. You kill every funny thought you ever have that way. Humor isn’t logical. That’s why it’s funny.

Mention Funny Words

Certain words are inherently funny. You can tell if a word is funny by saying it aloud in a crowded elevator. If people giggle, it’s funny. If they bolt for the doors, it is not funny. If they look at you as though to say, “And?” then it is BORING, and you should never use that word again, ever.

Example:

“Kumquat!” (Funny)

“Grenade!” (Not funny.)

“Soap!” (Boring.)

I take no responsibility if you become a slovenly heathen because you can no longer use the word “soap”. Try “scrubby stuff” instead. “Scrubby” is a very funny word.

Get a Punch Line

If you have mentioned something funny offhand at the beginning of your post that was not a part of the regular narrative, you can bring it up again after people have stopped thinking about it and it will be funny anew. I do this often, because it works.

In one post, for example, the punch line was about whistling. Click here. Go check it out.

The closing punch line is a trick used by every stand-up comedian, ever, to finish a set. They tie their last joke back into a particularly funny one they used earlier. You’d forgotten about that joke, but now it all makes sense! The world is full of comedy! All is laughter and joy!

It’s a good trick. Don’t leave out your punch line. Not even if someone offers you blueberries.

See? That’s comedy.

Post by Taylor

Taylor Lindstrom (fondly known as Tei) is a twenty-something copywriter and journalist from Boulder, CO. She’s the team’s rogue woman who wowed us until our desire for her talents exceeded our desire for a good ol’ boys club. She loves the color green, micro-point Uniball pens, and medieval weaponry.

Join the Discussion. Click Here to Leave a Comment.

  1. Actually… now that I have said that… the words “Holy Hand Grenade” are widely seen as funny. A case of using an often not-funny word in a silly way.
    .-= Patrick Vuleta´s last blog ..Using the law to protect your own land =-.

  2. Grenade!

    Oh… wait… not funny… got it.

  3. my all time favorites are roger, adios,eureka and la belle sans merci ( can be a real puller:P)
    .-= Write a Writing´s last blog ..How to Write Creatively =-.

  4. Just a thought on funny words. In general, “sharp” syllables are funnier. In this case, Kumquat has two syllables, both beginning with a sharp (as opposed to soft) sound – the K and the Q. Grenade doesn’t have any sharpness to it. In the copyblogger example, underpants has a pointy sound at the p. Underwear doesn’t and just flows as it comes out of your mouth.

  5. Michael Martine says:

    Is this where I LOL?

    I find it helpful to remember that I’m talking to someone, rather than “writing an article.”
    .-= Michael Martine´s last blog ..New! Remarkablogger Group Blog Coaching =-.

  6. Oh, I love funny.

    Check it out. This comment left on a popular blog when I first started blogging led to my very first guest post. The blog owner had just been riddled with bullets from the grammar police:

    “NOTHING is more irritating than a visit from the Grammar Police”. Even if the “critique” was constructive, most of the time it serves no point. These people are insecure in their OWN lives and have to take out their passive-aggressive behaviors behind the impenetrable flat screen monitor where they sit in their underwear eating Ho-Hos in the dingy corner of their mommy’s basement.”

    Or this recent beauty about having someone babysit your blog if you go away for a while:

    “I do need a break but I’m scared of losing readers. These tips have nudged me in that direction a bit. I love the idea of a blog sitter- “There’s soda in the fridge, help yourself. No scary movies and make sure Bloggie is in bed by 10?

    Fortunately, I’m my own best audience.

    Thank you, thank you. I’m here all week!

    Cheers

    George
    .-= Tumblemoose´s last blog ..Why You Need a “Google Friend Connect” Gadget for Your WordPress Blog =-.

  7. Sometimes I find funny “stuff” just by watching my kids. For example, my 3 year old went around saying the other day, “Oh man, I’m sweating like a hostage.”

    Now how great is that? I think he heard it on tv. So now instead of simply saying, “That got me sweating”, I can say his line – it’s much finnier.

    I think humor can also come out when you simply don’t take yourself (or your article) too seriously. Be yourself and when you write something which you think could be confusing to some people, make a comment about that.

  8. @John – Sweating like a hostage is hilarious. Reminds me of my friend’s 5-year-old getting stuck on the phrase “back to the grinder!” She claims she heard it on SpongeBob.
    .-= E. Foley | Geek’s Dream Girl´s last blog ..Don’t Care Much About The ENnies? =-.

  9. You guys are awesome. Keep up the laughing.
    .-= Tei Lindstrom – Men with Pens´s last undefined ..If you register your site for free at =-.

  10. A good definition of a sense of humor is “a sense of the fitness of things.” I have a friend who describes funny stuff as “funnier than fleas.” It’s funny because fleas and funny don’t fit together — unless the fleas are on someone you’re not fond of.

  11. These are solid tips on finding your inner funny, but once discovered, use it sparingly. It can really distract your readers from what you’re trying to tell them.

    For example, I had a logic professor in college that was always using Kumquats and Apples in his practice problems. Kumquat really is a funny word, but it’s distracting as hell.

    I needed to focus on the logic problem but he took my head totally out of the classroom on one of those random thought patterns and I missed the solution to many a Kumquat and Apple example.

    Barely scraped a B- in the class. If you use humor, it has to strengthen your message, not distract… and that’s way more difficult than just being funny.
    .-= Henry´s last blog ..Using Social Media To Build A Fence Around Your Customers =-.

  12. Ha the blue berries joke was great!

    On the other side, I have to say that this article really helped me. I think I am going to write something write now and try some of this stuff now. I have a folder full of random articles that I have yet to use.

    Looks like I am going to add something new to my folder tonight.

    *giggle* ha, blueberries…
    .-= Wallpaper´s last blog ..32 Beautiful Ferrari Wallpapers =-.

  13. Following your train of thought is important when trying to be funnier. It’s difficult for me to write humor. Sometimes drawn out descriptions can bore the reader, so I tend to keep things short. “Brevity is the soul of wit.” William Shakespeare.

    “Goiter” (cringe and smile)

  14. Tayler,

    you are just naturally funny. You could sit there with your mouth taped shut and sooner or later we would laugh. Probably sooner.

    Some of us aren’t so humorly inclined. If something funny falls out of my mouth it’s an accident. I never think about being funny. I’m too serious of a person for that sort of thing.
    .-= Wendi Kelly-Life’s Little Inspirations´s last blog ..Precious Moments =-.

  15. Thanks a lot. Now everytime I see a woman I’ll be thinking blueberries.
    .-= Kaushik´s last blog ..How to Stop Compulsive Thoughts: Letting Go in Four Steps =-.

  16. wow…one of the few posts on the that has made me laugh after reading. I like the way you have talked about remembering you punchline and then from nowhere you drop your punchline (blue berries). Man I had forgotten about it but it was even funnier this time round.

    Will remember that in my future writing…laughter makes the world a better place.

    Regs

  17. You can not make funny. The real funny come from your mind.
    .-= Leg´s last blog ..How to get Google Top 10 within 24 Hours =-.

  18. I am not sure this is the best way to be funnier in your writing. I would suggest going to a comedy club and learn the basics. Some people are born with the gift. Others just learn it by being influence by it. I picked it up by watching a lot of movies with comedians in it for instance Martin Lawrence, Mike Epps, Katt Williams, George Lopez, Dane Cook and etc. You can use the same concept with writing. Learn by reading those who use comedy in their blogs.
    .-= Michael Alamillo´s last blog ..Heartburn Cure =-.

  19. I 100% agree with Michael’s comment about write like you are speaking to someone. When I speak, I tend to speak in one continuous ramble on several thoughts, with out any real breaks; I am a huge fan of using “;” “–” or “…” in my writing. It resembles more of a conversation than an essay and it allows me to keep my train of thought as I write out my thoughts as they come.

    Grammar Nazis hate my writing and I love that my writing upsets them.

    Some of the best ad copy, headlines and taglines ignore the rules of grammar to make them read more like a conversation.
    .-= Tim Winter´s last blog ..How to Crop Dust =-.

  20. Thanks for the information. I just wrapped up a blog series and found trying to be funny a little difficult. I know being funny helps when reading a blog post, but I did not want to make it sound forced.

    Do you think it is easier to be witty than funny when writing? I agree with @Michael,in that I try to write like I am talking to someone

Trackbacks

  1. […] terrible memories for anyone, but it really is quite important and I promise to reference at least three funny and random things in the explanation, okay? Can we agree on three funny things? Five, you say? Let’s call it […]

Leave a Comment

*