There are several writing tip professional comedians know that can punch up a show. They have certain cues within a show or script and are easy to implement.
Wrting Tips 1: Use “K” Words
The hard consonant sounds, especially “K,” which include hard “C” and “Qu” and, to a lesser extent, “T”, “P”, hard “G”, “D” and “B,” tend to be funnier. Using words with hard consonants, instead of synonyms with softer sounds can really improve a joke.
Yes, I’m perfectly aware that this seems a little silly, but it happens to be true. Most comics who’ve been in the business long enough will tell you the same thing.
“Words with a “K” in them are funny.” – Neil Simon
For instance, in this version of a joke by Margaret Smith, I’ve replaced a couple of hard- consonant words with softer ones:
“I hate singles bars. Guys come up to me and say, ‘Hey, sweetie, can I buy you a drink?’ I say, ‘No, but I’ll take the seven dollars.’”
Now check out the original version with the hard consonant words that Margaret chose. Read it out loud so you can really hear the difference.
“I hate singles clubs. Guys come up to me and say, ‘Hey, cupcake, can I buy you a drink?’ I say, ‘No, but I’ll take the seven bucks.’”
This version of the joke sounds funnier. The words “club,” “cupcake,” and “bucks” just have more punch than “bar,” “sweetie,” and “dollars.”
The cue for this is words or phrases that have synonyms. Search through your show or script to find words or phrases and replace them with synonyms with K sounds. One thing, make sure the substitute synonym you choose doesn’t change the meaning of the joke.
Here are a few instances:
For boat, use kayak or canoe.
Living room – kitchen
Tired – tucker
Fruit basket – cornucopia.
Weird – kinky
Tan – kaki
You get the idea. Make it a habit to sort for words with hard consonants and test them in your shows.
Writing Tips 2: Reinterpret Acronyms
This is one of my favorite techniques for adding jokes to my student’s shows. It’s so simple and surefire.
The cue for this is…well…acronyms in your show or script. People use them all the time, but don’t recognize their joke potential.
For instance, one of my Middle Eastern students was doing his show for the class and said, “At the airport, I was harassed by the TSA.”
When he sat to get my notes, I suggested he take TSA, which really means Transit Security Authority, and reinterpret it to mean something else. I didn’t have the idea, I only recognized the cue. Someone else in the class shouted, “Totally Stupid Assholes.” This was an easy joke to write.
Go through your show or script and find all the acronyms and then write an alternative meaning for them.
Here are a few to start with:
USC – University of Spoiled Children
In your mind, write a few for yourself. The closer the reinterpretation is to the truth about the acronym … the funnier it will be.