How to Write Jokes – Joke Structure Part 3

Greg Dean How to Write Jokes

In my previous article, How to Write Jokes – Joke Structure Part 2, I showed how every joke has two stories imagined in the audiences mind by making assumptions. In this article, How to Write Jokes – Joke Structure Part 3, I’ll reveal the role of assumptions in joke structure.

What Exactly Is an Assumption?

I’m sorry, I assumed you knew. An assumption can be any thought based on taking something for granted, presupposing, conjecturing, presuming, forecasting, projecting onto, theorizing about, speculating upon, or accepting that something is as it’s always been.

If that doesn’t help, here’s my definition of assumption: Everything you imagine exists, but aren’t directly perceiving in the present is an assumption.

“That’s deep,” you might think.

But it’s true. Anything you currently cannot see, hear, feel, taste, or smell exists only as an assumption. The chances are that it does exist, but since you have no direct evidence that it does, you’re making an assumption.

We do this because human beings, as a rule, have a profound need for things to make sense. If something doesn’t make sense, we’ll fill in the information so it will make sense and we do that by making assumptions based on our past experience.

“Do you have an example?”

Yes, take this article for example. You know it’s an article because of your past experience with other articles. Now, since your perspective or point of view limits the information your senses can experience directly, while you’re reading one page, you can’t see the other pages. This is a fancy way of saying, it’s impossible to experience everything all the time. If you could, you’d be God. Instead, what you have is a mental model of what this and other articles are like, you assume an unfinished paragraph will continue on the next page. You assume you’ll read the sentences from left to right. You assume the writing will continue to be in English. Usted asume todo sobre el artículo directamente no percibes, ahora mismo.

Doing this is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s absolutely necessary. Imagine a world without assumptions. You’d have to carefully test each step you took to make sure the floor would hold your weight. You’d have to peek behind everything to find out whether the backs were actually there. You’d have to look in a mirror to make sure you’re still human. You’d have to call the IRS every year to determine if they still wanted your money. Get the idea?

It’s the fact that our perspective limits the information we can experience directly, and that we fill in that remaining void with assumptions, which creates the expectation of believing we understand what was meant. This is how the setup misdirects the audience. Once the assumptions are accepted as true, then we can be surprised by something else. It’s this mental phenomenon that makes jokes possible.

In my next article, How to Write Jokes – Joke Structure Part 4, I’ll show how assumptions open the door to writing jokes.


• I’ve just got the proofs back for my Workbook 1 – How to Write Jokes. It’s ready to be published. Next, is to get someone to design a book cover.

• I smoked a Rocky Patel cigar while writing this blog. Very good. I only get one a week.

• Free Comedy Class – In Hollywood CA – Thursday Aug. 23rd – $50 OFF the upcoming Beginner Stand-Up Comedy Workshop starting Thursday Aug. 30th. Come check it out.

Take Comedy Classes,

Greg Dean

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