In this article, How to Write Jokes – Introduction, I’ll discuss the importance of defining all the terms to make it easier for you to learn how to write jokes.
Every working stand-up comedian has been asked this question by someone – “Where do you get the ideas for your material?” The answer, of course, is “my life.” I say that because I don’t know anything about your life.
There’s an old writing adage that says “Write what you know.” And, really, if you think about it, what else can you write? As a comedian you have one incredibly precious thing that no one else in the entire world has – your own perspective. That’s why I strongly urge you to know how to write jokes about your world as you perceive it, and the things that interest you and your own opinions and feelings. Tell your truth. Whether the audience agrees with you is not an issue. Many artists, from Picasso to Chris Rock, have expressed points of view that ran counter to their culture. But they told their truth, and people – eventually a lot of people – responded to that truth. (Even though Picasso never did appear on Letterman.)
One thing you should never, ever do with how to write jokes is to write about is what you guess the audience might think is funny. There’s actually a word for people who only try to write what they think someone else will like. Hacks.
You do have to consider whether the audience will be able to understand what your talking about. But always rely on your own sensibilities to guide you when you’re making the initial decisions about what’s funny, interesting, important, or simply worth talking about. If you really think there’s something terribly funny about Dutch ovens, PMS, pee-pee, snot, or butt-thongs, then by all means know how to write jokes about those things. But don’t do it because you heard someone else get a laugh with it.
Some comedians don’t know how to write jokes because they wait for inspiration. A new routine comes to them all at once in an unpredictable flash of funny thoughts. Then they dry up until the next lightning bolt strikes. They only rely on this haphazard approach because they don’t know of another way of how to write jokes.
In my opinion, inspiration is without a doubt the best for how to write jokes. The subject matter is heartfelt and honest, and the jokes are usually well-structured because they come in an intuitive flash. But if you want to be able to know how to write jokes on any idea of your choice at any time you choose, you need understand the mechanisms of how to write jokes. This series of articles will identify and define the major terms and techniques of how to write jokes.
In my next article, How to Write Jokes – Topic, I’ll cover the joke writing mechanism of the Topic and its importance in learning how to write jokes.
Learn how to write jokes,