How to Write Funnier Jokes

When you want to write funnier jokes, end the punchline with the surprise.

Surprise is the element that will take your joke from good to great. It’s what will make your audience laugh out loud and remember your joke long after they’ve heard it.

The Reveal is the word, phrase, or action within the punchline that exposes the unexpected interpretation and shatters the setup’s expected interpretation. Whew!

First you must identify the Reveal in your punchline. It’s the only imperative information in the punchline to make the joke work. If you don’t know what it is, then you can’t edit the punchline to fulfill the function of Tip 1 – Make Setups and Punchlines Short. Once you’ve identified the Reveal, then you can remove everything except what clearly communicates the surprise.

how to write funnier jokes

For instance, in the badly written punchline from the joke in Tip 1 – Keep Setups and Punchlines Short: 

 Setup: “As a single parent, I’m raising two teenagers. So running away is a problem.”

 In this version, the setup is fine because it clearly establishes the decoy assumption that the teenagers might run away.

Conversely, the punchline is way over written and structured with the Reveal, “But I don’t,” at the beginning of the punchline.
Punch: “But I don’t run away from them. I stay because I’m their only parent.”
The funnier version is to first edit out the unneeded information as the Reveal is the only important information in this punchline.
Punch: “But I don’t.”

Comedy Performing Technique: Pause After the Reveal.

Pause to let the audience laugh if they’re going to laugh. Otherwise, you’ll step on the laugh you’ve worked so hard to get.

If you write the Reveal at the beginning or middle of your punchline, then you’ll probably perform it that way. Now you’ve written the punchline is such a way as to automatically diminish or kill the laugh because of the improper placement in the punchline of the Reveal.

This has nothing to do with talent or funny, it’s chronically bad joke writing technique interrupting the audience’s laughter. The audience will stop laughing to hear what you’re saying. The worst part is that it’s unnecessary to make the joke work. The joke already worked, but if you talk over the laugh, they will stop laughing.

When you end your joke’s punchline with the Reveal and take a pause to allow laughter, then you’re clearly communicating your funny idea and allowing the audience time to respond. After all, isn’t that what you’re up there for in the first place. So, make sure that everything leading up to the punchline builds up the Reveal so that it has the maximum impact.

In this series of joke writing articles, you’ve learned How to Write Funnier Jokes: Tip 1 – Make Setups and Punchlines Short. In this joke writing technique article you’ve learned: How to Write Funnier Jokes: Tip 2 – End Punchlines with the Reveal.
In the next joke writing article, How to Write Funnier Jokes: Tip 3 – Use K-Words to Enhance Punchlines, you’ll learn how to get bigger laughs by selecting a hand consonant word for your Reveal.

Greg Dean’s Stand Up Comedy Classes

Greg teaches his techniques in two classes.  The first is called “How to Build a Stand Up Comedy Routine” and is the beginning class (also called the “101 class”) and the “Advanced Joke Writing & Performing Class” (also known as the “201 class”). 

Even though these classes are named a beginning and advanced,  they are actually classes that stand up comedians of any number of years of experience can take.  They are beginning and advanced in the Greg Dean system.  If you’re interested in faster and better ways to create good jokes and you want to dive deeper on joke writing then you’ll want to take both of these classes.

Greg teaches his classes live in Santa Monica as well as live on zoom.  If you are in the greater Los Angeles area, you can sign up for his classes at the Santa Monica Playhouse.  Check our Calendar of Events to see all upcoming classes.  Calendar of Events

In addition to his live classes in Santa Monica and on zoom, Greg also teaches joke writing via his on demand platform.  One of his most popular classes is “Joke Writing Made Simple”.  This class can be done in your own time, and at your own pace.  You can find out more about this class here:


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