How to Write Funnier Jokes

In this joke writing article, “How to Write Funnier Jokes: Tip 3 – Use K-Words to Enhance Punchlines,” I’ll discuss improving punchlines of jokes by substituting hard consonant sounding words in the Reveal to increase laughter.

Previously in this series of joke writing articles, you learned How to Write Funnier Jokes: Tip 1 – Make Setups and Punchlines Short.

And in the joke writing technique article you learned: How to Write Funnier Jokes: Tip 2 – End Punchlines with the Reveal, where you learned to identify the “Reveal” of the punchline and place it at the end, so you don’t diminish the laugh by talking over them.

How to write funnier jokes

Tip 3 – Use K-Words to Enhance Punchlines

The hard consonant sounds, particularly Velar Consonants, especially “K” sounds which include hard “C” and “Qu” and, to a lesser extent, “T”, “P”, hard “G”, “D” and “B,” make words and phrases sound funnier. Using words with these hard consonants instead of synonyms with softer sounds really helps improve a punchline by giving it more verbal power.

Yes, I’m perfectly aware this seems a little silly, but it happens to be true. Most comedians and comedy writers who have been in the business long enough will tell you the same thing. 

No one really knows why this is so as there’s no research done on this linguistic phenomenon, yet through experimenting with harsher sounding words, anecdotal word of mouth has formed this into a joke writing technique.

“Words with a “K” in them are funny” – Neil Simon

I teach and apply this technique in all my stand-up comedy and joke writing classes and it’s proven true time after time in the performance of the punchlines of jokes. 

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 three 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 bars. Guys come up to me and say, ‘Hey, cupcake, can I buy you a drink?’ I say, ‘No, but I’ll take the three bucks.’”

This version of the joke sounds funnier. The K-words “cupcake” and “bucks” just have more punch than “sweetie” and “dollars.”

Joke Writing Technique: Constantly Search for K-Words

This just takes practice. When you’re writing or rewriting jokes, go through every word and challenge yourself to find as many K-words and substitute them for softer sounding words. Especially if they are the last word of phrase in the Reveal of your punchlines.

When your Reveal ends with the word, “boat,” either make a list in your head or use a Thesaurus to find K-words instead. Like, “canoe,” or “kayak,” that has two k-sounds. 

Here are a few more examples of nouns: change “restroom” to “crapper” or “prostitute” to “hooker” or “chair” to “Barcalounger.” The best term may not be in the Thesaurus, but in a commercial name of a product. 

Verbs can also be used: change “ran” to “hiked” or “failed” to “tanked” or “murdered” to “whacked,” and so forth.  

Search for alternative names: change “Leavenworth” to “Attica” or “Bob” to “Deke” or “meth” to “crack.” The list is only limited to your time and imagination. 

When this becomes a mental game you play all day long, you’ll soon develop your own list of terms you’ll automatically substitute in your everyday speaking. As you develop this into an unconscious habit it’ll make you a funnier person in social situations. 

In this joke writing article, How to Write Funnier Jokes: Tip 3 – Use K-Words to Enhance Punchlines, you’ve learned that replacing softer sounding words with K-works make punchlines get bigger laughs. Also, if you practice using K-words, you’ll become a funnier person in real life.

In the next joke writing article, How to Write Funnier Jokes: Tip 4 – I’ll show you how to localize your comedy routines to get bigger laughs. 

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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