How to Write Funnier Jokes

In this comedy writing article, How to Write Funnier Jokes: Tip 8 – Improve Material Using Specifics, I’ll demonstrate how using specific details makes jokes easier to understand, more relatable, and funnier.

Previously in this series of joke writing series of articles, you’ve learned How to Write Funnier Jokes: Tip 1 – Make Setups and Punchlines Short, Tip 2 – End Punchlines with the Reveal, Tip 3 – Use K-Words to Enhance Punchlines, Tip 4 – Localize Comedy Routines, Tip 5 – Make Punchlines More Negative, Tip 6 – To Pun or Not to Pun, and Tip 7 – Eliminate Comic’s Cliches, to become a better joke writer, create original stand-up comedy routines, and get even bigger laughs.


How to Write Funnier Jokes: Tip 8 - Improve Material Using Specifics

One of the most important aspects of writing jokes is being specific. This may seem like an obvious point, but you’d be surprised how many people try to write jokes that are vague and nonspecific.

Tip 8 – Improve Material Using Specifics

Being specific also allows you to be more creative in your jokes. When you’re not limited by having to be general, you can explore different angles and ideas that wouldn’t work as well If you were just making a general statement. Be specific when you’re writing jokes – it’ll make them better and funnier!

Here are several ideas to improve your comedy material:

Levels of Specification

The first idea to know is that there are levels of being specific when writing comedy material. When writing jokes the more specific you are the more exacting the communication of your humorous thoughts.

For instance, this joke:

“We decided it was time to hear the pitter-patter of little feet, so we bought an animal.”

The word “animal” makes this a joke as we’re expecting them to want to have a baby. Yet, by being more specific this joke can be funnier by using “dog.” To be even more specific you could go for a breed of a dog, like a Cairn Terrier. Still more specific you could use the name of a famous dog’s name, Toto, from the Wizard of Oz.
“We decided it was time to hear the pitter-patter of little feet, so we bought Toto.”

As I went through the levels of specification, I believe this joke communicated the punchline better as it got more specific. Eventually to the detail of the dog’s name. It also added a sense of absurdity and exaggeration that they didn’t want children enough to find and purchase a famous dog which makes the joke even funnier.

Spend the time to find more detailed levels of specification to improve your comedy material.

Here are a few more examples:
“He got put away.”
“He’s in county jail.”
“He’s kept at Guantanamo Bay.”

Again, the exaggeration of the severity of the prison adds to the humor.

It’s easy to find these levels by simply typing whatever idea you want to be more specific into Google or ChatGPT. That’s what I just did.

Specifics Give Credibility

When you’re specific, you give your audience a reference point to connect with the joke. This makes the joke funnier and more relatable.

For example, let’s say you want to write a joke about a famous biblical figure. If you’re specific and mention a particular event or detail about that person, and even quote a verse, the audience gets that you know the subject well enough to make fun of it. 

For example: “I read John 12:34 and it says: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. Whereas the Kama Sutra is fully illustrated.”

The audience is able to connect with the joke as the setup and the punchline are both accurate. 

When you use something specific from real life, the audience won’t have to mentally conjure up some general idea. Using a specific example can take them to a real memory.

Instead of just saying a “restaurant” in a joke, make it “Hooters.” Then they’ll remember two things.

Discover More Jokes

One of my adages I spout often in class is, “The jokes are in the details.” Most jokes don’t come from generalities, like relationships, they come from all the little specifics involved in relationships. I’ve found the more students dig into the details, the more jokes they find. And the easier it is for others to pitch them jokes and tags.

In a joke about getting into an argument with your spouse, you could say,

“We had a discussion.”
“We had a debate.”
“We agreed I was wrong.”

The more specific this gets the more honest it becomes. The truth may hurt, but that’s what makes it funny. Great jokes make us laugh and reveal something about our human flaws. (Though I don’t have any.)

Tip 3 – Use K-Words to Enhance Punchlines

That tip was one form of being specific with K-Words in the reveal of the punchlines. By using specifics instead of generalities, jokes can be made funnier.

If a joke ends with “arm chair,” with just a little investigation you can find something more specific like, “Barkalounger.”

In this joke writing article, How to Write Funnier Jokes: Tip 8 – Improve Material Using Specifics, you’ve learned comedy material can be made funnier by digging into the details. These specifics have different levels, add credibility, lead to more jokes, and can punch up your punchlines.

Crafting jokes is part of the grunt work of being a stand-up comedian. Spending the time to get the exact wording and phrasing to get the biggest comedy bang for your buck.
It’ll pay off when you’re on stage performing your stand-up comedy show and every joke’s punchline and tags get huge laughs. You simply can’t have more fun with your clothes on.
In the next stand-up comedy writing article, How to Write Funnier Jokes: Tip 9 – Make the Jokes about You, I’ll demonstrate how phrasing your joke and stand-up comedy routines about yourself make them more personal, therefore funnier.


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” (also called the “Level 1”) and the second is “Writing a show & Performing” (also known as the “Level 2 class”). 

Even though these classes are named a Level 1 and Level 2,  they are actually classes that stand up comedians of any number of years of experience can take.  They are the two classes taught sequentially 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.  

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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