Chapter 3 – What to Write Jokes About

Chapter 3
What to Write Jokes About

The Joke Prospector – Joke Map

The Joke Prospector has two parts, the Joke Map and the Joke Mine. In the the Joke Map you’ll set a course along a Topic and Premise to arrive at some joke Setups. Then you can re-enter the Joke Mine to write Punches for those Setups.

What to Write Jokes About

Table of Contents

Topic: Single Subject Presenting Something Wrong
Association List: Smaller Aspects
Punch Premise: A Negative Opinion About A Smaller Aspect
Setup Premise: Opposite Opinion to the Punch Premise
Setup and Punch: Opposite – Directly or By Degree
Writing Setups: Examples of the Setup Premise



Go Back to Step E: Choose a Different Setup Premise
Go Back to Step C: Create More Punch Premises
Go Back to Step B: Pick Another Topic
Go Back to Step A: List More Topics



What to Write Jokes About

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 an artist 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 write about your world as you perceive it, 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 Andrew “Dice” Clay, have expressed points of view that ran counter to their peers’. 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 try 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 they’ll be able to understand what you say. 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 McNuggets, PMS, farting, pee-pee, snot, or butt-thongs, then by all means write about those things. But don’t do it because you heard someone else get a laugh with it.

Many comedians never actively choose what they’re going to write jokes about 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 going about it.

In my opinion, inspiration is without a doubt the best way to generate material. 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 write material on a topic of your choice at any time you choose, you need a method. And as you know, I just happen to have one.

If you’re starting from nothing, the realization that you can write jokes about everything can be overwhelming. The Joke Map assists you in turning generalities into specifics which is essential because…

Secret #5
The jokes are in the details.

I cannot over–emphasize the importance of this secret. When my students have difficulty writing material, it’s usually because they’re attempting to find a joke in some broad generality. As soon as they begin searching in the details, they discover treasure. As the father of acting technique, Constantine Stanislavski, once said, “Generality is the death of art.” This also applies to writing comedy—you can never be too specific.

Narrowing your ideas from generalities to specific details is the primary function of the Joke Map. This is accomplished by helping you move from a chosen topic, to creating a punch–premise, to forming a setup–premise, then writing some setups.

What to Write Jokes About used the Joke Map to write jokes about any subject for which you want to write jokes. Learn how to write jokes to be funny. Now!