Snaring a snicker, coaxing a chuckle, and getting a guffaw require effort. However high scores on the “smile-o-meter” for the snickerer, chuckler, and guffawer as well as the snarer, coaxer, and getter are worth it!
A laugher reaps the benefits of a relaxed body, an eased anxiety, and a strengthened relationship. (I know this is true because I read it on the Internet.)
A laugh inducer not only reaps these benefits, but the satisfaction of knowing that her wit is successful. While shaking hands during a recent introduction, the soon to be friend commented, “So you’re the funny one!” The compliment lowered both our guards and allowed me to live up to this tag.
Since LOL is my writing goal, I strengthened my ha-ha’s by working through Comedy Writing Self-Taught Workbook by Gene Perret and Linda Perret. While not all exercises fitted my writing style, I flexed a few flabby humor muscles and learned lessons.
Gathering References Lesson
References are either the main topic or the punchline of a joke. “Often they (references) can help create gags by combining ideas that are otherwise seemingly unrelated.”
The joke “What’s black and white and red all over?” is typically answered with “The newspaper.” An alternate punchline could be “A zebra with diaper rash.”
Create a different answer to this classic joke. I brainstormed a list of black and white things and another list of red things to form alternate answers to the question.
What’s black and white and red all over?
Piano keys having a hot flash!
A Dalmatian surrounded by fire hydrants.
An Oreo eating a jalapeno.
Turning Ideas Into Jokes Lesson
Every joke has a concept. Wording transforms the concept to a joke.
Concept- My friend talks too much.
Joke- I didn’t talk to my friend for three weeks. I didn’t want to interrupt.
Take a concept and through wording turn it into a joke.
Concept- The grocery store checkout line I’m waiting in always moves the slowest.
Joke – By the time it was my turn at the grocery checkout line, my cottage cheese reached its expiration date.
Tag That Line Lesson
A tag is when you take a joke that stands on its own, then you add follow-up lines that keep the laughter going.
“Being given responsibility without authority is like being challenged to a duel when there’s only one pistol . . . and it’s being used . . . by the other guy.”
Stretch one joke into two or three.
Figuring out Amazon’s Create A Space self-publishing instructions is like trying to communicate with Russian spies . . . in Russian . . . on the dark net . . . without Trump’s help.
Say It By Not Saying It Lesson
Say It By Not Saying It “means telling a joke without stating the punchline directly but rather letting audience members figure it out for themselves.”
“I’ll give you an idea of what my cooking is like. I once went in the kitchen and caught a cockroach eating a Tums.”
A massive house and an extraordinarily large shed were built upon the empty lake front property next to my home. They obstruct my view of the water from both the front and the back yards. I channeled my discontent with the situation into a Say It By Not Saying It joke:
Me: The house is SO huge that they’ve named it.
Other: You mean like Tara in Gone With The Wind?
Me: (Pointing to the massive house) Yes, they call it Injury.
Other: (Confused) Injury?
Me: (Pointing to the shed) And that’s called Insult.
While I’m not a fan of long grocery store lines, confusing publishing software, or obstructed lake views, looking for the humor in these situations distracts frustration and stunts stress.
It also provides material for a blog post!
4 thoughts on “Laboring For Laughs”
Great exercises, Anita. I’ve read a few books on writing humor and find them very helpful. There are some simple formulas joke writers use but you have to have a funny bone to fill in the blanks so they are humorous. Good job!
Thanks! I’m more anecdotal than punchline. So this was a stretch for me!
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In my life, jokes just happen. Mostly at inappropriate times or places. I don’t think I could make one up if I tried since I am often the subject of my one jokes and they really did happen to me. I’m thinking of one now. It has something to do with making change for a pumpkin. Do you remember this?
I have a vague memory of bartering squash. However attempting to catch golf balls from a vending machine without the aid of a bucket is vivid!