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The serious art of writing humor


Guest articles > The serious art of writing humor


by: Thejendra BS


It has often been said that everyone likes humor and laughter on our planet. Well maybe not everyone, but almost every person who is normal will like humor provided someone else makes them laugh. And you can always enjoy reading a funny article or book written by somebody. But have you ever considered writing a funny article yourself, or maybe even write a funny book sometime? Even if you know how to write regular articles and books the very thought of writing something funny and showing it to others can turn your blood cold or make your hair stand straight. There are plenty of writers on our planet who can write countless topics in a serious, straightforward manner. But very few know how to add one magical component into their writing to make it more palatable and enjoyable. And that magical component is humor. If you want your writing to be enjoyed by your intended audience then you must add an acceptable dose of clean humor into it. It is the lack of humor that makes most articles and books tasteless even if it contains useful stuff. Writing about any serious topic you are familiar with is perhaps easy, but adding humor to it is very difficult and sometimes even dangerous if you take too many liberties. Hence you must learn some basic rules if you want to write humor and make your stuff enjoyable. And those top secret tips are outlined below.

  1. The first rule for anyone who want to write humor is to become bold. Contrary to what most people think humor writers are actually very brave people. You need to develop a thick skin, nerves of steel and become brave slowly day by day. You cannot be funny if you are scared to poke fun at things, issues, people, etc. And you can't be funny if you're afraid of embarrassing yourself or lampooning a famous personality. Verbally anyone can be funny, but it takes guts to put the same in writing and let the public read, and maybe the entire world see it. So humorists need a lot of courage to write and publish something funny about an issue, person or a concept.
  2. A humorous person has no limit on what he or she can think or write about. You must be able to think in atrocious, ridiculous, crazy, illogical and nonsense terms. Modern management consultants call this thinking out of the box, but I call it old fashioned creativity and humor that has existed from centuries.
  3. What is important is that you should make your readers think what you have written is funny. But as a person who writes humor you need not look funny, act funny or make goofy antics. You should become a person that nobody would suspect of writing funny and witty stuff. You can be a serious type of person and yet have the ability to write fantastic humor. This adds more spice and an aura of mystery to your personality.
  4. Most people think writing humor is simply about saying and writing jokes about other people. But this is only partially true. Top humorists mainly make fun of themselves and not about someone. The best humor is always self directed. Direct the humor towards yourself that way you will not annoy anyone. People will laugh if you make fun of yourself, but they may be outraged if you make fun of them. The most important thing about writing humor is to allow your readers to laugh at you and with you, and then optionally at themselves.
  5. Unless your article is for MAD magazine or a pure humor or satire piece with no restrictions, there are various do's and don'ts that one should follow when writing humor. Don’t use bad language. Don't make fun of religion, caste, race, physical disabilities, gender or language of anyone. Humor in these areas can start riots on the streets or even start a war. Don't use real names of people, friends, relatives, co-workers, etc. You will never know how they may get offended. But no one will be offended if you focus on yourself.
  6. When writing humor surprise your readers. That is, don't tell or announce upfront about your funny intention. Don't tell the reader that they will experience something funny. Let the reader discover that for himself. Use concise, direct and simple words that everyone can understand.
  7. It is not funny to be always funny. There is a time to be funny and there is a time NOT to be funny. And this is something you need to observe and learn. Something that is extremely funny in one place may not be understood at all in another. Something that is funny on a rowdy football stadium may sound offensive inside a religious place. And in some situations or circumstances you should not indulge in anything funny no matter how irresistible it is to write something hanky panky.
  8. 8. A piece of writing can never be final and fully funny in one go. Like a diamond it needs to trimmed, improved and polished as much as possible. You need to review it in terms of using a better sentence, a more mischievous word, rearranging the sentences, modifying to a completely different angle or deleting something that does not seem right, etc. After you think you have finished writing a humor piece revisit it after a few hours or a couple of days. Suddenly you can discover new and better ways of writing the same article that can seem vastly superior to your previous article.
  9. Think wild, think crazy but at the same time be moderate so that it does not put anyone, including yourself, in trouble. Often in your enthusiasm words and sentences can flow like a mad river and you may write something horrible that you momentarily think is funny or harmless. But it could be laced with trouble when reviewed carefully. So take care to frequently pause your writing to view it from different angles and from the reader's perspective. Then you may need to give your writing a haircut and then continue.
  10. The final piece of advice is writing humor takes time. To excel in humor is a lifetime job, and is not something that you can learn in a day or two. Don’t think you can read a joke book and start writing funny stuff an hour later. You will have to teach yourself how to be funny. The process is mostly by trial and error, observing other people's comical situations, mistakes, laughing and applying it on yourself, etc. No one can teach you exactly how to write something funny, but the possibilities of creating humor on anything and everything are limitless.


Thejendra BS is an IT manager and author from Bangalore, India. He scribbles mild and wild articles on technology, business management, self improvement and wacky humor that get published on many reputed websites and syndicated through various RSS feeds around our planet. He has also published diverse books like Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity, Practical IT Service Management, Corporate Wardrobe-Business Humor Series and Life-365-A Year's Supply of Wisdom, Tips & Advice. Visit his web cave for his free articles and details of his books.

Contributor: Thejendra BS

Published here on: 19-Jul-09

Classification: Communication, Creativity


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