I’ve already explained how to write well, and last week, I wrote a post for Work It, Mom! where I explained how to be funny. I thought that it would also be appropriate to share it here, as well. That, and I’m really feeling lazy this week and didn’t want to come up with any original content on my own.
My name is Adam Heath Avitable, and I am the world’s funniest person named Adam Heath Avitable that I know of. I’m writing this post today because I know that most of you look at people like me and think to yourself, “I’m pretty, smart, and happy. I’d much rather be funny like that guy.” Funniness is not always inherent – it can be learned, and with these few steps, hopefully you too will find yourself on the path to mediocre recognition as that “funny [looking] person who was on the local news for public drunkenness and public nudity.”
1. Know your audience.
Whether you’re being funny in writing or in person, it is fundamental to know and understand your audience. This doesn’t mean that you have to rely on stereotypes, although it’s completely true that old people like jokes about Matlock and the good old days and prisoners like jokes about dropping the soap. If you are trying to write a funny post, and you know that 90% of your readers are women, topics that appeal to women will be better received. This is why I mainly write about periods, dieting, and hating Gwyneth Paltrow.
2. Find your strength.
Whether you’re good at writing biting satire so subtle that it’s almost impossible to tell that it’s satire, or you draw great cartoons of anthropomorphized political candidates, or even if you just like to talk about pooping a lot, you have a strength that you should play to. You may like to act out funny situations on video or in person, or wordplay and puns may be your thing, but stick to it and hone that before you venture into uncharted waters. For example, don’t try to do impressions if every single one sounds like a Chinese man being strangled by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s gay brother. Actually, strike that. If your impressions sound like that, please call me. I will pay to see that.
3. Practice selective word choice.
Some words can be funnier than their synonyms, and you’ll never know unless you try. Boxers is not funny. Briefs is kind of funny. Underpants is even funnier. Manties is the funniest. After you’ve written something, let it sit for a little while, and then go back and give it a fresh look and see if any words make the content drag, and don’t be ashamed to grab the thesaurus if you’re not as smart as me and have a not good word knowledge thingy.
4. Write what you know.
If you’re a Chinese man who was strangled by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s gay brother, write or talk about that. But if you’re not, you’ll just sound like someone who is pretending to be in someone else’s shoes. The best type of comedy is that which is deeply personal. Observations about ficus plants are great, but a personal story about how a ficus plant stole your innocence could be hilarious. Mine your own life deeply for material.
That’s all it takes. Four steps that will put you on the right path to being funny. Well, funny-ish, at least. And if all else fails, just have something really depressing happen to you and choose to find humor in it in lieu of suicide. I hear that works too.