I’ve been fortunate to be chosen by NBC Universal to star in my own TV show, and for ever 30 years, have entertained crowds across the U.S. and Canada. Wow, that makes me sound old.
Here’s what the nation’s top comedy writers generally agree is the best way to write comedy:
Don’t try to be funny. Instead, put your honest thoughts about a subject on paper. Now, read over what you wrote and interject any thoughts or responses that come to mind.
It may not sound like a surefire way to create laughs, but believe me, if you’ve been born with an ability to naturally make people laugh, this method will help you produce some massive responses from audience members on a consistent basis.
There is obviously more to it, which I will go into more depth on below.
Write Down Ideas As They Come to You
As is true with almost any business or creative endeavor, it is a good idea to jot down any thoughts as they come to you throughout the day.
In comedy, you want to jot down things that you find odd, interesting or funny.
Then when you actually sit down to “write comedy,” you’ll have a starting point of what to write on.
Do Thorough Research if You’re Tasked with Writing On Something Specific
The alternative to working off of ideas that organically come to you through life is the situation where someone is asking you to write about something specific.
You may not have any experience with is, or at least not have an opinion or passion about the subject matter. Your first step in this case is to do a ton of research. If you’re an auditory learner, check out YouTube videos, podcasts, etc. If you’re more analytical like me, reading anything you can find online or offline is your best bet.
Key Point: Do not look for something “funny.” Instead, fill your mind with as much info as you can. As you do, things will most likely pop out to you as being “absurd,” confusing or extremely interesting.
This is the raw material that will allow you to produce comedy gold using the technique shared at the top of this page.
Be Confident in Your Own Viewpoint
Although the observations may not seem necessarily funny to you, you may be surprised when you mention these things in front of an audience familiar with that subject.
The laughs can sometimes be deep on and long. Audience members are sitting there laughing enthusiastically, saying to themselves “That’s been my experience too! I guess I’m not the only one!”
I heard the great comedy teacher, Steve Roye, say that you really only need to get 50% of people laughing. Laughter is enough to get an entire room going.
Because, of course, you most likely will not have high compatibility with every body. But that’s okay because that shouldn’t be your goal.
Books About Writing Comedy
Of course, there’s always more to learn about comedy. If you want to do further reading, here are a few books I recommend:
Comedy Writing Secrets
This is a classic, and I believe there are some universities that use this in their curriculum related to comedy writing. It covers a lot of the basics of comedy writing and is very thorough.
Comic Insights: The Art of Stand-Up Comedy
I love, love, love learning from other peoples’ stories. That’s exactly what this book is – insights from some of the top comics of the last several decades. You can learn from their mistakes and successes.
Step by Step to Stand Up Comedy
Following the “steps” in this book helped me get the attention of The Late Show with David Letterman.
Full disclosure: the above book recommendations are affiliate links. In most cases, you don’t even need to buy them. Just trust your instincts, go for it, and people will most likely love it!