Turning Good Humor into Great Humor

Making your humor lines funnier.

Now that you have a collection of good humor lines, use here are some ideas for reworking your humor ideas and developing them into something even more funny.

1.     Tag team writing.  Most sitcoms are written by teams of writers.  Find a humor-buddy to bounce your ideas back and forth.  One twist leads to another and the chemistry of the writing group grows material which would otherwise be hard to create.  This is an especially good technique for creating lines for our Humor Power monthly funny-line contest. 

2.     Common wisdom in writing is that “good humor is not written, it is rewritten.”  The brilliance comes out in the second, third, fourth version of your material.  So write it down and sleep on it.  Lie in bed in the morning for an extra five minutes and let your brain search for new connections.  Your brainwave patterns allow for a deeper creativity just before you fall asleep and just after you wake up.  My best creativity time is when I lie in bed in the morning, just before getting up.

3.     Put it in the computer.  Print it out and write all over it.  Make changes and repeat the process.  The material gets better with each rewrite.

4.     Read it aloud.  See how it sounds.  Humor in the spoken word is not identical to the written word.  You normally want to have a conversational feel to humor whether it’s written or spoken.

5.     Multi-tasking.  I have brainstormed ideas while driving my car.  My digital voice recorder is the key to saving ideas.  Also a key is to do the advance work of outlining the specific areas I am going to brainstorm.  Use this technique only where it is safe to do so.  I never divert my attention in city driving or heavy traffic.  Also, look for ways to brainstorm while folding clothes, doing dishes, weeding the garden.  Put your mind to work while doing brainless tasks.

6.     A quota system.  When developing ideas from a seed, give yourself a quota of lines to write.  Most seasoned humor writers apply this discipline to their writing.  When you find an area in a talk, for example, where you want one or two funny lines…write ten.  If you think you can write ten lines, then make your quota twenty lines.  It’s a numbers game.  The more lines you write the better will be the one or two lines that you eventually use.

7.     Treasures from the trash can.  As you probably know, when brainstorming do not censor your ideas.  When you are tempted to throw an idea in the trash, write it down.  Let the thoughts flow.  A mediocre line today may be the building block for a terrific line tomorrow.  In the brainstorming process, save everything.

8.     Create funnier laugh lines by using these ideas.  Remember that in the brainstorming and editing process: Fair becomes good. Good becomes better. Better becomes brilliant.  Brilliant makes you shine.