Halloween — Humor Writing Techniques

In this article we’ll revisit two excellent Halloween articles by guest author Avish Parashar.  If you haven’t read them, check them out.

Dressed To Thrill! and The Twisted Trick of Tacky Treats!

If you have read them, you may want to read them again after reading this review about what makes the humor tick.

Let’s take a look at a few of the great humor writing techniques that Avish used in creating his articles:

Pop Culture and the Headlines (things with which readers could identify)
  – Halloween (timliness made the articles resonate)
  – Las Vegas
  – Little Bo Peep
  – Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz
  – Lions and tigers and bears
  – Batman
  – Marathon Man
  – Child obesity
  – Hansel and Gretel

Comparisons, Metaphors and Similies (wonderful examples in this area)
  – The tension in the car was palpable. It was like “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” minus the sisters, wheelchair, and horrible physical abuse.
  – It’s the online dating of parties — you may have a lot more going on, but people are really only paying attention to the picture.
  – It’s like society issues a get-out-of-jail-free card once a year.
  – Not dressing up for a costume party is like showing up to a food drive without a can of food.
  – Distribution of the “white powder” (aka: sugar).
  – The child will have to convince his parents to let him go to McDonalds to redeem his coupon, which can more difficult than trying to convince Britney Spears to have a modicum of self-respect.
  – It’s like being excited to go a blind date with someone your friend has been hyping up to you.
  – Candy that is the equivalent of Christmas fruitcake.
  – It’s like the Great Pumpkin.
  – It tastes like fermented plastic.
  – It’s the Soylent Green of Halloween candy.

Rule Of Three:  The structure of the costume article was set with a triplet.
  – You have three basic costume options when it comes to dressing up for Halloween: Funny, Serious, or Sexy.

The Truth Is Funny
  – Most “funny” outfits at costume stores aren’t all that funny.
  – It is the only decision you make all year that allows people to judge your attractiveness, wit, financial status, and creativity all with one look.
  – Sexy beats funny every time.
  – You can get life lessons from anywhere, even from a movie about a man dressed up as a flying rodent. 

Philosophical Observation
  – Just letting themselves “be real” for one day out of the year and putting on a mask the other 364.

Light-Hearted Business Lessons
  – Maximum ROI (Return on Investment).  Low investment, high return. Leave the chicken suit at home.
  – There is a very interesting business lesson here. While the real value of the money you are giving out is greater than the cost of the small piece of candy, the perceived value is actually much less.
  – Your logic is meaningless. All that matters is what the customer perceives.

Weaving in Practical Humor Advice
  – If you have to explain your joke in detail, to everyone, it’s not funny. It’s like a Zen Koan: If a person tells a joke at a party and nobody laughs, was it really a joke? The answer is no. No it was not.

Puns Can Be Funny
  – I was probably the only person in the city who was both a Cowboy and an Indian!

Humorous Definitions
  – The original pagan meaning of Halloween is “night for repressed women to overcome their inner inhibitions.”

Creating Funny Pictures
  – I would walk around wearing a Fedora and leather jacket and have a bull-whip attached to my hip.
  – Women who feel uncomfortable undressing for the shower will walk around in public like Victoria’s Secret runway models — with “kitten ears” thrown on to make it an actual costume.

Humorous Asides
  – Boxes of raisins (Ewwwwww!). 
  – Hundreds of apples to be dumped on your lawn, or hurled at other trick or treaters (not that I would know anything about that).
  – Non-candy options: bags of Goldfish (the crackers, not the animal, though if you did give out water filled bags with little Nemos in them, I would certainly applaud your initiative)
  – Can’t say I would be too happy myself getting crayons or stickers, but I wouldn’t hate you like if you gave me an apple.
  – Kids will think you were too lazy to go out and buy a few bags of candy (and they might be right).
  – A well meaning aunt gives you a U.S. Treasury Bond on your eighth birthday — it’s all very nice and practical, but you can’t very well unwrap it and go play with it that day. (can you guess that this happened to me?)
  – Find yourself sitting in a restaurant across from Sloth from the Goonies. (I’m sure he/she has a great personality).

Exaggeration
  – No kid, no child, no one, nobody, nowhere wants a piece of fruit in their Halloween bag. 
  – The last thing you want is an apple orchard in your bag.
  – And no one ever, ever buys candy corn for themselves.

Funny Word Choice
  – You could blow through a week’s paycheck.
  – Full-blown fast-food meals.
  – Bicuspids.
  – Helped a family with their sundry shopping.
  – Inedible dreck.
  – Sloth From The Goonies.
  – Snickers, Twix, Kit Kats, Smarties, Now and Laters, Candy Corn.
  – The alien chemical components.

What If?  (what if someone thought or said something)
  – I would love to be inside of the head of someone who makes the decision to give out toothbrushes on Halloween. “Hey, I know! Kids are going to be eating all sorts of candy tonight, and if I give them a toothbrush then at least they won’t get cavities! I am so brilliant and clever!”
  – No child is going to look at your brush and say, “hey, maybe I should give some consideration to the health of my bicuspids.”
  – Have you ever been hanging out with friends or family and heard somebody say, “You know what I could go for right now? A giant bag of candy corn”?
  – I do think we need a holiday where adults can walk door to door and get free stuff — not candy, but something fun for adults like DVDs or mutual funds or something.

Toppers And Callbacks
  – There were two houses that would hand out pamphlets explaining why Halloween is Satanic. I don’t need to make a joke here, it kind of writes itself.
   (followed by) The only thing worse would be getting an informational pamphlet about proper brushing and flossing. (topper/call back).
   (followed by) Which would still be better than fruit. (topper/call back)

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