Joke writers are in such great demand. Anyone who thinks it's easy to write a joke should try it some time. It's not and professionals who can write good jokes for comedians are a rare breed. But certainly these joke writers didn't come out of the womb with a built in funny button. Just like everything else in life, they had to learn their craft. Sure, it helps to have some talent, but there is an art to writing a good joke. In this article we're going to go over some of the techniques that joke writers use in writing a good joke.
The standard, or most common joke is the one that uses the setup and punch line form. The setup is basically where you explain what the joke is about. The punch line is where you deliver those magical words that hopefully, will make people laugh. Easier said than done. Here is an example of a setup and punch line joke.
Setup - My brother Donald is SO dumb Punch line - He thinks a Mars Bar is an alien food.
Some of the greatest jokes of all time have been of the setup and punch line variety and stand up comics all over the world use these regularly in their acts.
Another technique that is used in comedy, especially in situation comedy dialogue, is the list. Most lists are in groups of three. The first two in the list are alike and not funny but the third thing in the list is the oddball and is used to get the laugh. Here is an example of a list joke.
"Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some hire PR officers."
This was an actual quote by Daniel J. Boorstin who was a lawyer born in Atlanta, GA. Yes, even lawyers can be funny.
Another technique that joke writers use is what is called the comparison. These are funniest when pointing out extreme differences. Here is an example of a comparison joke.
My wife's idea of a romantic night is dinner by candlelight. Mine is a quickie on the couch.
Another technique that joke writers us is the simile. This is where you describe something and compare it to something else that is just totally ridiculous. Here is an example of a simile.
He's a cross between a merry-go-round and a vampire.
Then there are the observations. This is where you simply observe the things that are around you. Nobody was any better at this than Steven Wright, who's comedy was just so unique. Here is one of his classic observations.
"You can't have everything. I mean, where would you put it?"
Another device that comics use in telling jokes is mimicking other people. It may be your teacher, your parole officer, even your mother. And of course, when delivering the joke, you have to go into the voice of that person. This is usually good for a chuckle, especially if the audience can relate.
Finally, there is the callback. This is when you refer back to an earlier joke. An example of this would be something like...
I was going to send my brother Donald a Mars Bar, but I couldn't get a hold of a space ship.
If you think about it, this is funny on SO many levels.
Your Independent guide to Humor