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How to Write a Joke

Want to be the life of the party? … Or the business meeting? … Or the hostage situation? A great joke can put any audience in the palm of your hand.

Instructions

  • Step 1: Examine and observe The best jokes come from personal experiences and observations. So search your own life for funny memories, and carefully observe the world around you, staying on the lookout for events and situations that tickle your own funny bone.
  • Step 2: Research Do some research. Read other jokes and pay attention to how the words are arranged. Listen to other jokes being told, and study their delivery. Pick the jokes apart. See how they’re structured.
  • TIP: Listening to comedy albums is a great way to learn. Pay as much attention to the audience as you do to the comedian. What are they laughing at—and why?
  • Step 3: Write a setup Write a setup. Most jokes consist of two parts: the setup and the punch line. The setup is usually a question or observation about someone or something that’s more or less straightforward.
  • Step 4: Write a punch line Now write a punch line. The punch line is an unexpected and humorous response to the setup. A good punch line should flip your audience’s assumptions on their head.
  • TIP: Timing is essential to a good joke. Experiment and adjust your timing to get the biggest punch from your punch line.
  • Step 5: Fine tune Ninety percent of a joke’s success is in its delivery. Record your joke so you can hear how it sounds to others. Practice it with a funny, honest friend. Hone the joke by changing words and adjusting emphasis.
  • Step 6: Find an audience Now that you’ve got your setup, punch line, timing, and delivery down, it’s show time—go find an audience and knock their socks off. Just make sure everybody goes home with the right socks! You get it ? Right socks ? Anyway …
  • FACT: Laughter evolved from 'play-panting' among cavemen, but humans didn’t fully develop the facial muscles to control it until 2 million years ago.

You Will Need

  • A sense of humor
  • A tape recorder
  • An honest friend
  • An audience

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