Writing Comedy - Part 2
The highest art

Copyright © 2013 Dorian Scott Cole

   About this series.

This series on comedy looks at the architecture of comedy and what makes it work.


Writing comedy one-liners

Comedy comes from how many basic places? Situation, characters, and expectations.

One-line comedy comes from the same stuff. You can use one-line comedy to beef up a scene, or use it for stand up.

One-line comedy is the same funny stuff as situation comedy, but condensed into one line. You either develop it out of the situation in the scene, or you develop it from external sources, like the news. In the news, you find characters and situations. And you have the opportunity to defy expectations.

The news is a rich source for comedy:

  • People in the news are already flawed and broken - you don't have to injure them.
  • People in the news are already in situations - you don't have to throw them into one.
  • People in the news are instantly recognizable, and no character development is necessary.

Example: Why did President Clinton like the woman in the red dress? Why not?

A simple way to begin comedy is to write the top ten reasons why.... Make sure the answers are always unexpected - surprise!

Example - Male/female relations are always great for humor. So, create the top ten reasons why women talk more than men. Situation: Women talk more than men. Characters: Women and men. Expectation to defy or twist: That there is a simple genetic reason.

  1. Women have to repeat everything because their men aren't listening.
  2. Women are repeating to children, who don't want to understand. All they hear is Wa, wa, wa, wa, wa.
  3. Men are too busy working and watching sports to talk.
  4. Women are asking directions - something men never do.
  5. Women are reciting their man's to do list for the day.
  6. Women are actually singing a country song - men just don't recognize the melody.
  7. Women are actually complaining about everything their husbands do... or don't do.
  8. Scientists recently discovered a language protein that women have... it has the same effect as sex.
  9. Talking is a prelude to sex. If men understood that, they would grow bigger ears.
  10. Men "do" things instead of "talking" about it... like watch sports.
  11. Talking helps women understand things, which is why men never understand anything related to women.
  12. It's women's way of punishing men for existing.

From these reasons, select the top three, and then refine them. They become part of your act. The remainder can potentially be worked in as fodder as you weave these things into a story to tell about you and your significant other or dates. Each of the items you pick can be expanded into a story, and then the line used as the punch line.

In this series:

I often use a similar technique to the one described by this expert: Jerry Writes 15 Jokes in 30 minutes.

- Dorian Scott Cole

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