Writing Funny: My Three Favorite Tools to Create Comedic Moments in Story

Season #2 Episode #33

S2_E33 – Three Favorite Tools to Create Comedy in Story

In this current series on Writing Funny, Zena shares three techniques that can specifically be used when working with cliches to create comedic moments in story.

1. The simple truth. 

Break down the literal meaning of a phrase or a key word so that it's simply true, rather than interpreting the expression according to its traditional reference. For example, Steve Martin's joke, "I love a woman with a good head on her shoulders.... because I hate necks."

2. The Non Sequitur. 

The illogical pairing or juxtaposition of two elements. The humor comes from pairing the two ideas next to each other, which don't seem to fit, but actually do in an absurd kind of way. For example, Leslie Nielsen's line,  "The truth hurts. Sure. Not as much as jumping on a bicycle with no seat, but it hurts." 

3. Exaggeration in the form of understatements or overstatements.

Taking something normal to an absurd degree, either by downplaying it or by overplaying. For example, the doctor's statement to Goldie Hawn's character in The First Wives Club is an overstatement: "If I give you any more halogen, you're going to be able to blink your lips." Monty Python is famous for understating the self control of the British. "It's just a flesh wound," etc.


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WHAT'S NEXT? Join us next Thursday for the conclusion of this series on Writing Funny, where Zena will share her final thoughts on what a proper "Theology of Humor" might be.

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