“Dying is easy. Comedy is hard,” says Peter O’Toole in My Favorite Year. If you’ve ever tried your hand at humor blogging, you will likely agree. In fact, with the possible exception of the sestina, I’d say humor writing is the most difficult form of writing. To be good, it must be surprising, concise, sharp, timely, and consistent all at once. And humor bloggers turn out such polished gems every week or so. How do they do it? Here are some tips from the pros:
- Learn the rules. All forms of writing – the essay, the play, the short story – have some well-defined basic parameters and comedy writing is no exception. For example, specifics are funnier than generalizations and repeating something three times is funnier than repeating it two or four times. By mastering the fundamentals, you let those who have come before do some of the work for you.
- Keep up with the news. Good comedy is timely and relevant, even if it’s not specifically political. The best humor bloggers keep their fingers on the pulse. Read as much as you can, and keep up with what people are currently watching, reading, and talking about.
- Observe. Comedy is everywhere you look, and, as observational comics have found, sometimes the most ludicrous aspects of daily life are those we’ve grown so used to that we’ve stopped noticing them at all. Look closely at the ordinary and you will discover the absurd.
- Keep your temper. A controlled, targeted rant can be hilarious, but comedic rants are harder than they look, and even the best ranters grow tiresome after awhile. Outrage can be an excellent starting point for a good comedic piece, but bury that anger in the revision process if you want to reach an audience.
- Keep us on our toes. Laughter comes from the unexpected. Try turning a familiar pattern on its head. How can you invert a story or a joke to deliver an unexpected conclusion?
- Draw something. Many popular humor blogs are online comics, and no wonder – the visual aspect gives you an entirely new dimension in which to be funny. And as some of the most beloved sites prove, you don’t need to be an artist to draw a satisfying comic…although if you are, so much the better!
- Edit, edit, edit. While digressions and non-sequiturs can be amusing, the best humor writing doesn’t have a lot of fat. Look for anything in your piece that’s tired, dull, or not on point. Get rid of it, or replace it with something wittier.
Do you often use humor in your blog posts? Which bloggers make you laugh on a regular basis?