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Humorous Thought For The Day - How I Write Funny Lines On A Daily Basis

Oct 10, 2007
Imagine a web site where you go on a daily basis to see a humorous thought for the day. Better yet, what if that site delivers the humorous thought for the day to your email?

And what if instead of providing stale, you've-heard-it-a-thousand-times-before humor, that site provided fresh, baked-daily humor created on-site in their in-store ovens?

Well ... that's the project I've taken on.

And it's turning out to be quite the challenge to keep up with baking all those daily loaves of laughs.

So how do you go about creating a thought for the day that's humorous without having to be a professional comic?

Here are some tips:

1. Think about the types of things in your everyday life that you find unusual, ridiculous, hard-to-understand, silly or embarrassing.

2. Come up with a way to express one of these things in a way that leads the mind in one direction. Then, suddenly shift direction with the final part. This is the setup/punchline structure of humor.

3. For a given idea, generate as many setup/punchline variations as you can. Keep pushing to generate them, even when you think you can't come up with any more. The ones you fight hard for are usually the funnier ones.

4. Try to make your humor express your final point in an indirect way. It's funnier to say someone could use "subsidies of something" than to say someone "someone doesn't have much something."

5. With each setup/punchline, play with the words to try to make your humor brief and to the point. Wordy "humor" generally is not as funny as brief humor.

6. Try to hide the final destination of your humorous setup/punchline until the very end. You want the punch of your humor to be showcased at the end, with nothing trailing it to drain the funny part away.

7. Practice on a regular basis. Keep what's funny and toss what's not funny. You'll have to use your best judgment here. This is easier to do if you set what you've written aside for a few days. Then, come back later and review it. Many of the lines that lack humor will stick out like a sore thumb.

Here's an example of how I created a funny line:

- The word "imagination" popped into my mind, and I thought about how insulting it is to be accused of having no imagination.

- I wondered what group could I insult without really offending anyone. Politicians are always a good target.

- I then tried to figure out how I could accuse politicians of having no imagination.

- For the setup I wanted to suggest that I was going to compliment politicians by saying they had a lot of imagination. So I thought, "With the amount of imagination politicians have ...."

- I tried to think of a way to indirectly say someone has no imagination. My approach was "... they should qualify for government subsidies."

- The result was:

With the amount of imagination
politicians have, they should
qualify for government subsidies.

If you don't find that line funny, that's OK. Your sense of humor may be different than mine. And that's fine. Humor is very subjective, and there is a wide variety in the things people find funny. Also, analyzing the creation of a joke step-by-step, like we did above, has a tendency to kill the humor as you go.

This is the process I'm using on a regular basis to create fresh humor for my thought for the day web site. It's not an easy task, but it's fun and satisfying when the funny pours out. And it's great to think that maybe I've added a little humor to the middle of someone's day, maybe just at the point where the person's daily stress was about to overwhelm them. That's why I call my humorous thought for the day Laugh Vitamin.
About the Author
Rob Favero is the creator of the Humorous Thought for the Day web site. It provides a humorous thought each day for an entire year. Stop by each day for your daily dose of fun.
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