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Top Ten Tools for Writing Humor
Ever want to write a funny book or a humor column? Or add spice to your newsletter editor or web page so that people read beyond the typical drivel that sends otherwise eager-to-spend customers into a boredom-induced coma? Here are my top ten favorite humor tools for you, along with real live examples from my own humor column. Threading a theme through the text. Are you into practical jokes? Try sewing a single thread of bright red wool across Uncle Henry's new green golf shirt. Or sew a thread through your text. My Parenting Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe is actually a delicious recipe. But I assumed there is a little helper around, and I threaded her through the text, making for sort of a running gag.
OK, time to up-tempo the laughs. Mid-way through, I run a second thread, renaming the cake with each mistake. The thread within a thread multiplies the humor. See http://thehappyguy.com/pumpkin-cheesecake-recipe.
html Contrast what should be with the obviously deficient reality I use this technique in Home Of The Year. Most people will agree that a home is more than just a house. I contrast the reality of my I-survived-the-hurricane home with the Martha Stewart image of how a home should look -- the old little-miss-perfect Martha Stewart image, not the new-and-not-improved, scandal-defying, corporate shark image. Notice I also use the threading tool in this piece – the drawings on the wall -- and bring it together at the end to reinforce the main point. See http://www.thehappyguy.com/home-of-the-year.html. Build on a ridiculous notion Consultants call this thinking outside the box and charge you for it. I call it humor and give it to you for free.
I had a bad hairdresser day. I held my hairdresser accountable for my thinning hair, a ludicrous idea that works. Let's up-tempo the laughs. Mid-way through, I compound the humor with another ludicrous notion: growth formula making my scalp taller rather than my hair thinner. See http://www.thehappyguy.com/hairdresser.html . Mock a public figure This is possibly the easiest humor tool to use. Public figures are just so mockable.
They naturally rise to their own level of mockability. I wrote a column mocking Michael Jackson – and the media's over-fascination with his arrest. That was one of my worst columns, so I won't show it to you. Hey, I said it was easy, not funny. Don't see. Act like a clown I start off my Vulture column, based on a true news story, by playing the fool, saying silly things and displaying a general ignorance. This gives my uncle the opportunity to set me straight. In classic Laurel and Hardy style, the straight man makes the comedian funny. See http://www.thehappyguy.
com/humor-vulture-value.html . By the way, this also allows a humorist to be funny on touchy subjects, without offending. The heckler I love to inject a heckler into an already silly situation. I applied a news story about a law suit over cow hormones to my "New York Times best seller". It was actually a bit like mocking a public figure, but what made this column exceptional is how Ruby Red kept interjecting her own slightly out-of-context comments into what was already a silly situation. See http://www.thehappyguy.com/best-seller.
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