9 Comedy Writing Styles You Need To Know

When writing fiction, I like considering what makes my characters laugh. I feel sense of humour is lacking from many characters. Despite our lives not being comedies, people still crack jokes, and can see the funny side of life in very dark places.

Originally, I designed a list to give budding comics joke topic ideas. I realised it could double its value, giving characters unique senses of humour.

Be wary writing jokes about stereotypes. Be intelligent in your subject matter. Tread the line between right and wrong, but never ever cross it. It will end you.

A - Basic
1.   Standard
A standard joke format is reversing. A comic says a phrase then twists the original meaning with a punchline. This is the most basic form of comedy.

2.   Language
Language jokes focus heavily on wit and wordplay. They make use out of the nonsense derived from linguistic blind spots in English, or other languages. They include puns, tmesis, portmanteaus, garden path sentences.

Another type of rhetoric used in comedy is hyperbole. It includes forms of exaggeration, boasting and arrogance to create a certain comedic stage persona.

3.   Topical
Observational humour comes from looking at everyday life. People poke fun at mainstream culture whilst mocking celebrity shortcomings.

B - Personal
1.   Self
Self-involved humour involves narratives or funny stories. It is mostly self-depreciative. The spotlight is on the comedian being the butt of jokes, rather than laughing at others misfortune.

2.   Cultural
Making fun of stereotypes is never acceptable. People don’t choose sexuality, gender, race, nationality, disease or looks. Nobody likes sexist, racist, xenophobic homophobes. You can play on these misconceptions. It’s good pushing boundaries, challenging the status quo, but don’t offend.

There is more leeway into mocking religions and political stances, rather than sexuality or race. This is because politics and religion are choices. Islam and Scientology seem to be above this rule, as people fear retribution.

I am agnostic, but I would never mock someone’s religion. Some comedians do, and to great effect. Many people enjoy this comedic style, but I find it too preachy for my palette.

3.   Satire
Satire will involve lampooning, and includes parodies and spoofs. Be careful with this humour style. There is a thin line between satire and slander.

C - Niche
1.   Surreal
Surreal humour involves absurdity, featuring farce of nonsense verse. The humour derives from your brain trying to find the meaning in words but failing. Humans find the illogical funny, so anything weird, silly, stupid or childish provokes laughter. 

2.   Extreme
Extreme humour should make listeners feel uncomfortable. Horror and comedy are very much connected. It includes many subgenres including horror, sick, toilet, blue, black, dark, gross, cringe, insults and taboos.

3.   Variety

Variety comedy normally involves the comedian playing characters. I use it as a catchall term to include using of props, music, sketches, slideshows, slapstick and poetry. 

Happy Creations!

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Jim M