If I don’t practice one day, I know it; two days, the critics know it; three days, the public knows it.
– Jascha Heifetz, World-renowned Violinist
Comedy writing is a skill.
Writers are constantly developing. They read voraciously. They attend courses and seminars, and collect new ideas on scraps of paper and in notebooks. They have the discipline to keep their butt in the chair, pounding a keyboard, hour after hour, day after day. Yet, for some strange reason, most writers fail to recognize two important aspects of their lifestyle:
2. Adding a touch of humor to your writing requires practice.
Focus is not required.
It’s irrational for a writer to focus a lot of time and energy on any genre but their own.
Let’s do a simple calculation based on a 5-day workweek. If you were to spend one hour a day on developing your humor skills, that’s 5 hours a week. That adds up to 260 hours a year.
Now, if you only work 40 hours a week. (Right!)
260 / 40 = 6.5 weeks a year practicing humor writing.
Six and a half weeks each year focused on a genre not your own! That’s crazy!
The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans are suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they’re okay, then it’s you. – Rita Mae Brown
It’s a stretch, but let’s assume that you’re not crazy. You are going to focus your time and energy on your primary genre. So, how can you get in a bit of guilt-free daily practice writing humor?
First, create your own small opportunities. You know your daily routine. Examine it.
- How many emails do you write?
- Do you regularly leave notes for other members of your household?
- Do you regularly chat with friends and neighbors?
- Consider all non-critical tasks that lend themselves to a bit of fun?
Example A: When emailing friends, change your signature daily.
Stud Extraordinaire [By Appointment Only]
Weightwatchers’ Failed Experiment
Recovering According to My Therapist
President, Society for the Blind Drunk
Finally Learned the Macarena
Will you get a laugh from your friends every day? Not likely, but you may get a smile. That’s a nice compliment.
Fortunately, my ego accepts all offered praise, no matter how cheap.
Example B: Add extra items to the shopping list that you hand to your spouse:
- Enough Reese’s Pieces to Attract ET
By deliberately sprinkling bits of humor throughout the day, you’re not giving up large blocks of time. You’re writing a dozen or more jokes that require just a few seconds apiece, painlessly developing your humor-muscle memory.
Social media has a huge advantage. Here it is:
You can attempt a one-liner on nearly any topic and follow up with an ‘I’m just kidding’ smiley face. Since you’re more than likely going to be checking your favorite forums anyway, use this as an opportunity to practice.
Caveat: Avoid commenting on irrational or fanatical posts unless you’re looking for a new stalker.Example C: I came across a posting from a young lady who blasted her exes, her “fake-ass friends” and anyone who didn’t like her. She literally railed everyone on her list. She wasn’t a nut; she’d just hit her limit on this particular day and apparently needed to vent. Now, I am not offended by the use of expletives. They can be handy on occasion. However, when repeating
“Fuck You!” is your entire message, what’s an appropriate response for this young lady:
Well, every Charm School needs a valedictorian. 🙂
Backlash—NONE. My response was intended and accepted as fun, and hopefully picked up her day. I also managed a bit of humor writing exercise. It was win-win.
Daily, look for little opportunities to exercise your humor writing skills. Lots of them. It’s fast; it’s easy, and it’s great fun.