Note: The following is an excerpt from my new book, COMEDY WRITING 4 LIFE, which you can have a free e-copy of, just by sending your fruits of the following exercise to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s the situation: Unfortunately, you died. Which makes your tombstone your last shot at cracking a good joke. What could you put there that would make your mourners snicker? I’m not afraid of outcomes; I’ll go first.
Now I’m really bored.
I wonder if this thing’s loaded.
As if life insurance worked.
Who turned out the lights?
Different jokes work with different groups. My friends in the ultimate frisbee community, for example, will wet their pants over “Slacker,” for they know how much I love that word, and how I cherish Slacker Wednesday, the mid-day, mid-week ultimate frisbee game I founded in Los Angeles and branded thus: “Slacker Wednesday: It works because you don’t!” Others will roll their eyes and wonder. They won’t have enough information to solve the puzzle of the joke.
Don’t expect any joke to work for every audience, ever. Your audience exists on a bell curve. Some people won’t laugh because they lack key information. Others won’t laugh because they have too much information – maybe they’ve heard the joke before. Your target is always the BFM, or Big Fat Middle.
Did you know that you can tune a joke? You can, just by adding or subtracting information. [Read more…]