April 10, 2012

How to be Funny if You’re Not–Part I

I’m not funny. I try, but that gene was left out when God created me. But as a writer, I realize people like

funny writing

How to write like a funny person

a sense of humor in a story. It’s like butter on broccoli or honey on toast–the words just taste better. I wrote several articles in my quest for humor:

But what I really needed was to LEARN how to be funny. I started by writing down the funny one-liners I heard so I could adapt them to my story. That helped, but writers must be original so I bought a few books.

One is Comedy Thesaurus by Judy Brown (Quirk Books 2005). She organizes 3,241 ‘quips, quotes and smart*** remarks’ alphabetically by topic, crediting the person who said it, so you can find one that fits your theme–topics like

  • beauty (There are a lot of good-looking men out there. But keep in mind that no matter how cute and sexy a guy is, there’s always some woman somewhere who is sick of him)
  • elections (we have a presidential election coming up. And I think the big problem, of course, is someone will win)
  • occupations (I used to be a furniture salesman. Problem was, it was my own)

Here are some of the quips she recounts for readers:

  • When I gave birth, I had twins, my daughter and my husband. They were both immature and bald.
  • I love to sleep. It’s the best of both worlds. You get to be alive and unconscious (Rita Rudner)
  • My husband is from England and has never seen a football game before. So I could tell him anything I wanted. I told him it was over at half time. (Rita Rudner–she’s so funny)
  • I’ve been on so many blind dates I should get a free dog (Wendy Liebman)
  • What is a date, really, but a job interview that lasts all night. The only difference is that in not many job interviews is there a chance e you’ll wind up naked (Jerry Seinfeld)
  • I never drink coffee at work. It keeps me awake (Judy Brown)
  • My brother-in-law gave up his job because of illness. His boss got sick of him (Henny Youngman)
  • A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking (Jerry Seinfeld)
  • If a word in the dictionary was misspelled, how would we know? (Steven Wright)
  • I tell you, I don’t get no respect. The Surgeon General offered me a cigarette (Rodney Dangerfield)
  • The day I worry about cleaning my house is the day Sears comes out with a riding vacuum cleaner (Roseanne Barr)

Next, I’ll review a book that purports to teach you to be funny. That’s tantalizing, isn’t it? Drop by next week to check it out.

Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and creator of two technology training books for middle school. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything and Technology in Education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller for her agent that should be out to publishers this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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