I am a psychologist, not knowledgeable comedy author (In any case, how humorous is this primary sentence?). However when, about 20 years in the past, I took as much as an hour every day (and I imply, for 365 days) simply to put in writing jokes, gags, and one-liners for cartoonists, comedians, and audio system, I believed I used to be intelligent sufficient to make it a life-long behavior.
It was enjoyable, I realized loads, and I even bought a couple of jokes. Nevertheless, by the top of the 12 months my potential to maintain cranking them out disappeared and I burnt out.
The expertise taught me three issues: First, I am not minimize out to be a full-time comedy author. Second, I developed a powerful appreciation of the skilled comedy writers who can do that day after day, 12 months after 12 months. And third, I did discover ways to put collectively a one-liner. I’ve used this data ever since in speeches, conferences, different writing initiatives, and social dialog.
I’ve come to the conclusion that it ain’t rocket science. If I can do it, you are able to do it (supplied that you’ve humorousness, a facility for word-play, and nothing higher to do).
Earlier than I offer you my magic system, I ought to let you know that formulation do not work. A fantastic one-liner, like several murals, has its personal distinctive inspiration, follows its personal distinctive guidelines, and surprises us in its personal great manner. Additionally, the jokes I’ll use as examples are authentic (not notably humorous, however actually authentic). That is as a result of I do not need to get sued, particularly by some comic who claims I used to be stealing his or her jokes.
So listed here are 5 guidelines for making a one-liner:
RULE 1: Select 2 topics-1) the content material of the joke, and a pair of) the shock subject. For instance, as an instance you have been placing in a variety of additional time on the workplace. Now, only for the sake of constructing this psychological train, let’s additionally say that you simply mix this subject with the truth that you’ve got a canine. Right here is one risk of mixing them: “I have been placing in a lot additional time, that I got here residence to an empty home final night time. I discovered a notice. It stated, ‘I am unable to take it any extra. I’ve gone for an extended stroll within the park to suppose over our relationship.’ It was from my canine.”
Okay, so it isn’t that humorous. That brings us to…
RULE 2: Search for opposites, particularly ridiculous and inconceivable opposites. Many, many nice jokes depend on reverse meanings. A number of years in the past at a Rotary assembly by which I ended the 12 months of my presidency, I needed to say a couple of issues earlier than turning the membership over to my successor. I started by saying, “Earlier than I formally hand over the reins of powerlessness, …” It obtained a pleasant snort.
RULE three: Construct up the joke in a sure path, in order that the listener is locked into one assumption, after which spring the joke on them. For instance, discuss as whether it is one thing vital, and finish with one thing trivial: “I ought to wish to introduce my enterprise companion, my mentor, my finest pal, and a person to whom I owe 5 bucks, …”
RULE four: Put the important thing phrase or phrase, the one which modifications the which means, on the very finish of the one-liner. You may discover that the final phrases within the earlier three jokes ARE the joke (canine, powerlessness, 5 bucks). Think about a cocktail celebration. Everybody has a drink in his or her fingers, apart from one man. His spouse turns to him and says, “You recognize, George, you actually SHOULD have one thing to drink–otherwise folks will suppose you are an alcoholic.” This can be a lot funnier than, “You don’t need folks to suppose you are an alcoholic, do you? You’d higher drink one thing.” This second line is not as humorous as a result of the second subject (alcoholism) is launched earlier than the top. It blunts the shock and subsequently the comedian shock on the finish.
RULE 5: Eliminate each pointless phrase and concept. Nothing ruins a one-liner greater than even one additional phrase. My spouse, Christine, is a Paramedic with the Chicago Fireplace Division (She was my hero lengthy earlier than September 11th). She works a 24-hour shift. Over time I’ve developed a inventory response to individuals who ask me if I am anxious about my spouse being within the firehouse all night time with all of these males: “Gee, you are proper. I might higher name and warn these guys.” Is there one pointless phrase in that response? I do not suppose so.
So there it’s. Observe these guidelines, and you’ll create a one-liner. Will it rise to the extent of a Henny Youngman, a Jay Leno, an Ellen DeGeneres, a Bob Hope, a Richard Pryor, or a George Carlin? In all probability not, nevertheless it’s enjoyable, it is artistic, it is a good psychological train, and–who is aware of?–you might uncover that you’ve a expertise for it.
Oh, and one phrase of warning. If if you are following these guidelines you consider one thing really humorous, overlook the foundations. Go for what’s humorous.