The Art of Writing Comedy part 2

by The Editor, JTP

Satire may be an avenue where comedy writing feels most at home. Because writing is full of conventions and rules and because it is used as a form of communication makes it perfect for the world of satire, which aims to tear down and ridicule all of those things. Take, for instance, famed publication The Onion. There are many satirical news sources out there but I use The Onion as an example because of its increased fame due to the internet. Now the internet is full of satirical humor (some better than others) and especially parody – but at its best, satire is topical.

In the world of writing comedy, satire may have come only now into its golden age because information is fast and abundant. News is more available than ever before – local, global, etc. This access to information requires wit to be faster, sharper, and more clever than past societies ever could allow. Any writer interested in topical satire should rest easy: your form of art is only increasing in popularity.

As far as fiction goes, satire does not stand well alone. My recommendation is to integrate your satire into the story and make it supplemental. For example, take the narrator’s asides in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. In this reader’s opinion, no fiction in recent history comes close.

Non-Fiction Humor
As far as written humor is concerned, non-fiction may be “where it’s at”. Personal accounts allow for humor to be personal, visceral, and earnest – all things that good stand-up comedy should be, too. Comedy needs to be, above all else, relevant or at least believable. No, it must be so believable that it is unbelievable. It needs to blur that distinction between reality and exaggeration.

I could write you a story about a man who goes to the theater, is attacked, and has to file a police report and you would not laugh. I could tell you the same story actually happened, and that I was that man and when it happened I threw a large bag of popcorn at the assailant, got punched in the head by an angry teenager, then time slowed as I contemplated throwing a punch at the teenager and decided against it, knowing that it may prove to be more trouble than it’s worth. I could tell you the people in the theater clapped when the fight was over and I was never too disappointed that evening because the film was stupid. I could write the whole story out in a memoir and produce a work far more humorous than tragic because it really happened.

Sometimes our own internal dialogue adds that humor inherently. Memoirs are the way to go. Non-fiction comedy is perhaps the most postmodern form of writing that exists.


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