Funny Writing: How to Add Humor to a Story

Do you have a story that you think is kind of funny, or should be kind of funny, but doesn’t seem to get the laughs you’d like it to? Or do you have a story that isn’t that funny but that you think you could add humor to? Well then you’re in luck, because here are 5 ways you can add humor to a story:

Start With Boring

Don’t try to start with a funny story. Be ok starting with a story that is basic and boring. It is usually much easier to add humor to an honest, basic story than to a story that you “think is really funny!”

As you get experience adding humor to stories, this will get easier and faster, and your first drafts will be funnier to begin with. That’s not because you’re starting with a funnier story, it’s because you’re automatically making it funnier as you tell it.

Strip it Down to the Bare Essentials

Comedy is about economy of language. You need to cut as much unnecessary stuff from the story to a) cut the unfunny and b) make room to add the funny.

Create a “bare bones” version of the story which is just what happened. Only add in as much action and description as is absolutely necessary for the audience to know to follow along. Chances are your entire story will come down to only a few sentences. That’s ok.

Use Creativity to Add the Funny

Go through the bare bones version of the story and start “adding the funny.” The best way to do this is brainstorm ideas (usually walking around helps) for lines, jokes, descriptions, actions, etc, that you can add on to the bare bones to make it more engaging and funny.

Create a big list of potential ideas. The bigger the list the better, because chances are you will keep less than 10% of what you come up with. Trust me, if you can keep even 10%, that’s great. More than that and you probably aren’t being critical enough of your humor.

Consider Your Delivery

Now that you have some funny ideas, make them funnier by focusing how you will deliver them. Two different people can say the exact same words, but, because of different delivery, get vastly different responses.

Use all the delivery tools at your disposal: vocal variety, volume, characters, accents, body language, facial expressions, gestures, mime, etc. Play around with a lot of different things until you come up with stuff that a) is comfortable and natural for you and b) gets a laugh.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Sorry, a humorist’s work is never done. Once you have gotten to this state, repeat the process again. Not just for new stories, but with the story you just added humor to. Strip it down and build it back up. If your material was truly funny, it will survive the re-editing process. If it doesn’t, it wasn’t that funny to begin with.

Use these five steps to add humor to any story you have. It may take some work, but it will be well worth it!

For more info on how to add humor to any story or presentation without telling stick jokes, check out the Unleashing Your Inner Comedian! program now!

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  1. sabrina
    2 years ago

    Really helpful site and article but it would help if you put more advice on writing than in speaking.

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