Humor is never a “one size fits all” affair. As such, what may be funny to some readers may fall seriously flat with others. Finding out what ticks with your particular audience is often a “learn as you go” deal. If you stick with it, though, you’ll eventually chance upon exactly how to reach them right.
A few ideas when it comes to injecting humor into your writing.
- Fall flat with pride. Early on, there’s a good chance that most of your attempts at humor will fail. Accept that and keep trying. Eventually, you’ll be clued into what works and your writing will slowly reflect that competence.
- Make fun of yourself. Self-deprecating humor is a good resort if you’re not very confident about using humor yet. Making fun of yourself means you don’t risk offending any readers, all while being able to get a laugh out of them. Don’t use it too much, though. At some point, too much self-deprecation will just feel trite, even if it’s funny at times.
- Be specific. The more specific the joke, the more relatable it will be. Maybe it’s because specifics let readers imagine the situations better or it could be because they’re simpler to understand. Either way, talking about “a dog” is rarely as funny as “a black and white chihuahua that looks like a malnourished panda.”
- Play with word choice. Sometimes, a single word can make the difference between moderately funny and hilarious. Use a thesaurus or a similar tool to find alternate word choices for your humorous passages.
- Remember the rule of three. Things that comes in three are usually funnier. While that’s not always not the case, it’s best to stick to this tried-and-tested guideline while you’re still growing into your funnyman shoes. That means, using three characters, three examples, three sentences, three phrases and other threes when it comes to your humorous passages. Also, follow the rule of three in comedy progression: create tension, build it up and release it with your punchline.
- Experiment with timing. Forcing a pause to make the create a lull in the text, saving the punchline till the last possible moment and surprising readers are all ways in which you can experiment with timing. You will fall flat at times, but the things you can learn when doing so will serve you well down the line.
- Read the humorous parts out loud. Make this a habit. That usually clues you in on how funny it can be. If you’re reading it in your ideal intonation and pace, it should be funny. Otherwise, no one else will probably laugh.