Humor Writing Mini-Class: Recommended Reading

This is the recommended reading page for an online version of a course I have taught as both a creative writing instructor with the Miami Book Fair and as a high school English teacher. If you want to take this mini-course on using humor to enhance your writing, you can sign up here to receive the most current versions of activities and exercises once a week for six weeks. 

Recommended Reading and Excerpts Used In Class

Funny Books Used As Class Examples, listed in Order of Appearance
Self-Inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic HumiliationAisha Tyler
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?
Mindy Kaling
Tina Fey
Dave Barry’s Greatest Hits,
Dave Barry
I’m Down, Mishna Wolff
Against FootballSteve Almond
Me Talk Pretty One DayDavid Sedaris

A Few Other of my Personal Favorite Funny Writers
You Better Not Cry: Stories for Christmas, Augusten Borroughs
Promise Land: My Journey Through America’s Self-Help Culture, Jessica Lamb-Shapiro
Surviving your Stupid, Stupid Decision to go to Grad School, Adam Ruben
We Learn Nothing: Essays,Tim Kreider

Studies of humor and humor writing:
The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, Peter McGraw and Joel Warner – A book that combines humor theory with an international road trip to see what is funny in other countries. The author is the psychologist who gave the TEDx Talk on Benign Violation Theory.
Poking a Dead Frog, Mike Sacks – A collection of advice and interviews about the craft and business of comedy writing
Humor 101, Mitch Earleywine, PhD – A book on the psychology of humor, written by a psychology professor

Advice for Standup Comics (and others who want to be funny while speaking):
Zen and the Art of Standup Comedy,
Jay Sankey – A book that talks about all the delicate balances a person has to strike when trying to make an audience laugh. I’ve also found this one helpful as a teacher.
Truth in Comedy, Charna Halpern and Kim Howard Johnson – a short book about improv comedy that also offers insights into what makes things funny.
Step-by-Step to Standup, Greg Dean – A book that breaks down joke structure to help with joke writing.


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