This is the recommended reading page for an online version of one of the most popular classes I’ve taught as a high school teacher and as an author teaching creative writing—Making It Funny: The Art and Science of Humor Writing.
If you’re a teacher who would like to teach a humor-writing unit in your own classroom, you can find the classroom-ready version of this course here.
Recommended reading from my six-week, humor writing mini-course
Books Used as Writing Samples, listed in Order of Appearance
Self-Inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humiliation, Aisha Tyler
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? Mindy Kaling
Bossypants, Tina Fey
Dave Barry’s Greatest Hits, Dave Barry
I’m Down, Mishna Wolff
Against Football, Steve Almond
Me Talk Pretty One Day, David 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.Make Me Funny(er)!
For more detailed explanations, curated examples, and writing exercises to apply this to your own writing, you can sign up for the full course below. If you’d like to read a course outline, here’s link to learn more about Making It Funny: the Art and Science of Humor Writing. (If you’re a teacher who would like to teach a humor-writing unit in your classroom, you can find a classroom-ready unit plan on Teachers Pay Teachers. There is also a discounted version of the unit plan available at checkout when you sign up for the full course below.)Making It Funny: The Art and Science of Humor Writing