Humor Writing Mini-Class: Recommended Reading

Words humor writing mini course in front of a messy teacher desk

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. It’s free for anyone interested in adding humor to their writing. Sign up below and you’ll get humor-writing lessons delivered to your inbox once a week for the next six weeks. Please note that you will also receive my weekly email meant for teachers while you are signed up for this list. You can unsubscribe at any time.

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 HumiliationAisha 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 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.

Sign Up for a Free Humor Writing Mini-Course

Enter your email to receive one humor writing lesson a week for six weeks. (Please note that you will also receive my weekly emails for teachers while you are signed up for this list. You can unsubscribe at any time.)