This is part of a lesson from a self-guided online humor writing course called 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 the classroom-ready version of this course here.
Today’s focus is editing standup comedy routines—or anything you plan to read aloud or perform.
Two steps for editing humor you plan to read aloud
The editing you do for work you plan to read aloud is different from the editing you do for other writing. Mechanics like spelling don’t matter as much. Other things, however, become more important. You’ve got to get to the point as quickly as possible. You also have to avoid confusing your audience.
Note: We’re revising a piece you should have already written based on tricks from standup comedy as part of last week’s lesson. If you missed that lesson, you can sign up here for the course.Make Me Funny(er)!
Step one: Read your piece out loud.
Your best way to assess whether your writing is funny is to read it aloud to someone else. Note where the audience laughs. You definitely want to keep those parts.
Step two: If there’s a part of the piece that didn’t feel funny or didn’t get the laugh you expected, try to figure out why.
These two steps are the basic premise of how to edit humor you plan to perform or read aloud. The rest of the lesson contains more specific, step-by-step suggestions on what might be going wrong if you’re not getting the laugh you want. The good news is: many jokes that don’t get a laugh can be saved with a few small changes!
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