How to Edit Humor You’re Planning to Read Aloud

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

This information is excerpted from a two-week, humor writing unit plan for teachers: Introduction to Humor and Comedy Writing.

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!

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.