Making it Funny: The Art and Science of Humor Writing

This is an online version of one of the most popular classes I’ve taught, both as a high school teacher and as an author teaching creative writing. It’s for anyone interested in adding humor to their writing. Sign up below and you’ll get six weeks worth of self-guided lessons, curated examples, and assignments meant to help bring out your inner humor writer.

Make Me Funny(er)!

Course outline for Making It Funny: The Art and Science of Humor Writing


Meet your instructor, learn the answers to a few frequently-asked questions, and learn how to get the most out of the course.

Section 1: What Makes Things Funny?

All aboard the humor-nerd train. In this section, you’ll analyze selected samples of humor writing, then learn some of the most common techniques found in funny writing.

Section 2: The Three Most Famous Theories of Humor and How to Use Them in Your Writing

An overview of three most popular theories of humor. These theories are useful for understanding what makes things funny and some of them date back to early philosophers. In this section, you’ll get examples of each theory as well as writing exercise to help you put them into practice.

Section 3: How to Stay Within the Funny Zone

The “Benign Violation” theory of humor goes a long way toward explaining why we find certain things funny—and why sometimes we don’t. Here you’ll find an explanation of the theory. Then you’ll do a writing exercise that helps you adjust the tone and level of detail in your writing to make it funnier. 

Section 4: How to Make Your Writing Funnier Using the Tools of Standup Comedy

In this section you’ll learn traditional joke structure. We’ll also discuss some basic principles of writing jokes for standup comedy and how to apply these to your writing.

Section 5: Self-Editing Tips for Humor Writers

A step-by-step guide to editing your own work.

Section 6: Time to Switch Papers

Once you’re done revising your work to the best of your own ability, it’s time to show it to someone else. Here you’ll learn my favorite guidelines for peer editing. These work for all types of writing, not just humor writing, but they’re especially helpful when you’re writing to get a laugh.

Want to preview the course?

You can visit the course delivery page and preview the first video here.

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Make Me Funny(er)! Making It Funny: The Art and Science of Humor Writing
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