The Craft of Writing a Joke

The Craft of Writing a Joke

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The use of humor is a complex and intriguing aspect of our human behavior. Everybody loves a good joke, but what are some common classifications of a good joke?  First we will have to consider what is joke itself is. Another thing to consider is the definition or idea of our complex problem of what is funny.

     Humor makes light of heavy things, heavy things ranging from world problems such as global warming to less heavy problems such missing a shirt button. Sure, if people laugh at a joke one can say the joke is “funny” and if one doesn’t laugh “It isn’t funny.” Plenty of times people we tell jokes ending with “You had to be there!”   However, consistently funny joke are normally relatable after the fact.

“There’s these three traveling salesman, and their car breaks down near this farm. So they ask the farmer if…”  “I knew a girl in grade five who had a sixth finger on her hand…” This is known as the set up or the premise to the joke.  It is the starting point of communicating the joke, thus the audience should be both intrigued as well as curious about the subject matter.  A great analogy for the set up is blowing up a giant colored balloon, and slowly blowing into it.  This is the tension that the joke communicator is building.

 The second piece of the joke is the release of this tension. “. . .it looked pretty strange. But she was the school’s rock, paper, scissors champ!” This is known as the punch line or conclusion or the information just communicated. Effective punch lines are often more about surprise, irony, and imagination.  As a comedy club owner once said “A punch line shouldn’t just tap the crowd on the shoulder; it should be more like a shovel to the back of the head!” Punch lines are often single sentences that dramatically change the meaning or the direction of the joke.

     “Oh oh, here she comes now. Better put away your milk money.” It’s normally believed that jokes are made of two parts however there is a third part to jokes often overlooked and that is the third component which is known as a tag or tags. It isn’t so much as additional punch lines as it is additional information in relation to the recently communicated punch line.

     Jokes are extremely complex and to classify into black and white files is walking on dangerous ground. However there are basic fundamental keys to everything in life I believe these are a few involved with communicating a joke.

What is a joke?

·         First Communicating info “set up” or premises,

·         2nd final piece of info that yields a sudden shift of perception “punch line” or conclusion

·         tags

What is funny

·         Absurdist humor

·         Surprise,

·         credibility,

·         truth,

·         and exaggeration



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