I love a good story. Even more, I love a good story that makes me laugh.
Until I started writing novels and screenplays myself, I had no idea how tough it could be to write humorous situations and dialogue that would actually make my reader or viewer laugh. But, I can tell you from experience, what’s funny in your head is not so easy to translate to a page.
There is hope though, as we can learn from the many writers who clearly understand how to write humor well. I encourage my students to go back to the masters like Charlie Chaplin and dig into the way he understood humor that transcended time and is still so incredibly funny today. Watch The Gold Rush or The Great Dictator and you’ll see what I mean.
Just because it’s tough to write humor well doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. You should. Audiences and readers are starved for intelligent, effective humor, as much of what we find today is lazy, crass, and unlikely to be funny twenty or thirty years down the road. That’s a shame because in my experience, people really do like to laugh.
As you venture down this path to writing effective humor, understand that much of your success will be found in strong editing, not in the initial drafts of the work, regardless of medium.
I found the following clip of Jerry Seinfeld talking about writing jokes and thought I’d share his process with you. Enjoy!
And happy writing!