How to write funny when you aren’t

Here is a sample Gen Z meme. A possible caption could be: “Me at 3am getting a nice cold glass of beans.” Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

For close to a year now, I’ve written a Humor article for The Misc almost every week. If you know me at all, this is probably a surprise to you because I am horribly unfunny. You can see this in the comedy I watch and read, which I’ve been told isn’t nearly as comical as I thought—like “Family Guy,” “The Divine Comedy” (Comedy is in the name!) and the Trump Administration. So how is it possible I put out an article passable enough to make it through all my editors on a weekly basis? Easy. I do it last minute so they have no choice but to accept it as it is because they have no replacement.

Okay, that’s not true (most weeks). One of the things I actually do is surround myself with funny people and then plagiarize everything they say. Seriously, if you are my friend and you have ever made me even slightly chuckle, you are probably being recorded for comedy purposes…and sexual ones.

“But Franiel, what if I want to write for humor but I don’t have any friends!” Well firstly, come hang out with me, I’d love to be friends. Secondly, do nothing. Just give up. Oh sorry, I was just remembering what my parents said to me before I left home. But this brings up a solid point: tragedy inspires comedy. We’ve all been through hard times (and, as Vassar students, we make sure everyone knows about them), and therapy is expensive, so why not transform our nihilistic Gen Z depression into something cost-effective, but that isn’t oversaturated memes about beans and shadow people?

Comedy is said to come from tragedy because good humor is unexpected, and turning a story around with one dark phrase can do wonders for drawing out a good hearty chortle. If you embrace dark humor, however, I’d recommend going the self-deprecating route, as you don’t want to come across as rude. Or maybe you do. Roast your friends and drag your family. Create your own tragedy and therefore your own humor.

You may be thinking, “But Frannie, I don’t want to be mean to anyone or myself. I have no faults and I’m a nice little red velvet cupcake.” Well okay, that’s fair. Instead, you may want to try looking for comedy in every-day scenarios, like me trying to study, or me trying to walk without tripping or me trying to go through life in general. But yes, being observant is an important skill for any reporter and writer to have, including one in the humor section. Pay attention to the world around you, observe your surroundings, watch your roommate sleep. Don’t blink, just steadily gaze at their unconscious form, slowly synching your breathing with theirs. Normal stuff.

I hope this has been helpful to all you aspiring humor writers out there. If all else fails, just surround yourself with a team of editors who are far funnier than you are, send them stories and hope to sweet baby Jesus they can salvage some comedy from the BS you wrote. Sure, the writing might be tragically bad, but isn’t that the best comedy there is?

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