How To Write Like a Professional Comedy Writer (Part 2)

This week, we’re going to finish our lesson on how to make your copy funnier.

It seems like such a small thing, but you can immediately improve … Well, everything, by applying what I’m going to teach you here.

Conversion Rates.

Sales.

You name it.

You can get more of all of them just by making your copy just a bit funnier.

And that’s why I’m teaching you this. :-)

Remember: Everyone on the Internet skims. That’s why I use these line breaks so much.

People will only read once they have emotionally invested in you. That takes seven hours, and it’s a thing I’ll explain next week.

But before we get to our lesson, here’s a word from our sponsor this week … Me!

***

This Week on WAYWO.TV

We had a technical hiccup and needed to re-record the pilot episode of Vaped Crusaders. It (should) be out later this week over at https://www.waywo.tv

I also had a really interesting interview with MC Chris as he finishes his last tour. So look out for that interview in the feed soon.

We’re still dealing with our backlog problem. If you’d like to help us, you can buy me a coffee or grab some consulting time with me here. All of the money made from the coffees and consulting fund more episodes WAYWO.

***

Alright. So, if you’re just joining us, you can read part one of this guide here.

Now, onto Part 2

Step 4: Almost All of It Will Suck

Hopefully, some of you tried the three steps I suggested last week, and by now, you should have lists of stuff you’ve generated during those 15 minutes every day using Forest.

So, how do you know what’s good and what’s shit from what you wrote?

Almost all of it will be shit and that’s ok. Just throw out the shit and move on.

Remember: You’re going for two things here:

  1. Quantity. The more you write, the funnier you’ll get. I hate this analogy because I haven’t been to a Planet Fitness since the pandemic started, but your brain IS a muscle.

And you have to exercise it like anything else.

So the process of setting that timer and writing like crazy for fifteen minutes is more about the workout that you’re giving your brain than it is about anything else.

2) Identification. The more you write, the more patterns you become aware of, and it’s the patterns that are going to be what you should pay attention to.

Because those patterns represent how you really feel about something.

And that’s great because in order to get people to stop scrolling and pay attention to what you’re saying, you need to grab them with a strong opinion.

Step 5: Polarization

Go back over your writing and highlight anything that keeps coming up over and over again, and then ask yourself, “Why? Why do I keep coming back to this? Why do I care about this so much?”

Write down the items you feel the MOST strongly about and then put them down on another piece of paper.

Yes. Paper. I think I stressed this last week, but if I didn’t, I want you to get off all your devices for these exercises.

There are a lot of reasons for this, like fewer distractions, but the most important one is that your brain slows down and “records” what you’re writing by hand better than it would if you were at the computer just typing stuff up.

Next to each item that you feel strongly about, write out WHY you feel strongly about this.

This is the most important step in this process. And where we diverge from your professional comedy writers.

From this point on, a professional comedy writer will start to look for subtext, and they’ll use that subtext as the foundation for the joke or story they want to tell.

(Subtext is what you think it is: The stuff that’s not said when you’re talking to someone, but it’s still being conveyed to that person.)

If you’ve seen any TV show or film involving mobsters, you’ve seen a form of subtext in action.

They never say the crime they’re going to do, they allude and hypothesize and dance around it but still manage to get their actual point across.

In our case, we’re just looking to CAPTURE and HOLD people’s attention.

And you do that by finding something you feel strongly about and taking a stance on it.

Step 6: Statement → Bridge → Joke

Do you have your strong statements ready?

Good.

Now edit them to get your point across in as few words as possible.

You want to keep chopping away at this thing until it’s as compact, clear (anyone can understand it without thinking), and concise as possible.

Here’s how you’re then going to turn that statement into a joke:

  1. Write down the statement after you’ve carefully edited it.
  2. Write down the joke that you want to make. The joke should also be as concise, clear, and compact as possible.
  3. Then write a sentence that would connect the two.

Don’t worry if this sounds confusing. I promise you, you are already VERY familiar with this format if you’ve ever watched any of the late-night shows over the past sixty years or so.

(And if you need help, go and watch literally any of these shows and their monologue segments. You’ll see this format used over and over again: Statement of fact. Bridge. Joke. It’s like a 3 Act play done in 3 sentences.)

Congratulations, now you know how to write funnier than you were before.

The funnier you get, the better you can capture and hold people’s attention. The person who can do this in the fewest number of words wins.

I’ve given you an overview here. I’d probably need an entire book just to dig a bit deeper into the idea of teaching people to make their stuff funnier online and why they should, but this is more than enough to get you started.

Next week, we’re going to talk about how to get someone to spend those seven hours with you now that you have their attention.

If you have any questions about any of this, reply to this email, and I’m happy to get into more detail to answer them.

-BJ

If you’d like to support WAYWO.TV, you can buy me a coffee here for $5 a month or $60 for the year.

If you get the annual membership, you’ll also get access to all of the WAYWO.TV transcripts and my new book, “What’s In It For Me?”

All money made from this page goes directly to Andrew and Jon so that they can help us edit and produce the episodes we’re backed up on.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
B.J. Mendelson

B.J. Mendelson is the author of “Social Media Is Bullshit” from St. Martin’s Press.