How to Write Something Funny
Here’s a confession: I don’t think I’m a funny writer. I love comedy. I think it’s incredibly hard to write comedy, but me, funny? No. At NYU, I took a TV writing sitcom class with the brilliant Charlie Rubin (a Seinfeld writer) and after the first class, I told him, “I have no idea what I’m doing here. I’m not funny.” He said to me, “A writer who doesn’t think she’s funny, but she took a sitcom writing class. Now that’s funny.” I stayed in the class and learned a lot about structure and telling a joke, but I leave the funny writing to my friends like Laura Beck, Jessica Gao, and Brendan Hay. They are the masters.
But I recently got the chance to write a humorous piece—”12 Things Never to Say to an Asian Woman”—for Cosmopolitan.com and I learned how to write something funny.
1. If something bugs you, chances are it bugs someone else. Write it down.
2. Vent everything you’ve ever wanted to say—then edit it the hell down. Trim. Then trim again.
3. Just be honest.
4. Have fun with it. If you’re not having fun writing something that’s supposed to be funny, then it’s probably showing in your work.
5. Get funny people you trust to read it and give you feedback. They can tell you what made them laugh and what isn’t working.