Testing Jokes in Comedy Writing

September 24, 2016

Horror Comedy (genre)

You thought that your hilarious joke could satisfy everybody at the open mic night – Actually, it didn’t raise a laugh and you were so embarrassed. What could you have done differently?


One main thing to do with material you write yourself is to test it out with a friend. In this way you’ll see whether it is really funny, or only funny because of something you know about the situation you wrote up, but haven’t put into the joke. If you wrote about something funny that happened to you or someone close to you, it could be the funniest part was the expressions on faces, and that is something that you can’t really put into the joke – not unless you act it out.


There could also be something else that makes you think the joke is funny, that cannot be included for some reason. It could be something to do with the environment, lighting or timing, that for some reason, just doesn’t come out properly in telling the joke. Perhaps you can rewrite the joke to include this information, or it may be you can’t describe it adequately. In either case, you need to take a long, hard look to find out exactly what is the missing ingredient.


Friends will tell you if the joke you have written is truly funny or not. They may be able to point out an error that you can fix and save you from throwing the joke away. Friends are usually not going to try and save your feelings from being hurt. They will be honest and tell you if your joke doesn’t work. Anyway, you’ll be able to tell yourself, because they won’t laugh if it’s not funny.


On the other hand, your joke may be funny, but your friend might be in a bad mood, so pick your time for testing out jokes. If something makes you laugh when you write it, chances are that someone else will find it funny too. If your first friend doesn’t laugh, try it out on a couple of others. People sometimes have different types of humor and what tickles one won’t affect another.


To test a joke out with your friend may save you from a great deal of embarrassment – from bombing out in your routine – and thus help you on your way to becoming a comedian.


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