INSIDE THE ART, CRAFT AND BUSINESS OF WRITING for Film, TV, Books, Stage, Print or Digital Media (with Particular Attention to Comedy)

29 Different Ways to Get a Laugh

People say laughter is the best medicine (although probably 9 out of 10 doctors wouldn’t agree). Many spiritual traditions (at least Zen Buddhism and the New Age) preach the transcendent power of humor. And any horror movie fan (or maker) will tell you how important a laugh is to relieve the otherwise-relentless tension. But how do you get those laughs? Here are some ways…

  1. Falling down
  2. Stupidity (including Mis-pronunciation, Mis-understanding and good old-fashioned Idiocy)
  3. Repetition
  4. Scale & Exaggeration (Huge & Tiny Things)
  5. Exaggerated Verbal EMPHASIS
  6. Double-Entendre / Innuendo (especially Sexual)
  7. Obsession/Myopia
  8. Over-Seriousness
  9. Speaking the Unspoken Truth/Naming the Moment
  10. Wordplay & Rhyme
  11. K Sounds / Hard Consonants
  12. Physical Schtick
  13. Raps & Rants
  14. Songs (especially Original, Freely-Adapted or Out-of-Place)
  15. Visual Gags
  16. Enacting Scenarios or Characters
  17. Personifying/Humanizing Animals or Objects
  18. Subtitles, Editorial or Parenthetical Commentary (including Self-Consciousness & Self-Deprecation)
  19. Unexpected Connections
  20. Incongruity, Inappropriateness & Out-of-Place-ness
  21. Pomposity/Grandiosity
  22. Self-Flagellation
  23. Radical Attitude
  24. Compare & Contrast
  25. Sarcasm
  26. Social Ineptitude
  27. Absurdity/Non-sequitors
  28. Anything to do with Poop
  29. You may have noticed that almost every one of these other comedy tactics is in fact some kind of Surprise! – which is the root of most laughs.

These techniques were enumerated and complied by Greg Miller and Beth Lapides for “The Comedian’s Way” workshop. Contact Greg for private coaching and find more ways to make your material funnier.

2 comments on “29 Different Ways to Get a Laugh

  1. star123
    February 14, 2013

    Bob Hope said you had to mention either the word freeway or the word girdle. Are Spanx funny?

    • gregorymilleris
      February 14, 2013

      I don’t think ‘freeway’ or ‘girdle’ are still funny, but Spanx is because it ends abruptly in a hard consonant. Also, it’s underpants!

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This entry was posted on January 30, 2013 by in Comedy, Performance and tagged , .
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