Jokes. The ‘things’ you tell that make people laugh. Hopefully.
As you may notice, this post is incredibly delayed, because A) I’m usless, and B) I’m busy. However, it means that it has coincided with a recent ‘scandal’ of sorts, involving Keith ‘Thief’ Chegwin and some other people’s jokes. A helpful precis and thoughtful article are linked to below:
I’m not going to say anything on the matter, as I’ve already commented on it previously in this blog; except to say that hopefully this makes people more aware of the fact that, in the words of Tony Cowards: “Jokes don’t just appear from thin air but someone has to go to the time, trouble and effort of writing them…it’s a bit galling if someone then steals them and takes the credit”.
Anyway, on to the bit where I write about jokes.
Personally, I find it quite hard to sit down and write; most of the jokes I use in my set just come to me when I’m out and about, and I see something/hear something and then twist it a bit to make it funny. I find that while I’m perfectly capable of writing jokes on demand, they’re never as funny as the ones that come in moments of inspiration, near ‘perfectly’ formed – all of my favourite jokes were written this way.
As hard as it is to provide a definition for ‘joke’, there are a few rules/guides/points that I, as a one-liner comedian, keep in mind when writing them, as I feel (as do the majority of comedians) that they are vital to a funny joke:
- Punchline at the end of the joke. AT THE END. People will laugh less (if at all) if you carry on after the funny word. For example, “Laminator: Baby sheep, it’s a machine that kills them” is rubbish compared to “Laminator: A machine that kills baby sheep”.
- Keep it as short as possible. As Shakespeare, through Polonius, said, “Brevity is the soul of wit”. A funny idea is funnier if it’s encapsulated and communicated in as few words as possible.
- If I find it funny, the audience probably will too. Sometimes there’s jokes that I write that I dislike, but the audience do, so I perform them. There’s some that I love, that the audience don’t, so they’re consigned to a notebook to be re-visited at a later joke.
- Timing makes a huge difference. If it’s a good joke, and they don’t laugh, you’ve done something wrong. Or it could just be a bad joke.
I’d like this post to be longer than this, but there’s been so much written on the subject of jokes – Jimmy Carr’s book being my favourite – that I’m not really adding anything to it. I just couldn’t think of another thing for J.
Tomorrow, K for Killing.