So What Are The Six Steps To Being Funny?
Mel Helitzer’s Comedy Writing Secrets is commonly used as a textbook in college courses on comedy writing.
What does it say is the best method for how to be funny? Helitzer explains the “THREES” formula.
It’s an acronym for the six essential elements that are found in everything from good one-liners, to funny anecdotes to full comedy sets:
Here’s a breakdown:
Louis CK’s target here is his doctor. (Note — All videos are NSFW):
Lewis Black, the king of comic hostility, unleashes a torrent of anger regarding the milk section of the supermarket (around 3 mins 16 seconds in):
Louis CK is quite harsh — but hysterical — when talking about his daughter (1min 29 seconds in.)
But it works because it contains elements any parent can relate to:
Eddie Izzard explains World War 2. For many, history can be dry but he exaggerates and dramatizes key moments to lighten the subject matter:
Watch how Chris Rock leverages emotion to engage his audience:
UCLA film school professor Howard Suber says surprise is the key to all storytelling.
Jerry Stahl tells the story of how he managed to break his addiction to heroin… by switching to crack:
What Can We Learn From A Pro?
What can he add to the six tips above? Don’t get wedded to your first idea:
Keep at it. Keep trying new versions (“alts”) of a joke until one clicks:
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This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.