Comey has always been a subjective matter. Jokes that will work great with one audience will land flat on their face with the other. Professional comedians experienced this first-hand and can tell you all about picking your audience and timing. But even though it is virtually impossible to make everyone laugh at your jokes, it doesn’t mean you should abandon all hopes of making it in comedy.
The good news is that comic writers don’t have to deal with the anxiety of live performance. And that’s pretty much all the slack you’re going to get when it comes to writing for comedy comics. Working as a comedy writer is no joke (pun intended). Luckily, there is a basic structure to most jokes that will help you get the basic idea of where to start and what to do.
Content and Audience
The first thing you have to pay attention to is what you are saying and to whom. Humor is a very subjective thing. Meaning that jokes that are appreciated by soldiers can go right over the teachers’ heads and vice versa. So the best thing you can do is to research your target audience. Understand how they live and what they relate to. It’s easier to make people laugh when you are familiar with them.
Researching the livelihood of your audience can be effort- and time-consuming. But it is very much worth it in the end. If you can’t spare a couple of hours for this task, just outsource it to online services like EssayPro. And once you understand the people you’re going to work with, ideas for comedy material will come to you naturally. There’s always at least one topic that’s a low hanging fruit.
Pacing and Delivery
Once you’re done choosing what you’re going to say, think about how you’re going to say it. Jokes must have a certain rhythm to them. It’s hard to get on the first try and even harder to explain. But the speed of delivery, tone of voice, hand gesture, facial expressions and pauses in the right places – it all matters in how the audience will react to your joke.
Now, where does it land us in comics where you can’t control pretty much any of those aspects? While it may seem like you can’t play with your voice due to the absence of one in comics, all the components of pacing and delivery are actually present, although a bit transformed. Drawn characters have their own means of expressing emotion and tone. You’ll have to use those.
Comics have been evolving for decades now. It is now an art rather than a collection of cartoony drawings. Artists have devised tons of ways to make the static world of pictures feel animated and alive. A good artist can express anything by changing certain elements of their drawing.
- Characters’ traits;
- Character’s opinion of a certain subject, etc.
As a comic writer, you should work closely with your artists. Half of what you can’t say they can show and vice versa.
One of the core principles of a good joke is subverting expectations. You’ve probably heard about it. The classic setup-punchline structure. You start with a setup where you guide the audience in, set up the decoration and line up the shot. And then you follow up with a punchline – a resolution that takes an unexpected turn, surprises an audience, and hopefully makes them laugh.
The ‘setting up expectation – subverting expectations’ combo is as old as the hills. And for a good reason – it works. The surprise factor alone can be enough to get a chuckle. Combined with a well-picked topic, good pace, and on-point delivery, it makes a killer-recipe for a great joke. Comics offer certain flexibility in this area. A punchline consisting of only an image can be as effective as any spoken joke.
Comedy writing is a challenging thing to do professionally. Success can come briefly and suddenly. It can also be painfully inconsistent. Which can easily destroy your self-esteem, especially if you’re a beginner. But if you have enough resolve and drive, you’ll be able to pull through. Keep learning and improving. You’ll be getting better and better until you get to where you want to be.
After all, humor is an acquired talent. Just like with any skill, you can train it. And there’s no better way to strengthen your funny bone than practice. So don’t be shy to write. Share it with your friends and relatives. Or put it out anonymously on the internet. The first and second most important things when it comes to writing comedy – don’t get discouraged.