Want to Write Funnier? Follow These Five Authors
Updated: Apr 24
- Your mother’s armpits smell like a carpet cleaner.
The last person I told this to stood up and left the premises. It was our first date. The person stopped responding to my messages.
But then something else happened.
- Your mother’s armpit smell like carpet cleaner.
I wrote that in a chat window, praying the person won’t block me.
- Hahaaa, you are so funny. We should meet.
Then I realized. I am not good at sounding funny. But I am good at writing funny.
Writing funny is a useful skill if you are a copywriter. They should teach copywriters how to write funny. They should have a special module for that.
Writing is hard. Writing funny is even harder. How can you get better at it?
Long answer – by studying other funny writers. That’s all there is. Read them. Highlight the parts you find funny. Save them highlight them in a notebook or whatever you do to annotate. Then practice. Try to use those fragments in your funny writing.
Okay, funny guy?
Here are some recommendations of funny authors and works you can read.
Naked - David Sedaris. Read Naked. Then read everything from him. Well everything, except his recent autobiography. The way it is written, it is insulting to the reader. But the rest of his work is awesome. The tales on his Greek grandmother. Lisa, one of his wacked sisters. Just go for it.
Beerspit Night and Cursing. - Charles Bukowski. The old drunkard will never get out of fashion. You should read all of his work and then some more if he publishes soon from the other world. I’d recommend you start with Beerspit Night and Cursing. It starts when the main protagonist, who is a detective is visited by a steaming hot chick who is actually Death herself. Study his writing to learn how to be funny while being quick and straightforward in your writing.
The Oxford Book of Aphorisms - John Gross. It contains the most brilliant one liners in history. Good copywriters are great one-liners. The book will furnish you with a great list of witty email openers, first paragraph openers or interesting email subject lines.
"Shouts & Murmurs" section in the New Yorker. That’s my colleague Scott found Jack Handey, who used to be a regular contributor in the section. A story of his went something like this "Kids love to be tricked. I told my son I was taking him to Disneyland but instead drove him to a burned down warehouse. 'Oh, look. Disneyland has burned down,' I told him. He cried and cried, but in the end I think he thought it was pretty funny."
That’s it. I was hooked forever.
The Geography of Bliss, by Eric Weiner. The guy is a journalist paid to travel the world, look for the happiest places, then write about it and using bullshit words. God, I wish I had a job like that.
…. And the best advice I’ve ever had on funny storytelling:
Embed obsession into the character. Then make him take all the wrong steps towards attaining a certain goal or avoiding a certain goal.