Thursday, May 29, 2014

The "Why" of Comedy

A few weeks ago, you may have seen the following image floating around the Internet. These are the notes of a seven-year-old girl planning her first comedy show:

Image via

As someone who writes material for standup routines on the reg, I think it is safe to say that this girl has got it all figured out. At seven-years-old, she is not only determined to make a room full of people laugh, but she is also making incredible observations about the conventions of humor. She has discovered some pretty genius comedic formulas here (tiny food + giant silverware = laughter), and I can totally picture her crowd work: "So where are you from? Michigan? AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!...Oh, you're serious."

I love this especially because it gets at the "why" of comedy. So often we laugh at something without really assessing what it was that made it funny. We just know that a person said something, and it made us get that happy feeling inside, so we laughed. This seven-year-old, on the other hand, hears a comedian make a silly too-high or too-low voice, and she realizes that that's the trick. Genius, right?

I've been thinking about this awesome girl's comedy tips as I've been prepping to speak at Alt SLC Summer. In just a few weeks, I will be hosting a roundtable about Blogging with Comedic Voice, and in that conversation I will be digging into the "why" of comedy that this little girl understands so naturally. With sites like Buzzfeed or Thought Catalog or whatever else dominating our feeds with funny, sharable content, the pressure to provide a humorous spin on things is huge for writers. I look forward to the opportunity to address that fearful part of every blogger's brain that says, "Am I being funny enough? Witty enough? Smart enough?" while also giving some practical tips on how to naturally infuse humor into writing. Whether it's standup or blogging, I believe the key to comedy is to simply hone in on the expressions of yourself that are instinctual -- or in more blunt terms, stop trying so hard, which is easier said than done. Seriously, just ask this girl:

Whether you'll be joining me for this conversation at Alt or not, I would love your input about how to make this topic more accessible for everyone. I've created a survey about Comedy & Blogging that I would just love for you to fill out. Seriously, it would make my day. If it weren't such an absolutely hilarious thing to do, I might even consider baking you a bunch of muffins to show my gratitude.

And by the way, if you won't be at the conference, no worries, I will be sure to do a blog post with all of my collected data and attempted wisdom. You'll be all set.

The survey is listed below (if you're not seeing it for whatever reason, you can also get to it here). If you have any other thoughts on the idea of being funny, feel free to leave a comment!

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.


  1. Ah! I love and hate little kids who are way more talented than I am. And this is a fantastic way for you to combine your talents with your blog! I for one, will be eagerly following along if you present any tips for being funnier.

    I think I'm funny, but... the rest of the world doesn't always agree with me. :P (Case in point: I tweeted a joke at someone, and he immediately stopped following me. Sigh...)

    The Alt conference - there'll be videos posted somewhere?

    Jenn | Business, Life & Design

    1. Jenn, you are not alone! Most people who answered the survey said they thought they were funny, but other people didn't always think so. Lesson to be learned -- other people are jerks, and by the way, I'm positive you are hilarious (I mean, I follow you on Twitter, after all).

      Also, not sure if there will be video, but I will definitely write a post after the conference on the same topic.

  2. This may be the round table I am most excited about. Looking forward to meeting you.

    1. Thanks, McCall, and I so look forward to meeting you too! Man, June 17th can't come quickly enough!


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