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  • Writing Comedy

    By on February 5, 2015

    Context: A basic general guideline for coming up with comedic lines and funny ideas

    Chances are you are funny. Surely you can remember a time that you made someone laugh. Comedy is a FRAME like any other PUA frame; it is a mindset that you can put on like a hat.

    You probably have also told a joke that has bombed, something you heard on the Internet, or a friend told you. Maybe you shared a funny story that you ended up having to say, “Well I guess you had to be there.”Like pick-ups failure is part of the game, so it is with comedy. But like any social skill you focus on the times it works and not on the times it doesn’t.

    I am not a naturally funny guy, but somehow I ended up going from a shy introvert to headlining comedy clubs all over the country. I learned the skill. People consider me to be funny now. They laugh at stuff I didn’t even mean to be funny, but they are used to me saying something and they are used to responding with laughter. Pavlov’s dogs make a great audience.

    I always wondered why people gave me higher status than I thought they should. When I met someone with higher status I would, in my nervousness, resort to humor and I would find that they would soon treat me as the high value person in the group; their EC and BL would change almost instantly.

    I read a few years back in a book by Dave Barry that people who are funny are also considered MORE INTELLEGENT than themselves. I have now learned through the PUA arts that still hold true. WHEN YOU MAKE SOMEONE LAUGH THEY GIVE YOU A POSITION OF HIGHER STATUS/ VALUE. Now I know why my superiors at work treat me as an equal or HIGHER. This works for every social situation.

    Once you understand some of the rules and formulas you can apply them in everyday conversation. You need only a few techniques to seem to be a funny guy.

    These jokes I use here may or may not work for the pick-up set, and they are not all that funny, they are here to demonstrate the FORMULA of a joke. Hopefully you can see the formulas and apply them in conversation or pick-up as you LISTEN to others.

    Listening is the most important skill to master, you put on “comic ears” and listen for the “Set-Ups”.

    A Joke consists of:

    · A set-up

    · A punch line

    · Tag-ons

    · Call backs

    Lets look at humor in general. I found this on the net, from a book called The Art Of Laughter:”This book stated that there were only two comedy types, and both could be demonstrated to a baby. The first was to make a funny face. The second was to offer a toy and then pull it back. The ” Pee Wee’s Playhouse” type of humor would be the first – making silly faces. Most jokes fall into the second category – offering of one outcome then taking it away and substituting something unexpected.”

    In the second type of comedy, most jokes fall into 8 categories:

    1. Misunderstanding; This is one that David D talks about, listening for words and phrases that you can misinterpret. Example(The Groucho Marx classic)”I once shot an elephant in my pajamas…How he got in my pajamas I’ll never know?”What makes that funny? First you grammatically structure the set-up to make the punch line funny. You delete certain facts grammatically so it can be taken in two ways. You don’t elaborate on who is really wearing the pajamas. It is a common deletion so assome one hears the set-up they figure it was you in the pajamas. But the punch line twists the wording in the set up. Had you said “onetime, while I was wearing my pajamas, I shot an elephant. ” the punch line wouldn’t make any sense or be even remotely funny.People delete details in their sentences all the time. You can learn to listen for that and use it to twist it around. (Sound like NLP? Well it is basically)Here you listen to someone describing an accident;Her: I once broke my leg in seven places.You: Boy I would never go back to those places again!You know what she means but you focus on her words/ sentence structure and misinterpret it.This is one of the best. Listen for DELETIONS and GENERALIZATIONS. Twist them a bit.

    2. Misfortune/ Cruelty/ Slapstick. ; Woody Allen and Rodney Dangerfield use misfortune best, this is also self-deprecating humor. The one I have field-tested that fits in this category is:Her:” What do you do?”You: “I used to be a male stripper…but I got fired for making people squint!”(Self-deprecating humor is usually a no-no but this line points to the fact that I am not a typical male bragging about penis-size and denotes a certain confidence.)Joking about another’s misfortune is funnier but can be cruel, be careful!(Sick-jokes) Every joke has to have a butt…what do you think lard-ass? Most comics have found it is easier to make himself or herself the butt of the joke. In pick-up sets it is usually better to use someone else, the target, the AMOG, someone else in the bar, someone in the news.Slapstick: If you can pull it off, go for it. I don’t recommend it. Way too “try-hard”

    3. Wordplay. Avoid puns! If people are groaning you are not being funny. Sometimes you can get away with a well-disguised pun.

    Her: Nice suit.

    You: Yeah I just got it, because the doctor told me I was impotent.

    Her: Huh?

    You: I figure if I’m going to BE impotent I might as well DRESS impotent.

    Switch around common sayings;”I am proud to say that I took that casino for everything I had…””I smoke so much pot I am half-man – half-ounce.””Jesus saves…everyone else invests.” (Bumper stickers use word play)

    1. Status – Fall from status or rapid rise. Jokes about celebrities, politicians falling to the level of common men. Or the farmer who becomes king.

    2. Stupidity. Think blonde jokes.

    3. Surreal/ Tangential: Steven Wright: You can’t have everything…Where would you put it?

    4. Exaggeration: examples:Not funny: “I haven’t gotten any sex for 10 years.”Funny enough: “Neither me nor my ancestors have gotten any sex since the 12th century.”Or exaggerate small: “I haven’t gotten any sex since … 4:30.”

    5. Sarcasm/ Satire/ Parody:My ex-wife routine is mostly sarcastic.I use the set-up of: “My ex-wife was a real alcoholic…”I then stack several punch lines under that premise”Her idea of foreplay was a BEER-RUN””I should of known, when we took our blood tests – hers had a head on it.””Both me and the local bar successfully sued her for non-support””I would come home, she would be drunk and horny. I would fake a premature ejaculation and go to sleep.(Sarcasm and exaggeration used in the above example)Satire is the basis for Saturday Night Live and Monty Python humor. Think “over the top””It was SO cold that politicians had their hands in their OWN pockets…”

    These are pretty general, and pretty old. They are here to illustrate the formulas. But even dumb jokes can be hilarious when the timing is right.

    The best use of humor is when someone supplies the set up unintentionally and you have a punch line to follow with.

    Examples:

    Her: I am from Buffalo

    You: Really? I am from normal parents.

    Her: I just bought a vibrator

    You: Really? I was wondering how you chipped that tooth…

    Her: I am having boyfriend trouble…

    You: What, you can’t find one?

    Her: My boyfriend is kinda weird, but he grows on you…

    You: Like warts?

    Her: Do you believe in safe sex?

    You: Of course! I always floss after.

    Or

    You: Of Course, I always ask when her parents are coming home…

    Her: I’ll have the salad; I am watching what I eat.You: I’ll have the steak, and then you can watch what I eat too.

    The trick here is to have a bunch of one-liners in your pocket. Read some old joke books and find the funny ones and keep them in the back of your mind. Practice with friends. (Use the set-up and punch line if you have to, helps to remember them for when you really need them.) I collect old joke books, Milton Berle, Henny Youngman etc…I get four or five really good jokes out of a few hundred listed in a book. I usually re-write them to sound more topical, or so they sound like they could actually apply to me. Once again I find the formula inside and rewrite it. I ask myself “What makes that funny?” I dissect and diagram the joke.A joke I outright stole from Henny Youngman’s book Take My Jokes…Please, and performed for years and years turned up in Style’sbook as a classic neg: “That’s a nice dress you are almost wearing.”

    Jokes as a general rule revolve around a “Bait and Switch” framework. (Presenting the toy to the baby, and pulling it away) You set-upa situation and then twist it at the last minute to something unexpected. “Man I hate public transportation, Last time I was on a bus there was some drunk making my life hell. He smelled and talked incoherently…and that was just the driver!”

    The “Switch” formula teaches mis-direction, twist, selectively omitting important facts — all for the purpose of creating surprise=laughter.

    Learn to switch the Who, What, Where, When, What, Why, How.

    A typical WHO switch: “I just left this woman I’ve been with for twenty years. I finally said, ‘I’ve got to get out of the house, Mom’.”

    A typical WHERE switch: “My wife is always vacuuming during the football game. She claims it doesn’t bother anyone else in the stadium.”

    “I’m Italian and Jewish, I don’t know whether to be a defendant or a lawyer.”

    My favorite technique is “The Combination”. Here you use two threads and combine them to form a punch line. Take any two concepts that you are talking about, the current thread of discussion and maybe the last one you discussed. Find a way to combine them to form a humorous idea. Say you were talking about party drugs and someone mentions politics or the war on drugs or something. You can combine them to say, “Remember when Clinton admitted he smoked pot but never inhaled? Well I think he DID inhale…problem was I don’t think he ever EXHALED.”The group is talking about dating and doctors…”I dated a dentist and we hit it off great –she wants to see me again in 3 months.”Think “metaphor” Tie the subjects together.Subjects: men and computers= Metaphor: men are like computers.(In order to get their attention, you have to turn them on.They are supposed to help you solve problems, but half the time they are the problem.)Women are like cars; bars are like work…find the funny commonality.

    Tag-ons: are extra punch lines that follow a linear progression. My classic joke that I tagged to hell was during a unicycle routine. Just after I got on the unicycle and was riding around a bit I would say:Set-up: You know…riding a unicycle and juggling is difficult, I have to clear my mind and think about one thing and one thing only…(Long pause, build tension)Punch line: …Getting laid after the show.(Wait for laughter)Tag-on: Some nights that’s harder than riding a unicycle…(Wait for laughter)Tag-on: And you know…it kinda feels the same too…(Wait for laughter)Tag-on: Maybe I should try women…(Wait for laughter, usually some groans too)Tag-on: …I’m joking…I’m Joking (Pause)Tag-on:…I’ll never try women!(Huge laugh)

    Call-backs: Free laughs just by using the same punch line again and again without the set-up. Extremely effective. For example you used the “buffalo” joke from above early in the set, then later the you want to bust on the girl again you could add at anytime, from something she said ” of course your stubborn, your parent were buffaloes” or “You are a wild girl! I guess I should expect that seeing how you were raised by a herd of wild buffaloes…” You can call back a joke most all night.

    Jokes work because you are intentionally setting into place an awkward moment that creates tension. When you relieve the tension people automatically laugh. Set-up…punch line, Batta-boom… batta-bing.

    Your mission: Buy a joke book (Avoid the dirty jokes, blonde joke type anthologies) Get one made for public speakers or general use.They are divided into subject headings. Look for the one-liners. Grab one joke for each of the most popular subjects; relationships,driving, bars, etc. Pick subjects that come up in most conversations. Write the jokes down somewhere, so when that subject comes up you can instantly recall that joke.Watch and listen to other comics. Go to a new talent night at a comedy club, buy a tape, watch comedy central. I learned comedy by working with 2 or 3 new comics each week, I would have to watch their act 10 or 13 times that week, I got to know their material pretty well. That’s when you start seeing the same formulas in play. Listen to the same comedy tape over and over; it’s amazing how you’ll be able to recall those jokes. Your mind will start working like a comedian’s and you will start writing your own! (Write them down!)Be aware of your style; I tend to work best with ONE-LINERS, quick and clever. Other people who may be more animated, good with facial expressions and physical expressions may do better with longer, anecdotal type ROUTINES. A Richard Pryor as compared to a Steven Wright. Find a comic who best represents your frame and STEAL THE SHIT OUT OF HIS JOKES. (A taboo for the professionals, but perfectly OK for a PUA in a social setting) Don’t think you have to be a stand-up comic who is constantly “ON”. Just a few, well placed jokes here and there demonstrate HUGE HIGHER VALUE. You are instantly granted higher status.Don’t worry about ad-libbing or impov comedy. There is no such thing. Improve comedy is the art of 100% recall! Believe me…all those improve groups have done those jokes hundreds of times. The perfect “come-back” has been well rehearsed many times before. If Iam stumped for a “Come-back”. I go home and write one up for the next time I am in that same situation, because it will come up again and I’ll be ready, and it will seem like I just thought of it and everyone will go “Wow he’s clever”.

    Last let me leave you with absolute NO-Nos!You’ve heard this before; never laugh at your own jokes. Sometimes you can get away with a quick telegraph giggle before the punchline. It lets people know the punch line is coming. I would stay away from it, however. Tell the punch line and look away somewhereelse, at the most maybe an eyebrow flash or smug look like “Take that”.

    Dirty jokes really aren’t that funny. They are easy and only make people uncomfortable. Allow yourself maybe ONE dick joke to showthat you are comfortable with the subject but to keep going with nothing but blue material gets real old real fast. DO NOT be the “That’s what she said…” guy! I know so many AFC’s who only have that ONE punch line. It’s not funny the first time and certainly not funnythe seventh time. Let it go…seek the higher humor. (Obviously this seems to be the basis for the GM style PU, but unless that is your art,just avoid the obvious sex/ dick jokes)

    Take-home-jokes. This is the term for a packaged joke that you read on the internet, or that most people tell each other. They are called “Take-home-jokes” because in a long stand-up set it is actually good to tell a joke that the audience can then “take home” and tell their friends. These are the “Two Jews walk into a bar…” or “Farmer’s daughter” type jokes. If you have to preface a joke by saying ” did you hear the one about…” You have lost already. AVOID these types of jokes. They only lead to a “joke-off” where everyone tries to outdo the other with their favorite popular joke and it is a social buzz-kill.

    What you will find happening as you make people laugh with easy, conversational witticisms, is that some AMOG will try to compete ­by telling his favorite bar joke. Everyone will see this for what it is; a DLV! Don’t enter into this frame, just roll your eyes, or politely laugh and try to get the conversation back on track. Or you can kill his punch line just by intensely staring at him, not laughing (Others will take your cue, looking to you to see if you laugh) and then I throw in a “Nice try…leave the comedy to the professionals.” He will never recover. I LOVE when this happens!

    Know when to quit! This has been my AFC mistake. I kept yucking it up all night with a group or single set. After A2 you should tone it way down. An occasional witty remark every now and then just to keep the conversation lubricated is probably good. But once you’ve hooked your group or target, it seems best to quit being the entertainer. This seems to happen after only 3 or 4 jokes. Secret is you have to have a storehouse of dozens of jokes to be able to properly apply just a few. The jokes have to seem natural, not forced, and fit with the flow of the conversation. Don’t be attached to your material, don’t be amazed with your own cleverness. Use your material like Style says, “Little pebbles” tossed into a conversation.

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