Last weekend I took a break from comedy writing
to do laundry, and so I ran over to the store to get some bleach. I asked the cashier what aisle the bleach was in, and she sent me TO THE COSMETIC AISLE. It took me a minute to think of what kind of bleach you get in the cosmetic aisle. . .and then I said, “it’s not for my mustache, it’s for my whites.” That cracked me up! And FYI, I DON’T HAVE A MUSTACHE. . . but for some reason that woman associated bleach with facial hair, not laundry – maybe it was her issue??
So not only did I get a great new joke for my act,
but it gives me something to focus on in this blog. . .the WHAT of comedy writing. I’ve talked about Who When Where Why and How of joke writing, so it’s nice to wrap it up with the What. When you’re trying to find the funny, you have to ask “What” about the subject of your sentence and you’ll come up with more humor.
Asking the what question will give you some great punch lines. So run the subject of your joke through a series of what questions. . .
- What else can you do with. . .
- What time. . .
- What do people associate with. . .
- What IS it. . .
- What could it be. . .
- What’s it really mean. . .
I use the what question
all the time to come up with the silly and absurd. For example, when I was doing a show for the insurance company Geico I made my list of what do we associate with that company, and of course the lizard pops out. And what do we associate with lizards. . .slimy, reptiles. . . and what do we do with lizards. . catch them, play with them, squash them. . .
This helped me to
come up with the joke “I did a show for Geico recently. It didn’t go so well. I was standing back stage waiting to go on and I squashed this lizard.” The joke gets a great laugh and it’s easily recognizable.
What is the leading question for much of our daily lives. . what are you doing this weekend? What’s she doing with HIM? What’d you get on the test? What kind of car did you buy. . .
So WHAT are you waiting for? Asking what can bring out the funny fast. Now go have a great weekend.