Do you know a Mr. Long Joke? It’s usually an older relative who takes an eternity to tell a “funny” story. As Uncle Joe Bob spins his “humorous” tale, you can’t stop praying for the ending.
Most long jokes don’t work because the punchline doesn’t make up for the wait. Too much fluff takes away from the funny.
The best jokes don’t contain needless embellishment or exaggeration. Every humorist knows the secret formula that predicts a joke’s funniness.
Laughter = Funny ÷ Word Count
Samurai editing is essential to writing funny. That’s why all pros keep a sharp editing sword in their writing toolbox and follow the samurai’s mantra:
Get to the joke as soon as possible.
Educators reflexively embellish, an old student habit that often resulted in a better letter grade. In contrast, humorists instinctually edit, a practice rewarded by laughter.
If a teacher wants to successfully add funny to a handout, email, or announcement, the key is aggressive editing. Maximizing funny requires three editing principles.
1) Slash any unnecessary words.
2) Pay special attention to eliminating fluff in the punch line.
3) Make sure the funniest part is at the end of the sentence.
If you feel like you’re turning your jokes into tweets, that’s the idea. Twitter is an excellent playground for joke writing, and its 280-character limit requires a black belt in samurai editing.
If your funny doesn’t read like a tweet or text message, it’s probably not a joke. To get the most out of your funny, you need to sharpen your word sword, embrace your inner Freddy Krueger, and start slashing.