By Guest Blogger, Jan McInnis
A big reason why I wrote my book is that I wanted to show that ANYONE can add humor to their presentation or written documents. Humor makes you memorable, gives you an instant connection to your audience/readers and keeps them engaged, helps diffuse tense situations, breaks the ice, and even helps sell a product or service (super bowl ads anyone?). So we may know the importance of putting in humor, but how do you do it? Well, since I hate going to a seminar where they’re going to tell you, for example, HOW to make a million dollars, yet they spend all the time telling you WHY you should want to make a million dollars (I already know WHY, thank you very much), then I’ll give you a quick tip for HOW to add a quick punch line.
For me, one of the fastest ways to add quick humor is to ask questions. For example, I’ve written a TON of topical jokes – jokes about news stories – for radio. Every morning for 10 years I punched out 15 jokes a day. It took me 2 hours each morning and I did it by asking questions. Below I’ll dissect a couple of those jokes to illustrate what I’m talking about.
I find the set-up line by looking at news stories – you could do it by just writing out some facts or writing your premise (set-up lines are another blog). . .and then I ask the question.
For example, my joke:
“Beware at your cookouts this summer. Bug zappers kill flies and spread their germs up to 6 feet. In fact you can tell if your grill is too close to the zapper and the hamburgers are getting insect germs . . . if they taste like hot dogs.”
The bug-zappers-spreading-germs part was a true story. I got this punch line by asking what else (allegedly) do we think has bugs in it? Hotdogs! And how would you tell if your food had bugs in it? If it tasted like a hotdog!
Run through the who, what, where, when, why and how questions with your set-ups and you’re sure to find some great lines. And don’t stop with the first answer you get. It may be funny, but dig deeper and think from different angles.
Here’s another example:
“A new experimental drug for lowering blood pressure is close to FDA approval. Scientists say it’ll be almost effective as a good divorce.”
Again, the experimental drug part was true. Then I asked, what else would lower your blood pressure? A martini. . . okay, that might work but not everyone would get it. Sitting on the beach lowers your blood pressure, but it’s not really funny. Look at it from the opposite. . what causes high blood pressure? Stressful things like work, kids, DIVORCE. . bingo!
Keep asking questions and you’ll keep getting funny answers . . .and your readers and audiences will keep listening to you!
Jan McInnis is a comedian, professional speaker, comedy writer, and the author of the book “Finding the Funny FAST”. Her jokes have been featured on The Tonight Show, and on hundreds of radio stations. She has also spoken to thousands of corporations and associations, and she was featured in the Wall Street Journal as one of the most popular convention speakers. She blogs at www.ComedyWritingBlog.com and her website is www.TheWorkLady.com.