Stand Up Comedy - Ten Tips for Writing Jokes for Your Act

1. Stick With Formula - The basics of joke building include a traditional two-step formula: the set up that explains the joke and the punch line that delivers the funny, making people laugh. If you are new to stand up comedy, stick with the formula. The more unexpected your punch line is, the better laughs you will get. Make sure your jokes are about things commonly known to the average person. For example, telling jokes about building an airplane will only be funny to people who build airplanes. Everyone else in the audience will be left in the cold if your airplane building jokes are not made up using common knowledge.

2. Look for the Joke in Everything - Try to find the funny in every situation. It is great practice for writing jokes, even if they do not all end up in your act. The more you make up jokes, the better you will get at making up jokes. Even if it is a situation as simple as waiting in line for a half hour at the Post Office, find the funny.

3. Embarrassing Moments - If you have any experience (or friends and family) with embarrassing moments that would make for a punch line payoff, they are great material for your act. Everyone loves to hear about funny embarrassing moments, especially if your audience can relate to the situation.

4. List Jokes - List jokes, like "Top Ten Lists" or "Top Ten Reasons Why," are a fairly simple and easy way to beef up your act.

5. Comparison Jokes - When writing a comparison joke, you should point out wide differences between two people or situations to come up with a punch line.

6. Simile Jokes - A simile is when you make a comparison between two different things, typically including the words "like," "as," or "such as." Simile jokes differ from comparison jokes in that when you write a simile joke for your act, you describe something or someone by comparison to something that makes it funny instead of just pointing out the differences.

7. Observation Jokes - With observation jokes, you simply point out absurd things that happen in everyday life. The best observation jokes include things that happen to everyone, but that people do not really think about until you point out the absurdity.

8. Mimic Jokes - Add humor to your act by mimicking someone in a funny way. Make sure the person you mimic is someone everyone knows like a well-known celebrity or a personality type that your audience can relate to, like a whiny teenager or a ditsy blonde.

9. Callback Jokes - A callback joke is when you refer back to a joke earlier in your act. You do not repeat the original joke, you change it up and make it fit a new situation. Audiences typically love callback jokes, especially when the original joke was a hit.

10. Story Jokes - Stories can work great in your act if you tell them well. Do not drag your stories out too long or you will run the risk of losing your audience. When writing a story for your act, get to the punch line of the joke as soon as possible, using the least number of words. Paint a vivid picture for the audience when telling your story and make it relatable to them. The more you can get the audience to picture your story actually happening, the bigger the payoff in laughter at the end.