What makes comedic writing good vs bad?

#1
I not a hundred percent sure I should put it in here, but it might be the place. Recently, I've been looking around and thinking, what makes a comedy funny. When I write it sometimes it feels like what I've written has been done a bunch of times or that I fall back on overused stereotypes and cliches. Sometimes I have childish humor, which is fine if it isn't used over and over. Sometime I write something I don't think is funny but others do. I know that comedy is subjective, and that sometimes bad jokes can be funny. I can't really explain what I want to ask besides what in the title, but I want to understand how do I know if I'm writing funny or if it just plains suck?

Re: What makes comedic writing good vs bad?

#2
As you said, comedy is subjective. Some people love slapstick while others hate it. However, if you look at it from a purely writing standpoint then it's easier to make sense of. Mixing in various types of comedic elements is fine as long as it makes sense within the story. Whether character driven humor, slapstick, jokes or whatever else you want to write, don't overdo it. The story needs to come first and then the comedic elements can be included. One of my favorite books is Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I just love all the out of nowhere things that show up, but all of them fit within the story so well. That to me is good comedic writing.

Re: What makes comedic writing good vs bad?

#3
I'm never trying to be comedic on purpose, I swear to my mom, but people keep pointing out so-called comedic undertones in my story and I have nooo idea what they are talking about~

So I guess good comedy is when you're not forcing it and trying to be funny on purpose. This is why I wouldn't attempt writing a full-length book that's primarily a comedy. Unless it's a parody, that works, breaking the 4th wall and making snarky remarks....

Re: What makes comedic writing good vs bad?

#4
subjectivity aside, i think the goal's 'surprise'
setting up a joke not visible to naked eyes
subverting expectations with absurd or 'wrong' endings
gives people a 'jolt' when reality begins bending

that's why something silly from the start might still fall flat
something boring with a silly punch line's where it's at
we all like routine but when it changes suddenly
we're surprised but often react very happily 

PeoReading

Re: What makes comedic writing good vs bad?

#6
IMO, good comedy is about something that is true, but that we don't like to acknowledge about ourselves because we're human and we're petty like that, so a good joke is just viewing stuff like that from a non-threatening angle. A decent joke is very often social commentary, while the truly great jokes that last for ages gets through its contemporary culture and touches on human nature.

Listen to any stand-up comedy show and you'll quickly notice that most of the good ones are just saying it like it is, really. Some might elaborate a little, but it's all true. 

Re: What makes comedic writing good vs bad?

#7

parkertallan Wrote: One of my favorite books is Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I just love all the out of nowhere things that show up, but all of them fit within the story so well. That to me is good comedic writing.
I often turn to Kurt Vonnegut when I want to read humor that comes out of nowhere. From The Sirens of Titan:


“The only controls available to those on board were two push-buttons on the center post of the cabin -- one labeled on and one labeled off. The on button simply started a flight from Mars. The off  button connected to nothing. It was installed at the insistence of the Martian mental-health experts, who said that human beings were always happier with machinery they thought they could turn off.”

Oh ha. Oh ha. Oh ha ha ha. Kurt V you are so funnee.

Re: What makes comedic writing good vs bad?

#8
Comedic tastes are extremely personalized, by which I mean diverse and divisive.

Instead of good and bad, another way of looking at it might be more universal versus less universal.

Comedy that is less universal might target specific knowledge that only a small group of people understand. For example, someone could include a pop culture reference to a particular movie. People who like that movie will snort along. People who don't know the reference, or people who aren't fans of the movie, would think the reference is lame.

This doesn't mean less universal is bad. Maybe you only want to appeal to a specific crowd. By sharing that "insider" connection, you could build a more loyal fan base.

Comedy that is more universal tends to be middle of the road. Not too slapstick. Not too offensive. Not too specific (specific in terms of knowledge, a specific but universal situation = Seinfeld). Marvel movies are a perfect example of universal humor. You rarely get a full belly laugh, but there are a bunch of smirks and nods. That sort of thing.

Pop culture references and slapstick (I count nsfw jokes, potty humor, etc. here) tend to be less universal. Irony and witty quips tend to be more universal.

As usual, I would recommend figuring out who you want to make laugh first. Young audiences? Older readers? Sports fans? White-collar dads? Retail employees? Or do you want to make everyone laugh, which is much harder to do.

Great question, by the way. It is my dream to one day write a pure comedy litrpg and utterly make a fool of myself.  peogiggle

Re: What makes comedic writing good vs bad?

#9

Sake Wrote: I'm never trying to be comedic on purpose, I swear to my mom, but people keep pointing out so-called comedic undertones in my story and I have nooo idea what they are talking about~

So I guess good comedy is when you're not forcing it and trying to be funny on purpose. This is why I wouldn't attempt writing a full-length book that's primarily a comedy. Unless it's a parody, that works, breaking the 4th wall and making snarky remarks....

Abandon ship, I retract everything I said there, I just decided to write a xianxia parody with comedy as main genre rip gg I'm a hypocrite