How To Start Building Your Comedy Cache

How To Start Building Your Comedy Cache

I know a lot of business people would love to add some humour to their work life, but either don’t know where to start or, even if they do, don’t consider themselves a “funny” person.

If you’re a [INSERT YOUR OWN PREFIX HERE]-preneur and want to be funny, but don’t know where to start, here’s a post I wrote that may be of help!

WANT TO BE FUNNY, BUT DON’T KNOW WHERE TO START?

Coming up with funny words, concepts and ideas on the spot can be a challenge, even for comedians. This is why they test material out in smaller clubs before going on a stadium tour.

Comedy ain’t easy.

When you’re really feeling under pressure to come up with something funny, your mind often just grabs the first thing it can – probably the most obvious thing – rather than creating something unique, fresh and surprisingly – the kind of thing that would have a lot more impact.

If you’ve ever had the perfect line pop into your mind AFTER you’ve sent the email, you’ll know how bloody annoying this is.

(When will Google get round to creating that “Unsend and obliterate from recipients memory” button?)

If you were in the Cub Scouts, you’d be less bothered by this problem – they know a thing or two about being prepared and, after reading this, so will you.

The good news is that you don’t need a specific comedy problem in front of you to start, you can begin building an arsenal of comedic material anytime and anywhere so that, when you suddenly need a funny means of describing how fast your widget dispensing service is, you’ve got one, or at least, the bare bones of one.

Here’s a great exercise you can do, right now, to start building some comedy cache:

  1. Pick any adjective, for example, “hot”, “fast”, “wet” (I deeply regret looking at my search history for inspiration).
  2. Come up with at least ten words or symbols that can represent the adjective.

Before you grab your pen and paper, a quick note:

YOU ARE NOT TRYING TO BE FUNNY HERE!

You’re discovering the relationships between words, not writing Letterman’s monologue, so don’t worry about being hilarious.

Just come up with ten “things” that represent your adjective.

Since I opted for “hot” above, let me work through it as an example.

Things that are “hot”:

  1. The Sahara desert.
  2. Boiling water (if I had a better knowledge of chemistry*, I’d probably substitute something with a higher boiling point).
  3. Pamela Anderson (I haven’t seen her in a while, so I reserve the right to add “in the 1990s” if she is no longer deemed objectively “hot”).
  4. A stove.
  5. Black coffee.
  6. You feel hot when under pressure.
  7. The Sun (the fact that Pamela Anderson is higher on this list than the Sun tells you a lot about my childhood).
  8. Lava.
  9. Curry/Chilli Pepper.
  10. The inside of a McDonald’s apple pie.

The first thing you’ll notice is that the items on this list aren’t side-splittingly funny. Some may have potential, but I’m not going to fill Wembley Arena with this kind of material.

What I have though is a list of things to play around with should I ever need to describe something as “hot”. I have the start of something.

I’ve already done most of the hard work in coming up with potential “hot” related humour – I just need to tweak it, and there’s a simple way to do that too.

MIX SOME OF THE ITEMS TOGETHER.

“Our product is hotter than the Sahara desert!” is OK. It’s not amusing or original, but…

“Our product is hotter than Pamela Anderson eating a chilli pepper** in the Sahara!”…

…has the vague resemblance of something that could potentially be funny.

And all I did was to put three things together from my unfunny list.

Anyone can do this. I know because I just did. 🙂

There’s another benefit to this kind of exercise – it helps guard you against the need to be funny right from the outset.

It takes the pressure off.

At no point in the exercise am I under obligation to think up something witty and original. If I do, then that’s awesome, but it’s not necessary.

I’d love for you to have a go at this exercise.

If you want to, do this:

Look up, turn your head to the left and pick an adjective pertaining to the first object you set eyes on. If you see curtains, it could be “long”, “yellow” if your dog is vomiting, or “inadequate” if you’re watching the finale of GoT.

Open up a new note on your phone and put your adjective in BLOCK CAPITALS capitals at the top.

As you go through your day, think about things, objects and symbols that represent this adjective and note them down.

When you have a good number, string a few of them together using the “Pamela Anderson eating chilli in the Sahara” example above:

“Our product is so [ADJECTIVE], it’s like [WORD] doing/eating/whatever [WORD] on/in/up a [WORD].

…and then post it below. I’d love to see what you come up with. 🙂


* Clearly my enthusiasm for internet browsing only extends to things that are “hot”, “fast” and/or “wet”.

** The food, not the band.