Do you want to write funnier jokes? Then you are in luck. In my Writing For The Onion class at Second City my teacher, Scott Dikkers (who is a Co-Founder of The Onion), taught us the 11 Funny Filters to Write Jokes. If you want to write jokes with the best of the best then use these filters and you’ll be churning out comedy gold in no time.
For those that aren’t familiar, The Onion are the kings of satire. I consider their writing the highest level of comedy as their articles are jokes layered upon jokes layered upon jokes. There’s subtext, it’s well thought out, and because of the quality it stands out from the rest. There is a process to the way they think, write and formulate humor and as someone who creates content for a living I couldn’t think of a better skill to learn.
Here are the 11 funny filters to write jokes, the 11 ways that you can be funny. Note: examples are from The Onion so all credit goes to them for being funny.
- Irony – intended meaning exact opposite of literal meaning.
Example: Alcoholic father disappointed in Pothead Son
- Character – comedic character acting on his or her traits.
Example: Raccoon leaders call for loosening of garbage-can lids
- Reference – reference something in real life to something that happened in the readers life.
Example: FDA urges America to check out weird looking potato
- Shock – usually sex, violence, death, drugs, swearing, bathroom humor, gross out humor.
Example: HOLY SHIT. Man walks on fucking moon
- Hyperbole – exaggerating something to an absurd extreme, something that’s impossible, breaks the realities of science.
Example: Area woman finally uploads all 12 million pictures of her vacation to Europe on Facebook
- Parody – mimic the thing you want to parody as much as possible.
Example: Veteran cop gets along great with rookie partner
- Wordplay – using words other than their primary function, switching around, rhyming, puns, double entrendre’s.
Example: Robot charged with battery
- Analogy – comparison of two disparate things.
Example: Al Gore places infant son in rocket to escape dying planet
- Madcap – when you get silly and crazy and you go to wacky town, nonsensical.
Example: Hamster thrown from remote control monster truck
- Metahumor – humor that makes fun of other humor or the idea of humor.
Example: Comedians no longer able to write jokes longer than 140 characters
- Misplaced Focus – you purposefully put your attention on the wrong thing.
Example: Missing boy scout earns publicity badge
The way that funny filters work is you take the point/joke you want to make (ex. Justin Bieber is a tool) and then you run it through each of the funny filters to see what works best. Not every funny filter is going to work for every joke you want to create. However, in the 11 funny filters you’ll find different ways to say the same joke, just in different ways. Now, instead of banging your head when you can’t think of something funny you can just go down the list of funny filters, play around a bit, and hopefully get comedy gold.
By using the funny filters you also improve the quality of your comedy/writing so that you don’t have to say the joke “Justin Bieber is a tool” but instead can create something that is of a higher calibre of humor.
One of the core fundamentals that I’ve taken from Second City as well as these Writing For The Onion classes is to raise the bar on the content you create and the jokes you make. It reminds me of this Big Dogs shirt that I saw my Dad rocking way back in the day.
If you want to stand out in this competitive and noisy digital marketing, content creation, and comedy landscape then you’ve gotta be doing it like the Big Dogs. Create content and write jokes that aren’t just copy-paste but are high quality, original, and well crafted. No doubt your fans and clients will thank you for it.
I have to give props to my Writing For The Onion teacher Scott Dikkers who has been an awesome guy to learn from. His depth of knowledge is ridiculous and once you start putting pen to paper and try to write really good satire you see how hard it really is.
Get more engagement and reach out of your content and marketing by adding an element of comedy to what you do. Your audience and bottom line will thank you. Let’s talk ASAP about how I can help grow your business. Contact Rob Cressy at firstname.lastname@example.org.