Three ways to get more humor into your writing
“I learned quickly that when I made others laugh, they liked me. This lesson I will never forget.”
— Art Buchwald, American humorist and Washington Post columnist
Humor gets attention, makes a message go down easier and helps people understand information faster and remember it longer.
It even makes you sexier.
What are you waiting for? Here are three ways to get more humor into your communications.
1. Extend a list.
In Eat the Rich, P.J. O’Rourke finds humor by extending a quote by Winston Churchill:
“Russia is a ‘riddle wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, tied in a hankie, rolled in a blanket and packed in a box full of little Styrofoam peanuts,’ said Winston Churchill, or something like that.”
Starting with a familiar series? Just keep adding items in escalating order of ridiculousness.
2. Substitute soundalikes.
When Men’s Health covered the news that chocolate might be even healthier than we thought, editors wrote this headline:
Avoid Death, Buy Chocolate
We know. Puns can be … punny. But they can also be funny. Use homophones lightly to make readers smile, not gag.
3. Flip a negative word.
Negative words that have no positives offer humor potential. Think debunk, disdain, disgruntled and inane. Now make them positive.
That’s what writer James Wolcott did in this passage of “Caution: Women Seething” for Vanity Fair:
“There’s something about Susan Estrich — some ineffable quality that, should it ever become effable, would peel paint off battleships — that annoys people of all faiths and political creeds.”
Use this list of Negatives Without Positives from Fun With Words to flip some negative words of your own.