Then you've obviously not read John Vorhaus's "The Comic Toolbox: How to be Funny Even If You're Not".
Most of the advice I've read on this forum centres around "being yourself" or "let the spontaneity happen", which doesn't necessarily work. Apparently, and I'm basing this on those types of responses, people *still* believe in the myth that you must be born funny and if you weren't, then there's no chance you'll ever be. There's a huge difference between telling funny stories at a party where you're the centre of attention, and then parlaying that interest in humour into writing. SO not the same thing.
I've done professional stand-up for over fifteen years, have published numerous comedic novels and short-stories in national magazines and have even appeared on NBC sitcoms and at The Kennedy Centre in DC, and I'm here to tell you, believing that comedy is some mystery from on high is simply nothing more than a myth from folks too lazy to actually study and learn the craft. Stand-ups that make it look too easy worked that material TO. DEATH., in front of numerous open mic audiences, taping it, writing it, re-writing it, re-working it and sometimes chucking all of it to begin again.
Humorous authors do the same thing, but the ones who are truly in the know will get the onions up to get on stage and deliver that material, listening to their tapes, finding out if the delivery was lacking, if their act-out garnered laughs, if they crafted the joke correctly (and believe me, for a writer, there is NOTHING more beneficial than getting in front of an audience and performing your own material, for it's in that performance that you learn if you truly have what it takes to make others laugh, because reading your writing in your own head isn't the same as someone else hearing it aloud) if their timing was off; still others will get involved in improv comedy groups and learn how to think on their feet (I also studied with Second City).
I studied stand-up with what's known in Los Angeles as a punch-up artist. He worked on M*A*S*H, SOAP, The Golden Girls, Webster and nearly all the popular NBC/CBS sitcoms in the late eighties/early nineties. Once the writers had made it as funny as they knew how, then they gave the script to him, and it was his job to punch it up and make it even funnier. He was cognisant of where the laughs should go (yes, there is a formula for sitcom writing for this), if his dialogue sounded stilted or not (and that's something you simply can't do from a cerebral point of view; it MUST be visceral, which means you perform it into a tape recorder, for example), if his characters' lines are in keeping with their nature, and if his punch lines spark across that comic gap between the comic premise and the comic reality.
Vorhaus's book takes you through exercises that teach you how to bridge that all-important gap, what a comic premise is and how to craft it into a story, how to shut off your internal editor while writing the comedy and then re-engaging later when it's time to edit, how to increase the stakes for your character so when they finally act on what they want the comedy will be all-out and perfect, how to craft full and real characters and how to write for them.
It's not a mysterious process. It's lots of hard work, and isn't for the faint-of-heart.
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