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How to slip humour into your writing

When writing, many idioms and plays on words simply don't translate.

The only way you can guarantee your jokes land is if your audience knows you well, and you share the experience you're joking about. Without these elements, chances of your written jokes landing are slim.


It's a massive risk to put humour in your writing. In that case, should we avoid written jokes?


We all know that nothing risked, nothing gained. So go for it! Take the risk, and write something funny.


Here are 3 ways to slip some humour into your writing:

  • Start with a smile, work toward a laugh.

If you've been to watch stand-up, you'll know that the opening comics warm the audience up. Then, even the main comic starts small and works towards a big laugh.


Do this in your writing by aiming to gain a smile, then later building up to a big chuckle.

  • Exaggerate metaphors.

When not offensive, you can compare situations to others and gain that smile to start with. Sounds are particularly easy to describe in this way.


To exemplify how sounds can be turned into metaphors , is the kettle squealing with glee like a child in a candy shop? You could compare a karaoke routine to a caterwalling pet, or someone dropping a cup while trying to be quiet to the sound of a dozen pans clattering to the ground.

  • Be outlandish

Pushing the boundaries of description from mundane to tongue-in-cheek is entertaining. It also combines the element of surprise, as Masterclass teaches.


This online learning tool gives the example of: “Can I get you anything? Coffee? Doughnut? A better attitude?” which is simple and easy to apply: "I was exhausted from the fronting intellect with academics, knackered from suits and heels, and honestly gagging for a night watching reality show reruns while wrapped up like a burrito."

Practice makes progress, and giggles make the greats


Try these 3 easy tips and gather feedback. Asking what lands and what doesn't is the first step to learning how to improve.


If you're making jokes across cultures, beware that even just outside your family unit, humour can differ. Be considerate and err on the side of caution until you have a feel for your audience's type of humour!


Have an opinion on cultural barriers to humour? I'd love to hear from you!

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