Writing jokes is an art form that has been around for upwards of 13 years. We all know that the necessary ingredients for a successful joke consist of a set-up and a punchline, usually with some misleading crap in the middle. However, with the advent of social media, many have been struggling to find the perfect balance of what makes a joke successful in the social media age. That’s why I’ve decided to write this helpful set of guidelines to assist those that find the nuances of this new joke-telling medium so difficult to grasp.
1) Don’t be afraid of meaningless platitudes
The idea of backing meaningless platitudes might sound like something that’s absolute death to someone that’s trying to tell an interesting, original joke, but you also have to remember that these platitudes are here for a reason. Just like the racist stereotypes of yesteryear, these are simple widely believed “truths” that most of your audience are already going to be with you on from the get-go and will make it easier to bridge the gap when your joke inevitably (if done correctly) travels into new territory that makes them think about something in a whole new light.
2) Don’t try to make your audience think about something in a whole new light
People are stubborn in their beliefs. Always have been, always will be. Making someone think differently isn’t something that happens instantaneously and if you’re writing jokes for social media, you aren’t going for any sort of response that isn’t instantaneous. You’re here to get those red-hot likes, not to be a small part of someone’s eventual realization that they’ve lived a sheltered life only considering their own wants and needs. If you want to change people’s hearts and minds, joke writing on any medium, especially a social medium, may not be your best bet. Instead you’re going to want to stick with something that is very close to your audience’s belief system that simply either veers slightly to the left or right. This way they know that you are close enough to their own sensibilities while also may have something different to say than the voice(s) in their head.
3) Keep it short
I’ve seen countless people make the mistake of writing a long diatribe detailing exactly how they feel on an issue, leaving absolutely nothing to the imagination while giving you zero wriggle room. When you do this, you give your audience the freedom to find any point in your argument where they may differ from your specific beliefs, robbing you of that sweet, sweet like. Be concise, to the point and as vague as humanly possible. With each additional sentence you are distancing yourself from people that are willing to identify with your loose understanding of whatever complicated issue you are joking about.
4) Talk about what you don’t know
The more you know about a subject the less able you’ll be to make peripheral jokes about it that outsiders will understand. Want to joke about politics? Don’t become a politician. Remember all of Al Franken’s delightful political humor before he took office? Not so funny now, is he? There’s a reason for that. Now that he’s a part of the political system, there isn’t much he can say about it without going into the minor minutia of day-to-day politicking and there is very little humor to be derived from something you are deeply entrenched in, at least that’s interesting to the general public. Social media audiences want their information given to them in bombastic, eye-catching headlines. Not in nuanced observations from the front lines, where the joke is stripped down to something only a fellow politician can understand.
5) Keep up with offensive words and admit a mistake when you fail to
Do you believe that “PC Culture” is ruining comedy? You’re probably not a very funny writer, then. Comedy, like all art forms, is a constantly changing medium. What most deem “PC Culture” is simply people being bored with jokes they’ve heard since they were a child and didn’t find funny then. Are some of these jokes offensive? Yes, very much so, and while people will be, in the joke-tellers eyes, overly offended by a joke from time to time, whether it’s too dark or racially charged, the audience is not wrong to feel that way. In most cases you’ve either failed to convey what is funny about the idea you are trying to express or it is indeed needlessly dark or racist. A simple fix to this problem would be to stop being racist or making flippant jokes about rape, but if you feel that it’s something you need to do, find a balance. Make your position be known in a way that makes your audience feel safe and, seriously, maybe stop making callous rape jokes.
6) Never reply to comments
This is a mistake almost every single person will make over and over again (yours truly certainly included), yet nothing good has ever come from replying to comments on a joke you’ve written. There are of course exceptions to this rule, like for example if someone is upset about the joke and you feel them and want to have a conversation about it, but if you make a joke and someone doesn’t like it, explaining the joke to them is never going to be A) successful and B) funny. If there’s someone on your feed that is constantly correcting you or adding their own stupid little tags, just ignore them. There is nothing more offensive and/or inoffensive than simply saying nothing and letting them stew in their own filth. Alternatively, find out where they live and beat them to death in front of their children.
7) Don’t eat Skittles
Skittles are the enemy of comedy. They are the least funny candy and they will affect the sensors of your brain in a way that will make you comedically infertile for the rest of your life. If you ever again feel the need to partake in this rainbow-colored candy treat, grab yourself a bag of Starburst instead. They have an almost identical fruit palate and will make you funnier than you have ever been.
8) Compare people you don’t like to Hitler
Not sure why, but comparing people to Hitler never seems to go out of style. Do it on the regular to maintain followers.
That oughtta do it! Follow this simple guide and before you know it you’ll be the heavyweight joke champion of the Twitterverse!