How I Write Jokes

Even though I’m not a professional I’ve had a couple of people ask about the methods I use to write comedy.  I’m going to take this opportunity to talk about that.

Sometimes the material I use in my stand up routines just comes to me.  While they might need a bit of polish or a tag or two,  they are complete and ready for delivery.

In the first of the videos listed below, my joke about  telling my doctor I eat two bags of vegetables is an example of a joke born whole.  I was thinking about how my doctor doesn’t believe that bacon is a vegetable.   That’s funny, but it didn’t work as a joke, however both vegetables and chips comes in bags, so viola!

These are the two sets I currently have posted on YouTube.  I reference jokes from each below.

Set 1

Set 2

Other bits come to me as a concept.  My Pussy vs. Vagina bit (second video) started off as a comment to a friend to the effect of “Why would I insult someone by calling him something I’m rather fond of?”.  You’ll see that I’ve fleshed that out to about a full minute of material.

Other ideas start off with just the thought of “there’s a joke in there somewhere”.  The set up of my Star Trek bit, where I talk about the differences in the capabilities of the crew between episodes is an example of this.

Let’s use the Star Trek bit to illustrate one of the ways I come up with material.

Most jokes start of with a premise.  The ST bit’s premise is:

In one episode, the Enterprise rains death down from space, and in the next half the crew is wiped out by one guy!

Not very funny on it’s own, is it?

I used word association to help with this step.  Basically I listed things that I associated with Star Trek.   So my list contained things like

  • Sci Fi
  • Space
  • Campy Dialogue
  • Scanners
  • Tri-corders

Eventually I settled on scanner/tri-corder and campy dialogue, and the line became

In one episode the Enterprise rains death down from space!  It’s like [pretend to scan the planet] “Captain, we’ve located the Klingon and O-M-G, he hasn’t changed his underpants in 8 days!”

In the next episode half the crew is wiped out by one guy armed with a pointy stick and terrible dialogue!  [Overdone campy] “I would stab you thusly but alas, your tunic is not the red of an Adaluvian sunset, but the blue of a Best Buy Smartass!”   (the Best Buy Smartass is a call back to my opener for that set).

[aside]….at least now we know why they call them Klingons!

A good joke usually consists of a Premise, a setup,  a punchline, and tags.

Using my Star Trek joke again,  the Premise is “The thing I hate about Sci Fi shows is how inconsistent they are!”

This lets the audience know what I’m about to talk about, and leads me to the set up.  In the bit above there are two set-ups, and two punchlines  (the Andulvian sunset bit is the punchline).

A tag is a quip that you add to end of a bit or joke.  A funny comment,  maybe an observation, or an aside like I used above.  You can add as many tags as you want.  They’re a good way to close off a joke and move on.

You can also use tags if you’re running fast and need to fill out a few seconds.

You might be interested to know that a lot of times tags sound spontaneous.  They could be, but mostly they’re actually part of the set.  A true artist can make the audience think that they just thought of them.

That’s it in a nutshell.  If you’re interested in knowing more or discussing, reach out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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RTOD: Salad Dressing

With everything going on in the world today, I want to take a moment and talk about something that I’m sure is on everyone’s mind….

Salad Dressing.
Specifically, who thought “Ranch” was a good name for salad dressing??

I’ve never knowingly tried Ranch dressing.

Think about it….you have French Dressing, which brings to mind the rich, flavourful palette found in French cuisine.

When you hear “raspberry vinaigrette” you think of something sweet and tart.

What comes to mind when you hear “Ranch Salad Dressing”??

Hay and Horseshit!

RTOD: Stupid things I’m afraid of

  • That the person I’m talking to can read my mind
  • That my future significant other will rearrange my kitchen
  • That a chunk of frozen blue toilet ice will crash through my roof and kill me the day after I win the lottery
    • I’m not at all worried about it happening before for some reason
  • Being around ppl
  • Not being around ppl
  • That I’m that guy who thinks he’s popular, but really isn’t

Anthems and Allegories

There have been points in my life where a song jumped out at me. Where the lyrics struck hard, sometimes reducing me to tears.

The first, as a teenager was the Blue Oyster Cult’s Great Sun Jester.   I’ll admit I don’t remember the exact lyrics without googling, but I was struggling with my identity and trying to find my path and place in the world.

Others include Bob Marley’s Redemption Song,  and Imagine Dragon’s Demons.

Some are associated with people,  The Cars’  You Might Think for my first wife, and Garth Brooks The Dance for my Irish doctor.

Its been a long while since a song spoke to me, but last week it happened twice.  Two different songs where the message are diametrically opposed.

“Simple Man”…Shinedown’s acoustic cover of Skynard’s classic hit.  I was listening to the randomized mix of songs I’d thumb’d up on Google Music.

As I was pondering the message of that song…to be a simple kind of man, the next song hit me with equal strength…The Struts, Could Have Been Me

Don’t want to go out in a blaze of glory,
Don’t want to live as an untold story!

There have been times when my anthems have confused other people, this is the first time I’ve been confused…

I’ll figure it out…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kharma is Weird and Wonderful

There is a Buddhist meditation that helps you pass on your good Kharma to someone else. I forget the name of it, but a few years ago when I first started meditating I did that for a dear friend who was going through a very rough time.

The other night I tried meditating for the first time in a long time. I remembered my passing on my good kharma, and, as things haven’t been so great for me, I tried to pull some of it back.

My friend and I have not spoken in years, but I know from mutual friends commenting on her posts that her life is much better.

The next day, through a series of events I won’t get into, I was two hours late getting home…or getting close to home.

As I was approaching the back road I usually take home (Vivian Line 37 for those familiar), I passed a car buried to its axles in snow. I looked back thinking I should stop to help.

I ended up missing my turn, and quickly pulled onto the shoulder to do a u-turn. A very icy shoulder it turns out and I too ended up mired in snow.

It took two hours before a tow truck came by and hauled me out and sent me on my way.

It was a clear cold night.
I had to pee, and decided to walk some distance from the car. I wasn’t sure where the tow truck operator would have to go, and didn’t want to pollute his workspace.
I sat in the car in silence. My musings interrupted several times by people offering to help.
I thanked all of them, and explained I had a tow coming.

So yes, and interrupted night where I was 4 hours late getting home.

A couple of days ago it occurred to me that the disastrous night occurred immediately after I asked for some of my good kharma back.

I was going to chuckle at the irony, but then things occurred to me.

It was a cold, clear, but beautiful night. I stared at the stars until I started shivering.

I didn’t play with my phone, or the radio. I sat in silence, taking the opportunity that was forced upon me to do some quiet reflection.

7 or 8 people stopped to see if they could help/I was all right. While yes, they interrupted my reflection they restored my faith in humanity. There are decent people out there.

Speaking of decent people both my friends Gord and Denise stood to without hesitation when I called for help. I know that any number of friends would’ve done the same. So I was reminded that even when I’m surrounded by vast cold, dark countryside…I’m not alone.

So it turns out that the inconvenient, time consuming incident wasn’t kharma chastising me, it was a gift.

Telus Made Me Cry

Its been a rough few weeks for me.

On October 30th I had to let Colorado, my beloved Queen of Spazmania go. She went months after her cancer diagnosis of being her normal spazzy self, but the weekend before she went downhill so fast.
That Friday I bought her a new leash even…that’s how quick she went. 😦

Then on top of that, my friend Brandy, a woman who I loved like a sister passed away suddenly on Nov 19th.

I was devastated, and have had a hard time dealing with things.

A couple of days ago I sent my wireless provider, Telus, an email asking to cancel the phone she had on my account, explaining that she had passed.
I acknowledged in the request that I understood that I was still responsible for the device balance of several hundred dollars.

This afternoon I received a response from Michael from Telus.

I was with my friend Holly, about to climb in the car in a Tim Horton’s parking lot when I read the response.

When I read it, I managed an “Oh my god”…I started crying and it was a bit before I could compose myself to tell Holly what was going on.

She too started crying and I think we made quite the spectacle hugging and bawling.

Most people bitch about their providers…but this is not the case.

Michael informed me that Telus was waiving the remaining device balance on Brandy’s phone as they understood that it was a difficult time for me.

The simple kindness of the gesture was overwhelming, but so welcome.

I don’t have the words…except Thank You!

If my comedy career ever takes off and Telus needs a spokesperson, I owe them a solid.

For those of you who don’t know. Brandy is the woman in the picture. Colorado is the collie-x on the right.

My Great-Dane, Kharma is taking the loss pretty hard too.
brandyandmydogs

When Grief Isn’t Grief…

Regular followers will be aware that my Queen of Spazmania, Colorado was diagnosed with cancer a few months back.

She went through a rough patch, that prompted me to ask people to stop reminding me that she was dying.

Today she is doing pretty well.  She’s lost a lot of weight (she was too heavy in the first place),  but she’s eating, drinking and is her normal self so I’m not worried about it.

But Monday morning, something weird happened.

If I linger in bed too long Colorado will eventually come up and remind me that she has to go out.   She starts by sitting next to the bed and panting until I pet her.

Monday morning was no different, except as soon as I reached out to scratch her head I started to cry.

She was her normal self.

When I reached out I don’t think I was thinking of her eventual passing.

I thought that maybe I had felt it in her energy.  I knew Shelby’s time was coming.

Through out the day I found myself getting tearful thinking of losing her.

I didn’t understand that.  I had plenty of time to prepare.  I am ready.

Yes, it will be hard,

When we take an animal into our lives we have a sacred duty to look after them.

The hard part of that is letting your faithful companion go when its time.

I did that for Shelby, even though I was not ready and it almost destroyed me.

When Colorado’s time comes,  I will let her go.   To keep her around when she’s sick and life has no joy for her would be cruel,  and very unfair.

She is my friend,  she even saved my life once when I my mood hit bottom and suicide seemed like a pretty good idea.

It will be hard…as I’ve said.

There’s a reason I mention the “it will be hard” thing twice.

All day Monday,  I couldn’t understand why it was so difficult to not cry when thinking about Colorado’s final day.

When discussing it in the past I might get a bit tearful in the moment, but nothing like the crying jags I just couldn’t control.

It was on the drive home that the real reason hit me….

Arranging her final visit with the vet will be hard…very fucking hard.

And that’s what was getting to me…

It is another hard thing that I have to do, in what seems like a life of constant hard things.

Admittedly, when one suffers from mental health issues, especially depression,  getting out of bed in the morning can be a hard thing.

That’s not really what I’m talking about.

I’ve never shied away from these hard things.  In fact,  I tend to be very good at doing hard things.   So much so that I was often handed tasks that were hard.

I’m talking about the sorts of things that can have a negative impact on one’s spirit.

It was Dr. Nielsen who pointed out a few years ago that I have the ability to turn all that off.   I didn’t realize that I was doing that until he pointed it out.   To me it was just “buckling down” and “getting on with it”.

Thanks to therapy I’m losing that ability.

Of course, as one gets older the closets that one shoves the trauma of experiencing these hard things into has problems keeping shut.   And I can tell you that some of the nightmares that come leaping out at you are worse than any movie,  and its often accompanied by wondering just how in the hell you managed to completely forget about THAT!

A little bit ago, during a particularly rough patch,  it seemed like nothing was going right for me.   I remember spending a great deal of time lamenting that nothing would ever be easy for me.

That wasn’t my head space on Monday btw.

So in short, it was just another rock in the proverbial invisible basket.

I do have one very real fear when the time comes.

Colorado can read me.

No matter how well I’m hiding it, she knows my moods.

When one is saying good bye to their friend,  being calm and relaxed is essential lest you friend fights to stay by your side.

I can hide my emotions well.     I can be a full blown panic and no one will know it.  But Colorado would….

That’s the big fear for me when her time comes.   I don’t want her to go through that alone.

When Shelby passed I felt honoured to have attended his passing.

I hope I can do the same for my girl Colorado.

And now I’m crying again…fuck.