When it comes to telling jokes, it’s often said that it’s all in the delivery. By writing a humor essay, you can get around that one hurdle, but there are others to avoid. A successful humor essay will entertain readers as much as a successful comedian will entertain audiences.
Pick a Topic That is Easily Accessible
It’s hard to laugh about something you don’t understand. The best humor essays are the ones that tackle subjects anyone can relate to. In that way, humor writing brings people together; in addition to laughing out loud, readers might be nodding their heads. Humor essayists say what other people think, but in new and surprising ways.
Keep it Short and Sweet
Shakespeare’s plays often were as funny as they were tragic, and he said it best when he wrote that “Brevity is the soul of wit.” Humor essays don’t necessarily have to be short, but the jokes in them should be. If you keep your writing pithy, you’ll probably keep your readers laughing.
Tell a Story
A humor essay isn’t a long uninterrupted stream of jokes. It’s a narrative, and it should follow a narrative arc, with a beginning, middle and end. While it won’t have the same rigid structure as a formal or academic essay, the reader needs to be able to follow your train of thought. Make sure that paragraphs are organized in a logical way, and that the reader is drawn into the essay from the opening lines and is given a sense of closure at the end.
Contrast Funny With Sad and Mundane
Good cooks know that sweet things taste even sweeter when you add a pinch of salt. Good architects know that straight lines appear even straighter when you add a curve. And good writers know that funny things seem even funnier when you add a dark edge. Not every phrase needs to be a one-liner, so don’t be afraid to allow some lines of a humor essay to be boring or tragic. If they’re placed skillfully, they’ll spark the humor -- not dampen it.
Living in Canada, Andrew Aarons has been writing professionally since 2003. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Ottawa, where he served as a writer and editor for the university newspaper. Aarons is also a certified computer-support technician.