You might be thinking, “Sure, I kill it at parties with my fish pants routine but I’m no comedian!” However, as a regular contributor to comedy websites runt-of-the-web.com and absrdcomedy.com, I know that you don’t have to be a professional comic to make funny money. All you need is a good sense of humor, writing skills, and a broken moral compass (although I might be thinking of counterfeiting with that last one).
Here are six tips for making some legal tender from comedy writing:
1) What makes you laugh? Want to see history, politics, and pop culture skewered in list form? Check out cracked.com. Like comics with an edge? Collegehumor.com has you covered. Enjoy pointing out the flaws in popular movies? The-editing-room.com has a ton of parody screenplays that do just that. All three websites pay their contributors, and are always accepting submissions. Find the websites that tickle your funny bone (as well as pay their writers), and start pitching!
2) When thinking up ideas, remember that all comedy comes from keen observation. People laugh because it’s true. Pay attention to current events. Keep a pen and pad on you as you go about your day, and jot down the funny things you notice. Like how CVS stocks the condoms across from the diapers, or how we pay for gas using a pump that works like a reverse slot machine? Keep your eyes and ears open and you’ll never run out of material.
3) Not all nuggets you mine from your brain pan are gold. Some nuggets need polishing before they shine. A few months ago, I got the idea to write about the yellow jackets that swarm trash cans in the park. Anyone who’s ever watched cartoons knows angry, stinging insects are comedy gold, but I kept coming up empty. Then, I tried looking at it from the wasp’s perspective and this was the result. Sometimes, a bad idea is a good idea seen from the wrong angle. Look at all sides before you throw away that nugget.
4) The most effective comedy is short and sweet. Saturday Night Live sketches average about five minutes. Articles featured on theonion.com average 200 words. Twitter is a great resource for learning how to be funny in as little words as possible. It has thousands of comedy accounts where you can find inspiration, learn how to keeps thoughts tight and to the point, and find links to paying websites. The catch, of course, is you have to join and regularly use Twitter.
5) If you’re having trouble writing that satirical news story or tongue-in-cheek essay, take a break, and try a different medium. Runt-of-the-web.com accepts galleries of funny memes, texts, TV show quotes, and other topics. If you can draw your jokes, funnytimes.com is looking for a few good cartoons. If you have a funny story from your own life that makes ‘em laugh every time you tell it, send it to Reader’s Digest . Comedy comes in many forms, and trying a few of them can help you figure out what you’re good at.
6) Even when you’re not pitching a comedy article, you can use comedy to sell your writing. People looking for writers often have to sift through hundreds of queries and pitches so you’ll want to stand out. That’s not to say you should bombard them with jokes, but a well-placed joke or two, a witty observation, or a clever turn of phrase can give you an edge over the competition. People always remember the ones that makes them laugh, and this article is the proof 😉
- Humor Sells – Jeanette Levellie
- Leveraging Humor to Develop Your Freelance Writing Career By Emma Larkins
- Worst Book Covers and Titles Ever! FUNNY!
Dana Schellings (DanaSan) is a writer, world traveler, and lover of all things cheese. She is on a never ending quest to find the humor in life and a dress that doesn’t make her look fat. Find out what else she’s up to at danasansbrainstew.com and on Twitter @Danasan88.
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