This column is written by Kimberly Turner from Regator (a great tool that gathers and organizes the world’s best blog posts). – Darren
Once again, we’re taking a look at the stories bloggers have been writing about the most during the last seven days (list provided by Regator). This week, we’ll be using posts about those hot stories to look at one of the toughest forms of writing: humour. It’s difficult because senses of humour vary so much. What you find hilarious, might barely elicit a smirk from me or vice versa. Plus, there’s the added challenge of determining when it’s appropriate to take the amusing route and when a serious approach is best. It’s a challenge, but adding a bit of LOL keeps readers engaged and, in many cases, encourages more sharing. Fortunately, despite the challenges, there are a few tried and true tips to upping the funny factor on your blog. Let’s see how some bloggers have covered this week’s hot topics with humor…
1. Christine O’Donnell
Example: Huffington Post’s “The War on Lust Must Be Won”
Tip: They say sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, but sometimes they are wrong. Sarcasm can be an effective form of humour, as shown in this example. It can often come across as sour grapes, so proceed with caution.
2. Lady Gaga
Example: Cracked.com’s “Why It’s Time to Stop Paying Attention to Lady Gaga”
Tip: Sarcasm—humour at someone else’s expense—can be funny, but adding a touch of self-deprecating humour can make it doubly so. In this example, the author writes, “I showed up to the office with shoes that didn’t match. For 11 straight days. One of them was a flip flop and the other was a woman’s hat. I know nothing about fashion, is my point, which is why I’m uniquely qualified to talk about Lady Gaga’s wardrobe choices, because she doesn’t either.” By making fun of yourself, you seem less bitter and judgmental and more…well, funny.
3. American Idol
Example: ROFL Razzi’s “ROFLash: Steven Tyler is Probs the New ‘American Idol’ Judge”
Tip: Some words are intrinsically funny. “Moolah,” used here is a funnier word than “money.” Onomatopoeic amusing words, like “splat” are often amusing. Other words are funnier than their counterparts for reasons that aren’t immediately apparent (but you’ll know them when you see them). For example, what’s funnier, “underpants” or “underwear”? “Spooks” or “phantoms”? “Canoodling” or “hugging”? There’s a theory that words that start with plosive consonants such as b, p, t, d, or k are intrinsically funnier. I’m not convinced this has been confirmed by science, but it seems plausible. Either way, use the funniest words you can find.
4. Pope Benedict XVI
Example: Friendly Atheist’s “Dear Benny…”
Tip: The inappropriate can be hilarious. There’s a reason stand-up comics often write jokes about things that make people a bit uncomfortable, such as the Catholic sexual abuse cases. If you’re not inclined to be overly politically correct, approaching an inappropriate or sensitive topic with a healthy dose of humour can be very effective, as shown in this musical example.
5. Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert
Example: Indecision Blog’s “Here Are the “Rally to Restore Sanity” and “March to Keep Fear Alive” Hastags You Ordered”
Tip: A conversational, informal tone that connects with readers directly is almost always funnier than formal language. This example addresses the readers directly, saying, “Oh my God, America, you were so annoying! Can’t you talk about anything else?!”
6. Katy Perry
Example: Ministry of Gossip’s “In the Katy Perry ‘Sesame Street’ scandal, is Elmo the real villain?”
Tip: The unexpected is funny. While everyone else was analyzing Katy Perry’s culpability in the scandalous Katy/Elmo video, this example focused on Elmo. “That Elmo character was totally naked.” Outrageous! … And hilarious.
7. Joaquin Phoenix
Example: Cracked.com’s “Will Joaquin Phoenix Become The Craziest Celebrity Ever?”
Tip: Find creative alternatives to standard approaches. In this example, Cracked puts its own spin on the omnipresent five-star rating system and determines that Phoenix was (at the time this was written, which was before it came out that the whole insanity thing was a ruse) “officially as crazy as…” three Tom Cruises, six Octomoms, half a Charles Manson, and four point eight barrels of flaming monkey poo. Taking a standard cliché and giving it a unique spin is often funny or, at the very least, interesting.
Example: The Onion’s “Struggling Blockbuster Eliminates Rental Fees”
Tip: Pick a joke and stick with it. This faux news example focuses on the ridiculous lengths the failing video rental chain will go through to draw customers. The joke is the same throughout, but is exaggerated to a greater and greater extent until, toward the end of the piece, fake Blockbuster says, “as a special introductory offer, cancel your membership with Netflix anytime in the next three months and we’ll do literally anything you ask of us.” The exaggeration paired with the commitment to the single joke throughout really works here.
9. OK Go
Example: The Awesomer’s “OK Go vs. The Muppets”
Tip: If you don’t laugh, don’t expect others to laugh. Before you use a video in your post, like the one in this example, or hit publish on a comical (or supposedly comical) post, watch the video or read the post aloud. Sure, your sense of humour is unique, but you shouldn’t expect others to laugh if you don’t even find it funny. The humour in this video relies heavily on good comedic timing—and Muppets. Muppets almost always help.
10. The Social Network
Example: Funny or Die’s “How Did We Spend The Facebook Outage?”
Tip: Actual behaviours and situations are often funnier than anything you can make up. You don’t always need to be overly clever. Next time you’re in an absurd situation, make a note of it. Remember that details often make a story, so be specific. You may be able to incorporate those humourous observations into a post somewhere down the line.
If you use humour on your blog, please share your tips in the comments. I’d love to hear from you. On a side note, the weekly trends will be changing to monthly trends after this post. I’ve had an amazing time connecting with ProBlogger readers and writing this column every week, but busy days are ahead so Darren has been kind enough to let me switch to the less frequent posting schedule to accommodate. Talk to you again soon!
Kimberly Turner is a cofounder of Regator.com and Regator for iPhone as well as an award-winning print journalist. You can find her on Twitter @kimber_regator.
I don’t write humor entries, per se, but I do go through each post and try to make sure that my natural sense of amusement at the world and about my topic (cooking like my mom) shines through.
I use humor when it’s the case, because it can entertain people a bit and I want happy readers :)
I prefer satirical humor like The Onion. I have to admit though – my writing is severely lacking in the humor department. I try to keep my posts informative, but as a result they seem to suffer a lack of personality.
It’s a work in progress. I’ve been blogging for about a year and a half now and I am just beginning to find my voice.
I think it boils down to whether a blogger just naturally sees the “funny” in life situations and experiences. Then it is effortless, you just almost can’t stop from infusing humor into your writing.
I recently had the experience of an obituary notice popping up in my Google Alerts mail. A namesake, another Judy Dunn, had died. I began to wonder who she was. It led me to creating a post: “Google Said I Died. Will That Be Bad for Business?”
It started with exploring this Judy and looking up other name-alikes and ended with ways to monitor the other “you’s” and develop reputation management strategies. I absolutely adore using humor to drive a point home.
That post is here, in case anyone is interested:
wow, you know- I don’t think humor can be taught
Being born Irish humor to me is a part of my language that somehow shows up when I am sharing with people in person. But when I write I take the time to ponder more so the humor I think goes out the window. Now if I could only find which window it leaves by I could perhaps close the window.
I write for a pure humor blog. One of the few on the interwebs, at least as far as I know.
Finding something that everyone can relate to and unearthing the truth about it can be very funny.
For example: We all fart. What’s funny about it in life?
Another thing I enjoy is writing stories. The more wacky and crazy the better.
It has to be believable too. Too far fetched and the humor dies. Also, you want to come off as serious, as if you’re not trying to be funny! That makes it all the more funny.
I love writing humor.
I always try and personalise my posts by adding a few “comments” here and there.
One of my blogs is quite technical by its very nature – therefore a bit of humour goes a long way to making the posts more readable and not look like a text book.
This is the closest thing I’ve seen to a “how to be funny” manual. I wouldn’t have imagined such a thing to be very effective, but you do a great job in this post, Kimberly. I’m going to apply each principle in my next 10 blogs as an exercise. Thanks for the inspiration.
The whole purpose of my blog is humour. My motto is “If you can’t laugh at yourself, laugh at your kids.” That’s pretty much what I do. If you read between the lines, though, you’ll find I’m mostly making fun at what an idiotic parent I am.
My blog is similar to Ironic Man there. I write wacky stuff that I think is funny. My “niche” is “opinion” and that includes everything.
Occasionally I write about blogging or twitter. But it’s typically a parody of stuff already out there. And hopefully has some info people can use.
I liked your post and will check your blog.
I write a more personal blog but it seems gaining in popularity due to its reputation of being funny. I poke fun at myself and others, and write in a story-telling manner While not every single post is humorous, most are. It seems to be more humorous to women/parents.
As far as humor goes, I have done quite a few different career choices, and at each juncture people would tell me that, “Man you are hilarious, why the hell are you working at [INSERT BORING CORPORATE JOB HERE] for?” So I started listening to my heart and those people. I do quite a bit of humor writing in magazines, but mostly online. I have one online mag at nyhumor.com and funny blog about living with 3 rabbits called thebunlife.blogspot.com
You would be amazed how many new inquiries have come from just running a couple humor blogs.
I love the attitude of not being a people pleaser and doing your own thing, but I think comedy is one area where you should care what others think, especially if you are doing it for a living.
We tried humor as an experiment but that did not change anything at that time. However, when we look back we find that the most popular post is that one, may be because it was very funny. To see how one can blend humor with the article please see here: http://www.freecallshub.com/2010/03/allvoi-unlimited-international-calls.html. Please feel free to comment if you feel we should continue trying that.
Team – Free Calls Hub
I am new to blogging but found my personality and the medium seemed to fit well together. Humor, personal/familial experiences and opinion is the thrust of my blog- “Confessions of a Valet Boy”.
Humor and satire with a dash of sarcasm seems to be what my small but stalwart readership appreciates most.
Thanks for your insightful posts thro ProBlogger.
Hi, Kimberly. As you say, humor is difficult to pull off well in a blog because what people find funny varies so widely. Like all types of writing, you have to be true to your own individual style, and if what you write isn’t funny to you than chances are it won’t be funny to your readers either.
I write a fake news blog called The Scallion (yes, modeled after the brilliantly funny The Onion), so humor is my one and only focus. I realize that particular type of satire and parody doesn’t appeal to everyone, but it’s what I find amusing and hopefully so do my readers.
But even for those writers who don’t focus on humor or comedy itself, incorporating wit and clever phrasing in your posts can make your blog stand out from similar blogs. I think the key is not trying too hard to be funny and using humor to hone and highlight the points you’re trying to make.
Thanks for an interesting round-up on a tough topic!
Pretty much all of my blogs are self-deprecating. I find if you can write with a certain level of “why am I such a fat loser” sans the “no, I really, really I hate myself” undertones people generally respond. Most successful comedians are self-loathing but the audience knows they don’t hate themselves THAT much. Unless you’re Chris Farley.
Grammatical errors are funny too. Not annoying at all (see previous post)
I write personal stories and they just come out funny.
I don’t know how, they just do.
When I look back, boyfriends thought I was funny (that could be good or bad) and I can remember some side splitting times in my family.
So I think I’m with Tracy at Crazy Surburban Mom (I’m one of those too) I’m not sure it can be taught.
Humor is my niche. I think my biggest tool in writing humor is hyperbole. Quirky details make a great story as well. Thanks for these fun examples.
My blog is a mixed bag of topics from the serious to the absurd but no matter what I’m writing about I try to use humor to get my point across. If you can make folks laugh they will become loyal readers – I know this works on me. Most of the blogs I read and comment on daily are ones that had me laughing out loud. There’s lots of bad stuff going on in the world – if you;re going to dwell on it, it might as well be with a laugh.
I combine travel with humour – such as the things that go wrong, signs that don’t translate very well into English, and poking fun at anything else, including myself! It’s the funny situations that always make the best dinner party conversations!
humor is just an entertainmnt for people…. everybody knw the facts behind any humor!! :)
I own a positive blog about celebrities and pets.
When I write with humor, I use numerous techniques.
1st. I try to use words that have double meaning.
A. For instance, Paris can mean two things. (1) Paris Hilton or (2) the location. When Paris left japan, I wrote:
2nd. I try to use words that cause alliteration.
A. For example, I used the word “wall” from “wall street.”
I also use one or two others…
Great post! I write about the funny side of raising kids, as well as pursuing a career as a stand-up comedian.
I definitely believe that humour can be taught – well, not that you can be taught how to be funny, but if you’re already funny, you can use techniques to become funnier!
Great post on humor, some killer tips there!
I recently interviewed a bunch of online people who struck me as funny in their blogs (often or just sometimes) in conjunction with my work at home humor guest posting contest:
As for the “can or can’t be taught” debate, let’s just say I’m in favor of education for everyone…:)