Wednesday, February 04, 2015
Just as professional golfers will still go to the driving range and hit a bucket of balls, it never hurts writers to exercise their creative muscles.
And this is an assignment you never have to turn in.
But just as I did a post on my day at the DMV, see if you can write a one-page description of something that happened to you. And if you’re a budding comedy writer, try to make it humorous.
In selecting the topic to write, here is what you’ll find: Those incidents that caused you frustration work better. Comedy comes from tension. If you go to the market, find a parking space right out front, buy a lot of things on sale, and encounter no line at the check out stand you’ll have a much tougher time mining mirth than if you had gone to any Costco on any Saturday afternoon.
The exercise also teaches you to be observant. You’d be surprised how many funny things are going on around you all the time – you just have to recognize them.
So think. Could you write a one-page account of the Super Bowl party you just attended? Or trying to do your taxes yourself? Or jockeying for position in the carpool line? Or going to the mall to buy a suit? Or trying to assemble some piece of Ikea furniture? You get the idea.
I remember being in New York and catching his act one night. He talked about trying to get a piano moved into his apartment. I was enthralled for forty-five minutes. There’s a real art to storytelling.
If you ever start a podcast this is a real good skill to have.
Two friends of comedy are attitude and specificity. There’s gold in the details. And the piece comes alive when you have a take. You can get a lot of humor from just your description of events if you do it with a point-of-view.
Like I said, no one has to read it. You’re not being graded. You won’t even get extra credit. But it will sharpen your skills. And you don’t have to blow ten bucks on a bucket of balls (unless your story is your day at the driving range).
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM