Learning to tell good jokes
April 5, 2014 11:18 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to learn how to tell good jokes. One thing I've considered is looking up different comedians on Youtube. But what would be even more useful is if there was a resource (book/video) that collected many of these examples together to illustrate different principals. So they might show you one version of a joke and then an improved version of a joke. Or they might show a few versions of a jokes that all utilise a common formula. Does anyone know of anything like this?
posted by casebash to Human Relations (5 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
The film The Aristocrats is all about different versions of a single joke, with different comedians telling their version of it.
posted by Nightman at 11:32 PM on April 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

There are two different aspects of joke telling you refer to in your question: coming up with jokes and telling jokes. Interestingly, these two things don't have that much to do with each other. Humor is mostly about finding non-obvious aspects of common occurrences or up-ending expectations, but there are quite a few types of humor. As any stand-up comedian can tell you, coming up with jokes that aren't situational humor with people you already have a rapport with is very hard.

Telling jokes is mostly about comedic timing - here's a video from an acting workshop about it and here's a thread with some great examples of it.

Decide what aspect you want to learn more about and hone in on that.
posted by jedrek at 12:24 AM on April 6, 2014 [4 favorites]

The Naked Jape (OOP but easy to get secondhand) is a history of jokes and joke forms with examples of each.

The Serious Guide to Joke Writing is a decent toolbox for comedy writing, goes well with the above.

Be a Great Stand-Up is more about coming up with material and routines than actual one-liner jokes, but is worth a look. A lot of the exercises are for groups though, so bear that in mind.

Will any of these make you a good joke writer? I've no idea. I tend to think that if you can laugh at a joke then you can write a joke, but then I've seen enough terrible wannabe stand-ups to doubt that on occasion.
posted by permafrost at 4:32 AM on April 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Issac Asimov's Treasury of Humor, "640 jokes, anecdotes, and limericks, complete with notes on how to tell them".
posted by anaelith at 9:13 AM on April 6, 2014

Its all in the delivery. punch up one word slightly. Works every time.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:17 PM on April 6, 2014

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