There are very few ways to improve your ability to blog more drastically than by improving your ability to write. And although I often hear folks talking about finding your voice, I find it more true that the best writers are those who have a diverse array of tools in their writing arsenal. Today, we’ll be looking at one of those tools: humor.

The Challenge

I would like to invite each of you to participate in a group exercise. I want to challenge you to take one or more of the writing lessons mentioned in this post and use it (or them) in the next post that you write at your blog.

After you do, come back to this article and leave a comment linking to your article and a note about which concept or concepts you employed.

Then as a final step in the challenge, consider looking at some links that others posted and respond to their comment with your thoughts and critiques of how they implemented these concepts.

The Lesson

For today’s lesson, we’ll be discussing types of humor and some principles for using them effectively in your writing.

Types of Humor

Listed below are 10 types of humor that you can use to spice up your writing. There are many more, but the 10 on this list will help provide you with a good foundation.

  1. Anecdotes: An interesting story that’s funny in the telling.
  2. Aside: A note or thought added as if something the writer was typing reminded him or her of it.
  3. Blunder: Wit based on someone making a mistake, tripping, or appearing foolish like the classic Wylie Coyote
  4. Caricature: Exaggeration of a person’s traits such as their personality, a physical feature, or an ability.
  5. Hyperbole: Extreme exaggeration used to evoke strong feelings.
  6. Irony: The creation of a concept that is somewhat opposite to the literal meaning of the words used.
  7. Joke: A short ditty with a powerful punchline just like the ones you’ve been telling since the first grade.
  8. Parody:A method of mocking or trivializing an original work through comical imitation.
  9. Repartee: Clever replies, retorts and comebacks often in the form of an insult.
  10. Self-Deprecation: A method of humor in which the author makes fun of himself or herself.

Note: You should always find a tasteful way to employ any forms of humor that involve making fun of anyone other than yourself. Insults can be funny if done right, or harmful if they come across too strongly or too rudely.

Conclusion

Humor is one of the most powerful ways to get and keep someone’s attention. Learn how to sprinkle it into your writing and you’ll be expanding your arsenal in a powerful way.

Now don’t forget about taking the challenge. Jump in and expand your writing skill.

Nicholas Cardot

About Nicholas Cardot

It's my personal quest to enable every person that I can to unlock that dormant potential concerning their online influence. Also, I'm a geek.

17 Comments

  • maddie says:

    I like to write humorous posts. I’m not very good at it yet but, some people find my stuff funny. Only my current post is about something real because I thought it was important enough that it should be said.

    *Warning – I have a mommy blog so unless you are into diapers, poop, or toddlers, don’t go there.

    I like to use anecdotes the most because with kids, you get a lot of funny stories. I also use self-depreciating blunders because I think there are others out there that are like me and are still trying to figure out what we’re doing when it comes to kids. It’s better to laugh about it than get frustrated.

    There are lots of mommy bloggers out there, (not all of them), that take either a sarcastic or depressing tone to their blogs. I don’t feel better after reading their blogs.

    I subscribe to your blog because your tone is always positive and energetic. You provide useful content without me being completely lost. (I’m still a little lost on some things but I’m trying to learn.)

    I don’t subscribe to blogs that are boring, depressing, or mean. I have better things to do with my time. I’m just the average blog reader. I think it’s great that you are telling people to entertain me better.

    PS. sorry I don’t come back and comment more often. I rarely feel like I have something useful to contribute. I’m still reading though.

    • Maddie, first off, don’t worry about not commenting. I used to try to get as many comments as possible, but now I just try to be as friendly as possible. The truth is that I don’t comment on or read other blogs nearly as much as I used to. I don’t have enough time. So I respect when others don’t either. No big deal.

      Second, like you, I can’t stand blogs that are depressing. I’m constantly working to surround myself with positive people. And well-written, well-played humor is a great way to combat that.

  • Hey Nick,
    What a great idea.

    We usually try to write, with most of our content, as if we’re just talking one-on-one to a person sitting across from us, seems to come across more natural and conversational like that.

    Seems like you can say some of the funniest things when talking to friends, so we write like we’re talking to a friend. It seems to really capture some funny moments in our content even if we’re not trying to.

    Here’s a recent post…check it out and let us know what you think.

    We used quite a few of the styles you mentioned.

    http://www.infoprodojo.com/the-1-question-every-blogger-should-ask

    Thanks.

    Adrian & Sharla
    Live It! Learn It! Share It!

  • Alexis says:

    Writing about kids and sleep tends to be so dry and humorless that it causes the reader to fall asleep (not a tough task as generally they are pretty sleep deprived to begin with). So I try hard to pepper at least a little humor in there to lighten the tone and not sound like “blah blah blah sleep blah blah.”

    Most often I fall back on self deprecation or irony. Or the occasional “sleep fail” anecdote.

    Although my longest most “how to” post to date (sorry!) I did try hard to put at least a few humorous lines in my latest post:

    http://www.troublesometots.com/2011/the-ultimate-baby-swing-sleep-guide-for-swing-hating-babies/

    Not surprisingly the most popular post BY FAR on my site was a review of a funny & profane parenting book:
    http://www.troublesometots.com/2011/go-the-fk-to-sleep-book-review/

    • I had only just begun reading your post and I saw the humor in it already. I really like how you write. It’s a very good use of it. If you normally use self-deprecation or irony, consider challenging yourself to try a few others that you’ve never used before.

  • AstroGremlin says:

    This page was intended to be humorous, http://blogsnewsreviews.com/origin-of-astrogremlin/
    Note sure if it fits any of the 10 categories. Maybe goofy.

  • Great Blog Alexis, as a sleep deprived parent any tips on sleep that have some humour injected have my seal-of-approval.

    I write a small blog on computer tips for small business owners and people that might not be experts.

    I try and inject a bit of humour in each article (with very mixed results). I would like to blaim the 4am wake ups but I can’t. My humour is very hit and miss.

    Anyway here’s an article i wrote earlier today on
    What is Malware?
    http://explainafide.com.au/2011/07/what-is-malware/

  • Bob says:

    I think there’s humor everywhere. Even in a scientific conference I think the speeches should have little self-deprecation or other type of jokes. That would help a lot in keeping the attention of the audience.

  • Melvin says:

    The use of humor is always an edge especially if you’re in an industry where its NOT being used. I don’t do it a lot but it comes out natural to me when I speak and talk because I’m a very spontaneous person.

    But of course its not like one can do it correctly just because he has done it. Humor play is not something that gets appreciated by all of your people since they are different and they perceive things differently. There’s a risk still I believe.

  • Leif G.S. says:

    I do a lot of flash fiction, poetry, serial, etc. I know this applies to most articles and whatnot but having a flowing piece with some humor and intrigue also applies to the creative side as well. Thanks for the tips, if I add in an article style piece, I will keep this in mind!

  • I am a huge comedy fan and I feel like it’s something that has become so interwoven with my life in general that using humor in writing (and speaking in everyday situations) kind of comes to me effortlessly. I don’t try to dissect humor too much because sometimes if you try to analyze comedy, it loses its impact!

  • Thomas Frank says:

    I used to be all business in my writing – I thought using a professional tone would impress recruiters and get me a job, blah blah blah…

    Now I use a lot of humor in my writing, specifically self-deprecation and hyperbole. I also just use words that are stupid or funny, or that don’t seem like they should be in my articles. People seem to appreciate reading a technical article and suddenly being called “broseph”.

    Here’s one recent example: http://collegeinfogeek.com/2011/07/what-youre-not-on-linkedin-fool-of-a-took

  • Siegfried says:

    Nicholas, I always struggle to make my posts interesting and funny – what am I saying, they are failures. But I actually gave up trying to change it – i guess I am a bit grumpy 😀
    Regards

  • Noel Addison says:

    Incorporating humor in writing captivates the interest of the readers. Without humor the discussion on your article will become so blunt and stiff.

  • AstroGremlin says:

    I wrote an article that I think is pretty funny. It’s called “9 Largely Ignored Superheros” The bottom 9 Superheros with very modest powers include Fern Man and Hamster Hombre. It’s on my blog in the top directory.

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