How to craft a good joke, from one of the masters, Jerry Seinfeld
If you claim to be a writer or have never picked up a pen in your life, everyone can learn something new from the comedic powerhouse Jerry Seinfeld. Seinfeld, was interviewed by The New York Times about how he crafts his jokes and the strategies he uses to formulates his ideas.
Spoiler Alert: Jerry brings out a joke he’s been crafting for two years and shows us the specific tactics he used to make his Pop Tart routine work. Typically, Jerry can create material in two days which is more the reason why it makes this two year joke that much more special to hear.
As he explains, he feels the comedy writing scene is somewhat of a secretive society that not many people talk about and for this, we couldn’t agree more. Here are ten pieces of advice about comedy writing explained by master Jerry Seinfeld.
1) The starting. If you think something is funny, write it down then go from there
2) Jerry likes to have the first line be funny right away.
3) Jerry always writes on pads of yellow paper because he feels the electronic cursor is always taunting him on the screen. It is a fun side note that he and Larry David both used Bic Barrel (blue) pens and yellow pads of paper to write every TV episode of Sienfeld. Long hand.
4) Break down the jokes into words. In the Pop Tart example, four of seven words are funny.
5) Building anticipation for a story can prompt the audience to laugh.
6) Look for connective tissue to make a tight, smooth, jig saw puzzle like link from one topic to another.
7) If topics are not tight enough, delete the words. Even count the syllables and remove some accordingly.
8) Comedy writing is like song writing. (See Article: Seinfeld and Whale record together)
9) The end has to deliver the biggest laugh. Not in the beginning. Not in the middle. At the end.
10) Jerry believes the longer you work at a joke the “right-er” it feels.