Like everything else in life, comedy can be learned.
This is part of an ongoing series from comedy writer Dean Watson (7 Days, Mainland Tonight) showing you how to write your own hilarious jokes.
Comedy principle: Juxtaposition
What is it?
Juxtaposing two things in a surprising way.
1) A fit, smart, social NCEA student is like Santa. Doesn’t exist.
2) NCEA is like mutations in biology, small changes with huge consequences.
3) In NCEA and video games, the first level is always pointless.
A joke is two things linked in a surprising way. A juxtaposition joke is probably the purest expression of this. As you can see above, it’s comparing one thing to another thing.
In example 1, a fit, smart, social NCEA student is compared to Santa.
In example 2, NCEA is compared to mutations in biology.
In example 3, NCEA is compared to video games.
How to write a juxtaposition joke
Step 1. Pick two things you want to juxtapose.
Eg. A watch and a teddy bear
Step 2. Make a list of associations for each one.
Write down everything you can think of!
So for a watch, associations might include:
Tells the time.
Numbers between 1 and 12.
One hand bigger than the other.
Used to wear one when I was a kid.
Goes around your wrist.
Waterproof and non-waterproof.
Nobody wears a watch anymore.
For a teddy bear, associations might include:
Buttons for eyes.
I have too many.
It’s yucky when it’s wet.
Once you’ve written between 5 and 10 items on each list, you should start to notice links.
Step 3. Notice links or similarities in the lists.
In our lists, some links that are appearing is, ‘having one as a kid’, ‘childhood friend’ and 'not waterproof'.
Step 4. Use the links to make a surprising juxtaposition.
A___________________ is like _________________ because _____________________________. The more surprising the bit that comes after the ‘because’ is, the funnier it will be.
A watch is like a teddy bear, because I used to have one as a kid, until my dog ate it.
A watch is like a teddy bear, because sometimes it has two hands.
A watch is like a teddy bear, because one hand is longer than the other.
A watch is like a teddy bear, because it doesn’t work when you throw it in the pool.
Write a juxtaposition joke right now and get paid for it.