The following is a part of our Make Your Writing Funny series.
People who know me know that I talk to myself a lot. Hey, I was a lonely kid - no wonder I make an excellent conversational partner. Then again, I think one of my favorite cartoon characters summed it up best:
"I simply have a penchant for INTELLIGENT conversation." - Megatron, Beast Wars
Ego issues aside, rambling to myself has actually helped me come up with a lot of great ideas. Often my mind wanders to certain topics, which naturally leads me to trying out joke lines, to laughing to myself once I stumble on a nearly-perfect gag to use. Of course, as mentioned in the title, this only seems to work when I'm in the bathroom. Hey, what else am I gonna do in there when I'm finishing up?
Still, that got me thinking. Many writers advocate writing a terrible first draft to get everything on paper and avoid censoring yourself. Same's true for joke writing. I'm thinking that this tendency of mine to make up material in the bathroom is my own way to bypass self-censorship and really get my creative juices flowing. And if it works for me, why not anyone else?
So here's what I want you to try. It might by silly, but do it at least one time. Go to a place where you can be alone and do something to keep your hands busy. While you're doing that, let your mind and mouth wander, speaking aloud what you're currently thinking about. And as you do this, try to let your natural thoughts and reactions to things bubble through. You'll find that, even as the risk of looking like a mad person, the lack of a barrier can summon some authentic and truly original material.
Of course, this might not work for everyone. If you're like me and you tend to bop through life and make jokes, this will feel more natural to you. Even so, I think it's worth a shot. Who knows? Jokes on the can just might turn out to be a valuable tool in your comedy arsenal.
Do you have any questions about humor writing that you want me to answer? What would you like to see me cover in future columns? Leave me a comment telling me what you'd like to see!