Make Your Writing Funny: Exaggerating Details

One of the easiest and funnest ways to joke about something is to exaggerate a detail about it. You've been subjected to a "yo momma" joke before, I bet. Maybe fired off a few yourself? We're basically going to be writing those, except a bit more...refined. And you DON'T have to pick on anyone's weight if you want to.

Fortunately, walking you through this week's topic will be easier than expected. My sister's getting married soon, and her fiance is, ah...vertically challenged. So excuse me while I have a little fun at someone else's expense for the sake of education 😉

Now, I'm picking on my sister's fiance's height, but you can do it with any kind of detail. It doesn't have to be a physical detail, either - you can exaggerate how cheap a friend is or how rambunctious your kids are. The trick lies in stretching and blowing that detail out of proportion.

Right. Let's make fun of the Keebler Elf my sister calls her future husband.

1. Whip out your setup line. You can use the classic "you're so short" route or go for something more original. I'll keep with the standard setup this time to make things a bit easier.

"My sister's fiance is so short..."

2. Brainstorm questions and relationships. Like before, use the setup to find ideas. However, since our setup is pretty plain, we'll need to use details about my sister's fiance himself. He's a big computer gamer, so you know what that means - he's got a powerful PC to run games, he's got a good chair to sit in during a marathon session...things like that.

3. Develop the punchline. Let's go back to the fact that he has a good computer. What makes up a desktop PC? A monitor, keyboard, get the idea. Now, when we exaggerate that he's short and small, we want to push the lines of reality. Go for the wackiest mental image possible.

So, imagining that a tiny little man might have a problem with the keyboard, I figured...

"My sister's fiance is so short that he has trouble playing computer games. The only way he can reach the keyboard is if he lies flat on the ground."

And there you go. One out of the dozens of short jokes I plan to write 😉

When trying to exaggerate, ask yourself, "HOW MUCH". HOW MUCH of a cheapskate is he? HOW MUCH of a hopeless romantic is she? Go beyond the mark to find your answer and create a funny image that stands out in the mind of the reader. If you've pulled it far enough that it makes you chuckle, you know you have a winner.

YOUR ASSIGNMENT: Pick a detail about something you can joke about and write a gag that exaggerates the detail. Here are some ideas to get you thinking.

He's so old that...
She's so nosy that...
He's so slow that...
She's so happy that...
He's so lazy that...
She's so mean that...

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Matt Willard's bio begins with witty phrasing that succinctly illustrates his stance as a humorist. It is then followed with a clever sentence that illustrates what he does in his spare time. The bio concludes with a shameless link to his Twitter profile, paired with an off-hand comment that alludes to his success with women. Laughter.

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6 thoughts on “Make Your Writing Funny: Exaggerating Details”

  1. She’s so mean she always really mean to meaninglessly reply to me.

    I am not a native English speaker so excuse me in advance.

    Nice suggestions Matt, i’m employed at a small Greek weekly newspaper where i criticize Greek culture and its – unconscious, that’s what makes it preposterous – disrespect for anything pollitically correct, and humour always helps bring a subject forward. Any ideas on how to succesfully mock my compatriots’ sexism, homophobia and antisemitism?

    • Oh, boy, that’s an interesting topic to address :V It definitely sounds like a good future column, though I’ll have to keep it nice, though.


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