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comedy, humor, writing

Leap: Humor Writing with Sara Barron and Gotham Writers’ Workshop at Housing Works Bookstore

Comedian Sara Barron

Last weekend I took a morning class with Sara Barron, comedian and author of People are Unappealing: Even Me. The moment she started to speak I knew this was the writing class for me. In my quest for a writing community, I’ve tried a few different genres of classes. None of the felt quite right until Sara’s class. I’ve wanted to bring more comedy into my essay writing for some time, but haven’t been sure how to do it.

Sara offered up a set of guidelines that helped me to begin to find my way in humor writing and they are certainly worthy of repeating:

1.) Comedy isn’t mysterious. It’s direct and snappy so set your reader up to laugh along with you by being crystal clear with every word. Tell them where you are, what you’re doing, and who you’re with.

2.) Circumstance is never as funny as character. The characters are the engine of humor writing.

3.) Cut the adverbs and adjectives. Sentences should be short and sharp. Leave lyrics to the song writers among us.

4.) Dialogue is funny.

5.) The key to the universal is through the specific. The more precisely we nail the details, the easier it will be for our audience to relate.

6.) “Seriously?” is not a funny response. To move you from observer to writer, you need a funny response to someone else’s actions and words or a funny analysis of a situation.

7.) Unlike fiction, more humor writing is done is the first person. You are the main object of your narrative.

8.) Open strong and remember that the most important word in your first sentence is the last one.

9.) Expand your definition of clichés, and then cut every single one of them.

10.) Comedy is tragedy plus distance. Most humor writing starts with some horrible experience and some horrible person. Something awesome happening is great, but it’s rarely funny.

Sara teaches many of the humor writing classes at Gotham Writers’ Workshop. I’m planning to take one in the not-so-distant future. I hope you’ll join me!

About Christa Avampato

I am a product developer and ed tech product manager who is equally inspired by new technology and ancient wisdom, a yoga and meditation teacher who learns from my students every day, and a writer who believes that creativity and determination is the most powerful duo on Earth. My creative career has stretched across Capitol Hill, Broadway theatre, education, nonprofit fundraising, health and wellness, and Fortune 500 companies in retail, media, and financial services. I now work for an innovative ed tech startup in Washington D.C. In every experience, I have used my sense of and respect for elegant design to develop meaningful products, services, program, and events that make people happy. A recovering multi-tasker, I am a proud alum of UPenn (BA) and the Darden School at UVA (MBA). When not in front of my Mac, I’m on my yoga mat, walking my rescue dog, Phineas, traveling with a purpose, or practicing the high-art of people watching. Follow my adventures at My Google Profile+


One thought on “Leap: Humor Writing with Sara Barron and Gotham Writers’ Workshop at Housing Works Bookstore

  1. I do like this list of tips. Wonder if I’ve been following any of them, though.


    Posted by Rev. Josh | February 18, 2012, 7:23 am

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