IT’S YOUR BUSINESS
Advice for enterprising speakers
What is comedy writing? Comedy writing is reasoning for enter- tainment, rather than for truth (science), sales (advertising) or comfort (poli- tics). These categories often overlap. For example, science, advertising and politics can be entertaining. And things can be entertaining in a non-funny way. So, calling comedy writing reasoning
for entertainment is actually incorrect, because there are many different
ways to be entertained, and humor is
only one of them. It is better to define
comedy writing as reasoning specifically
for humorous entertainment, which this
introductory paragraph exemplifies.
By honoring the following tenets of
comedy writing, you will be more successful in creating and delivering your
own humorous entertainment:
1. Comedy is a worthwhile genre,
pursuit and product in and of itself,
either as a style for your whole
presentation, or the presentation
as a whole, or as links between
serious and important stuff. This is
not to say that comedy cannot be
serious. It is, in fact, no more the
opposite of serious than peanut
butter is to jelly.
2. Comedy is No. 1, and neither
tragedy nor history, neither motivation nor inspiration, neither
education nor training, and neither
song nor dance shall come before it.
3. Thou shalt not make wrongful use
of comedy. The microphone is only
yours to borrow, and neither shall
you use it to ridicule an audience
member, nor the audience’s organization, nor the audience’s industry,
nor your client, nor your client’s
4. Take a day off from being the
center of attention and listen to
others once a week, whether they
are family, friends, colleagues or
fellow travelers in business class.
5. Honor thy father and mother, but
not necessarily in each and every
speech. As special as your family
may be to you, each member of
your audience, or audient, has his
or her own unique genetic heritage.
6. Thou shalt not murder a joke by
laboring the point, nor shall you
laugh at your own cleverness, nor
that of your comedy writer. Thou
shalt not murder a funny definition,
story, pun or riddle by pausing too
long or not long enough, or by mispronouncing a key word or phrase,
or by turning your backside into
a centerpiece for all to look upon
with wonder and with awe.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery
by self-plagiarism. Quoting oneself
may be amusing to oneself, but it is
rarely humorous to others.
8. Thou shalt not steal gags from
other professional speakers or
comedians, whether they are “live”
or on cable TV.
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness
against fellow presenters by saying
that their acts were not as funny
as yours, and that yours was not
really an act, but rather more
of a presentation and, further,
you are not just a comedian who
merely wants to entertain: You
are a speaker with a presentation
that will change audiences for the
better and make a difference to the
world. Humor is only the sugar
that enables participants in your
speaking experience to swallow the
bitter pill of self-awareness, self-actualization and self-realization so
that they can transform themselves
and their lives.
10. Thou shalt not covet another speaker’s spouse, iPod or carry-on luggage,
unless you end up with all three.
Benjamin and Rodney Marks are a son-and- father comedy team working out of Fox Studios Australia. Contact Benjamin
at www.comedywriter.com.au and Rodney