Humor Writing: Write Funny for the Internet | Mike Lacher | Skillshare

Humor Writing: Write Funny for the Internet

Mike Lacher, Humorist, Writer, Developer

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8 Lessons (1h 2m)
    • 1. Trailer

      1:28
    • 2. Introduction

      5:34
    • 3. Finding Funny Ideas

      9:18
    • 4. Finding Funny Points of View

      9:38
    • 5. Writing "I'm Comic Sans"

      15:45
    • 6. Editing: Structure

      5:57
    • 7. Revision: Style

      8:57
    • 8. Sharing Work

      5:14
222 students are watching this class

About This Class

Nothing loves a good joke more than the Internet. In this 60-min class from humorist Mike Lacher, learn how to write your own short and funny piece in the style of McSweeney's.

You'll learn how to find a funny idea, transform it with a fresh point of view, write a rapid draft, and then revise your jokes for structure and style. Throughout the short lessons, Mike uses one of his most famous pieces, I'm Comic Sans, to illuminate every concept and show us how true comedy gets written.

It's a perfect class for everyone interested in writing, language, and grabbing attention. Don't we all just want to make 'em laugh?

Transcripts

1. Trailer: Hi. I'm Mike Lacher, and this is humor writing, write funny for the internet on Skillshare. Today we're going to talk about how to pick out a topic. Something that's observance, something that's true to your audience. Then how to write about it in a way that's quick and funny and fun. Also how to revise it to make sure that you're saying what do you want as clearly and quickly as possible. Finally, how to publish it, like, where to send it and what you can do with it to get people to read it. So, in addition to just writing funny things on the internet, I've worked in a variety of jobs like Buzzfeed working on creative work there and also the Google Creative Lab. So, this class can be useful if you're a writer or not a writer. If you're a writer, it's a great way to improve the concision and clarity of your writing and help you figure out topics that you can write about that'll really connect with people. It's also good if you're a non-writer, because it's always good in whatever you're doing to be able to figure out how to best express what do you want to say clearly and also how to do it in an entertaining and an efficient fashion. Some of the stuff you can get out of this class includes stuff like nailing first impressions. Also how to keep people's attention, especially when you're trying to make stuff online people have almost no attention spans. You'll make stuff that your audience cares more about and will be more likely to share and talk about it and enjoy. You can also create richer stories by having more than just service level jokes and trying to do more satirical work that connects on interesting themes and topics. 2. Introduction: Hi. I'm Mike Lacher and this is humor writing, right, funny for the Internet on SkillShare. Today, we're going to talk about how to pick out topics, something that's observant, something that's true to your audience. Then how to write about it in a way that's quick and funny and fun. Also how to revise it to make sure that you're saying what you want as clearly and quickly as possible. Then, finally, how to publish it like where to send it and what you can do with it to get people to read it. So in addition to just writing funny things on the Internet, I've worked in a variety of jobs. I started actually programming corporate training software and then I have worked other places like BuzzFeed, working on creative work there, and also the Google Creative Lab, writing stuff there for them too. I started initially doing comedy and more in terms of performance like improv and sketch comedy but then started moving more towards writing stuff for the Internet. Well, it doesn't have the benefits of having immediate feedback as to what's funny and what's extremely boring. The advantage is that you can connect with a lot more people and you can really talk about things that are important to you and feel like they are going to find an audience outside of the people who are just physically sitting in the room with you. So, ultimately, humor writing is really subjective and people are going to think different things are funny. I think a good framework to work on is think about things in terms of opposites. A lot of times what you think is funny is going to be because it's surprising, because it takes a point of view that you weren't expecting. So, that's a lot how satire works is it's coming from one point of view but it's actually talking about something differently. Humor on stage and in print have a good amount of things in common. But they also have some pretty key differences. You can think about it when you're writing you have more freedom to take alternate points of view because you're not as much trapped up in yourself and being yourself and you can take the position of an inanimate object or basically anything. You'll also have a wider audience. So you can not worry about necessarily seeing something that you think is going to be funny to everyone. Just think about saying something that is funny to you and there's probably other people in the world of seven billion that also think that thing is funny. The drawback is that no one will laugh while you're typing which will lead you to a cycle of possible self-doubt. So it's all about just trying to trust your own instincts as you're writing and trust what you think is funny. So, I mean when you're trying to write something funny, it's best to read it in a true insight. Like look at something in your world that you feel strongly about or you see other people feel strongly about, something that annoys you, something you think is great, something you think is silly and then talk about that, like you use your piece to comment and speak about that because then ultimately what you're writing is going to connect with other people too because you are working with an actual truth and then building something funny off of that rather than just starting with the most absurd idea you can and then heightening it from there. A good thing to focus on is the unexpected versus the expected. Start with something that's expected and real, something that maybe just annoys you throughout your day and then take an unexpected approach to it and it's going to be in the tension between that expected and unexpected that you're going to find something funny. So the idea of reading something in a true insight and then taking opposite viewpoint is something that I use a lot in writing that I do online. Examples of stuff that follows that is a thing I wrote called, "In which I fix my girlfriend's grandparents' Wi-Fi and I'm hailed as a conquering hero," which looks at how at some point we're all called on to try to fix the Internet at our parents or grandparents house and how ultimately that power becomes like a great super power that people are worshipful of and excited about. Another thing is, "Client feedback on the creation of the earth," which takes the form of a piece of client feedback that would be given for work and advertising or anything else but takes the perspective of a client giving feedback on God's creation of the earth, so nitpicking as you know it, if the birds are right, if the sea is right and gives a new spin on how that common trope of client feedback is interpreted. Another one is, "We can't let the impending apocalypse delay the release of our new photo sharing app," which looks at startups and the idea of all these various apps that do permutations of the same basic thing and putting those in the context of postapocalyptic or near apocalyptic scenarios so trying to stay focused on shipping your cool new app while the entire world is burning. Another great example of this that's not by me but by the very funny Colin Nissan is, "It's Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers," which is an excited and furious declaration of how excited they are for it to be fall and its time to throw up all the decorative gourds possible. The piece we'll mostly focus on today is one called, "I'm Comic Sans, Asshole," which is the thing I wrote which is an angry monologue from the perspective of comic sans. So, its a pretty simple straightforward example of just taking an insight of something that you think is annoying, other people seem to think is annoying and then taking the opposite perspective on it and we'll look at the different ways that I did that with that piece and how you can use that for your own writing. This class can be useful if you're a writer or not a writer. If you're a writer, it's a great way to improve the concision and clarity of your writing and help you figure out topics that you can write about that will really connect with people. It's also good if you're a non-writer because it's always good in whatever you're doing to be able to figure out how to best express what you want to say clearly. So some of the stuff you can get out of this class includes stuff like nailing first impressions, how to really make it clear what you're talking about quickly. Also how to keep people's attention especially when you're trying to make stuff online, people have almost no attention span. So it's good to figure out how best to grab people and keep them entertained. You can also create richer stories by having more than just service level jokes and trying to do more satirical work that connects on interesting themes and topics. 3. Finding Funny Ideas: To me there are four big principles around how to write something that is funny and this certainly varies widely based on who you ask. But for me, the biggest thing is rooting everything in a true insight. Is what you're saying connected to something that you actually have some feeling about? That other people have some feeling about? And it can be anything. It doesn't have to be an insight based on today's big headline news. It can be a smaller insight like something that annoys you on your way to work, some of you think it's funny that you saw yesterday. The second thing is make sure you're showing your audience something new. You want to always be covering new territory. What you're saying doesn't have to be wildly different and totally unsaid. Just try to think if you've heard the point of view that you're saying already expressed this way before. It's ultimately, it's going to be harder to be funnier if you're saying something that people have heard before. It was want to make sure you respect your audience's time, especially online no one wants to spend very much time doing almost anything. So, make sure that you're writing quickly and you're writing clearly and you're getting in and out as fast as possible. Then lastly, don't worry about pandering to your audience to be funny. Don't write things that you think other people would think are funny that you aren't that interested in. Don't just do things that you think might be popular. Write what's important to you and that ultimately will probably be important to someone else. The great thing about writing stuff online is that you have more chances for your work to find the right audience. You'll find people who think what you're writing about his interesting, they'll pass it around to similar people and you can worry less about pleasing everyone and just think about writing what's important to you and then reaching other people who feel the same way. You don't have to worry about audience too much especially if you're just starting out. Ultimately the most important thing is writing for yourself and entertaining yourself. If you're having fun writing it and after you finished it, you've read it and you don't totally hate it, then you've probably written something that is funny and is going to be funny to someone else. So, it's good to keep in mind if what you're writing has some sort of relateable insight, that other people might get. But the biggest thing is write for the audience of yourself first and then worry about other people. In terms of tone, it's good to think about being self-aware and also making sure you're sympathetic in whatever viewpoint you're coming from. If it just sounds like you're straight up making fun of something or being mean to something, it's a lot harder to sympathize with that and it's also a lot harder to find that funny because it's probably not a super original take if you're just ranting. Think about what you're writing as a conversation. Think of it your readers are reading along and they're going to think certain things are funny like certain references that you have. So, there really is some interplay there even though they're just reading a set piece. So, think about it more like a conversation and less like you just shouting out what you want to say. Topics can usually be found based on your day to day life. Like think about what you've been reading or something you've seen or something you've heard about. If anything sort of elicits responses from you, whether you think something is very silly, you think something's funny that everyone's talking about it so much, something's outrageous, that's probably a good thing to think about writing about. You don't need to research and plumb the depths of all available resources online. Just write things that you find in your day to day life, whether it's from browsing the Internet or just something that happens at work or at home. I would say, don't worry too much about writing exactly about the news. If you're trying to be satirical and trying to connect with true insights, there's a world of those insights away from just what's on the front page and there were a lot of places that are very good at doing satire based on Headline News and it's going to be very hard to compete with those places. Whereas, there's probably less people writing about that one thing at work that drives you crazy and that's going to be the thing that people are going to think it's funny because it happens to them at work too. I usually sit down and just sort of write out a quick list of things that I've been thinking about, things I've heard about, things that I just think are interesting or annoying or funny and that can just be a quick list that way. And then if something I hit on that I think "Ooh that would be funny to do x, y and z with", then I'll just like started Google Doc and throw in that title and then I'll start playing around with it some and if it works then I'll play with it more and if not I'll just move on. Then, that way you keep a good catalog of stuff you've thought as promising, that you can go back and revisit at some point. So once you have some sort of insight you think you can write about, it's good to ask yourself three questions as you're starting to flesh it out to see if this seems like a fruitful idea. Think about first is there a title that seems like it sums this up adequately? It doesn't have to be a totally finished title and we can talk about that stuff later. But think about can you sum this up easily in a sentence, because if you can you probably have a clear conceit and probably a clear point of view. If you find that your title is extremely nebulous or requires a whole lot of explaining, then you might need to do some more revising to make the idea more clear. Ask yourself is this interesting and funny just because it's shocking or is it because there's something sort of clever and interesting behind it. You don't want to just pick topics that are shocking to offend. Think about things like South Park which is always shocking and vulgar but uses that to a more intelligent ends to talk about something interesting. Make sure that whatever you're writing still has some intelligence and cleverness behind it, so you don't just devolve into making poop jokes. Once you have an idea you want to start writing your first sentences right away, and start to see how those come out because that'll give you an idea of where the piece could go. If you have a few for sentences and you feel like, oh yeah, this idea is getting out clearly, it seems like it's going to be funny, then you might have something that will be promising. If you feel you're not really seeing things clearly, you're not really getting into the joke, you're not really explaining what's happening, then there's a good chance that it's not totally formed yet. So you might want to think more about your concept and how you can make it tighter and smarter. Usually, avoid going with your very first idea. Sometimes your first idea will be totally great but usually you want to get bad stuff out of the way first and usually that'll get you to your better ideas. It's fine if you come up with a bunch of ideas that you think are really terrible and then you've hit on something that you think is really cool. Give yourself time to think and go places where you don't normally go because once you're getting away from your first and got instinct, you're probably starting to find something more funny and surprising. So, when I'm trying to think of topics, I think it's easiest for me to just write down a lot of things that I've observed lately quickly. Just stuff that I've had some reaction to. So, things in the past week that have just happened, I found myself shouting into one of those customer service lines that requires you to shout yes or no or go back into it or other stuff that's happened was at a park and a guy with a bunch of weird dogs want to makes a lot of conversation about his weird dogs. So, I'll just write down "weird Dog Guy". Another thing is seeing reports about how newspapers and print are going to save themselves by being more social and a desperate pleas of those. It seems like that's an interesting trend and relevant since we're writing. I've been getting a lot of Facebook invitation from some guy I don't know to keep seeing his short play. So, that sort of desperation for coming to see my short play invites, other stuff includes global warming denialism, there's a big one and this funny intense debates around there. As you're writing down ideas, just think about stuff that has evoked some emotion from you. Whether you thought it was weird, whether you thought it was frustrating because that's the tension that's going to let you create something funny, is ultimately if there's a real point of view there. So, don't worry too much about whether these seem like comedic gems which all of these clearly are. Just worry about if it's something that evokes some feeling and then you can go back through and look at things and then think, oh you know, there is a funny take I could have on that. Don't edit yourself too much at this point. So, a piece like Comic Sans came about just from this same brainstorming process. I was just writing down all the things that I thought were funny or interesting and then I just hit on Comic Sans. I noticed there'd been a whole lot of websites around recently that people were complaining about Comic Sans. It seemed like there was always a constant flow of jokes where people would show a popular website like Wikipedia had done in comic sans. So, just noticing it was funny how all of these people were having such a strong reaction to a pretty normal font. So, I just started playing around with that idea and thinking of how can I do something with Comic Sans that's surprising. So, after taking a few ideas that I didn't feel we're really working, I tried to look at different ways to approach it and really how to come at it from an opposite viewpoint. That Comic Sans is this fun, silly, stupid, typeface and it's childlike, and it's immature. So I thought maybe the funny thing is to show people that this font isn't what they expect and a good way to do that would just be through this font which they're used to speaking with a baby voice, speak with an angry, adult, profane voice. So, that's how I landed on the idea of making an angry monologue from Comic Sans is perspective. It's taking what people are familiar with with Comic Sans, the stuff they think about it already and then just flipping that and putting it in a new lens where it's like Comic Sans isn't just a sad punching bag, Comic Sans is in fact this angry dude. I felt like with that idea, I got the tension that I wanted to when I felt like it was an idea that I hadn't fully seen expressed. So it made me excited to actually start writing it out and figuring out how that would feel. 4. Finding Funny Points of View: So, in this section, we're going to talk about how to find a good point of view for your piece. So, how to take that topic that you think is promising and really find a point of view that's funny, and inciteful, and surprising to your audience. Once I've a topic for something I want to write about, I usually ask myself four-ish questions. One is what is the audience already think of this topic? Are there certain references that are expected? Is there're stuff that's already tired from discussing this? Because if you were talking about certain things like, for example, Comic Sans, if you don't mention certain things like that it's a font, that it's sans serif, that it's cartoony, you're going to be missing somewhat like the touchstones of how people talk about it. But then if you're just directly making fun of it, you're going to be covering the same territory. Another thing to ask yourself is, what's your topic like? Like, if it had a personality, what would it be like? Like, Comic Sans, for example, you think of that it's sort of like silly, cartoony, childish. So, characterize your topic in terms of what you normally associate with it. Is there already existing reference for this? Is there some people are already doing with this? Like, Comic Sans, there are already plenty of internet jokes where people convert sites to Comic Sans or just catalog instances of poor use of Comic Sans. So, keep those references in mind to either reference them within your piece, or just to avoid them to make sure you're covering more interesting ground. Last question to ask yourself, is the topic you're writing about similar to another topic that you might not think about right off the bat? This can lead you to something fun called mapping. For example, if you're talking about two kindergarteners deciding how to share toys, you map that onto a meeting of the UN Security Council, and there's more interesting tension there. So, think about if there's a surprising way to take your topic that it relates to another topic that people don't normally associate with it. Mapping is a framework that I really like and it's something that I picked up mostly from performing comedy, because it's a great way that if you're working on your feet doing something like improv that you can take the context for your scene and take it somewhere really fun and surprising just by putting another context on top of it. So, you don't really have to think too strongly about it. You just see a connection and then you can just start to play out those parallels together. So, other references I was thinking about for Comic Sans, at the time, was there was a really popular blog called Ban Comic Sans where it was just pictures of Comic Sans used in inappropriate situations, and there were also pranks online like Google would turn search results all into the font Comic Sans if you searched for Comic Sans. So, those are good things to keep in mind for those kind of jokes people already making about the topic, and then how you can fit into those. So, there are a lot of different frameworks you can use to take a different and surprising perspective on your topic. None of these frameworks are totally exclusive but I think some useful buckets to think about them are that you can map something on to a different genre. If you're talking about something that's normally lighthearted and upbeat, isn't it more interesting if you're mapping onto film noir or something like that. Their thing is sort of mapping more experiences or scenes, and that's the example of it, mapping kids dividing up toys to UN Security Council meeting. Those sort of disparate things that seem very different in terms of severity and status, but are still very similar in terms of the actual interpersonal relations happening. A third framework is, if you can just give something voiceless of voice, if the thing that you're reading about is using inanimate object or just a situation, what if that could talk? Like, what if that could really express itself? That's what I did for this Comic Sans piece. So, when I start writing, I'll start to try to figure out the best point of view and the best framework for the piece to live in. So, the first idea I had was this announcing Comic Sans is the official typeface of our law firm. That's the idea where using the format of a dry corporate email. You then contrast that with people's perceptions of Comic Sans as unprofessional and silly. I started to play around with like for sentences, stuff like the partners and I have come to the conclusion that nothing conveys prestige, power, and efficiency like the delightful curves of Comic Sans MS. It's like sort of almost funny but ultimately, it's not offering anything that surprising. There's already been a lot of people online who have done stuff like this by changing websites like Wikipedia or Google to be all in Comic Sans. Ultimately, this format, I felt like it didn't give me a chance to really say that much and be more interesting about it. All I'd be doing is just being a dry businessman and then just mentioning various features of the font. Then, another idea that I had for this same insight would be Comic Sans gets beat up on the playground. That would be where the cool fonts that people like would gang up on Comic Sans and try to beat him up the same way that kids would on a playground. It would be like, Helvetica making fun of Comic Sans is kerning, and then like Gotham asking you if you came from a comic book convention. But again, this is like almost sort of funny. The format of it is weird because it's like, is it a dialog and then like, am I just writing as sort of like bad sketch? That's not really going to make the most of the format of writing online if all you're doing is just writing something that would be more interesting if it was a sketch or a cartoon. Ultimately, it's not taking an interesting perspective because it's taking this maligned thing of Comic Sans and all it's doing is just further maligning it. So, there's no real surprise, no real tension to be found. So, this is good proof that you shouldn't just go with your first idea. Make sure to challenge yourself to try to find new and surprising ways to express yourself and your topic because like these things clearly don't work. But luckily, I didn't let myself get too disparaged by how much they didn't work, and then came up with something that was funny and was more interesting to me. So, when you're writing, just make sure that you're still trying out and taking risks and trying new things without just getting disappointed because your first thing wasn't totally great. It's good to think about headlines because headlines are really important especially when you're writing online. Think about how you end up seeing most stuff on the internet and it's usually your first interaction with it is seeing the headlines somewhere and then probably clicking that. Not talking about like writing clickbait headlines, but like writing headlines that give audience the sense of your piece and making them promise of my pieces is going to be about this, and it's probably going to be funny for this reason. Then, they'll feel more willing to invest their time in it. It's good to think of the title off the bat. Don't just write and think you'll come back to your title later because your title is a really really useful tool for figuring out what your pieces about and why it's funny. If you can sum up your piece in one title, then you've probably got something that has a strong point of view and a strong topic. You don't need to have your title 100 percent finished, but you should be able to just state the gist of your piece, and why it's good within that title. Good title should do three things. First, it should really make a promise to the reader of what your pieces about and why it's worth reading. Not really talking about writing clickbait titles but more the idea of writing a title that someone can see online, whether it's a tweet or on Facebook or wherever. They can read the title and think, "Oh, that sounds like it's talking about something I care about and it sounds like it has a funny take on it." Then further, your title should fully sum up how you're really going about this piece, like what's your point of view? When you read your title you should be able to get like, "Oh, they're talking about Topic X and they're putting this spin on it." You should avoid really being too nebulous or mysterious with your title because ultimately, no one on the internet wants to find out what your piece is about. They want to know what it's about and then enjoy it from there. The third, the title should convey why the piece is funny. Because if you have the topic in there and you have the point of view in there, those two things should combine to create some funny tension. You should have a relatable topic, and then you should have a point of view that's unexpected on that topic. When you're reading a title, definitely err on the side of being too wordy. It's better to be a little long and be funnier and clearer than have something that's really mysterious and require someone to click and read the first paragraph and get it. It's good to keep in mind when you're writing how little you personally probably pay close attention to the things you read online, and remember, that ultimately people are unfortunately coming with that same amount of attention span to what you create. A good tip for writing headlines is try to do it quickly in succession. Don't really agonize and wordsmith, just write all the ways that you could convey this idea. Then, as you go through that rapid fire, you'll turn off your internal editor and get to something that is good and is funny. Of course, throughout this whole process, don't worry right now about writing the perfect title that will convince millions of people to click on what you've read and love what you've read. It's really important to think of the title right now as just helping you figure out what your piece is about. You can always go back and rework it later. Also, even if your title is lackluster and your pieces funny, you still have a funny piece. So, for the title of the Comic Sans piece, so I went with I'm Comic Sans, asshole, because it basically conveys the topic which is Comic Sans. We're going to talk about the font and then it conveys the point of view. It's going to be a monologue from Comic Sans, and then it's going to be angry. So, I'm Comic Sans shows we're talking from the point of view of Comic Sans, and asshole show's it's going to be an angry rant. So, beyond just having a swear in the title for comedic value, it does do some heavy lifting to tell people what the piece is about. Fortunately, it was very short and concise, but I've had other pieces that seem to do well that also have extremely long and wordy titles that really explain what's going on. That's a valid approach too. So, concision or longer titles, I think either one can work. 5. Writing "I'm Comic Sans": So, at this point, you've got a topic that you think has some real insight to it and you think about a point of view that provides some tension between those two things. So, now, it's really about exploring and figuring out how you really want to execute this. You can think of it, that your first draft you really are just exploring. Think of it that you're just driving out, finding new places, seeing where different places go. You might end up in dead ends, you might end up somewhere cool, you might end up going back in circles, but it doesn't really matter how efficiently you get from place to place. Once you're doing a second draft and third draft, at that point, you're really going to be looking at how to move most efficiently between places. So, for now, error on the side of being too long and error on the side of being too silly and too dumb with it. Just follow things that you think are fun and really follow your gut at this point, and don't agonize over what words are good, what words are bad. Just turn off your internal editor and try to have fun writing this. Eventually, you can think that your final draft is going to take the reader from point A to point B to point C, but right now, all you're really doing is just establishing point A and exploring the territory around there. Don't really worry about clear beginning, middles and ends and all of that stuff. Just write fast and write fun. So, I think there are a few principles a rough draft should follow. First, just err on the side of being too long. Don't worry too much about concision at this point. Worry more about covering territory and really exhausting the stuff you have to say about this topic. Second is, give yourself the freedom to wonder and discover new things. Don't worry about staying laser-focused on one topic. You can stray around to different areas. You can explore different paths. This might even lead you to write something totally different. Just don't be afraid to stray from what you've set out. Also, don't be afraid to get silly and also just generally dumb while you're writing. Don't really judge yourself while you're writing. Just write for what you think is fun, what do you think is funny, what gives you some amount of joy. Don't really worry about, oh, how will a person perceive this, how will this go over. Just write something that surprises you and is fun to you. Definitely take risks because there's really no consequences if you write something stupid by yourself. Just try to do things that you haven't done before, try to talk in ways you haven't talked before, and if it falls flat on its face, it's fine because there are no stakes yet. Most of all, write fast. Just shut off your internal editor and put as much down on the page as quickly as possible as you can, and then go back later and figure out what the important parts to keep are. You'll have plenty of time to do that later. Now, we're just going to go through a rough draft of this "I'm Comic Sans Asshole" piece that I wrote. The things we just talked about. I'm just trying to write quickly and explore some ideas and worry less about having it perfectly organized. So, starting with a title, here, we have an angry statement from Comic Sans, which is fine. It sums up it at this point, but ultimately, it doesn't give you a total sense of the tone of the piece. This could be an official statement. It could be anything like that. But at this point, it sums up where this is from the point of view of a Comic Sans and it's taking a more aggressive view. Beginning, "Listen up. I know the shit you've been saying behind my back. You think I'm stupid. You think I'm immature. You think I'm a malformed, pathetic excuse for a font. Well, think again, asshole, because I'm Comic Sans, and I'm the best thing to happen to typography since the fucking printing press." This is doing a generally good job of just being a way from me to lay out initially, "Oh, this is what this is about." At this point, I'm just stating where Comic Sans is coming from, who he's talking to and his general opinion of himself. There's some stuff like, "Since the fucking printing press" isn't really super specific and could probably be punched up. Well, we can look at that later. Then, we have, "I'm a legend, I'm famous, I'm on every operating system since Microsoft fucking Bob." Here, he's just listing again and again and again all the different stuff and how he is awesome. So, in the first section, I just wanted to quickly state, this is the point of view of the piece. The point of view is coming from Comic Sans, he's angry and he's talking to people who don't think that he's cool. Next, I just want to move on and really talk about the places people see Comic Sans because that's something that people tend to think is funny and is familiar. So, talking about, Comic Sans is on signs and browsers, instant messengers, break room fridges, just expanding and brainstorming on, oh, these are the places that Comic Sans exists, and rather than being a shame, Comic Sans would be super stoked that an awesome dude like him is featured in so many places. Continue on in that section by telling the reader to take off their black turtlenecks, stop compulsively adjusting their Tumblr theme and exploring, how can Comic Sans really speak to the detractors, because normally when people make fun of Comic Sans it's all just in one direction, and what if that goes back towards the people who are making fun of the font. So, then looking at the third paragraph where Comic Sans is saying how much he is fun and then talks about what Gotham and Avenir, other fonts, are doing at the same time. That was just me trying to explore, I'm talking about Comic Sans. I should probably talk about other fonts and their relation to Comic Sans. So that's playing around with what Comic Sans' perception would be probably, that these fonts are lame and nerds, while he is awesome and cool. Reversing the people's normal perception of what fonts are cool. This one starts to discover more fun ways for Comic Sans to talk about himself, how he is laying the prom queen behind the woodshop and how he is the Swiss army knife of fonts, playing around in different ways he can say that he's awesome rather than just saying directly that he's awesome, which is what it's been so far. Coming towards the end, is playing around with ways to wrap this up, what's the angriest he can get by saying "He's a force of motherfucking nature" and other names he can call other people. Touching on other stuff. I should probably talk about the comic booky quality of Comic Sans, the cartoony quality of Comic Sans, trying to figure out what's a good ending thought, what's a fun way to end. I thought to bring in another maligned font on top of that, and it seems the best second maligned font would be Papyrus. So that was a fun thing to explore to end with. So, that's the first draft I created and that was just based off of the idea that I wanted to talk about Comic Sans from the perspective of him being an angry bitter font. So, that was the A that I started with and just exploring around that territory, and then going out to find other stuff that I wanted to talk about like how is he angry, how do other fonts relate to it, how does the reader relate into it and just try to make discoveries along the way. Now, moving in and looking at the second draft we'll see how that starts to get put into a little bit more of an order and then how we can also refine the style of things to make each sentence hit as hard as it can. So, I went through a few drafts from the first draft to the final draft for this "I'm Comic Sans, Asshole" piece. I think it's useful to look at where it landed and look at the pieces that I tweaked and improve from the first draft and the subsequent drafts in between to get a good idea of a process and approach you can take. Going through and looking at the final draft, the first paragraph here is just explaining the premise, really making it clear that this is the piece that's coming from the perspective of Comic Sans. Laying out all the reader's preconceptions, stuff that they think he's malformed and pathetic and he's a bad font. Then, getting into it with a definite angry by calling the reader a nerdhole and then ending that he's like "The best thing to happen in topography since Johannes fucking Gutenberg." The Johannes fucking Gutenberg thing is something that I changed from the first draft just because it's more specific than saying something like, "Since the fucking printing press." Since Johannes Gutenberg is more specific, you have to go a little bit further to get it and, therefore, it becomes a little bit more fun to read. I think when you're trying to like pepper in references and stuff, it's good to go as specific as possible. Don't worry too much about making sure everyone gets every joke, just make sure you what you're writing is rewarding for people. They have to put the pieces together and then feel some joy when it comes together. So, in the second paragraph, we're going through and hauling out the places where Comic Sans is seen. It helps to be as specific as possible when you're calling out this kind of stuff. Starting like, "Your coworker used me on that note about stealing her yogurt from the break room fridge." That tends to work better than just something you don't like that your coworker used it on that note, or you don't like that it's on that one note in your office because once you have the coworker leaving the note about stealing the yogurt from the break room fridge, it gives this whole context of, it's a passive-aggressive office note, that thing that we're all familiar with and all irritated by and really seems one of the funniest most cliche uses of Comic Sans. Similarly, talking like, "You don't like that I'm all over your sister-in-law's blog" that's more funny and more specific than just saying, "You don't like that I'm all over that blog? " The sister-in-law character creates more of that trope of the person we're all familiar with, the person who shares really insane trite JPEGs on Facebook and stuff like that, and creates a better sense for what this usage of Comic Sans is like. Then finally, "That I'm on the sign for that new Thai place? " Again, it's good to be more specific than just restaurant. Even if someone hasn't specifically seen it used on a Thai place, it's still funnier because the person sees that new Thai place has to think, "Oh, bad restaurant" and then makes the connection themselves. It's more funnier than just being, "You don't like that I'm on that restaurant sign." When Comic Sans starts calling out the reader for, "Sorry, we don't all have 73-weights of stick-up-my-ass Helvetica on our 17-inch MacBook Pros," and "Sorry the whole world can't be done in stark Eurotash Swiss type," and "Sorry some people like to have fun," all this is playing with a lot more specifics and letting people imagine who this person is and who the character that Comic Sans is making fun of is. Stuff like, Bauhaus-esque fascist snoozefest is just going overboard in terms of the specifics that you're using. So, instead of just saying it's minimalist, or overly elegant, or overly refined, it's funnier to string together all these adjectives as a good blow for all these sentences that all start with the same form of sorry. The last sentence puts a button on this by heightening the anger and rage throughout this by saying, "Sometimes you should take off your black turtleneck, stop compulsively adjusting your Tumblr theme, and lighten the fuck up for once." Again, this call out really specifics about the person who'd be hating on Comic Sans and also by going too specific becomes a little bit funnier. In the next section here, he starts declaring why people love him instead of just why people hate him. This works as a little bit of a tonal shift because with something like this where it's mostly an angry rant, it's good even if it stays an angry rant to have it just get a little bit angry or see a different tactic be used. If you want to argue something effectively, you want to have the tactic change now and then instead of just having it be one monotone shouty thing. So, we drop sound in tone of, "People love me. Why? Because I'm fun, I'm the life of the party, I bring levity to any situation." Again, we have another set of three things where we're just calling out places Comic Sans are used. It's very similar to what we had in that second section, talking about the sister-in-law's blog and whatnot, but here we're calling out other places where Comic Sans is seen. Yeah, but this time more in a sense of why Comic Sans thinks it's great instead of what you might think it's not great. In here, this heightens based on the last section, by having these big slam, wham and smacks in it. Each thing that's listed gets a little bit more specific than the last one. So, "Need to soften the blow of a harsh message about restroom etiquette? SLAM. Need to spice up the directions to your graduation party? WHAM. Need to convey your fun-loving, approachable nature on your business' website? SMACK." So, each one of those is a little bit more specific than the last. "Fun-loving approachable nature on your business website is more specific than "directions to your graduation party," which is more specific than the bathroom note. Just finishing that section off, "Like daffodils in motherfucking spring," again, just trying to have more interesting ways that Comic Sans can express himself than just saying, "I'm awesome" over and over again. The next section we come into, we start to bring like other fonts into it, make reference to other fonts and then call out why they're losers. We're saying, "While Gotham is at the science fair, Comic Sans is banging the prom queen behind the woodshop. While Avenir is practicing the clarinet, I'm shredding 'Reign in Blood' on my double-necked Stratocaster. While Univers is refilling his allergy prescriptions, I'm racing my tricked-out, nitrous-laden Honda Civic against Tokyo gangsters who'll kill me if I don't cross the finish line first." We're just doing another set of three things. We're just pulling out three references. We're making each one more specific than the last, and then that leaves us for a good overly specific blow with the Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift reference with nitrous-laden Honda Civic against Tokyo gangsters. Then, final line, "I'm a sans serif Superman and my only kryptonite is pretentious buzzkills like you." This is really getting carried away with the language of it. If this was up at the front, again, it would feel like it's coming on too strong, it's reaching too hard. But after all these increasing sets of specifics, getting more and more specific, and more and more funny, you can then pay it off better with a big blow like, "I'm a sans serif Superman." Next section here starting with, "It doesn't even matter what you think. You know why, jagoff?" that's taking another tactic shift. So, instead of continuing to rant and rage, it's like, now Comic Sans is coming around to the fact that what you say, it doesn't even matter. So, now we're going to follow this tactic of, your criticism is useless. Another example of going a little too specific is saying, "I'm on every major operating system since Microsoft fucking Bob." That's a better blow than just like Windows fucking 95 because Microsoft Bob is a little bit more specific, it has a little bit more of a personality wrapped up in the whole Comic Sans thing. Again, not everyone might get it but it's going to be more rewarding to people who put it together and think it's funny. Listing all the places he's in, now being more general, opening it up to he's everywhere. So we just say signs, browsers, instant messengers, and then reconciling himself, he's not a font, he's everything. Here we have, he says, "Not rest until every uptight armchair typographer cock-hat like you." Again, we're just building more specific and more ridiculous, so uptight is pretty normal adjective. Armchair typographer is more specific and weird. And then cock-hat is a really dumb obscenity, so just saving that for the blow of that description. Then, this similarly mirrored with, "Isn't surrounded by my lovable, comic-book inspired, sans serif badassery." Again, building that way and ending with the stupidest swear afterwards. Finally, we just want a blow that ties this up and opens it up to something else. So, you want to end with the introduction of some new idea to keep it feeling fresh and feel your piece has ended too soon rather than your piece has ended too late, or just at the right point. So, we'll say, "Enough of this bullshit. I'm going to go get hammered with Papyrus." So, then we bring in this other funny maligned font to open up this whole other world of, oh, Papyrus, if Comic Sans is this dude, then what kind of dude is Papyrus? It opens up a new range of funny possibilities. So then when we end here, it feels like there's still more stuff to explore rather than ending after we've exhausted every possible thing. So, that's a quick run-through of the stuff so that it works better in this draft versus earlier drafts. The big thing in looking at this, is just figuring out when to change tones and when to change tactics, and when to be specific and think about heightening as you're building throughout. Is what you're saying now more specific and funny than what you were saying before, which is more specific and funny than what we were saying before that? 6. Editing: Structure: As we move into the second draft and subsequent drafts, you want to start thinking about how you can take this stuff you explored in the first draft and put it into some more logical cohesive and funny order. You want to think now that you've explored all these places that you've started at point A and you've just explored around it. Think about how you go from just exploring point A to going from point A to point B to Point C and so on. So, think about stuff like cohesion, like how does this whole piece fit together, like how does the last paragraph speak to the first? How does the middle paragraph build up to the paragraph after that? Really think about how each paragraph, each sentence and to some extent like each word really serve as part of a whole. Similar to that, think about heightening. That's the idea that you want to sort of build and build on what you already have to make things funnier and funnier. If you're listing three things in a row, your third should be funnier than your first, and your first should help set the stage for that third one. It's the same sort of idea, it's like I've set up a punch idea. When you're heightening, think about what moments do you like the best, what's working the best, what do you think is funniest, and what's the most surprising. You probably want to put that stuff more towards the end. It's important when you're writing that you want to make the reader feel you've finished early. Like you have this whole world of places you could go, and the best way to do that is by heightening. If you end with your funniest, most incisive moment, then it's going to feel like there is more that could happen after your piece and the reader won't feel like, well, this could have ended like four sentences ago. Another thing to keep in mind is tone and pacing. You want to make sure that you are varying within your piece. Change the tactic you're taking, change how intensity is, change how jokey it is, change how angry it might be. You just want to vary those things so when it's reading, it feels more like a roller coaster and less like a straight ride up or downhill. You don't need to worry too much about having a perfect story structure, like an idea of beginning, middle, and end with a climax, and resolution, and everything like that. I think it's better to think of it in terms of the heightening of it. Then, you should feel less like a magnificent resolution that ties up all loose ends, then it should feel like a really funny button like it's something that speaks to what's come before and heightens the joke and see sort of end on your biggest blow. Think about less that you're like telling your narrative and more that you are telling a great joke. Think about how to keep people engaged and how to keep each moment funnier than the last and don't worry about having a long section where you tie up loose ends and put everything together. A lot of the stuff does come down to comic timing which can be tricky, but it's easiest if you look at references of stuff you think is funny. Stand if you think it's funny, read something you think is funny, rewatch something you think it's funny or reread something you think it's funny, whether it's stand up movie as a written piece or something like that. After you watch it once and you're just entertained, watch it again and think, oh, wait, why is that funnier. Usually, the reason is because whatever you think is funny there was something that built up to it beforehand, so they were using heightening to get to that space where then they were able to deliver this blow that felt funny and rewarding and spoke to everything else they were talking about. Let's look at the first draft of the comic sans piece and the last one to look how they vary in terms of structure, and tone, and the stuff we just talked about. That's good to look at when you're going from a first draft to a second, third, et cetera. Overall, like these ones aren't radically different from each other. Sometimes you are going to have second and final drafts that are worlds away from your first draft, but in the case of this one, it's generally still the same idea. We establish comic sense, we established that he is angry, and then he goes on from there. There's more of a tonal variation in the final one. The first one, we just see a lot of comic sense just like shouting. It's a lot of him just being, I'm awesome, I'm awesome, I'm awesome. Whereas, in the final draft, we see more stuff where he changes his tactic. Where the idea is like, oh, you don't like this? Let me move on. You know what? People love me. Then move on to like, people need me. Then, finally, like it doesn't even matter what you think. So, we're trying all these different tactics that hit different tones and that makes the final draft feel like it goes somewhere more than the first one, which just sort of operates at the same one note. When I get to the final draft, I divided things up more in terms of the different areas I wanted to hit. Like I wanted to talk about comic sans the way it's used, the way people talk about it, the way other fonts relate. In the final draft, this is really separated out into separate paragraphs, that each sort of cover this topic then move on to something else. Whereas in the first draft it's of all over the place, I'm just like going around, discovering different stuff. So, it's like we're talking about some fonts here, we're talking about some other stuff here, so the final draft just gets more clearly divided up. That sense of more clearly dividing up the different sections, it leads the second draft to like heightened and get stronger over time and feel like more rewarding with a blow. Because, whereas, the first one is like going around in loops like I think different funny areas, the second one sort of like builds, and builds, and builds, and then finally, hits at the end and then gets out. So, it feels a little bit more efficient and more fun that way. For me, I work fastest when I'm just typing because that especially gives you the freedom to copy and paste, which I think is really great if you treat your first section as an exploration. If you've got a chunk you like, just copy that, paste it at the bottom, delete the stuff you don't like, and then try to start writing around those points you like. Weigh yourself out a little bit of a roadmap. If you say, I really like starting with a sentiment, I like hitting these three sentiments and I think it would be good if they were in this order and it would be fun to end here, then that gives you a structure that you can literally right around at that point. 7. Revision: Style: So, we talked about how to revise your first draft better for structure and pacing and heightening and now we're going to move on and look more like specifically stylistically, like how can you get down at more of a sentence and a word level to make sure you're saying things concisely and you're saying things as clearly and funny as possible. So, as you're going through your piece and looking at more like smaller specific places where you can improve it and edit it, really remind yourself that every line matters especially when you're writing stuff for the Internet, because people's attentions are all over the place and they're not going to give you a lot of leeway if you're getting long winded. So, as you're going through and looking at your piece sentence-by-sentence, just ask yourself three questions about each sentence. First, is this line totally necessary? If your piece can exist just fine without that sentence, then loose it. Second thing to ask is at the point of necessity, is this line funny? Either is this line ending in something that's funny or is it leading to something that's funny? If not then it's probably not needed or you probably need to figure out how to heighten it. If you're writing something super short for online, there's not a lot of room to have things that are just filling space for structural purposes. Then the third question is, just as someone who writes, and somebody who has a sense of humor, does this line bring you any sense of joy? If it doesn't then find a way that it can or get rid of it. Don't have stuff that is just there because you think, "Oh, well someone might think that's funny, so I should keep it or someone might have a question from earlier in the piece, so maybe I should like answer it here." Just really I think about to you yourself, are you bored right now? If you are, most people will probably be bored when they're reading it too. So, kill it or find a way to heighten it and make it more specific and say something more with it. Another thing to look forward with your piece is are you varying the rhythm? Does your tone change as your tactic change? Are you doing more than just doing the same thing again and again. In the comic sense example, there's a few different tactics within the argument. Comic Sans doesn't just simply yell and say why he's awesome. He takes different tactics like saying that it's too bad you don't like him, then expressing that people love him in fact and then to say in the end it doesn't even matter what you think. So, instead of just being again and again different versions of the same, "I'm awesome this is why," it's more of think about it this way or think about it this way or what about this way." It makes each section feel a little bit different. Think about it also in terms of the energy of the piece. Your piece needs to breathe at certain points. So, if you've got a piece like this where there's a lot of shouting, a lot of anger, let it breathe and let it get calmer now and then. It can maintain a still like angry point of view, but it points to like where Comic Sans starts saying, "People love me. Why? Because I'm fun." It's a little bit more of a comma, a way of stating what he's been saying than just the same angry swear filled rage. Also think in terms of word choice. Is what you're saying as specific and funny as it could be? A lot of times you'll gain a lot by adding more descriptors what you're saying or like calling out a specific thing in pop culture. For example in the first paragraph of Comic Sans he says, "I'm the best thing to happen to topography since Johannes fucking Gutenberg." That's something in an earlier draft that I just had since the fucking printing press. Which is like okay, but it's not as specific. You don't have to make as much of a connection in your head, so it doesn't feel as funny as going for Johannes Gutenberg. What Comic Sans describes himself as racing is tricked out, nitrous-laden Honda Civic against Tokyo gangsters who will kill him if he doesn't cross the finish line first. That's a way to overly long way of him describing how he's awesome, but so that comes later in the piece after we've done that a whole bunch. It's a good payoff and feels a good moment of heightening Another way to think about varying rhythm and heightening is in terms of just like your sentence length and sort of your sentence structure. Don't let all your sentences be the same length again and again. It's funny to have an occasional long sentence that's full of descriptors, that's like the Comic Sans type things where its like, "I will not rest until every uptight armchair typographer cock hat like you is surrounded by my lovable, comic-book inspired, sans-serif badassery." That's like a big string of adjectives and specifics and swear words and what not. So, that's like fun to have occasionally, but it's good to have quick sentences like in the beginning of that paragraph, it's more like, "It doesn't even matter what you think. You know why jag off, because I'm famous." So, we're starting a little bit shorter there and then building to a longer stronger angry or funnier sentence at the end. So, just make sure when you're writing that you're hitting different notes. That you're not just writing the same kind of sentence or the same kind of descriptors. Let yourself approach things from different angles and try different stuff. So, also think about the style and tone of the piece. I think in terms of consistency, like does this feel like it's all coming from the same voice? Does this use the same kind of vocabulary? Does it feel like the speaker is changed at any point? If you're having troubles sort of thinking about style and tone, just go back to stuff that you think is funny and stuff that you like and sort of look at what stays similar in it. If you like a certain movie, notice that all the stuff that's in it seems to be around the same reference points and in the same sort of style. If it's something you like, then you read that's funny. Sort of like look at how the word choice effects and see how, from the beginning to end, you can tell the speaker is the same, the word choice is the same, all this stuff feels consistent throughout. Make sure that your piece has a consistent tone, that it has a consistent voice. But make sure within that tone and voice, you're still varying the energy of it and the tactics you're taking. So, it doesn't get monotonous but stays consistent. Look at places like online or on TV or in movies that you think are funny and then compare the other kinds of movies, TV shows and writing that you don't think are funny. Sort of look at the differences between those and see, "I really like that tone. I like the way this humor is always absurd or I like the way this humor is always very witty, like I like the way this is always very referential." That'll help you sort of like suss out the different tones you can take in a piece. In the Comic Sans piece, stuff that totally wouldn't have worked. If Comic Sans totally breaks down, weeping and gets really sad and moppy, that would be hard to really totally justify in this. Because it's so short, that have a sudden section where he's suddenly sad and suddenly depressed. Wouldn't feel like it's in line with this very self-assured angry character. Similarly, if he started to appear outwardly like stupid or dumb, that again would be too hard of a tonal shift from this angry relatively smart tone of voice. When you're writing a short piece, you want to be really careful about those tonal shifts. Is a lot harder to justify those in such a small space. It's good to collaborate with others, but make sure that you're collaborating with people whose judgment and communicant you trust. For me, most of my revisions come from my wife who has a great sense of comic timing and understands tone and rhythm and all that sort of stuff. Initially when I started writing, I didn't feel very self assured that what I was writing was funny or clear. So, I would send it out to a lot of people, to a lot of friends and get a lot of feedback. That can actually be a little detrimental because once you have that many points of feedback coming to you, telling you what's working, what's not working, it's hard to remember what's true you in the piece. So, my recommendation is really just like pick one or two collaborators, who you really trust and have them look at your piece and help you revise it. But most of all, stay true to yourself and trust yourself and your judgment. That's going to be the best way to maintain a piece that feels consistent and feels fun to you. If you do want to get feedback from a larger group of people like online or in a class, try to ask pointed questions in terms of your feedback, like what are the questions you really looking to answer in this piece? That'll help the people who read your piece better figure out what advice will help you versus what might take it in a totally different direction than what you were hoping for. So, throughout all these processes of revisions and figuring out how best to work the tone and heightening and punched things up everywhere, I think I really liked what I got out of Comic Sans, is that it was a piece that really felt like it concisely went from start to finish. Build up the whole way through and let me have a lot of fun with calling out specific things that I thought were funny. It provided a great framework for me to just play inside out, which I think is one of the most important things when you're writing. Is just pick something you can write about that leaves room for you to play and have fun. I mean I like making reference to like the Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift and double next Stratocaster is and Microsoft Bob and all these sort of weird things that I think are funny. They might not be that funny on their own, but then in the context of a piece that has a real insight, they become like these fun references and specifics that I get to play around with. 8. Sharing Work: So, once I finish this piece, then I naturally wanted human beings to read it. So, I submitted at one place, and it got rejected. Then I just tried emailing it totally blind into McSweeney's, and they took it and published it. Then as a result of that, it got passed around to millions and millions of people. There wasn't any grand strategy behind it, or a great struggle. It's really just about emailing your stuff places. If there's not a specific place you think you want to e-mail it to or places are rejecting it, just post your own stuff online. There's a world of different places that you can put stuff, whether you're on Tumblr or Medium or wherever. There's no reason that you can't just make something that makes you happy and put it out on your own. Ultimately, it will make your friends laugh, and maybe make their friends of friends laugh, and you'll start to learn better and better, what's working in your writing, and what's not working in your writing. I think it's better to go ahead and submit something sooner rather than later. Get something to a point where you feel like this seems pretty fun, this seems pretty concise, I think it's pretty funny. Then, don't agonize over it too much. Don't do 10 drafts. Internet jokes aren't worth that much of your time probably. So, just write it. Get it to a point where you feel happy with it, and then submit it, and see what happens. The worst case is that someone might reject it, and then, that's fine. You can send it somewhere else or put it up on your own. If you're having fun while writing the piece, that's the most important thing at this point. It's good to share and submit your work because it just gives you a sense of accountability. If you're just scribbling things in notebook that sits there forever, you don't really have any motivation to make sure you get something done or make sure something feels good enough for other people to look at. Even if you're just posting stuff on your own, mostly obscure website, there's still always the chance that someone will look at it. So, you're going to think a little bit harder about how to revise it, how to make it better, how to make it stronger. It's good to just give yourself a goal, whether it's extremely lofty, you want to be published in a fancy magazine or you just want to be published on your own Tumblr. Set yourself a goal and put stuff out there, and then you'll start putting out stuff that it's better than if you just hid it in a drawer. A good way to develop your writing voice and write stuff that's stronger and funnier is just to find stuff that you love to read, that you think is funny. Whether it's stuff online, I really think that a lot of the stuff on McSweeney's is funny, I think a lot of stuff the Onion does is funny, I think stuff like xkcd is really funny and that's a really unique voice. Find what you think is funny online and figure out why you think it works so well, and see what you can draw from that. Is that the references it's making? Is it the tone it's taking? Is it a totally unique point of view that it's taking? Just see what makes it work, and then you can better figure out what to make your own writing work. So, we've talked about a lot of things in terms of concepting a piece, writing it, re-working it, sending it around, but overall, if I had to boil it down to five things that I think are important, it would be first just write what's true to you. Write things that are important to you, write things that matter to you. Don't write things that you think other people think are popular. At this point, you're probably not getting paid or getting paid very much, so your payment should be just in the fact that you're having fun. The seconds is just be clear and concise overall. Always err on the side of your final product being shorter than you think it should be. Err on the side of having something that is quick, something that leaves nothing to be repeated, and something that leaves it open at the end. No one on the Internet is going to spend that much time with anything you write. Eventually, you just want to make the most of the short time you have with your readers. The third thing is be surprising. Try not to do something you think has been done to death. Don't take a tactic, don't take a point of view, don't pick a topic just because you think it's the popular thing that should be done. Do something that's new to you, that's fun and surprising for you to think about. If you surprise people, you're a lot more likely to make them laugh. The fourth thing is just don't fear being stupid. Take risks, do things you think are silly and dumb, and don't be too heady about it. Don't let yourself edit yourself to death before you've even gotten to your second draft. That leads into the final thing, which is don't worry about it too much. Ultimately, you're just trying to write funny things for the Internet, so you shouldn't worry too much about if what you're doing isn't good, or if what you're doing is important, or if what you've written is perfect. Just write stuff and get it out there, and if people don't like it that's fine. Write more things and those things will probably get better. You're never going to write anything good without writing a lot of things that are bad first. What keeps me motivated and inspired is just the fun of creating stuff that people will look at and will give people at least a tiny, tiny amount of joy when they look at it on a computer. So, we've talked about a whole bunch of different ways to write funny stuff on the Internet, but the most important thing is just to write. So, go ahead and take on the project of writing a short 300 to 500 ish word piece that defends something you think is annoying. It's really a good framework to try out this whole idea of creating a tension between something real and then an unexpected point of view. So, try that out and feel free to ask questions and share your work, and I and your classmates will be happy to answer and check things out.