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The U.S. Supreme Court defines funny (sort of)

“Trent Crimm, the Independent. Just curious. Could you explain the offside rule?”

“Well, Trent, I’m gonna put it the way the U.S. Supreme Court did back in 1964, when they defined pornography:

It ain’t easy to explain, but you know it when you see it.”

Today’s about humor, and so this exchange from Ted Lasso season 1, episode 2 felt pretty on the nose. I mean, who can define humor?

Define funny?

Even the dictionary defines humor mostly as “something funny,” and defines funny as “something that makes you laugh.”

So if you want to be funnier, as a writer, what can you do?

Well, it’s a mix of mimicry and experimentation—which is comforting, because isn’t that exactly like the process of “regular” writing? It sounds a lot like the vanilla advice to find your voice.

It’s just . . . doing the work.

  • Find funny.

  • Spend time with it.

  • Imitate it until you can create your own, in your own way.

Today it’s time for another Quarter Turn+ and you’ll meet an online writer who excels at funny and whose writing can show you what it looks like when someone’s found that voice.

And if you want a Ted Lasso hit, the whole clip is here:

“Just be funny.”

At some point, you’ve received, given, or just overheard this advice.

And it’s horrible. No, thank you.

This month’s interview is with Robin Wilding, a prolific and successful Medium writer who does funny very well—and will tell you it takes time, effort, and editing to “just be funny.”

Here are some words from Robin on her writing journey, and for a dive into her catalog, definitely check her out on Medium!

Me, showing up for all Robin’s writing tips (click link for the full effect):

  • When the universe delivers the right thing at the right time. The most timely book title you’ll see this week, and it’s a great example of juxtaposition in humor.

  • “Comedy’s all about comparisons and contrasts and congruities and incongruities and heightenings and understatement and exaggeration” (from the last interview with George Carlin) (4 min read)

  • Sssh, don’t tell. Humor writing’s a lot like “regular” writing. It becomes clear in the editing—not the first draft:

  • James Clear writes about what Jerry Seinfeld does that sets him apart—and the unbroken chain that helps him do humor (4 min read)

  • Humor, Seriously - a book to help you learn to write funny (oh, and the authors have a website with a typology quiz, TED talk, and more)

  • “Underpants is 20% funnier than underwear.” A short article with some decent tips. (2 min read)

  • One more book, from the founder of The Onion: How to Write Funny

🧠 and ❤️