WARNING: Major Depression is a serious illness. If you are experiencing depression, I recommend finding a competent therapist to help you. If you are feeling suicidal right now, please call 911 and ask for help. No matter how it feels in the moment, depression does not have to last forever. Being down to being funny is not a substitute for therapy.
Now let’s see how we can deal with the normal ups and downs of life.
I have worked on a technique to turn negative thoughts and feelings into comedy. When you are able to laugh at problems, you take away their power. In addition, for those budding stand up comedians, it’s a great way to develop original material.
Here’s how it works.
1. Start with something that is bothering you.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about money and retirement. I always struggle wanting to enjoy money now while I’m still “young” but also realizing I need to save for retirement. But what if retire with all this money but have too many aches and pains to go anywhere!
That brings us to the second part of the formula.
2. What thought pops in your mind about this situation?
My Thought: I’d rather spend my money when I’m young and can enjoy it, and not wait until I’m old and falling apart.
3. The Brainstorm
Joe Toplyn, in his book Comedy Writing for Late-night TV discusses finding two main items in your sentence and brainstorming under each of them. In the example above, I chose the words “money” and “old”. Here is what I brainstormed:
Green back False teeth
Fat Wallet Living Will
Currency Broken Hip
Benjamins Adult diaper
Making it rain AARP
You can keep the list going if you want to, but try to come up with at least five ideas each. There are many other methods to brainstorming so feel free to get creative and try different approaches.
4. An Idea that clicks
Now look over the two lists. Pick one item from list one and pair it with something from list two. Do any connections pop into your mind? If not, pair it with another item on the list. Eventually, something might click, and you will get that “aha” moment.
Okay, let’s see. Green back and Adult diaper. A gross image popped up. Might lead to a joke but I’ll put it aside right now.
Benjamins and false teeth. hmmmmmm…who was the President that had false teeth? George Washington. Any connection between these two guys? They’re both founding fathers. There might be potential there.
How about Fat Wallet and Broken Hip. Wait a minute…Fat wallet means you have money. Broken hip…broke hip. If you don’t have money, you are broke. Bingo…a joke flashes in my mind. Might not be the best, but it’s a start.
5. The Punch Line!
Start with the setup which is a one or two sentence factual statement (in comedy, shorter is better). You only need enough to understand the joke (and hopefully laugh). Basically, it’s the thought you came up with in Step 2 but you can tweak it if you’d like. Using fat wallet and broken hip, this is what I came up with:
SETUP: I’d rather spend my money when I’m young and can enjoy it, and not wait until I’m old and falling apart.
PUNCH: Nothing is worse than having a fat wallet but a broke hip.
Poor English, but it’ll do…