Who Are You Writing To?
When we all write a comedy piece, we (of course!) want it to be funny! As we well know, however, everyone finds different things to be amusing. This newsletter is going to focus on how to be at least a little more sure that your topic will amuse those you wish it to amuse.
Who is your target audience?
As with any kind of writing, you need to know who you are trying to target. Who do you want to speak to? Just as it would be inappropriate to use text-speak with an audience of college professors (CU l8r, alig8r!), it would not do much good to use gaming jargon (How about a little tankNspank?) when speaking to an audience of literary critics. When you know the audience you are trying to reach, you can better gear whatever you are writing, including the jokes, toward that particular audience.
Are the amusing things in your item/article something this audience will understand/find funny?
Just as I'm sure some of you may not have understood the terms I used above as examples, if your readers are unfamiliar with terms or jargon, they are simply not going to get the jokes. There are two ways to approach this: 1) Put a little explanation of each different term, or 2) change your jokes to those that this particular audience would be more able to relate to.
Both are actually valid options - again, depending on what sort of audience you are trying to reach. Both also take a little bit of work. Putting an explanation of each term takes time and patience to make sure that you don't put more jargon within the jargon. Changing the jokes can be frustrating, especially when you really think a certain joke is funny, and you'd like to be able to use it even if the audience doesn't understand it. I ask you to remember, in both cases, that jokes aren't funny if you don't understand them, no matter how hilarious it is to people who do.
If you are reaching out to a general audience, avoid jokes with a lot of technical jargon, period.
General audiences are probably some of the most fun to write to. A good example of this might even be the movies put out by Disney (minus the puffs of air spelling out dirty words, or the misplaced body parts on castles, of course). Disney and Pixar have the amazing ability to create movies entertaining for both adults and children. How? Well, they reach toward a general audience. They put jokes in there for the children, and they put jokes in there for the adults. They aren't always understood by all parties at the same time - but there is entertainment for each age group. Unfortunately, this only makes the movies a teeny-tiny bit more tolerable to those of us who have to watch it forty or fifty times before our children get tired of it.
Of course, for the purposes of general enjoyment, a general audience is probably the one more likely to lean toward. If more people can read and understand it, more people will enjoy it.
Now, I do realize that I wrote an entire comedy newsletter, and didn't put any jokes in it! For the sake of reaching out to my own audience, I will put in a writer's joke, yes?
There was once a young man who, in his youth, professed his desire to become a great writer.
When asked to define great, he said, "I want to write stuff that the whole world will read, stuff that people will react to on a truly emotional level, stuff that will make them scream, cry, howl in pain and anger!"
He now works for Microsoft writing error messages.