People sometimes ask me how I come up with my material and I really don’t have one answer, except to say that I try to mix things up as much as I can.
I have two main practices however.
1. I go about my day, and when something sparks my attention, I take a note in my phone. Then, later that day or when I get a chance, I sit down with the notes in my phone and turn them into bits or tweets. I then put these in a separate file and eventually tell them on stage.
2. The other way to create jokes, is by treating it like a job or homework. I sit down and just force myself to write. Not about things that happened during my day, but about random words and topics. This option tends to be more time consuming, BUT I find I get more jokes out of this process then waiting for jokes to come to me.
So, for this post I’m going to focus on the second route, which is how to find inspiration for jokes when you’re just sitting in a room by yourself. Some of these I do on a regular basis, but most of them I just made up while I was bored on a recent flight.
Most of these aren’t writing prompts, I did this on purpose so that there aren’t a bunch of people all writing jokes using the exact same premise. Instead these are ways to find something to write about. I was going to publish a ton of these in a book, and I still might, but here they are for you for your enjoyment.
Let me know which of these you really enjoyed or were drawn to! And please share any techniques you use to find inspiration.
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Without further ado, 80 ways to find inspiration for jokes:
1. Turn on the TV and write a joke inspired by a conversation.
2. Take a walk. Walk until you have an idea for a joke, then run back home and write it down.
3. Look in your contacts in your phone and count to the 20th name down. Write a joke about a memory with this person.
4. Listen to a song and get inspired by a lyric.
5. Make a grocery list, write a joke about one of the items on the list.
6. Think about something that annoys you. Write a joke about this thing.
7. Go through old set lists and find a joke you don’t tell any more. Try to rewrite this joke.
8. Pretend you are an animal. Write a joke from the perspective of this animal.
9. Make a list of things you love. Write a joke about one of these things.
10. meditate for 5 minutes. Clear your mind and don’t let your mind wonder. Live in the presence and just focus on your breathing. After 5 minutes is up, write a joke.
11. Listen to a podcast. Write a joke about something you learned in the podcast.
12. Think about something funny that happened today, write a joke about this incident.
13. Think about something normal that happens in your life, and exaggerate it to write a joke about it.
14. What is in the drawer, closet, or cupboard closest to you. Write a joke about one of these items.
15. Call a parent or grandparent and write a joke about something you talk about.
16. Take a shower. Let your mind wonder. Write a joke about something you thought about in the shower.
17. What is the fanciest place you have ever been? Write a joke about this.
18. What is something you don’t believe in? Write a joke about this.
19. Overwhelm yourself with stimuli. Turn on a podcast, watch a Tv show, listen to a song, read a web page etc… and write jokes connecting the stimuli.
20. Free write for an entire notebook page. Write a joke inspired by something you wrote.
21. Try to remember a sleep dream you have had and write a joke about something that happened in the dream.
22. What is the last thing you would want to write a joke about? Write a joke about it.
23. Checkout Twitter and find what hashtags are trending. Use one of these to inspire a joke.
24. What is the smartest thing you know? Write a joke about it.
25. Write a joke about how you write jokes.
26. Go to craigslist and write a joke about something that is for sale.
27. Go to a room that you never write in, or a closet, and write a joke while sitting in there.
28. Scroll through the emojis on your phone, pick one that stands out to you, and write a joke inspired by it.
29. Go to your medicine cabinet and write a joke about something in the cabinet.
30. Doodle in a notebook until an idea for a joke comes to you.
31. Get into a political argument on Facebook by going to a fan page of a political figure or group you disagree with. Write a joke inspired by the argument.
32. Write a Yelp review. Write joke inspired by your Yelp review.
33. Write down a word that starts with the first letter of our first name, and a word that starts with the the last letter of your last name. Now write a joke that combines these two things.
34. What is your favorite word? Write a joke about this word.
35. What is your least favorite word? Write a joke about this word.
36. Make up a few inspirational quotes. Write a joke inspired by your own inspiration.
37. Write a joke inspired by a holiday in the month you were born in.
38. Give yourself a pep talk. Write a joke inspired by the pep talk.
39. Make a list of things you wish you learned in school. Write a joke about one of these.
40. Google the word “news” write a joke about a news article.
41. Make a list of silly words. Write a joke about one of these words.
42. Try to summarize your entire life in one sentence and write a joke about this.
43. Write a joke about your favorite animal.
44. If you were filthy rich, what would you write jokes about?
45. Go to your Facebook newsfeed and write a joke inspired by the most annoying status update or news story.
46. Talk to a stranger at a store or on the street and write a joke inspired by the notes you take of the conversation.
47. Write a joke about the outfit you are wearing right now.
48. What are you looking forward to in your near future? Write a joke about this.
49. Write down some thoughts using your non dominant hand, after several sentences switch to your dominant hand and come up with a joke inspired by something you wrote.
50. Make a list of safe words, and write jokes inspired by these words. (Not a joke about safe words.)
51. Ask a friend to give you a word, and write a tweet using this word.
52. Figure out what color underwear you are wearing, and do a google image search of this color. Write a joke inspired by one of the images.
53. Write a joke while sitting on the toilet.
54. Look back into the photos on your phone, count backwards 20 photos, and write a joke inspired by the photo.
55. Write a joke as if you were a member of the opposite sex.
56. What’s something you wish you could tell your boss, or an authority figure? Write a joke about this.
57. What’s the strangest thing in your purse or wallet? Write a joke about this.
58. Delete an app from your phone. Write a joke about that app.
59. What is the silliest question you can think of? Google this question and write a joke about the answers you find.
60. Write a joke about your iPhone or laptop background image.
61. Go back to your first ever Facebook profile image, and a write a joke inspired by it.
62. Write a joke about you least favorite state in the USA.
63. Do as many push-ups as you can, then lay on the floor until you think of a joke.
64. Go to your spam folder. Write a joke inspired by one or more of your recent spam emails.
65. Go to rotten tomatoes. Write a joke inspired by the title of a recent movie at the box office.
66. What is something you wish you’d known about sooner? Write a joke about this.
67. Write a joke inspired by an ad or commercial you have recently seen.
68. Put on the silliest outfit you own, and create a character that would wear this outfit. Write a joke inspired by the experience.
69. Post on Facebook asking for people to give you topics to write jokes about.
70. Go to a coffee shop and ask strangers what you should write a joke about.
71. Write a joke about what your senior quote was or should have been.
72. Go to your bookshelf. Pick out any book. Turn to page 31. Write a joke about something on that page.
73. Hum a song. Any song. Write a joke about this song.
74. Visit Groupon’s website. Write a joke about the strangest item for sale.
75. What is the name of the street you grew up on? Write a joke inspired by this.
76. Check your voicemail, listen to a recent message and write a joke inspired by it.
77. What are you hungry for? Write a joke about this item.
78. Write a joke completely in another language.
79. Make a sandwich and write a joke about the items you wouldn’t put on a sandwich.
80. Write a joke about unicorns (and send it to me so I can hear it)