Writing at the iO, first class, and a bunch of jokes…

Today I had my first class at the iO, a place that I will surely call home over the next couple of months from the shear number of classes I will be doing in this building. There are about 10 of us in the class and, gathered around a table on the top floor of the building, we did the usual introductions. It turns out that people have been talking and I am becoming well known as the nutter who is doing a ridiculous number of classes!

Nate Herman who teaches this class is a brilliant chap. Hugely enthusiastic with an easy laugh, always quick to make a joke and always quick to laugh at any joke that we the students come up with, a brilliantly supportive environment to have a go at this craft within. He used to write for SNL himself, he loves the format and has plenty to say about it. However, in this class he spoke more about how we can get more out of ourselves.

Most of the lesson was taken up with brainstorming jokes in pairs, off a newspaper article (underneath here). However, before we got to that, we discussed certain aspects of the class, about comedy in general and comedy writing specifically.

One thing he spoke about was tricking the brain into enjoying writing. We need to train ourselves to write daily. I would suggest turning off the Wifi on your computer so that you are not even distracted by emails or the temptation of visiting Facebook (or whatever other deviant site your fingers keep dragging your eyes and erection to).

Nate talked to us about “tricking our brains into enjoying the activity of writing”. If we write daily, we are training our brains that this is something that we enjoy (after all, why else would we be doing it) and so it is therefore easier to write as our brains will start to anticipate the fun we will have at coming up with jokes. And truly, coming up with jokes is great fun.

Face the fact that you know, when you sit down, you will make yourself laugh. You will enjoy it. Funnily and remarkably enough, doing this more, tricks your brain. Your brain rationalises that you are doing this because you are enjoying it, therefore that this is good for you and is good fun, and so it believes it; just by working hard, you can persuade your brain that you are having fun.

If you know you will make yourself laugh when you sit down to write jokes, there is the anticipation that you will enjoy it. The more you do it and have fun, the more the brain feedsback to itself that this is good and fun. Not to belabour the point, but you get the idea.

“We do the work, we have fun”

Over the course of Writing 1 (and, as I discovered a few days later, Writing 2 as well), we will develop a writing packet. Lots of work between class. The ones who progress furthest will be those who work hardest.

We started off with a discussion of comedy. We discussed how all comedy is based on the element of surprise. When I asked for his thoughts on anticipation comedy, where you are laughing in anticipation of something that you already know will happen, a previously heard joke or a punchline you have already worked out, he explained that he thought this is still the same thing.

Nate suggested that we watch the various late night monologists and analyse their styles, see how they differ from one another, things that they do. Specifically, he mentioned John Stewart of the Daily Show, and Jimmy Kimmell, particularly for their opening monologues.

Also, he suggested we look at and try to identify the various different types of jokes, such as set up / punchlines, rule of three, faint praise, etc.

We discussed writing to an audience, and he used the analogy of archery. If you aim at them directly, the arrows will fall short. Aim over their heads in order to hit them. Don’t be talking down to your audience, if you treat them as intelligent, they will come to you. You hope!

Over the next week, we were advised to try to come up with a couple of jokes a day. Given that I already believe that of 10 jokes written, only one will be good, and of 10 good jokes written, only one will be genius, I will aim to write an order of magnitude more than that, just pump out those ideas, see what this man comes up with. I will probably then share them with you dear reader. Even the shit ones. As you can see underneath here…

He let us with the admonition: Concentrate on enjoying doing this daily.


The various, some good, some crap, jokes I came up with today (the first lot were written about a Judge who looked at internet porn. Note to self, in future, select more high brow articles or all you will come up with are dick jokes…).

WARNING: These jokes are not vetted. Some are shit. You may enjoy the shit jokes. Do not judge yourself!

A Will County judge has admitted that he used the internet to look at porn. The people of Will County are proud that they have a judge who understands how to properly use the internet.

The judge has said that he is “seeking professional help to deal with his problems”. Students in the area are protesting at his classification of porn as a problem.

The issue was revealed by the Chicago Sun Times. They were disappointed that he wasn’t looking at their website, however, the judge pointed out that the porn sites contained more accurate content.

The judge is under disciplinary charges. Too bad that’s what he’s in to.

The judge is under disciplinary charges. By under, we mean the disciplinarian is a 300lb dominatrix he found on ChubbyParade.com

He looked at the porn after his afternoon court call, and also in the mornings. Other judges just smoke…

He is being treated by two licenced professionals. Who knew that Wills County licences its prostitutes?!

The article was written by Kim Jansen, who first got interested in the subject after the judge poked her on BigBrasClub.com.

He tried to circumvent software designed to prevent staff from wasting taxpayers time. Who knew that semen belongs to the taxpayer. Although in Michigan, Legislator Lisa Brown tells us that she recently found out the taxpayer also owns the word vagina.

The judge claimed that taxpayers time would be wasted less if the software allowed him access to more efficient sites.

The judge is being treated in two different support groups. He was thrown out of the first one for vigorously rubbing his knees.

Polito faces anything from a reprimand to termination. He is hoping for a slap on the wrist; and a few other places.

This is the only courtroom where the judge got carpel tunnel before the stenographer.

His biggest problem is that if he returns to work, he will no longer be able to through people out of court just because they call him a wanker.

Now you know how Justice went blind.

(which is nicer than: Justice is blind – and should have its mouth washed out with soap for how it got that way)

These are from an article from the New Scientist

Researchers are torturing rats and mice in order to help drug addicts. Animal rights activists say this trend needs to be reversed.

They came up with the idea of using rats and mice after observing politicians.

They came up with the idea of using rats and mice after finding so many in crack houses. It turns out rats find it particularly difficult to hold the pipe.

According to researchers, “we’re not saying the new data will help us cure addiction, but torturing animals is fun”

Scientists have begun studying the effects of cocaine addiction in rats. It turns out they use mice as their mules.

Scientists have begun studying the effects of cocaine addiction in mice. It turns out that, on cocaine, mice think they are rats.

Scientists have begun studying the effects of cocaine addiction in rats and mice. They found that, whilst cocaine has no effect on rats and mice, the researchers have all suffered from collapsed septums.

As I said, some of these will have been better (in terms of both humour and taste) than others. Enjoy, don’t judge! x


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