Post 63 / Hour 69: Humor Writing Tip: Recycle!
By Dave Fox
If you’ve come up with something exceptionally funny — ideally a catch-phrase of some sort — you can recycle it throughout your story. By referring back to something multiple times, you reignite the laughter with each repetition.
This is a favorite technique among sitcom writers. One of the most iconic examples ever is the “Soup Nazi” episode of “Seinfeld.” Humor is born when the restaurant owner refuses to serve customers who don’t order the way he requires them to. When the restaurant owner refuses to serve customers who don’t order according to his strict set of rules, his line, “No soup for you!” is funny. As the plot develops and more customers order the wrong way, the line gets bigger with each repetition, as does the customers’ behavior.
Repetition can even extend beyond a single essay or sitcom episode. Bart Simpson’s famous lines, “Eat my shorts” and “Don’t have a cow,” show up in multiple “Simpsons” episodes. Steve Martin’s “wild and crazy guy” line when he used to appear on Saturday Night Live, and Joan Rivers’s trademark question, “Can we talk?” are other examples.