Post 71 / Hour 74: Humor Writing Tip: What Can We Learn from the Soup Nazi?
By Dave Fox
Think about iconic TV sitcoms and one of the first that comes to mind is “Seinfeld.” And of all the episodes, a few have stood out over the years. One of the most popular, which I mentioned in Post 63, is the “Soup Nazi” episode – based on a real-life person.
One of the first humor writing tips I offered over these hundred hours touched on the importance of observing other humorists and learning from them. When I started doing this many years ago, I saw my writing and humor make one of the biggest leaps they ever have. Once you get in the habit of doing this – doing a quick mental analysis of what is making something funny – a shift happens in your thinking where you start to notice and learn from these things automatically. At that point, learning how to think and write funny happens almost without trying.
With that in mind, let’s give it a try. Take a look at this condensed, eight-minute YouTube version of the “Soup Nazi” episode. (You might encounter some pesky pop-up ads. They are not my own, and are easily ignored.) As you watch the scenes, pay attention not only the things that are funny, but why they’re funny.
Specifically, take note of the fact that nearly every joke is based on conflict. Watch how the jokes are set up, and how the conflict moves them forward. We don’t tend to think of conflict as being funny, but as you watch this clip, you’ll see how, in one way or another, it lies at the root of most humor. If you are writing or telling a story, and you’re having trouble getting to the humorous crux of the tale, back up and look for the conflict. There’s a punch line in there somewhere.
(The video below might not play on this page. If not, it will link you to the original YouTube page where the clip is located.)
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