We writers live in our own self-manufactured worlds as well as the one in which we exist.1 In that Real World there are many people who think they are funny. Some of them are; many are not. The following are a few techniques employed by non-funny people that are guaranteed to kill any laughs before they are born and make any joke fall flatter than two week old road kill:
1. Laugh at your own jokes. This is especially effective if the joke is mind-crushing stupid to begin with.
2. Use a lot of puns. Always make sure that you put great emphasis on a pun, to make sure everyone gets the joke. They’ll get it. They won’t laugh.
3. Employ the same technique when telling a joke with a punch line. Pause, stare at everyone and deliver the punch line slowly, emphasizing key words. Even if the joke is inherently funny, you just killed it. You might be rewarded with groans and an occasional nervous giggle. The only people who will pretend to laugh will be the ones who are trying to kiss your butt.
4. Tell an old joke and be surprised when nobody laughs and someone reminds you that everyone has heard it at least fifty thousand times. (Example: “How do I get to Carnegie Hall? Practice!”)
5. Play a cruel practical joke on some poor, unsuspecting slob. Laugh like a maniac when he falls for it. Get some other morons to laugh with you. Get mad as hell when the victim retaliates. You won’t be laughing anymore but your audience of morons will be laughing at you.
6. Believing that you are a great wit, make sharp, sarcastic comments about everything and everybody. Once in a great while you might say something amusing. Most of the time you will just make people mad. If you make the wrong people mad, you could end up at the bottom of a river wearing cement trousers. You don’t want to end up at the bottom of a river, and cement trousers are just WRONG for any occasion. So do not make sarcastic comments about everything and everybody, if you want to live long and be in vogue.
1Notice how cleverly I avoid ending a sentence with a preposition. Also notice that there are no adverbs in that sentence.