Uncyclopedia:How To Be Funny And Not Just Stupid
What makes Uncyclopedia great is that it's a satire of an encyclopedia, kind of like The Daily Show is of television news. This is called a "frame," a clever outline into which your brilliant humor can go. We actually have several "satirical frames," such as UnNews, UnBooks, Why?, HowTo and UnTunes. This just means we've done half of the work for you, and you can fill in the rest if you understand how a frame works.
How does a frame work? Let's use The Daily Show as an example. Jon Stewart delivers the same news as CNN does, but with pointed contrasts that mock newsmakers' and anchors' foibles. This is satire: same basic content with specific, pointed contrasts. Humor is about unexpected contrast. And just as many people get their news from The Daily Show, so do many of our best articles have a great deal of serious, Encyclopedia-quality information; the presence of this serious information actually makes the funny contrasts possible.
Consider Uncyclopedia a brilliant setup for your jokes, and the rest of this page will show you how to write the punchline.
- 1 Be a Comedian: Advice About Nonsense and Opposites
- 2 Some basic techniques of humor writing
- 3 When Writing Nonsense, be Consistent
- 4 Spend a Little Bit of Time
- 5 The "@#$%^&*" Rule: Being Crass or Tasteless Doesn't Automatically Make Everything Funny
- 6 Avoid Stagnant Jokes
- 7 Don't plagiarise
- 8 Meta-Humor isn't always as funny as you think it is
- 9 Use In-Jokes Sparingly
- 10 Use Pictures Wisely
- 11 Bias Is Not a Replacement for Humor
- 12 Outright sarcasm is Not a Replacement for Humor
- 13 In The Style Of...
- 14 Other possible sources for humor
- 15 Advice
- 16 See also
Be a Comedian: Advice About Nonsense and Opposites
- The truth is usually funnier than nonsense. The funniest pages are those closest to the truth.
- Example: "Erik Estrada was born in 480182525234 BC to Chuck Norris and Oprah for the sole purpose of fucking up humanity."
- Stupid. Pointless drivel. Although possibly funny within the somewhat dry context of the page, without that contrast it lacks any kind of humor.
- Example: "Erik Estrada is an American television actor, known for a successful career in the California Highway Patrol following his retirement from the television, or 'prostitution' industry."
- Funnier because it's closer to the truth. "CHiPS" was a real TV show. Blending fact with fiction, or blurring that line makes for better comedy. This is not a particularly hilarious line, but you get the idea.
Perhaps two-thirds of the articles are random nonsense. Little to nothing distinguishes them. Patent nonsense can be hilarious, it may get a laugh the first time, but it quickly gets dull. If someone types in "Frodo Baggins", the article should have more to do with Frodo Baggins than if they typed in "Dinosaur". They want to read a humorous slant on Frodo Baggins, not an article on a Dutch mink farmer with laser-beam eyes.
A longer, but still clever, article is better than spamming the index full of thousands of small one liners about giraffes and bathtubs. It forces us to clean up the bad stuff. Please write good stuff.
Keep this all in mind when you write an article, and things will be good.
- If all else fails, follow rule three, unless that also fails. Then you should stop writing and become a politician.
Some basic techniques of humor writing
- Repetition. This one is stupid, but it works. Say something over and over, and then repeat it, and then say it some more. Two or three times. Example: In his spare time, young Luke Skywalker enjoyed driving his land speeder, whining, shooting womp-rats, cruising for chicks in Mos Eisley, whining, nerf-herding, and whining. Sometimes, driving a joke into the ground makes it funnier. Other times, it just makes the joke dead, so please be careful, cautious, and vigilant if you decide to use this technique. And also be careful.
- Misdirection. A little more sophisticated and "witty" than repetition. Appear to go one direction with your writing, but end up in a completely different place. For instance: Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx
- If your readers see where you're going with your joke, it won't be as funny, but if they don't see what's coming, you can probably sift through their wallet before the paramedics arrive.
- Escalation: The key to the absurd style, but all around a good technique. Start out reasonable and sensible, then become increasingly extreme, irrational, and absurd. Example: Among the monastic sins listed by Saint Anselm are sodomy, bestiality, masturbation, dry-humping pillows, wearing clean underwear, touching oneself below the neck, heavy breathing, and approaching closer than 40 furlongs to a female of any mammalian species. Starting out absurd and staying that way is rarely funny. Absurdity can be funny, but it helps to work up to it from a serious- or at least, less-absurd- starting point. This is true whether you're dealing with a single sentence, a whole article, or putting live moray eels down your pants.
- Being Self-referential. Again, sort of an obvious technique but it can be funny. "Repetition" repeats, "Misdirection" veers off into Australia, "Escalation" escalates. See this article's section on Being Self Referential.
- Understatement. For instance, "many people would say that the Holocaust was not a good thing". Writing "OMG this kid in my class Joe Shmoe is so stupid!" is not as funny as taking a more understated approach such as "Joe Shmoe is not quite as intelligent as a mildly retarded woodchuck suffering from late-stage syphilis." Not that you're allowed to write about your classmates, though. An example is Coruscant, a "slightly overpopulated planet". Not that the article is good, though.
- Reversal. Example: Local cancer loses battle with woman. Other example: Work is the curse of the drinking classes. - Oscar Wilde.
- Circularity. For an example, see Being Circular.
- Being Circular. For an example, see Circularity. (again, this is a dumb but effective technique, if it isn't overused).
- Be silly about serious things. Examples include Segregation or Axis of Evil Hot Dog Eating Competition. This mostly goes along with the misdirection rule. If your article is going to be about a serious topic, write it from a loony perspective. An article on "Axis of Evil" sounds like it would have to do with current/historical events, but throwing a hot dog eating competition into the mix isn't something you might expect.
- Be serious about silly things. Examples include Handgun and The GI Joe-Transformers War. Pretty much the opposite of the previous one. Folding your hand into a gun shape, pointing it, and going "bang bang!" isn't something you'd expect to have a grave perspective, but it can really add to the humour of the article, especially when you step back and realize "wait a minute, they're talking about robot Nazis! That's completely ridiculous!" We don't recommend you write an article on robot Nazis, however.
- The Straight Man. A common beginner's mistake is to be ridiculous the whole way through. However, being serious is a vital part of being frivolous. They're yin and yang, opposites that need each other. In a comic routine, this role is served by the 'straight man'. Marge Simpson's seriousness throws Homer's idiocy into sharp relief; Graham Chapman plays his King Arthur completely deadpan, making the rest of Monty Python and the Holy Grail that much more absurd by comparison. Generally speaking, you'll need some sections of your writing to serve as the "straight man". These are all the non-joke things: the background information, facts or factual sounding statements, the stuff that builds up to and supports the jokes, the punchlines, the non-sequiturs and the bizarre twists, making them sound that much more brain damaged by comparison. If your goal is to sound like a lunatic, it helps to have a sane man in the room. Examples include Hiroshima and Fire hydrant.
- Write in a Consistent Style. Uncyclopedia uses a lot of different styles. Some articles read as if they're been written by a college professor, many sound like they're written by a mentally challenged 13-year-old, and most of the... well, it's not entirely clear that these were written by something with opposable thumbs and no fingers. However it usually works best to write a single article in a single style. That is, you would read it and assume a single person wrote it. It should not read like paragraph 1 is the work of a five year old girl, paragraph 2 is the work of a crotchety old man, and paragraph 3 resulted from a collaboration by an epileptic goat, a squid with Alzheimer's, and an emo kid. There are exceptions (say, writing on multiple personality disorder) but quality articles usually follow this rule. Even AAAAAAAAA! which lacks sentences, rudiments of grammar, words, and 25 of the 26 letters of the alphabet, follows this rule.
- State the Obvious- This rule can sometimes be hilarious, especially when the reader isn't expecting it. Other times, it can just leave them with a soiled feeling when the joke falls flat. A good example is a picture of a gay rights protestor holding up a sign that says "Homosexuals are Gay". See? You wouldn't expect to see that. Use it sparingly; an entire article of obvious statements will just come across as kind of stupid.
When Writing Nonsense, be Consistent
- If you can't stay close to the truth, try to be consistent across many articles. A good example is the Oprah conspiracy series. Despite the fact that it is entirely incoherent, it's incoherent across a large span of history. This is Good.
- Be sure your string of barely coherent prose does in fact contain at least one(1) degree of celsius between each serving — or 1/6 of a "Kevin Bacon."
- Random humor can be funny if it is not seen as being serious. Keep in mind that not everyone will get the joke, and often get upset at those who write random humour. Things like Oscar Wilde dying from having someone cut off his head, and then later it grew back is random, but funny like found in The Most Quotable Smackdown of All Time.
- This is Uncyclopedia, not Wikipedia. We're not writing "the Truth" (or "Neutral Point of View") here, so the important thing is whether a given individual article is entertaining/interesting in its own right, on a stand-alone, individual basis. In fact, it can be great to have, across different articles within a topic area, a different viewpoint in each article. It keeps the creative juices going for the introduction of fresh ideas and a variety of perspectives and approaches. As well, what's entertaining can vary from reader to reader. Maybe a reader who wouldn't find the first viewpoint on a topic area as expressed in Article 1 funny might find the second or subsequent viewpoints on that topic area in Articles 2, 3, etc. funny. Also, if you try to keep to one storyline across articles just for the sake of consistency, there's the possibility that some of the various linking articles in the series may become boring, unfunny articles that aren't interesting on an individual-article basis; instead of the linking articles, consider giving these details within the main article itself.
Spend a Little Bit of Time
- If you spent ten seconds writing it, perhaps ten people will like it. If you spent ten minutes, you might have hundreds. Even though we're full of lies and bullshit, the amount of work necessary to write a funny article may be on par with Wikipedia. The quality of our articles varies, but as a parody, it doesn't mean our quality standard should drop, just that our content is different.
- Moreover, simple, unadorned lists are rarely funny. You know the type: "List of people who can't spell" or "List of stupid things." Sometimes simple lists can be useful in launching a broader idea, as in US Presidents, but trying to be funny by listing "people who Oscar Wilde hates" isn't, well, funny. Or useful. If you must make a list, don't make it a quickie; at least spend some time fleshing it out, like in Worst 100 Movies of All Time. Finally, make sure that most of the article's content is not a list unless "List" is in the title. A ratio of about 95% content to 5% list might be acceptable.
- Research. A good chunk of stuff on here is random, and random can be funny. But the truly great articles require a bit of research. In order to effectively parody or satirize a subject, do some research on the real thing first, and your jokes will be better and actually make sense.
- Delete, delete, delete. More writing is more funny, right? Not necessarily. There's a reason why it's possible to make a living as an editor, a person whose job is mainly to delete prose and throw manuscripts in the trash: most writing is bad. Good writers understand this, and spend as much time mercilessly hacking their work apart as they do creating it in the first place, even throwing away completed novels to start from scratch. The ability to look at your own work, ask, "does this suck?" and answer honestly is one of the major differences between the pros and amateurs. Writing is as much about destruction as creation, so spend at least as much time editing as writing. Another way to think about it: writing is like cooking, it's as much about what you leave out as what you put in. When cooking a soup, you do everything possible not to put crap into it, shouldn't you do the same when you write?
- Revise, revise, revise. Maybe you misspelled a word, perhaps you thought of a clever joke, or a Photoshopped jpg to ice that cake. To create a really polished piece of work, you have to revisit it and smooth off all the imperfections. True, some people can hammer out a perfect first draft, but most people can't. Even Shakespeare devoted time to revising and polishing his plays.
The "@#$%^&*" Rule: Being Crass or Tasteless Doesn't Automatically Make Everything Funny
- There's no reason to swear like a US Marine Drill Instructor or make tasteless references every other sentence. In many lame formula jokes, crassness and/or profanity are/is the "punchline." It's usually not funny, especially if you're hung over the next day and looking over your article. Only in very few, very rare situations is crassness what makes a funny joke funny (like 'fucking Johnny Borrell', because he acts like that. The rest of the article is pretty dire though). Please don't use it as your primary source of humor. This includes those regurgitated dead baby jokes, as well as jokes about regurgitated, dead babies. Come up with something original, or at least put it in an original manner, rather than rely on shock factor as a fucking crutch.
Avoid Stagnant Jokes
Pop culture. Tedious pop culture references are stale, including:
- Anything to do with Snakes on a Plane, or 300, or 300 snakes on a plane.
- Emo, Vin Diesel, Leeroy Jenkins, Chuck Norris, Killing Kenny (or Ran Cossack) jokes.
- Everything that has ever appeared on your chat browser in the last 24 months, or sites such as the Chans, Something Awful, eBaum's World, YTMND, College Humor, VG Cats, Ctrl+Alt+Del, Penny Arcade, or pretty much any other webcomic or web cartoon in existence. Especially Homestar Runner.
- Stating that your secret animated or furry hero (Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob, Barney, etc.) is evil.
- Runescape jokes about
thirtyforty-somethings living in their parents' basement.
Memes. Weaving a lot of Uncyclopedia memes into an article is not a substitute for being funny, and few people will think it's funny. Examples of memes are:
- Shoop da woop or FIRIN MA LASER.
- Russian Reversal "jokes".
- Overuse of quotations by Oscar Wilde, Steve Ballmer, Kanye West and Mr.T.
- Linking to AAAAAAAAA! or Nobody cares.
- Everything and anything to do with Chuck Norris, especially facts.
- Your very own made-up version of Hitler, Darth whatever, or Jesus.
- Your mom, mother, momma, etc.; also, Your face.
- Anything about Wikipedia being a communist, liberal, whatever...
- My Sojourns.
- References to Kitten Huffing.
- The year 1337.
Stagnant Themes. Once you have chosen an article to write, its theme means how you will treat the subject of the article, what the point is that you want the article to make. There are some themes that have become stagnant by being tried too often. Again, unless there is a good reason or you apply unusual cleverness, avoid the following themes:
- That a female you are writing about is a slut or a whore.
- That a state or region you are writing about is a Soviet republic.
- That the subject you are writing about is involved in a struggle between God and Satan.
- Vulgar or obscene treatment, notably getting raped, notably anal rape, etc.
- Anything to do with ninjas or pirates.
- Articles about how an unnotable town sucks. If somebody on the other side of the globe has probably not heard of the town, don't bother writing a whiny article about it.
- An intentionally bad article. If an article is bad it's bad.
- An obscure band that few people know about at the other side of the world.
Stagnant Articles. There are entire classes of article that have been tried so many times that they are stagnant. Don't even start on an article about any of the following:
- A made-up sequel of a popular movie or video game--the way you would have written it. For example, your new take on World of Warcraft or the Mario Brothers.
- A new pokémon.
- A new text adventure.
- A new war. Especially one that involves uncyclopedia and wikipedia, Star Wars, Star Trek, Hitler, communists, or one that involves animals such as Badgers and mongooses.
- A new worst 100 list.
- A New Religion.
- An article about a food created by some bastard company.
- Anything that does not exist (e.g. This page does not exist). A lot of them had been QVFD' and are in the Protected titles list. If you attempt to make anything like this we may block you because it is just pure stupid and spammy.
Simply don't. You will be banned.
Meta-Humor isn't always as funny as you think it is
While we love to poke fun at ourselves and make light of some of the more rampant phenomena on this site, not every event, person, or trend on this site is worth documenting. This extends to creepy articles about users, references to otherwise insignificant and unhumorous events, and attempts to generate "trends" within The Uncyclopedia. There are few times that general phenomena are worth their own article and are limited to large-scale phenomena, such as Making Up Oscar Wilde Quotes. Furthermore, these articles must be well executed, lest they completely destroy its original humor. Think of it this way: Meta-humor is like fine, aged wine, it must not only have been around for a long time, but also has to have intrinsic value in order for it to be any good. Century-old bad wine is one hundred years old, but it's still bad
Use In-Jokes Sparingly
- Just 'cause it's funny to you and three of your friends doesn't make it funny to us. Most in-jokes are "had to be there" moments, or rely on several other situations/experiences to understand exactly what makes it funny. They're hard to explain, and fail to be humorous in a stand-alone situation. This does not apply, however, to Uncyclopedia in-jokes. Since you are writing articles for the Uncyclopedia, it's perfectly acceptable to use Officially Established Uncyclopedia-Originated In-Jokes. It adds personality to the site, and distinguishes it from other wannabe parody wikis.
Another exception are "specific jokes". For example, the Call of Duty article is full of jokes that only those who have played one or more of the Call of Duty games can truly appreciate. This is totally fine, so long as these sorts of jokes don't spread too far from their domain of interest.
- And while we're here, don't be vain. Articles written about your fanfic, or your story characters, or your goddamn story setting, WILL be deleted as a rule. So will articles about how much your school sucks, or how your town is a pisshole, or what an idiot your friend is. This is not your personal backstory site- create your own damn wiki if you want to list the ancient history behind your character's armor's codpiece or whatever. If you are going to make an article about something of your own, that is if you have a BURNING, UNQUENCHABLE DESIRE to do so (this is not everyone), do a good job on it. Make it fit in here- if something seems out of place it's goin' bye-bye. A prime example of how to make your vanity work is Camp Fuck You Die.
Use Pictures Wisely
- A picture is a perfect complement to a good joke. But only if it is well made. Chopping up a picture of Tony Blair's face in MS Paint is not well made (unless you're making the picture look bad for a satirical purpose). Taking time on the picture and using a professional program such as the GIMP or Photoshop to make it is advisable, although some of you will be able to knock up decent images on Paint. Most importantly, don't use an old picture that you found on the internet, no matter how sure you are that no-one else will have seen it, use your own imagination to produce something better.
- Don't think that a 'chopped picture is absolutely necessary. Take a normal picture that otherwise would have no comedy value, put it into the context of your article, and add a funny caption, and suddenly your boring picture is hilarious.
Bias Is Not a Replacement for Humor
- Never substitute bias in place of humor. While biases and points of view are allowed, often to the extent of encouragement, on Uncyclopedia, simply writing something like "The Big Mac is a piece of dog shit on two buns" or "Man United are considered by everyone to be the best athletes in the history of mankind" is not funny by itself. Instead, explain, in lavish detail, what makes these things so great or terrible. Remember, you aren't the only person on this planet.
Outright sarcasm is Not a Replacement for Humor
- Clearly stating what is either right or obvious in a sarcastic manner comes off less as funny, and more as politically resentful or bitter. Take, for example
- Example: America had some goodwill in the world. Who would want that? After all, you can’t take goodwill to the bank. (Or can you?)
- Bad. Sounds more like someone is annoyed with foreign policy and is letting it out here. It has all the subtlety of an amped marching band, and seeks to hammer the point in sarcastically, rather than ease it in with humor. Such text is overtly political and serves no purpose than to vindicate one side and irritate the other, seeming as if the author is upset or otherwise disenfranchised. It's blunt and relatively humorless, and while editorializing can be funny, this passage only ends up killing the humor of the rest of the article.
- Example: The Crusades were a series of military campaigns first initated in the 11th through 13th centuries by King George I of Texas, (the burning Bush of Moses fame) and continued by his heir George II. Intended to subjugate the Muslim people of the Middle East and brand the holy mark of W upon their foreheads, it also allowed America to cast aside any concern it had for goodwill and credibility and march Don Quixote-like into Baghdad with trumpets blaring and red, white and blue flags flying. God bless America!
- Good. Why? Because it's certainly more lighthearted, and definitely more subtle. It's not explicitly political or sarcastic, qualifying more as satire. While not laugh-a-minute, it certainly doesn't sound like someone's angry or frustrated. This seems like it was typed by Someone Who Was Trying To Be Silly. It also sounds more official and professional, and it's closer to truth without actually being truth.
- Basically, blunt, straight sarcasm is not humorous, especially when other people do it better as satire.
In The Style Of...
For some articles, doing the article in the style of what the article is about can be amusing. For example, the article on Nihilism is blank. The article on Redundancy is redundant, repetitive, and repeats itself, and frankly, the less said about Sexual innuendo, the better. Other good examples include Braille, Zork, Nethack, Zen, Misleading, Random Insanity, Subtilty, Redirection, J.D. Salinger, Pig Latin, Alliteration, Vladimir Nabokov, H. P. Lovecraft, James Joyce, Onomatopoeia, Binary, ROT13, e e cummings and many more.
Don't just rely on this alone, though, unless you are absolutely sure that the article can stand on its own by taking the style of the topic. NetHack and James Joyce are good examples of where it can stand on its own, because all throughout the article, it maintains the appropriate style (NetHack having the appearance of a game of NetHack, and James Joyce mimicking his manner of writing which can be incomprehensible to people unfamiliar with it). With J.D. Salinger, on the other hand, the article has to be supplied with more than just the speaking style of the main character of The Catcher in the Rye. As it has this, it is a very good article.
Other possible sources for humor
- Status Change. Stephen Colbert has suggested that all good humor involves status change. For example: if you are walking down the street, and bump into the President of the United States and he apologizes to you profusely, gets flustered, then asks you for your autograph, that's funny.
- Irony. Sometimes, a touch of irony is great for a twist in an article. For example, if a man walking down the street is hit by an ambulance and one of the paramedics jumps out and says "Oh God, oh God, I'm so sorry. Please, someone call 911, quick!" That can be a source for possible humor.
- Remember rule one. If something is coherent, and closer to the truth, it is funnier than pure nonsense.
- Often, official, professional-sounding prose kicks the humor up a bit. Consider your tone as you write articles. Would an authoritative, encyclopedic tone make this even better, or would slack-jawed drivel work best as its own sort of irony? Do outbursts work? Try different styles to see if it improves your content.
- Speeling adn, gramor?: Unless you're misspelling words on purpose, as one would in order to poke fun at the mentally inferior, or the lack of typing prowess of kids on social networking sites, really, really try to make sure all your words are spelled correctly, and that all your grammar makes sense. Copy and paste your article into MS Word, if it helps, or send it to UN:PROOF. Aim abbreviations are also something to generally avoid.
- Writing about Writing: Unfortunately, there is no Elements of Style for writing humor, and it would be difficult to write one, since humor often comes from breaking rules instead of following them. However, there is an Elements of Style for writing in general, which is called The Elements of Style. To the extent that knowing the craft of writing makes you a better humor writer, this book (sometimes just called "Strunk and White" after the authors) is worth picking up, reading, and then rereading, and then fusing to your cerebral cortex in a dangerous medical experiment of questionable ethics. George Orwell’s essay "Politics and the English Language” is also very useful; both are short and to the point.
- Can't think of any ideas for your article? Try this article: How to Get Ideas For Your Article