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Avoid Cliches And You Miss The Joke!
By:Cheng Guan Kher

"Avoid cliches" - that's what would-be writers are always being warned. But in comedy writing, CLICHES offer a rich source of humor. In fact many cliches can be easily and directly used as cartoon captions. As you know a cliche is an overused expression that has lost its freshness and becomes predictable. These expressions are so commonplace, people can relate to and understand them easily. Another reason why cliches are popularly used in humor is because of their predictability. In comedy, the element of surprise is an important and easiest stimulant for laughter, so humorists use cliches to lead the audience along the line of predictability, and they make a sudden surprise change at the last moment and let them fall in the heap of laughter!

Most humor is based on word-play. Stand-ups, TV sit-coms, sketches and cartoon-strips, all employed this technique. Sometimes, words by can be even funny by themselves. Just try saying words like "fart", "geezer" or "hippoppotamus". You can hear the "funny" lilt in these words.

By mispronouncing or mispelling or even misunderstanding of words can be funny too. Many a times it is because of the double meanings and the double entendre that create the humor. So you see the power of words in comedy writing. For words can conjure up funny images and produce a good joke.

Cliches like metaphors, oxymorons, similes, puns, bromides, jargons, malaprops, popular titles of novels , songs and movies and aphorisms; are good fodder for humor.

Another popular technique using words is taking a figure of speech at its literal meaning. Or some call it the simple truth. I'm sure you have heard of the "call-me-a-taxi" joke. One reason why we find at times children are full of spontaneous pure innocent humor is because they speak the truth.

Cliches like pun may be the lowest fom of wit, but to humorists is on the top of their list. They are easily understood and also because of their wide association, they can generate loads of funny ideas. So, never avoid cliches, or you will miss the joke!

Cheng Guan Kher

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