Comedy tunes are fun to foist on an audience ’cause you can only do so many Adele covers. Here are a few tips for writing your comedy relief. (Before Adele lovers load up their weapons, let me tell you that I hope she finds happiness and writes songs that don’t make me hightail it to the nearest liquor store.)
Write down ideas as they come to you. I always have a small notebook with me. You can record on your phone or computer, too — any way to remember those great thoughts as you get them, even if they don’t seem so great at the time.
When you’ve got the space and time to write, pull out that notebook and take some ideas out for a spin. Present your ideas in a clear form. Use other songs as guides. Don’t edit when you first write. You can polish your songs later.
Look at other funny songwriters
I’m a big fan of Weird Al Yankovic. You could try writing new words to an established song, like he does:
He looks pretty good for a middle aged guy. I could never pull off a bikini like that.
Write what you know
Sometimes real life is funnier than anything you could make up:
Consider different types of humor
Exaggeration – if it’s funny when it’s small, it’ll be funnier when it’s big. Although it’s based on a true story, a little exaggeration makes Dave’s song funnier:
I love the glee on the baggage handler’s face as he tosses the guitar.
Surprise – “Your mama scares me” is the surprise line in this one. Now pretend you don’t know that and watch this:
Satire – “I Wanna Be a Straight Guy” is one of my songs. Just look at me – clearly, it’s satire although that didn’t stop one woman from sending me a page-long diatribe scolding me for “wanting to be a guy.” Um, yeah.
The audio isn’t great. You can catch all the words if you turn it up:
Things to remember
Build up to a punch line – Lisa Koch doesn’t give you the first funny line until she’s lured you into thinking it’s a serious song:
Use vocal sounds – this song of mine uses a few sound effects. It’s always fun to hack up a hair ball in the middle of a song:
Use sound effects and props — here’s Carla Ulbrich in “If I Had the Copyright.” She used to actually sing the four letter word, but found it was funnier (and probably saved her from losing a few gigs) if she censored herself with a noisemaker:
Watch your intros — if you introduce a song by saying “Here’s a funny tune,” you set yourself up for failure. If you treat it like a serious song and just do it, the surprise will make it funnier.
Want more help?
Find a teacher. I teach songwriting in several places :
Various festivals — when I’m booked to perform at a festival I sometimes teach a workshop too. Contact me here if you want to know more.
Want to laugh some more?
You can hear more of my funny tunes here. The list includes some serious songs because I like to confuse my audience.