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The best funny writing prompts

Is there anything more inherently human than the desire to laugh? If you agree, and you’ve got a knack for storytelling, you might be looking to test your skills by writing funny short stories. However, while we all enjoy a good chuckle, getting others to laugh through the written word is a lot easier said than done. While spoken comedy like stand-up depends on timing and delivery, written humor deploys the punchline very differently.

A big part of that challenge to be funny is finding the right premise to get started. Are you writing a sitcom or rom com, where the situation is relatively mundane, and the humor is found within the characters or narrator making jokes? Or are you writing a story where the setting, plot, or premise is in itself the joke? Luckily, pondering the question “how to write humor?” has brought you here — to our creative writing prompts directory full of funny short story prompts, ideas for comical situations, and dialogue starters.

While humor can be injected into your writing in many different ways — metaphor, repetition, misdirection, irony, etc. — here are a few of the different types of humor you funny-boned authors might want to employ:

  1. Satire — pokes fun at contemporary political, social, or other topical issues.
  2. Farce — often used in theatre, presents a highly improbable plot that centers around eccentric and exaggerated events and characters.
  3. Screwball — much like farce, it presents exaggerated situations, but is often used in romantic comedies.
  4. Parody — imitates the style of other genres to poke fun at them.
  5. Irony — presents a comedic gap between reality and expectations.
  6. Dark — pokes fun at a topic that is typically considered taboo.

To get your funny story started, here are our top ten funny writing prompts:

  • A parent is trying to explain something to their child, who just isn’t getting it.
  • You’ve been thinking about moving back home for awhile. As you’re wondering whether or not to do it, your parents show up at your door, asking if they can stay with you.
  • You were ready to write the worst Amazon review ever.
  • You just finished ranting about your boss, only to be informed by a coworker that your boss was standing right behind you.
  • Write a story infused with dark humor.
  • Write a humorous story about the descendant of someone remembered for an insignificant act.
  • They said it wasn’t a contest, but you’re still determined to win.
  • The shopping bag ripped and all its contents tumbled to the ground. For you, this was the last straw.
  • One of your friends is terrible at everything, but have always been convinced they're extremely talented. Today's the day they find out the hard truth.
  • Write a story about a group of people who meet every month to air out their mistakes.

If you’re looking to write funny writing prompts, whether for stage and screen, or in the form of a novel or short story, here are some more resources with handy tips:

Want more help learning how to write a comedic short story? Check out How to Write a Short Story That Gets Published — a free, ten day course guiding you through the process of short story writing by Laura Mae Isaacman, a full-time editor who runs a book editing company in Brooklyn.

Ready to start writing? Check out Reedsy’s weekly short story contest, for the chance of winning $250, plus potential publication in our literary magazine, Prompted! You can also check out our list of writing contests or our directory of literary magazines for more opportunities to submit your story.