How to be hilarious: Tips from someone who knows.

Mamamia is looking for some funny, funny women.

The Mamamia Women’s Network are launching the first ever MWN Writers’ Competition – to unearth the best online writing talent in the country.

MWN, together with HarperCollins Publishers, is offering winners across several categories $1000 prize money, as well as an opportunity to have an ongoing publishing relationship with MWN, Australia’s premier women’s media company.

To give you some inspiration, one of MWN’s favourite funny women, Lucy Gransbury, has shared some of her tips on how to write humour.

What are you waiting for? Apply here.


Scared yet? Don’t be.

If you are trying to write something funny, take a deep breath. And then take a break. And then go to the liquor store. And then drink a bottle of Shiraz. And then leave the empty bottle on the floor and run out of the store before they arrest you. And then go home. And then have a nap in your shoes and wake up hungover and take a long hard look at yourself, what did you even do that for?

Let’s start again.

You don’t need alcohol. You don’t need calming techniques. You got this. If you are trying to write something with a bit of comedy in it, it’s easier than you think. Why? Because you KNOW humour. You KNOW how to laugh, how to giggle with your friends, what kind of writing makes you snort when you’re on a packed train so that everyone thinks you’re a little bit special.

Don’t get caught up thinking ‘be funny be funny be funny be funny’, just be yourself. Here’s a few tips on how to do that.

Lucy Gransbury, who thinks she is hilarious. (She’s not wrong.)

Always write down your ideas.

I keep lists in my phone of funny things people have done in front of me, or sudden opinions I’ve had, or weird concepts that have popped into my mind. I read through a shopping list the other day and it said…

Piggy in the middle is funny but awful

…because I must have seen a game of it in the park while I was writing my shopping list, and felt the need to recall it later. (Now’s a good time: how funny/awful is the game Piggy In The Middle? Metaphor for my life sometimes?) Once you are in the habit of writing, everything can spark ideas for you, so be prepared to have a thousand notes in your phone.

Be honest, be fearless.

If you are pissed off about something, be pissed off. If you feel differently to everyone else, feel differently. Don’t feel the need to tread lightly, just in case the wrong person reads your writing. Be fearless and be honest. If it’s your opinion, express it loud and clear, without crappy apologetic openings like “It’s just that I think I sort of feel that maybe…”. Some of my most popular articles have been directed at things that pissed me off, like Kookai, or Wippa, or a guy who openly criticised Adelaide in a Sydney paper. Don’t think about the people reading it, just OWN your opinion. (But change names if you need to… No need to start a family argument because you slandered Aunty Marge and her weird cats on on the internet).


You don’t have to be mean to be funny.

Owning your opinions is one thing, but ‘funny’ does not consist of ‘calling people names for the sake of making others laugh’. Dickhead behaviour deserves to be called out (with reasons and supportive evidence, like exactly why Kookai should label themselves to be a specialty-sized store, FFS)… but there is a line between cleverly writing a heated, impassioned article about someone who has pissed you off , and just plain ranting.

Don’t be like Tai. You can be funny without being mean.

Be conversational.

You know what? Just chat. Chat like you would chat to a friend. Or a dog. Or a mirror. Short sentences and colloquialisms weren’t allowed in middle school English class, but now they are totes acceptable. It’s about finding your own voice, not trying to sound smart or writer-y. Just write like you’re thinking. Punctuation is punchy.

Metaphors and similes are like salt and pepper.

But try to come up with your own. I write them down in my phone whenever I think of something that could come in handy later, like “it felt as good as a key change in an 80’s ballad” or “a person about as pleasant as a pap smear” (that last was one sarcastic, duhhhh).

Just write.

The scariest thing is a blank page. You don’t have to start with an introduction, just start writing. Write and write and write until you finish, and THEN go back and edit it. As the brilliant witty writer Dorothy Parker once said, ‘I can’t write five words but that I change seven’. If you go back and edit too soon, you’ll change everything before you’ve even written a whole post. Just write.

Just write. And maybe drink some coffee next to your hipster glasses while you do it.

Remember: you already ARE funny.

Don’t get too caught up with current trends in comedy writing or trying to cover all kinds of funny things or ‘gee, what are the kids saying these days?’ – just stick to your voice. Are you good at story-telling? Tell a story. Do you have a lot of opinions? Shoot us one. You know how to make your friends laugh. You know what makes YOU laugh. Trust in your own sense of humour, and be true to it. You got this.

It’s easier than you think. Go forth, writers. Trust your humour. You already know that a fart in an elevator is funny. Be the fart in the elevator. Be the fart, guys.

Got it? Are you ready to apply? Good. Read everything about the competition here.

00:00 / ???