When I first started playing Why Did the Chicken…? I wasn’t very good at it. I really liked that answers were anonymous, because otherwise I would not have played at all. I wrote down the obvious jokes, I wasn’t fast at coming up with any, and I got my few points from cheap shots. I went through a phase of cussing, because it was shocking and would score points, but only when there were no stand-out answers from other people. I’m really competitive, so I decided to get serious about getting funny.
I read The Comic Toolbox which I found very helpful. It claims that humor is truth plus pain. Without truth, a joke just seems weird. Without pain, it’s not a joke, it’s an observation, one that may be interesting and clever, but not funny. The Toolbox gives several great tools that I use all the time. For example, the funny word in a joke should come last. Lists of things in jokes should come in threes. An extra and unexpected adjective can bring a person or scene quickly to life.
I have practiced this game. I have written thousands of answers, and over time my handwriting has gotten faster and more clear. I’m faster at coming up with the initial ideas and forming them into decent jokes. I have learned that presentation of a good idea is the hard part, and a good presentation can make even a weak joke work. As such, I find myself quickly scanning through a few joke ideas in my head, picking one that I like, and focusing on how to deliver it best. I have learned that some jokes make everyone but the judge laugh, and so the laugh is the prize when the joke did not hit the judge just right. Equally, I can occasionally hit the judge just right, especially if the judge is somebody I know. I win points without cussing, or cussing only when really appropriate.
I also like the short time limit on this game, and the immediate feedback. There are several places to submit your jokes for interesting set-ups, such as Top 5 or The Washington Post Style Invitational, and I really should start to enter them. But they have much longer deadlines, so the pressure isn’t there to force me to write down my ideas. And the feedback is weeks at a time, whereas in WDtC, the feedback is minutes away.
I need to play this game more. This game has made me funnier, at least on paper, but I can do better. I have unlimited Exquisite Chicken endurance, and I enjoy playing for hours and hours. It sure helps that people now laugh at my jokes.