Want to write funny? Travel!

Hello, and welcome to my blog! I’m going to start off with just one thing I learned from my recent trip to Ireland. Quick background: In spring 2017, I was very fortunate to be able to participate in a semester-long study abroad program through my university (check it out here). Though based in Greystones, Ireland (roughly an hour south of Dublin), I visited all four of Ireland’s provinces, including seven major cities and many smaller towns.

Without further ado, here’s this week’s shenanigans…

How traveling helps with humor writing

Take a trip to Ireland and you’ll quickly learn a new word, craic (pronounced like the street drug, yes, or that awful noise you can make with your knuckles). It’s a colloquial term for fun, amusement, or even news or gossip. On a list of Irish slang, “Where’s/what’s the craic?” will more than likely make the top ten expressions. The Irish like a good laugh.

Yeah, I think it’s safe to say they do.

Honestly, almost everyone responds well to good humorthat is, stuff that’s actually funny. Humor transcends genres, time periods, and styles; when you use it correctly, it’s one of the most potent devices in your writing toolbox. Living in Ireland for a semester gave me some new insights on how to strengthen my funny bone.

“May be slippery”

The thing about travel is that it forces you to see the world with new eyes. And often, when it comes to humor writing, that’s half the battle: being able to view things in a new light and find what’s funny, even in the mundane. I made it a habit to take pictures of anything that brought a grin to my face, whether that was an unusually creative “No Littering” sign, some hilarious graffiti, or a group of street performers. Once you get in the mindset of looking, the hilarious stuff will snowball; you’ll start seeing jokes everywhere!

(I think my favorite part about this photo is that there’s an actual litter hotline. Like, what?)

Travel also tends to give you plenty of opportunities to realize just how weird cultural norms are—including how weird yours are. I can pretty much guarantee you’re going to make an idiot out of yourself sometimes when you’re in foreign territory. Awkward and frustrating though those situations might be in the moment, why not turn them into great, entertaining stories? Good writers never let any material go to waste.

Ouch indeed.

Finally, let the culture seep into you. Other countries’ humor tends to differ not only in content but also in tone and style. Irish jokes, for example, emphasize wit and wordplay, and are often more subtle and self-deprecating than American-style humor. (Consider the many famous quips of Oscar Wilde, one of my favorite being “I can resist everything except temptation.”)

Sheep jokes abound in Ireland, but you don’t see too many in the U.S. Pity.

What if, like me, you’d love to travel more but your budget says “Nope”? The good news is that somewhere, something quirky and/or interesting is just a short drive away, waiting for you to find it. Try exploring a town you haven’t spent much time in before, or go people-watching in a popular public area. (On foot may be best, at least once you get there.) Don’t forget a photo-taking device and/or a notebook!

You’ll learn to appreciate the small, random stuff.

The only thing better than travel stories is…more travel stories! Got any good ones? Let’s hear them! Feel free to comment below!



4 thoughts on “Want to write funny? Travel!

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more! I live in Thailand now and it seems to get easier and easier to find humor in everyday occurrences! I was never a writer/blogger until I became an expat and now the jokes keep coming 😀 Looking forward to reading more of your stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you could relate. Thailand certainly sounds like it would be a big adjustment (I lucked out with an English-speaking country in the Western world, which is about as easy a transition as it gets, and it was still very different from the U.S.); I’m glad you’re up for the challenge! It seems to have given you lots to write about, so that’s awesome. I’m hoping to write more about Ireland in the future; it was a grand time and I miss it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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