Being funny on Twitter is an ART. It is TOUGH to squeeze your genius into 280 characters, but it’s worth it: no matter what, it’s great practice for concise, show-don’t-tell writing, and a perfect place to test out your jokes. That’s why we’ve already written about the beautiful hellscape that is Twitter here and here—and we STILL have more to share!
This time, let’s talk about: the comedy devices people use to be funny on Twitter. Sometimes they’re flash-in-the pan memes that fill your timeline with short-lived riffs or giant cows. But some are the comedy gifts that keep on giving. So when you’ve got a funny thought but aren’t sure how to shape it, look here for ideas!
And if you don’t see your favorite one here? Please DO @ us!
Compare and share
Comparisons can be an excellent source of content, and you make them all the time without even realizing it. Use the tweet styles below to draw attention to the comparison you want to make.
Me… Also me
This format is great to use when you realize you have made a funny self contradiction or are doing something you know you shouldn’t. Alternately known as the “evil Kermit” meme.
This tweet style is great for drawing a comparison between the differences in yourself or others at different ages. For teens who may not have that many years under your belt yet, you can structure it as “Me at 13 vs. Me at 18.”
Me, an intellectual
Faux-intellectualism is always funny. Bonus points if you can combine it with another device or meme, like the tweet below:
This one is great for when you have an addition or “improvement” to an already-made product. The more absurd you can go with these while still suggesting a semi-desirable new thing, the better. Structure: “Those [familiar product], but [joke].”
Log of dialogues
Although people often use Twitter as a place to monologue about their thoughts, don’t forget to incorporate dialogue into your feed. These back and forths can be a simple way to get a point across.
You vs. your body
This tweet style puts you at war with… yourself. What does your brain argue about with the rest of your body?
Obvs, the famed “interrupting cow” joke but in tweet form. It’s great for when you want to demonstrate how a common-sense point keeps getting shot down for stupid reasons.
Do you have a short message you want to make that doesn’t need a lot of context? This dialogue format between a parent and a baby is a solid option. Works best when your message starts with a “D” for “Dada” or an “M” for “Mama,” but you can get creative with your baby’s first words!
A picture’s worth a thousand tweets
Got a great GIF, picture, or video you want to post but not sure how to frame it? Use one of these!
Have you seen something so counterintuitive (read: epic #fail) that you just had to take a picture of it to prove it was real? Now you have ONE JOB: post that pic with the “You had ONE JOB” caption, and let hilarity ensue.
Passive aggressive prayers
This one is tricky to do successfully and without shaming anyone, but if you notice a friend or family member that resembles someone/something else, you can plug it into the “Pray for my ____, there’s nothing wrong with him, he just ____” format. When in doubt, check with them first!
Have a funny GIF or video that you want to post, but not sure what to say about it? Set it up so that your GIF/video is the answer to a question! The example below frames it within an interview, but your answer can be to your mom, friend, teacher, or whoever makes the most sense.
See a tweet that you just GOTTA respond to, but you’re not sure how? Here are some devices you can try out.
Check your spelling
See a tweet that misrepresents fact or a news story so blatantly that you can’t help but respond? Use the “You misspelled ____” device to write out what the tweet SHOULD have said. (Also known as “Here, I fixed it.”)
This device is perfect for when you want to use your specific background—your race, culture, sexual orientation, etc.—as the focal point of your response without wanting to get too deep into minutiae. Not sure that “stares” is the way you’d respond? Try out “laughs,” “scoffs,” or “nods” paired with your background.
Said no one ever
Similar to Check Your Spelling above, if you see a tweet (or quote in an article) that is laughably wrong or one that you know many people would disagree with, just quote tweet with a simple “…said no one ever.”
This + that
You’ll see a lot of these “this + that” Twitter formats that often go viral, where you can really let your creativity and humor shine through your retweeted answer. Don’t be afraid to push the format limits, like this run-on reply did here.
These devices are great when you have a topic or idea that feels fairly fully formed already, but you’re not sure how to end it.
TED Talk time
Use this one when you have a strong opinion that you know is #hottake OR, if you’re being silly, the opposite. Pop a “thank you for coming to my TED talk at the end” and you’re golden! Note: if you run out of room, this one’s common enough that it’s funny to just trail off, as in: “Thank you for coming to my Ted ta”
In this essay
Similar: Have a counterintuitive or unique point to make and only 280 characters to do it in? Write as much of your idea out as you can to get your point across and then end with an “in this essay I will” to show that you could go on long enough to fill a scholarly journal.
Don’t @ me
Got a controversial or unconventional point to make? Slap “don’t @ me” at the end of your tweet and prep for a debate.
Asking for a friend
Any silly questions you want to ask the Twitter-verse work best when you are “asking for a friend.” This is also a great way to make thirst tweets more palatable: you’re not lusting after Shawn Mendez’s new Calvin Klein pics, your “friend” is!
This device works well when you want to highlight hypocrisy or a piece of information that should be obvious, and is often used with a picture or retweet. A great choice for political opinions and satirical takes as well.
These devices don’t necessarily fall neatly into one category, but they don’t have to when they’re as funny as these are.
Yeah, sex is cool…
When you want to draw attention to the best moment or feeling in the world, just point out how much cooler it is than sex and voila! Viral tweet activated.
Don’t say it…
Have something you really really wanna say, but also have a chorus of people telling you “don’t say it” in your head? This device turns that thought process visual, and has the added benefit of helping you put out your favorite dad jokes, puns, or other silly thoughts into the world.
Rupi Kaur poetry slam
Oh Rupi Kaur, what would we do without your beautiful yet formulaic poems? Turn them into a tweet, of course! Copy her poetry style for your short takes that sound deeper than they actually are.
We all have our own personal reasons for doing things, but now you can leverage them as the setup for tweeting about anything that typically occurs regardless of personal reasons.
When in doubt
If you’ve made it to the end of this list, you know that there are so many different formats you can use for all your tweeting needs, but if you are ever really and truly stuck, use the tried and true “just gonna leave this here” tweet. Then you can post anything—and we mean ANYTHING.