How to be funny on Twitter, Vol. 3

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.

Time jump

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:

Product suggestion

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?

Interrupting Cow

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.

Baby talk

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!

ONE JOB

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!

General GIFfery

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.

Re: Retweets

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.”)

Staring contest

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.

Tweet tags

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!

*checks notes*

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.

Grab bag

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.

Personal reasons

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.


How to write a funny tweet

Real talk. You want to be funny on Twitter. But how do you do it? Back when we first wrote about how to write a funny tweet, we had only 140 characters. Now that we have twice as many to play with (!), so we thought we’d double the number of articles on this topic, too!

Being funny on Twitter is very similar to being funny IRL. Twitter is a terrific place to: See what resonates with an audience, find YOUR audience, get practice writing jokes. You may find that if a joke lands well on Twitter, it will also land well in your standup set or in your script. And. That. Is. #UsefuLInformationForYouToKnow

In your phone, keep a notebook page dedicated to funny tweets. You can even title the page “FUNNY TWEETS.” My page is called TWEETS, IDEAS, SKETCHES because I abhor labels and I like to keep it open as to what my random musings will turn into.

On that page, you can digitally scribble every passing observation that strikes you. The note you take down doesn’t have to be funny. Just write what grabs you as truthful or piques your interest.

At this point, your thought is a lumpy piece of dough. Before you can share it with the world, you will get out your rolling pin, shape that baby up,  and then put it in the oven. (I haven’t baked bread since Girl Scouts, but probably that’s roughly the sequence of events?)

  1. The Dough: A thought that makes you laugh and feels truthful, even in its lumpy form.
  2. The Rolling Pin: Give it a set up and a punchline.
  3. The oven: Put some hashtags on it so it becomes part of a larger conversation.
  4. Feed bread to strangers on the internet: See how people respond. If people reply to you, that may be an opportunity to add tags to your initial joke! You know you’ve made a fun tweet when other members of the Twitterverse dive in and play with you.

Okay, so that’s how you get inspired. But what form will your tweet take? Here are a few genres of tweet that may slay:

  • Internal monologues, especially when written like a script:

  • Comparisons (again, this is really good show vs. tell):

  • Comparisons (again, this is really good show vs. tell):

  • Captions: Some photos just beg for elaboration.

  • Honest, sardonic, sad, socially responsive tweets, such as the constant gifts that Aparna Nancherla bestows upon the Twitterverse. I don’t know what to call the “genre” here, so I’m making Aparna her own genre. Read her tweets and you will see why.

Since I’ve got you here, let’s talk about how to structure a Twitter joke. The additional characters mean that you can express yourself more naturally, without resorting to letter-words (u c what i mean?) and awkward abbreviations. Say it out loud a couple of times before you tweet it to make sure the reader can hear your voice, as if you were performing the tweet live.

You don’t have italics, but you can convey timing and expression with all-caps, some-caps, and no-caps, as well as with too much or too little punctuation. Voilá, all-caps as a stand-in for yelling:

And lack of punctuation to indicate utter resignation:

Sometimes it’s funnier — I can’t explain why — to just dispense with punctuation altogether, or to just not really end a sentence because you ran out of craps

Hashtags are another modern-day form of punctuation you can play with. Feeling the urge to tweet, but not the inspiration? You don’t have to come to Twitter with a brilliant idea. You can roll up to it with a wide-open, blank brain. See what news events and hashtags are trending, and treat that as a brainstorm extravaganza!

For instance, as I write this, #NationalBowtieDay is trending, which reminds me of my friend’s dad, who always wears bowties. He is a classy gent. That, in turn, reminds me of how people have stopped having manners and being classy. Makes me think of…. Okay…. Here is the lumpy dough version of my future tweet:

Bowties are about class and a type of man* who is rare in this day and age.

That feels truthful to me, but it’s kind of a lumpy thought. I need to knead it. Here’s the rolling-pin version, as I attempt to give it a set-up and punchline.

I dedicate this #NationalBowtieDay to the men out there who know themselves well enough to say, Hey. I’m just gonna spill ketchup on a tie anyway, so why not upgrade to a bowtie? To thine own self be true, gentlemen.

So I took the idea of respecting a man in a bowtie and asked myself, why do I respect this person? Well, maybe it’s because he’s a dork, and he knows he’s a dork, and he keeps it real with himself.

But this tweet is not ready for the oven yet. It needs to be shorter. Trying again:

I dedicate this #NationalBowtieDay to the men out there who spilled ketchup on their ties so often that they just. stopped. wearing them. Knowledge is power, gentlemen. To thine own selves, be true.

Okay! I like that! It keeps my initial idea of “classiness” intact by including old timey sayings like “knowledge is power” and my amended Shakespeare quote: “To thine own self, be true.” It honors the initial germ of the thought that men who wear bowties are kind of going against the grain and being a little subversive by not wearing ties, yet still managing to be old-fashioned and more classy than the times require.

I put a couple of periods in there (“just. stopped. wearing”) because I want you to hear how I would read it aloud. Now that I’ve put my tweet in the oven and shared it with the strangers of the Twitterverse to see how they receive it! If I get some funny gifs back, I will definitely retweet them because I am obsessed with a well-placed gif.

Here’s the tweet I made just for you! See how it fares! Twitter is live theater, folks, so I make no promises:

Your turn! Tweet your funny-ified thoughts to the world and mention us, @goldcomedy, so we can share in the fun you are creating!

*Womyn and genderfluid folx also wear bowties. Sometimes they wear the BEST bowties. For the purposes of my tweet, I am focusing on the traveling-salesman image of an old-timey gent in a bowtie.


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