How to write a (funny) cover letter

Let your humor shine through so they meet the real you.

I freaking love Glossier. I love it so much, I’ve brought every single one of my friends who visits NYC to their store, and I’m pretty sure a lot of the people working there know who I am by name. Plus, my friends always ask me about my favorite products and recommendations. I own every single flavor of their Balm Dotcom, use multiple Glossier products multiple times a day, and feel that I have earned the title “Glossier Queen.” Basically, the next step in my Glossier Journey™  would be to work for them. Or, maybe even better: get them to hire my mom (aka BEST Take Your Child To Work Day EVER). 

BACKSTORY/SPOILER: So I wrote a cover letter to Glossier about why they should hire me and my mom. From Glossier: crickets. WHAT? BUT! The founder of GOLD happened to see my letter, loved it, and hired me to write this article. So I did get a gig—and Glossier, I’m not giving up!

What’s so important about a cover letter? 

You are not a resume. You are a person. A cover letter is someone’s first impression of you, so it should show that you would be a good addition to the team—not only qualifications-wise but personality-wise. 

That’s why a cover letter doesn’t need to be meep morp robot-y. Stand out—be funny! From a decade (holy cow that’s a big number! Gimme an O! Gimme an L! Gimme a D!) of doing theater auditions, I’ve learned that you must stand out to be remembered by the director, which will increase the chance of you getting cast. For those of you who’ve had experience with theater, think of a cover letter as an audition. 

You want to be professional and show off your skills—and you want to stand out. Here’s how!

5 tips for using humor to make your letter sound human

Whether it’s for a summer camp counselor, baby food taste tester, or the CEO of a modern lifestyle brand that rhymes with “Doop,” here’s what you need to get your cover letter the attention you deserve.

1. Say hello! (to a real person)

Research the proper contact, and address them by name. No one wants to read a letter to “Whom It May Concern,” unless their name is Whom It May Concern. Once you know who they are, say hi! It’s nice. I like to say “Hello, name of person who you’re writing to!” with an exclamation point because it shows that I am excited to apply for this job and do good work! Just not too many exclamation points after that! I think you see what I mean!

2. Introduce yourself with ~pizzazz~

Tell them a little bit about yourself. Just a taste—like you have experience in something that relates to what you want to be doing. This is a good place to be authentically funny, or at least charming, if it feels natural. 

Here and elsewhere, this doesn’t mean you need to write an actual joke with a setup and a punchline and a clever tag. It’s more an opportunity to add a bit of very specific and colorful detail, like, if you’re me: “I own every single flavor of Balm Dotcom and am on my third Boy Brow.” (Humor is like ranch dressing. A little with some carrots, broccoli, etc. is good. Great, even! But most people are really weirded out when you just eat a whole lot of it with a spoon.) Also: this is not the place for self-deprecating humor, like “College was awful, like me!!1!1!1!1!!!!” 

3. But also be straightforward where needed.

People like people who make them laugh, but they also like people who are the right fit for the job with a good work ethic and passion. Be clear about:

  1. What gig you want.
  2. Why you want to work there: What are their values? Mission? Why work for them instead of somewhere else?
  3. What you can help them with: Childcare? Research? Taking over multinational corporations? Get specific about the tasks you are ready to roll your sleeves up to do.

This is where you show that you know when to be funny/charming and also when to get down to bizness.

4. Do! Not! Sell! Yourself! Short! 

When you talk about your qualifications, don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through, even as you aim to communicate concrete and important info. Try to paint a picture and describe, rather than just using Resume Words like “detail-oriented” or “self-starter.” Instead of saying you’re “super-organized,” you can say that you color-code your color-coding pens inside a color-coded pencil case. In other words, where it’s not too forced, show, don’t tell!  

5. End with a call to action

Tell whoever you’re emailing what you are hoping to get from them, other than a job: a response. For those of you who are new to writing cover letters, it sounds a bit strange to tell them to respond, but ya gotta do it. Schedule a Skype call or meeting IRL—just do what you’ve gots2do.

The easiest way is just to slide it in during the sign off.  Try “Looking forward to hearing from you soon.”

I’ll end by sharing with you my letter to Glossier. Maybe it will be helpful to you—or maybe they’ll see it here and reconsider. (See: I’m SHOWING, not just telling, that I’m “dedicated.”)

Good luck landing your dream gig—by being yourself!


Hello friends at Glossier!!

My mother and I are beloved fans of Glossier. Both of us would ~love~ to work at your company; alas she has had over two decades of startup experience, including “IPO” (her words, not mine), which was funded by the Lauder family, therefore she would be a better fit for a job. She is, as you probably just read, very experienced with high growth startups, but more importantly, awesome, innovative, and smart. I think she would make an excellent addition to your team. (LinkedIn:https://www.linkedin.com/in/tereza)

Now let’s talk about me: I attended a year of school at Leaf Academy in Bratislava, which focuses on Entrepreneurial Leadership, focusing on design thinking. Through this program, I’ve helped to plan multiple events such as Model European Parliament SK, Startup Weekend Bratislava, Sensorium Digital Arts & Culture Festival, and Výťah Space Conference. In addition, I have extensive experience with social media (being Gen Z, of course).

This past year, I’ve discovered my passion for the environment and sustainability—specifically sustainable skincare and clothing brands. It is extremely important to me, as someone who will be alive to experience the effects of climate change, that lifestyle companies that use their power as drivers of how people go about their lives step in and take action towards climate change. 

I own every single flavor of Balm Dotcom and am on my third Boy Brow, I never go downtown without stopping by the Glossier store—I always bring my friends. In fact, most of my friends refer to me as something along the lines of “Glossier Queen” which is accurate. I attend school in Europe but will be home from July 1st to August 30th. If you wanted to hire me instead, I think my mom would be okay with that.

Our favorite Glossier products are Boy Brow, Lash Slick, and of course, Generation G in Leo, Jam, and Poppy.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read (or not – that’s okay too) this email. Although this is written in a jokey way, I really think she would be a great addition to the team. I would love nothing more than a “take your kid to work day” at the Glossier office.

If you would (hopefully!!) like to reach out to my mom, her LinkedIn is above.

Sincerely,

     Margot Hulme

PS: This is not my mother writing this as a joke; it is me Margot ( https://www.instagram.com/margotkh/?hl=en)


Photo via: Glossier


Margot Hulme is a high schooler living in New York. Not upstate NY, but just outside New York City. When she’s not studying for the SATs (shoutout class of 2021), Margot is probably playing piano or browsing the King Arthur Flour catalog. Ya know, just for fun.

How to get a job as a (TV) writer and comedian

Alison Leiby is a comedian (Bridgetown Comedy Festival) and writer on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Prior to writing for your fave comedy, she contributed to The President Show, The Opposition, and Triumph. Alison will be performing at Ladies who Laugh comedy fundraiser Tuesday, July 30. Get tickets here. Follow her!

Photo via: Alexandra Genova


What’s your job/job title?

Writer and Comedian

Did you always want to do this job?

Once I learned being a writer was actually a job, I knew one day I would do it. Before I knew it was a job I think I wanted to be like, a fashion designer/dolphin trainer hybrid.

What do you love most about your job?

I get to watch TV when I’m home and call it “research.”

What skills are the most important to have for it?

Creativity, flexibility, ability to live off of snacks for most of the year.

Are they skills that can be developed in other jobs?

Depends on the snack situation, but overall yes.

What is most challenging about your job?

Getting writer’s block when you’re in the office and not being able to go to Nordstrom Rack and browse for an hour to get through it, which is my cure when I’m working at home.

What, if any, are the particular challenges in your job related to your being outside the straight-white-dude norm? BONUS: How do you manage or overcome them?

It’s nice to realize that every year I notice those challenges less and less. I don’t know if that’s the world changing for the better, but I hope it is. There will always be jobs or shows or situations where straight-white-dudes will say they don’t “get” the jokes you’re making or they don’t think that reality shows or makeup tutorials or romance novels are worth making comedy about. You just have to know that they are extremely wrong about that and keep making the kind of comedy and writing the kind of things you think are funny. And if those things are “female” in nature or whatever, all the better. Oh, I also make a point of mentioning when my sick days are for my period cramps because it’s time everyone acknowledges what a nightmare that is (and very valid illness!).

What is the most important thing a teen or young job-seeker can do if they want YOUR JOB?

If you want to write, specifically comedy, it’s a skill like any other, so the more you do it, the better you become. Try and write something every day, even if you think it’s not good, it’s making you good. Also read, watch, and engage with as much of the world as you can. The more you know about the world, the more interesting things you’ll have to say about it in your work for the rest of your life. Also, don’t wait for someone to give you permission to write, just start writing (or performing, same rules apply)


Alison Leiby is a comedian (Bridgetown Comedy Festival) and writer on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Prior to writing for your fave comedy, she contributed to The President Show, The Opposition, and Triumph. Alison will be performing at Ladies who Laugh comedy fundraiser Tuesday, July 30. Get tickets here. Follow her!

Read Cassandra’s bio here.

How to get a job as a (funny) copywriter

If you’d told me when I was a teenager that I was going to write for a living I would have laughed and then worried about why I wasn’t going to be a Broadway star. I had tried, and failed, to test into high school AP English twice and definitely didn’t think writing would be part of my future.  

Fast forward six years: I now work as a junior copywriter in a Manhattan advertising agency—basically Mad Men meets Entertainment 720—and as we say in advertising, “You can too!” In fact, I recommend it. Why?

  • It’s my literal job to write creatively and work with fun, smart, interesting people all day.
  • There’s a community-oriented work culture, the opportunity to work with people my own age, and insane snacks.
  • I’m encouraged to continue exploring my interests outside of writing (comedy, music, politics).
  • I get to think about ways to embed untold narratives into one of pop culture’s most dominant media.
  • I get to turn on the TV and go, “Whoa, I helped make that!”

There are a few cons, such as:

  • Advertising is generally a boys club—but we’re changing that!
  • Capitalism
  • Worrying about the importance of a hashtag. #doesanybodyusehashtags #notreally

But it’s all worth it. While I’m not a stand up comedian, being funny has helped me hone skills in copywriting and creative advertising. What’s more, writing comedic sketches, advertisements, and learning about improv, has also made me more confident in my own voice. So if you want to be funny and get paid, try copywriting! Here are 5 essential steps for getting there.

Pay attention to the world.

I decided to study journalism in college and eventually added an emphasis in advertising. I had the opportunity to visit agencies in Portland and New York and became enthralled by the prospect of casual work attire, ping-pong tables in the office, and coffee on tap. I knew I wanted to work in an environment that encouraged having a sense of humor and a point of view.

I also knew early on that if I was going to work in advertising I wanted to work on campaigns that were culturally relevant and hopefully funny as well. When advertising is tone-deaf it can reinforce negative stereotypes or be blatantly offensive—a prime example being the Kendall Jenner Pepsi campaign.

So while 24/7 ping-pong and cold brew in the office are major benefits, it’s still important to make sure that the work you’re producing never loses touch with reality.

Create a portfolio.

The key to a job in advertising, or creative media, is a portfolio. Your portfolio is really just a website of your work and can consist of real projects that have been produced, spec work that you create on your own, or anything else that showcases your writing ability and personality.

Since none of the projects I created in college had a comedic tone, I knew I had to showcase my personality elsewhere. I started a blog on my site where I wrote about important subjects like why everybody should be a fan of musical theater. For any writer, having a blog is a great way to play with different tones while sharing your thoughts and opinions.

Play up your writing-adjacent skills.

When I started applying for copywriting internships, I found success when I focused on my skills and interests outside of copywriting—primarily my background in political research and my interest in comedy. Throughout the interview process, I was able to show that I was funny by answering questions both comedically and confidently. There is really nothing more cringe-worthy than trying to make someone laugh—but when you are hoping to work in a relaxed environment, especially as a writer, hiring managers are often looking for candidates that are smart but don’t take themselves too seriously. I also incorporated humor into my cover letter by explaining how I didn’t think I could become more of a hipster cliché until I moved to Brooklyn and started playing the mandolin.

Also, social media is often a part of a copywriter’s daily duties. Make sure your own social game is strong and shows professionalism (and humor). Everything counts!

Know the agency’s sense of humor.

There are agencies with a reputation for producing comical spots. Some lean slapstick while others focus on a lighthearted concept for an entire campaign. In my experience, the comedic campaigns that are most effective are the ones that are rooted in a cultural trend or observation. This idea mirrors the principles of improv—that it’s not one line that makes something funny, it’s coming up with a funny and unusual concept in general. But during the interview phase, make sure you know and can contribute to whatever their style is.

Find female mentors.

Though there isn’t nearly as much sexism in the advertising industry as there was on Madison Avenue in the 1960s, it can still be difficult to work in a male-dominated industry. I can’t underscore enough the value of having strong female mentors that will have your back as you navigate the field of advertising. Having a community of women to share experiences, discuss wages, and learn tips from, is essential to success. We all have unique perspectives that we bring to the table and it’s important that we surround ourselves with mentors who understand the power of using comedy to share our stories and creativity—whether that’s through an ad or another format entirely.

So come hang out with me! I might not be gracing the Broadway stage, but it’s immensely powerful, and fulfilling, to work in a collaborative environment and write for a living. If you’re hoping to begin a career in advertising, I encourage you to think about how your voice and point of view could positively impact a brand. Oh, but first: take AP English if you can!

Top photo via: AMC. Bottom photo via: Will Nielsen


Talia Berniker is a copywriter living in Brooklyn, NY. When she isn’t writing ads, she studies improv at the Upright Citizens Brigade, attends as many indie concerts as possible, and loves rooting for all things Oregon Ducks.

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.


I landed my dream comedy internship (and so can you)!

Hi hello! I’m Emily Pasqua. I was an intern for the Spring 2018 semester at The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and, before that, an intern at Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Now, I’m a 23-year-old graduate of SUNY Purchase who still can’t quite believe I was part of these amazing late-night teams.

Before we dive into the entree, here are some appetizer tips for landing your dream internship:

    • Don’t sell yourself short; internships help you gain experience and if you don’t have much experience under your belt already, use your passion for comedy/television to your advantage!
    • Seek out resources that’ll help you get a move on the application process. This includes LinkedIn, campus career centers and even your friends and family. You’ll be surprised to know that Aunt Jill knows a guy who knows a guy that can put in a good word for you.
    • Don’t worry if it doesn’t work out at first. Be like Ariana Grande and say “Thank u, next.” Keep being persistent.

Ok, now back to the main course. I grew up watching Lucille Ball, a comedy queen, in reruns on early-evening television. With this electronic tutelage, I knew exactly what I wanted to do at an early age. There was just one tiny problem: You can’t be a comedy queen if you can’t perform on a stage in front of many, many people. I had chutzpah for days — just not the kind that I needed to perform on stage in front of crowds.

I tried the improv club whilst at Purchase, but saying “yes, and” led me to nope so hard out of that club. I still wasn’t thrilled about performing every week in front of people, due to this this little thing called crippling anxiety. While it was telling me I wasn’t good enough to pursue my true passions, it also led me to study psychology in college. The problem with that was that studying the human brain’s reasons for anxiety gave me — you guessed it — more crippling anxiety.

The turning point for me was when I enrolled in a media studies course aptly named “A Critical Look at Television.” That class, and my professor in particular, rekindled my love of television and comedy. It was clear that while I would never manage to memorize the formula for serial dilutions in microbiology, I was perfectly able to internalize the (very real) formulas that make sitcoms work. You know, like:

funny characters+ situational happenstancechance of dramahilaritysaucy flair = your typical sitcom

What’s actually fun about this type of “science” is that the formulas are controlled by you, and whatever the outcome may be is your own diabolical, yet insanely beautiful creation!

Here’s a fun media-studies fact: Did you know that Lucille Ball was one of the first women in television to own her own production studios? She took over the Desilu name after ditching her tumultuous marriage to the skirt-chasing Desi Arnaz. She wasn’t only a performer, she was also a bona fide Boss-Ass Bitch. From this, I reasoned that if I wanted to excel in comedy and television, I didn’t have to perform.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: There are plenty of jobs in television other than acting. And landing a production internship is an amazing way to find out about all of them.

Oh. Did you just get a cold shiver going up your spine? That’s just your crippling anxiety telling you that you don’t have the experience, contacts, or chutzpah to land an internship. Nothing that a little wisdom from a complete stranger can’t fix! I’m going to tell you how I did it, and believe me — I’m just as cripplingly anxious as you are. Read on and learn.

Lesson 1: Don’t ignore your campus-wide emails.

There it was, amidst a flood of other emails I may or may not have been willing to look over: The three-time Emmy winning show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver was seeking applicants for their production internship. I applied without a second thought and within a few weeks, I scheduled an interview.

This, of course, meant that our old friend crippling anxiety pretty much moved into my dorm room. I was anticipating the worst, and already thinking about my plan b. Nothing had even happened yet!

Let’s talk about interviews. I hadn’t been on any as important as this one before, and all my preconceived notions led me to expect something like Detective Benson from Law and Order: SVU drilling me with questions into the night. Turns out interviews are just … conversations. At least, this one was — a long and magnificent one that went more smoothly than I could have imagined. Which leads me to —

Lesson 2: If you’re passionate about the position you’re interviewing for, it’ll show.

That’s what interviewers are looking for. So walk into the room knowing that you’re the best woman for the job, and let your enthusiasm do the rest. Nerd out if you want to! I distinctly remember going into a rant and rave over my favorite TV shows like 30 Rock and I Love Lucy, but just when I thought I was going way in over my head, turns out my interviewer shared some of the exact same sentiments. It was so refreshing and exhilarating, in that moment I was as optimistic as I’d ever been.

Lesson 3: don’t be afraid to reach out to potential employers for an informational interview.

This means you want to meet them just to talk about their workplace or line of work, not for any specific job. You don’t have expectations other than information-gathering. They are a great way to meet face-to-face, build a connection, and ask a lot of questions. You’re not being annoying, I promise! Employers get to see your personality in action, something a resume can’t provide.

How does one ask for an informational? Simple. “I’m interested in XYZ; when you have a chance can we have a chat about XYZ?” BOOM! You did the thing! I had my informational with my supervisor at Last Week Tonight to thank her for a shot at another dream come true. We had talked about my career aspirations, my interests and what I’ve taken from this internship. When The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon was seeking applicants for their internship, she told me about it. I jumped on that chance so fast.

I walked in with the same underlying anxieties that I did when I interviewed for LWT, but this time, I was beaming with a newfound confidence. I knew I had what it took to be a part of this late-night team. In the interview, I was asked, “Why late-night television?” I responded with, “I want to be a writer. I want to create content that’s fun and unique, and that may even resonate with people.” See? It’s not rocket science.

It’s also a completely subjective answer. If you are ever presented with the same question in an interview, it’s okay if you truly have no idea! More times than not, I’ve found that being honest with yourself in regards to your career aspirations is a totally valid answer. It’s okay to not be sure of yourself. That leads us right into –

Lesson 4: Have fortitude! Potential employers admire honesty.

I had spent weeks deliberating on what I was going to possibly do next if all didn’t work out. Anxiety truly is a funny little friend. I was at the wrap party for LWT when I got the call offering me a position as a writer’s intern with The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. One dream internship was coming to a close, and the door to another one was opening up.

John Oliver and Jimmy Fallon are just some dudes on TV. Yes, applying for their internships can be daunting, but it all comes down to you. Who are you? Why do you stand out amongst the bazillion other applicants trying to snag the same seat as you? Make sure you remember what your true passions are. They may come to you in school, or they may come out of the clear blue sky. Most importantly, remember you will doubt yourself at every moment when applying to internships — or any job, for that matter. You’ll always feel this ounce of inadequacy, but I can for sure tell you that as a human being, there is nothing more admirable than honesty. A dream internship becomes a reality when you take those doubts and insecurities and turn them into creative content. Throw your ego out the window, because the more passionate and authentic you are, the more likely you will land that desired internship!


Read Emily’s bio here.

How to be funny on Instagram

Now that you’ve been schooled in the art of writing a funny tweet (the original fun-size and the updated Costco-size version), let’s take word counts out of the whole equation. If you’re building your comedy brand, you’ll want to think seriously about Instagram. It has more users, and its platform boasts higher engagement than Twitter. Translated into human-speak, that means more people, particularly people your age, are going to see you there.

Of course, if you’re like me, and you’re happily neck-deep in social media addiction, you’ll have several platforms running at once, each with a slightly different flavor. (For the love of God, don’t do that thing where you cross-post the same joke on every network. People are seriously allergic to that much déjà vu.)

The basic setup-punch

So. You’re on Instagram, and you’re funny. What do you do? There are a few different options: You can use it to showcase your cartooning talents, which is great. You can use it as if it were Vine 2.0, creating short snippets of video hilarity. Also great. But what I want to dig into here is how to create a joke that depends on the image, and is deepened with your commentary. This is different from a meme: Memes have text written write on top of them. Boom. Instagram comedy is a little more nuanced, and takes a little more time; viewers will look at the image, which is the setup. Then they click, and get the punchline. See? It’s a joke.

Chelsea Peretti of Brooklyn 99 is great at these. In this one, she’s copping to being that person who cannot be told not to do things, because that will just make her do the thing even harder. It makes me laugh and it makes me identify with her.

The collection of oddities!

Another kind of joke: The collection of oddities. There are lots of these on Insta, but my personal favorite is called “Sad Topographies.” It’s as simple as it is brilliant: Images of real place-names in  that are totally devastating. Anything you’re fascinated with, you can collect and reproduce in this way, as long as you credit the source and honestly, enthusiastically adore your subject. I’ve got a file of lamps from David Lynch movies and TV shows waiting for me to have the time to categorize and upload them one by one. What’s your obsesh? Share it.

This account, @poundlandbandit, creates composite images that illustrate a concept. It can take a minute to get into it, and some of the jokes thud with Americans because the ideas are Brit-based, but goddamn, when it works – as in this joke, about that one girl who goes out to the club and just acts miserable, but for why? But she does – plays on common experiences that connect us all in misery and hilarity.

Snap now, caption later

If you’re thinking of getting started being funny on Instagram, I would love to give you some pointers. When writing a joke, you walk around with a notebook and write down things that strike you as funny, so that you can think it over later and develop it into a bit. Visual bits work the same way: I take pictures of things that strike me as odd, ridiculous, incongruous, or just plain amusing, and later, I look them over and try to think of how I can deepen the joke with words.

Here’s an example. My synagogue has this odd little door in a wall high above anything that could possibly serve as a floor. (Never mind that I clearly snapped this photo in the middle of Rosh Hashonah services. Obviously I apologized on Yom Kippur.) So the image itself is surreal and amusing, and would have been fine on its own. But I thought it over, and first typed “This is where I go when I want to get high.” But 420 jokes are kind of stale. Next, I thought of “I really hate visitors.” Still didn’t do it for me; I’m a little tired of introverts announcing what introverts they are every other minute. I thought about a Rapunzel joke, but I finally settled on “I said where’s my pizza?” For me, this hit a sweet spot and told a tiny story about a woman who is sick and tired of people not being able to reach her unreachable home. I love thinking about that woman. I think that sometimes, we are all that woman.

Rewrite!

I should mention here that I have a hard-and-fast rule: Never use the first version of a joke. In fact, the first three versions are garbage. I held to this rule when I was writing headlines for Cosmopolitan and when I was doing standup, and I stil hold to it when I’m texting my dad. Never settle for that first version. That first version is for the bro in the backwards baseball cap who says “I’m hilarious, right?” and “People say I should do standup.”

There used to be a game we played at UCB called “stab the joke in the face.” I don’t know if they still play it, and I can’t remember what it consisted of beyond flogging a dead joke until it was pulverized dust. From that dust, you often find gems forged of pure desperation. And that, my friends, is comedy.

Don’t fear the dad joke

Speaking of texting my dad, my next example is pure Dad Joke. I know for a fact that my dad would love it because I did, in fact, text it to him. I snapped the picture because I just thought it was bizarre to see all those fours in a row like that. But what to say about it? A 2/3 of Satan joke? I was stymied and about to fall back on just being plain-old stunned into wonderment, when I realized that “what’s it all for” could so easily become a painful pun. Sometimes the jokes are so bad, they’re good. You be the judge.

Kids do the most ‘grammable things

Apparently this article is mostly just me going through my Instagram and bragging on it. I’m okay with that, despite my dismal numbers. (I am no longer performing standup and don’t need a platform. Yours will be different!) A major theme in my Insta-stream is “random stuff my kids leave around that is disturbing/odd/amusing out of context.”

In this case, I found a worry doll in the kitchen and noticed that it had a baby, and the baby was giving me side-eye. I am ALL ABOUT babies giving me side-eye. If I were a baby (and some might argue that I totally am a giant baby, and where, I ask you, is the lie?), I would give everyone the side-eye, because being a baby is 100% bullcrap.

Actually, this particular pair of worry dolls tells a story, too: The mom is giving side-eye to the baby, who is giving side-eye, or disdainful front-eye, to the viewer. I simply titled it “This worry-doll baby has zero time for your nonsense” to let the viewer know that (a) I know they are worry dolls, (b) The worry dolls’ expressions amuse me, and (c) I know exactly how that worry doll feels.

Now that I look at her again, the worry doll might be flinging herself in front of her mother to protect her from an errant laser beam, something she is very tired of having to do. Also, the mom might be Beyonce because her hair is blowing back for unknown and obviously glamorous reasons.

In sum: If you don’t feel like your Twitter jokes are landing, try another platform, and another form of joke. Your voice might need a different kind of mic.

What’s your favorite visual joke? Send us a thousand-word image.

Read Amy’s bio.

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.


Read Emma’s bio.

How to write a funny protest sign

Right now, everyone’s mad about something. And during a time of high-visibility, ultra-Instagrammed civic engagement, we have more opportunities than ever to amplify our infuriated opinions.

 

You only have one piece of poster board to make your point, and you want to hit home.


This is about getting a laugh—and it’s about using humor to make a serious point.

But what makes for a funny and powerful protest sign? Let’s look at what makes these signs hilarious and important, and talk about how you can be not just bitter — but better.

 

Be passionate (but open to understatements).

 

If you’re thinking of going to a protest, but you feel so lukewarm about it that you’re tempted to carry an anti-protest sign, think again. That’s a dick move. Unless you’re counter-protesting – which should ignite equally passionate feelings – there’s no reason to show up just to yuck someone’s yum.

Here’s an exception missed by the people who made the post I linked to above: If your “lukewarm” sign is deliberately ironic, understated for comic effect, and/or flat-out sarcastic. For instance, this lady, from that article:

That’s not the face of a someone who’s “a little upset.” That’s the face of a woman who has brought home the bacon, fried it up in the pan, and gives zero f*cks if you feel like a man at this point. If you want to harness the power of sarcasm, think of the thing you would love to SCREAM at people. Then, think of how you would dial that all the way back to where it’s totally ludicrously understated. For instance:

At a rally for DREAMers: “Please let my friends’ parents stay here to actually parent them.”

At a protest against bullfighting: “This is bull.”

At a demand to take down confederate statues: “Didn’t these guys lose the war?”

 

You see what I mean.

 

Go big. Comedy is about being genuine, and then exaggerating—taking your point to the max. Things just aren’t bad, or hellish, they are almost literally HELL, says this woman:

Use comparisons. This is one of GOLD’s own  5.5 types of jokes! This girl’s sign is hilarious, awful, and true. By comparing dress codes to guns, she’s highlighting their ridiculous nature. What’s more is she’s actually raising two important issues instead of one: girls’ dress codes and gun control. Comparisons are great for multifaceted protesting—and for, you know, being funny.

 

This is where corny works.

I’m not usually pro-puns. Used wrong, they can be so corny they make you cringe. However, when you’re working with a fortune-cookie-sized message, you have to employ whatever will work in a small space. Be punny, rhyme like the wind, indulge your inner dad.

Use your age. It’s funny when kids swear. It just fucking is. Also, kids are usually more observant than adults — we’re not so cynical, and we care a lot about the world around us, despite the stereotype of the bored and angsty teenager. Take your unique point-of-view and apply it to comedy! This kid probably has uttered the words “I’d rather die than go to math class”. That’s something kids say. They don’t usually follow it up with calling people a-holes. That’s the punch. Solid.


Gillian Rooney is a teenage American comedian and writer based in Connecticut. 

 




 

How to start your own comedy YouTube channel

Picture it. The date: Spring, 2015. The challenge: Fresh off a firing, I told myself to do something I enjoyed, even if it was not for money. The result: I launched “Stay Golden,” a YouTube channel of weekly original videos inspired by The Golden Girls. We’re talking mashups, interviews, rankings, lists and original scripted comedy (and more).

In the three years since that first video, I’ve produced over 90 videos, gained over 9,200 subscribers, started turning a profit, became a certified YouTube content creator, branched out to hosting Golden Girls Bingo in NYC, and got paying creative work. All of this came out of the channel that I still run today.

YouTube is a valuable platform for comedians at every stage in their career and should be in your creative arsenal. From showcasing your gigs to making your own content, YouTube will be a spotlight on all things you! With no money down, I’m going to give you the inside scoop on how to launch your channel in an hour or less. These are the basics to get rolling on YouTube.

What kind of channel do you want to be?: YouTube channels, like movies, tend to fall into categories. Stay Golden is a combination of comedy, entertainment, and vlogging inspired by the show. I make videos ranking every episode, mashups where “The Golden Girls” meet shows like “Game of Thrones,” and one epic five-hour loop of Dorothy Zbornak screaming “Condoms, Rose!”

The idea of a channel is to showcase your funny, your way. You could do comedic monologues, write and star in sketches on trending topics, develop a full-on web series based on your own life, or use the channel to upload videos of your live performances. And there’s so much more!

You can be one of these things or all of these things. The key here is to have a clear vision, at launch, of what you want to do that makes you feel confident and excited for your new channel.

Setting up your channel: We can get this done in under five minutes.

      • Already have a gmail account? Congratulations, you are 50% done with this part already. Log into YouTube using your gmail address. Visit your account settings to change the name of your channel.
      • Don’t have a gmail, or want to make a new one for your channel? Go to YouTube.com and click “create new account.” Fill out all required information. Your email is not your channel name; the “first and last” name fields make up your YouTube handle.

The key here is your channel name as a part of the setup. If the channel is about you, whether it is vlogs or videos of performances, consider making it your name. If it is sketches, scripted shows, or other comedy, make it your show’s name. Pro tip: Be sure to search the name in YouTube first to see if its already in use. If you need to change it, you can do this anytime in Google+.

Channel art: These will be the first two images viewers associate with your channel. There is your banner and thumbnail. Think of these two items as your visual business card. They work together to tell the story of you and your channel.

    • Thumbnail: Also known as your logo. When thinking about your channel, what is the image that comes to mind? “Stay Golden” uses our name and a picture of a slice of cheesecake. If the channel is all your stand-up material, use your face as the thumbnail.
    • Banner: I talk about Golden Girls all day. My banner is their faces with information about my show. Banners are larger than thumbnails and take up the top of the channel page. Use bold colors and uncluttered images to catch viewer’s eyes. Relate it to what you do. And keep it simple. If your comedy is all about kittens, don’t put your dogs in there too. It doesn’t make sense.

Remember more than half of viewers watch YouTube on their phone. Your art needs to be clear enough to look good on smaller devices. Pro tip: You can use free services like canva.com or snappa.com to make these graphics in a snap. They come with drag-and-drop templates, fonts, and styles.

Uploading your videos: Whether it is original content or a recording from your last five-minute standup set, the process is the same. After clicking the camera icon in the top right corner to upload your video and hit these four hot spots:

    • Video title: You have to call it something. No video will ever get published on YouTube without one. Titles range from the silly to the straightforward. I like to number my videos so viewers know there are more out there to watch. Pro tip: Keep titles under 70 characters so they show up in searches without getting cut off.
    • Description: This is your area to chat it up! Tell people what the video is about. Plaster it with all your social media links and your website; tell people where they can find your next show.
    • Tags: These are search keywords related to this video and your channel. They help you show up in searches. Fun Fact: Don’t add too many tags a single video. If a video has more than 15 hashtags, it may get automatically left out or searches. We don’t want that.
  • End screens: People are loving your videos. Laughing it up. Wanting more! Use end screens to give them what they want: More of your awesome content! End screens link directly to your other videos and encourage viewers to subscribe.

Promotion: Launching a channel will expose you to a brand-new audience you might not otherwise be in front of. To broaden your exposure, you should promote your channel across other social media platforms. Share your links on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (if you’re on them). Don’t overlook other options like Tumblr, Buzzfeed, and Reddit. For example, I post every new video in the Golden Girls subreddit and get tons of views. Pro tip: Remind people to subscribe to your channel whenever you link to it.

Why YouTube is important: Comedy is a hustle. I am constantly submitting to shows, pitching producers and trying to get writing published. Let’s be real. It can often leave you feel lonely, stranded, and rejected.

With Stay Golden, I don’t have to wait for acceptance. If I have an idea, I make it. YouTube means creating without permission. You don’t have to be booked to tell jokes or commissioned for a sketch. You set up a camera or your phone, do your thing, upload it, and make your own audience. You take control and power of your voice by making your own opportunities.

Stay Golden has over 1 million views, 99% coming from total strangers. I think about the shows where I’ve performed for an audience of nine people or how hard it can be to get friends to come out for a show on Tuesday at 11 pm. YouTube breaks down the barriers of time, location, and space.


COURTNEY ANTONIOLI is a performer and storyteller who She produces Stay Golden, a YouTube channel of original content inspired by The Golden Girls. @stolafprod

How to collaborate in comedy with literally anyone ever

Sure, I do solo comedy. But I’ve been collaborating in one form or another for the majority of my life: sketch, improv, choreography, directing, producing, and working in writers’ rooms. I like both ways of working, and I think the best thing you can do for yourself is know how to do either one.

Finding a great writing partner, producing partner, or any other sort of comedy collaborator is a worthy goal. Working with someone else can make your creative life so much richer.

It can also make it a lot more complicated because now, instead of only navigating your own hang-ups, craziness, bad moods and assorted mishegas, you’ve also got someone else’s to contend with.

Add to that, there’s no playbook for a working relationship with your funny friends.

So I’ve written a little primer for you, replete with tips and tricks to remember as you bring collaborators into your (previously solo) process—and alphabetized for maximum adorableness.

Always encourage your collaborators and let them know when they’re doing a good job.

Between you and me” — Or maybe not. Gossip is toxic and will always come back to haunt you.

Constantly check in on deadlines to make sure that your partner knows what is due, when.

Deadlines are the only way. Create them for yourself. Little ones and big ones all along your path.

Everyone you meet is a potential collaborator. Treat people with respect (until they really blow it and then GTFO).

Forgive small mistakes. We are all learning. Learn and move forward and help your collaborators to do the same.

Give all of yourself to your projects or don’t bother doing them. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.

Have fun working together with your friends. When it stops being fun, notice — and make changes.

It’s okay to put yourself first. Make sure that you are not giving too much and getting nothing back. This should be an equal exchange.

Just say no to people who make you feel like garbage. You don’t need a collaborator who belittles you. There are plenty of fish in the sea.

Kick butt. Celebrate. Relax. Repeat.

Lone writing is not a bad thing. It’s great to take a break from collaborators sometimes and do it all on your own. You’ll learn a lot. See which way you prefer.

Make friends with people whose energy and work ethic you admire. Talent is nice, but over time, work ethic and positive energy will take you further. Seek out people who are talented and have an indefatigable spirit.

Nobody knows you better than yourself. Speak up about your needs creatively, financially, and in terms of time management. Don’t let alpha personalities silence you, and don’t step on the voices of others either.

Open yourself up to your writing partner’s ideas. Accept notes. They will make your work better.

Put yourself in the shoes of your collaborator. How is s/he seeing this situation?

Quality over quantity when it comes to rehearsal and writing time. You can get a lot done in a short, focused period of time and surprisingly little done when you’re unfocused or your team is too chatty to do any writing.

Read. It makes you a better writer.

Stop comparing yourself to your collaborators. Their strengths complete your weaknesses and vice versa. You had the good sense to work with them, and that’s a skill unto itself.

Take care of your body. Don’t rehearse and write till all hours of the night. Sleep makes you more awake and therefore more talented and more FANCY.

Untangle complicated social problems as soon as you can. Don’t let bad energy fester in your group. Talk it out and get rid of it. Put the work first.

Vent your grievances to your journal or practice role-playing with another trusted friend before having a difficult conversation to your collaborator. Words matter.

Wait until the show is over to celebrate. It’s not over till it’s over. Stay focused. Eyes on the prize.

Xerox your scripts well before your rehearsal so that everyone has copies and you’re not scrambling for a Staples. By Xerox, I mean print. (Work with me here, people. X is a tough one.)

You are always learning, even though you’re already a superstar. Stay humble.

Zip Zap Zop is still a fantastic warm up for your sketch or improv group. Don’t knock it. You’ll never outgrow a game that’s all about focus.

And those are the ABC’s of Collaboration!

Tell us: Do any of these tips remind you of a good story? Let us know (keeping people anonymous, though. See the Gossip note above….) Failure and success stories welcomed!


Read Emma’s bio.