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Incorporate Humor into Serious Content or Tragic Stories Using a Simple Process

Learn to:

  • Use simple techniques to find humor in serious or heartbreaking stories
  • Find the subtle balance of incorporating humor into tragic stories, while maintaining the essence of seriousness
  • Incorporate some of the lessons that we have already covered


Lets take a look at the two examples of how I incorporated humor into serious stories:

In this excerpt, I share a very personal story relating to my father’s death, cremation, and subsequent throwing of his ashes at his favorite fly-fishing spot in Ireland. See how I add humor by telling my mother’s funny story.


In this excerpt, I share a very serious story when I came close to getting sacked at work. I’m about to go to the angry president of a company to get him to shut down a generator that I felt was on the verge of a catastrophic failure. My recommendation was very unpopular, as it would cost millions in lost revenue to shut down the machine. Notice how I find humor by explaining how the president looked.


Any of the humor techniques identified in this course can be applied to find humor in serious or heartbreaking stories, but I’ve found that a combination of the following three steps are most effective:


Write out your content. Identify the different sections, parts, or “scenes.” Step into each “scene” and ask yourself:

  • What is ironic in this scene?
  • What character traits do the people in this scene have?
  • What unusual distinguishing features do they have?
  • Is there a funny story about one of the characters?
  • Is there a funny story that one of the characters told you?


Incorporate Embellishment! Step into each “scene” and ask yourself how you can embellish to improve the audience experience:

  • How do I feel?
  • What could I smell that is unusual?
  • What could I see that could be quirky?
  • What could I hear that could be unusual or annoying?
  • What crazy or quirky things could I incorporate?
  • What could annoy or frustrate me?
  • What could be ironic about what is happening?
  • What are the “norms” that could be “flipped” to shock?
  • How can I embellish this story to build tension prior to triggering laughter?

STEP 3 (See Lesson 8 on the Humor Rule-of-Three)

Utilize the Rule-of-Three formulas:

  • Set-up + Set-up + Twist

Remember! The “set-ups” are two items that are similar or closely related in some way. The “twist” is typically something absurd or very different that “fools” the audience!

This is a series of blog articles and brief videos on “Finding the Funny – Learn the Step-By-Step-Process to Develop and Deliver Humor & Funny Stories & Incorporate into Serious Content.” The blogs are excerpts from my e-learning course (see link on right) which includes:

  • Over 16 lessons
  • Over 8 hours of video instruction
  • Activities and quizzes to complement each lesson
  • Downloadable worksheets and templates
  • 12 month access to course updates and additions

Please feel free to share with professional speakers, public speakers, trainers…anyone who stands in front of audiences who wants to make them laugh or bring some lightheartedness into serious content. Help me out by “liking,” “subscribing.” and “sharing” on the various social media platforms. To help me out, please make sure you “subscribe” (right-hand column) so you do not miss any of these weekly blog articles. Please feel free to comment on this blog-site and on social-media sites, and share with those who will benefit from them.

Copyright © MMXX by David R. Hill