A Boatload of Laughs: Youths Bust a Gut Writing Humor

Sarina Dorie offers guidance and a fistful of chuckles to kids at our September Write Club workshop

By Audrey Quinn

Whether a hilarious raccoon meme, a boy tackling a laser demon, or a man eating donuts on a stick, September’s Write Club tickled everyone’s funny bone! Instructor Sarina Dorie guided students through several generative exercises in writing humor. 

“These students are so talented–and all had very different focuses in their writing,” Sarina says. “It’s fun to see students apply these techniques to their writing. I laughed so much at the twists they came up with to produce humor.”

In one exercise, students played a Picture/Word Game.

Each student came up with two secret sentences with two corresponding pictures. In the second secret sentence and picture, many students used a humor technique involving flipping their first sentence and picture to come up with something unexpected and bizarre. 

The results were definitely laugh-worthy. 

One student’s first secret sentence and picture started innocently enough, as “a little child using a jump rope.” But things took a turn in their next sentence and picture: “rope using a girl and making her jump.”

Other highlights from this exercise included “Jack Sparrow eats donuts,” followed by “Man eats donuts on a stick” and “A couple dances in the candlelight” followed by “A candle holding the man’s hand, the man is holding the woman’s hand.” 

Overall, the vibe at this Write Club was joyous and mirthful. 

Students also bonded over each other’s senses of humor because, as instructor Sarina Dorie points out: “Humor relies on a setup. Sometimes we can use pop culture or shared knowledge as shorthand for that setup. But the kind of humor that I find funny, (like my Star Trek jokes–that none of these students had watched) might come from a different cultural awareness than their age group. Part of understanding your audience in humor is knowing that they might have knowledge of music, TV shows, etc. that I don’t.” 

There were moments where students laughed at a joke that relied on shared knowledge–like Jack Sparrow eating donuts–and it’s those moments that often bring the most connection in a group of people. That’s what the best humor does: it brings people together and creates shared warmth that reminds us that we’re all human and, in that sense, are all one big family on this little blue planet we call home.

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