Writing Prompts: How to Write Funny [Scene Stealers]

    Would You Like to Try ‘Funny Writing’?

    Welcome to Scene Stealers, our series of writing prompts designed to flex your creative muscles.

    We’re thrilled that so many of you are participating in our writing prompt series. (Read the other Scene Stealers here and add one of your own.)

    In case you’re not familiar with Scene Stealers, here’s how it works:

    • We set the scene
    • You steal it, make it your own, and
    • Share your creation in the comments section of this post

    Of course, it’s perfectly fine if you don’t want to share your work, but we hope you’ll do the exercise anyway.

    Now for the ground rules:

    • You must use the exact wording we provide—in this case, it must appear in the beginning of your story.
    • Your story must be 350 words or less.
    • Your work must be original and not previously published.
    • WTD provides an encouraging and safe environment for writers to grow and learn from each other. We’d love you to comment on other people’s submissions in a friendly and supportive manner.
    • We reserve the right to delete any comments or entries we deem inappropriate and those that do not meet the specifications above.

    This week’s instalment is designed to develop your ‘funny writing’ muscle.

    Scene Stealer #14

    Usually, I’m not funny, but the other day

    Now steal this and make it your own.

    We can’t wait to read what you come up with, so please add your submission to the comments section of this post.

    By Vinita Zutshi, Guest Post Editor at Write to Done. Vinita also blogs at Carefree Parenting.

    Image: Woman laughing courtesy of Bigstockphoto.com

    About the author

      Mary Jaksch

      Mary Jaksch is best known for her exceptional training for writers at WritetoDone.com and for her cutting-edge book, Youthful Aging Secrets. In her “spare” time, Mary is also the brains behind GoodlifeZEN.com, a Zen Master, a mother, and a 5th Degree Black Belt.

    • Don Bates says:

      How do I put my photo on your site?

      • Vinita Zutshi says:

        Don, you can upload a photograph using en.gravatar.com. This photograph will then show up as your avatar every time you post a comment.

    • Edi Gabe says:

      Usually I’m not so funny but the other day I thought, I should at least give it a shot and it did save me from dying of shame. You see I quit my job as a banker, let’s face it, there’s just no fun in crunching numbers that will never be credited to my account. Next I tried childcare at a club called ‘Growing Oaks’ but would you believe it, the Oaks just wouldn’t grow!! Not a single kid showed up. The one gig that came through was “a still- life” acting role at a children’s event.”
      So here I am in this ridiculous tree costume complete with crinkly green leaves and lanky branches all I had to do was stretch my arms across the leafy pillars! What! I came in for fun not to be nailed on a cross! Eventually, I convinced myself it was not going to be that bad since my role was just to act as the “sneezing and giggling ” tree whenever the kids came around.

      It was fun for the first 20 minutes until I felt the need to pee! I thought oh well, I’ll do my best to hold on till the end, but the damned M.C. had to announce to all the kids, “One tree out of all the trees here is not real, when you find it , tickle away! ” Goodness gracious! I definitely made it really easy for the extremely vivacious kids to find me because I was shaking like the proverbial leaf! Rushing and tumbling over themselves they came at me, springing their fingers forward for what will be the biggest tickle of my entire LIFE!

      One, two, four, sixteen all came determined to tickle the life out of me. At first, I tried to hold the pee in, but when two kids tickled my armpits as though synchronized I just had to let it go! As my body sprinkler wet the grass I laughed out loud, “Haha, thanks for watering me, could you please put the bottle in my mouth, after all I’m not a tree!”

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    • Judith Krouse says:

      Usually I’m not funny, but the other day I kept hearing a pigeon making a lot of noise. I hate hearing them because when I was small, pigeons would sit on my window sill and wake me up from a sound sleep.
      This time I thought my two girls were making that sound and I told them: “be quiet!” I thought they were playing a prank on me and I repeatedly told them to be quiet and that it was not funny.
      They came into the living room laughing, so I knew something wasn’t right. If they are pulling a prank they don’t laugh.
      They pointed to the mantle where a pigeon was sitting and making all that noise. After we got rid of it, we allhad a good laugh and something we will always remember.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Usually, I’m not funny, but the other day I decided to say yes to my boyfriend’s awkward social challenge. You see, I’m the girl who always did the right thing, who took the “right” path, did well in school, moved up the corporate ladder, automated her savings, and maxed out her retirement contributions. I’m nice and pleasant though never ostentatious. Having always followed the rules in life meant that I rarely spoke up or sought to be the center of attention. Imagine my surprise when I fell in love with a loud, happy, jovial, and supportive man named Bob.

      On this particular sunny, warm summer Saturday, early in our relationship, Bob and I drove down south to a town on the coast. As we were walking around this town’s quaint Main street arm in arm, we popped into an olive shop to enjoy the free designer olive samples and the free bread pieces available for a delicate dip into yummy premier olive oils.

      That’s when Bob, who’s always egging me on to see what I’ll do in response to his awkward social challenges, turns to me and says, “babe, babe, tell ‘em your olive joke.” And since I’m feeling inspired and in love, I say, “sure,” I’ll tell this olive shop proprietor my olive joke, what do I have to lose? And he agrees to listen as well. So then I begin:

      “Ok, so two olives are on a table, right? One olive rolls off the table and falls all the way onto the floor. The second olive who’s still up on the table looks down at him and says, ‘hey man, you alright?’ The olive on the floor looks back up and says, ‘I’ll-live’!”

      Then…a moment of deafening silence, and the Olive store proprietor looks into my eyes, closes his eyes into a squint, and bursts into the most cacophonous laugh you’ve ever heard. Usually, I’m not that funny, but that Saturday, I was, and we all shared a good laugh.

      • I really enjoyed that Elizabeth. It had just the right amount of everything. It was well written, endearing, very cute, and I was not sure what the olive store proprietor was going to do at the end. Nice.

        • Elizabeth says:

          Thanks Irene! This was my first scene stealer! I loved yours as well, who hasn’t experienced that exact scene? Looking forward to reading and sharing more with you and the regular crew here at writetodone.com.

    • Don Bates says:

      By Don Bates

      Usually, I’m not funny, but the other day I was in my neighborhood bar and saw the male gay couple who live around the corner from me. They gave me my moment.

      Quiet people, they typically sip their drinks slowly and talk sotto voce. I always say hello and they nod or say hello back. I did the same this day and started reading a newspaper on the bar while the bartender Mickey Finn poured me a Guinness.

      On the inside front page, I see a story about a new law allowing same-sex marriage in a mid-western state. Seems like there’s one of these laws every month, I muse; most U.S. citizens didn’t recognize the existence of gays for decades; now, it’s like a fashion trend to help them join the mainstream; better late than never.

      As I read, I suddenly understand that these laws are wrong, worst thing that can happen and I had to warn everyone before it’s too late. I looked up at my neighbors who caught my eye and asked, “What do you think of these laws permitting same-sex marriage?”

      “OK with me,” said one.

      “You thinking of getting hitched?” said the other.

      “Seriously,” I said.

      “Why do you ask?” the OK’er continued.

      “Because I think it’s a disastrous mistake.”

      Everyone within earshot went dumb. The air filled with the sucking sound that rushes in when a conversation goes public and takes an uncomfortable turn.

      “And why is that?”

      Instantly, I had the audience in my hand. Presenting my best flippant voice, I answered: “Haven’t gays suffered enough?” My neighbors laughed. All the men within earshot joined in. The women only grinned.

      When I got home, I told my wife what happened. She immediately said, “Keep your day job.”

      I laughed.

      “Keep laughing,” she added, “and remember what you did while you go without dinner for the rest of the week, sleep on the couch and the door to the bedroom is locked.”

      Damn, I knew being “funny” was fun, but I didn’t know it could help you get you what you want.


      • Don Bates says:

        Now that I re-read what I wrote, I realize it isn’t funny except, perhaps, in some of the telling. It’s a bit cruel, in fact, and chauvinistic. But it is what it is. Thanks for getting me juiced up to at least write something. I’m sure you’ve done it before, but how about the lead, “It was a dark and stormy night” or something simpler like one of the five W’s?

    • Usually, I’m not funny, but the other day I found myself looking like the funniest clown. Maybe I was not looking so, but I do not think so. I really think I was looking very funny.

      I think I was funny because I think I looked silly. And this gets me to think at this particular time, is it better to look funny or to look silly? But leaving my mind to figure out which is better, I go on to relate what happened.

      I decided it was time to talk some sense into my girlfriend. Not a girlfriend as in personal girlfriend, at least not yet, but a friend who happens to be a girl, at least that is the way she wanted things to be. Now I don’t know what she wants at all though I know I want more than that, thank you!

      Anyway I went to talk some sense into her, make her know I am a man and not as weak as I ( tell myself I deliberately make myself) appear. She never said so but I have this feeling she sees me so. So I had to ‘discover’ the reason I ‘allow’ myself to be so.

      So I went, excused her from her friends and began to talk, saying things like “you should have respect for me; I am the man here; obedience is required of women, bla bla bla and bla.” I went on to give spiritual reasons and provide scriptural and biblical references.

      She listened, at least she appeared to be listening.

      “So don’t send me on errands as if I’m a servant,” I continued. “Address me as a man worthy of honour.”

      “Is that all? She asked.

      “Yes,” I answered.

      “Ok. I’m glad you are here,” she said. “I was about to take this carton inside the shop. So please help of and do it. Don’t allow it to tip.”

      I sighed. And I bent down and lifted the carton, being careful like she said I should. It was while I was going in with the carton into the shop that I saw myself; funny or silly: my brain said both.

      One thing is certain though, I do what I do because I love her. I love her so much that I would do anything I can for her. I just pray that at the end she’ll be my special Favour from God.

    • Afzal says:

      Usually, I’m not funny, but the other day I was really made a laughing stock by one of my coworkers.We had been having tea after dinner.Usually it’s green tea.Suddenly my coworker who is a funny guy started squeezing a piece of lemon in his green tea.I don’t know, I also fololwed him and took the bitter taste of it.After sometime suddenly he opened a can of lemonade and mixed with his green tea.I gaped at him and then found him pleasantly taking his tea.He didn’t told me anything but was tentalizing me so that I might taste the same.
      This time again I couldn’t resist me, took the lemonade can and followed my witty coworker.What have I done!Green tea with lemon juice and lemonade.My coworker burst out into laughing at me.Yes he is successful in his aim.He had made me follow his notorious tea garnishing.
      Later he revealed his impromptu funny idea of making someone fun of the day.I thought it’s none but me for the first time.I will ever remember this event of my life.

    • Curt Eiworth says:

      First try at English – not my first language. Apologies for grammar and prepositions.

      Usually, I’m not funny, but the other day I suddenly thought of a story I heard many years ago told by a friend in seventh grade.
      – Here’s a really funny story about an old lady. It’s really, really funny.
      The two guys didn’t move a muscle. I wasn’t known as a storyteller and they clearly didn’t believe me.
      I chuckled as I went through it in my head.
      – Now listen up, I said, straightening my face. Here goes:
      “An old lady staggered along the road dragging two large plastic sacks, one in each hand. They were obviously very heavy. Suddenly a stream of twentydollar bills started leaking out of a hole …
      Seeing this, a young man picked up the bills and stopped the little lady to give them back.
      – Thank you, young man, she smiled. Very kind of you.
      She took out a roll of cellotape from under her apron and fixed the whole. He could see the whole sack was crammed full of bills.
      The little lady explained:
      – My land borders to the fair ground. And every weekend guys come up to pee over my fence. And there I stand on my side and tell them it costs twenty dollars. Pay it or lose it, I say, showing my garden shears.
      – And your other sack is full of money too?
      The little lady smiled. – No, that’s from the fellers that didn’t wanna pay.”
      I couldn’t help laughing out loud after I finished.
      -One of the best stories I’ve heard in my life, I said taking down my garden shears from the wall.
      The two guys bound and gagged on the garage floor didn’t say a word.

      • Patricia says:

        Love it! A great twist at the end. Good work.

    • Usually, I’m not funny, but the other day I was reminiscing with friends about an unforgettable day I spent with Old Etonian, Hugo Fortescue-Brown – ‘Huge’ to his friends.
      Let me set the scene. Australia is playing England and Ricky Ponting has just scored 100 for Australia. He is acknowledging the applause when there is a scuffle on the boundary. From a dodging scrum of figures a naked body emerges, head thrown back, arms and legs pumping, weaving left then right as Security gives chase.
      It’s a windy day and papers are blowing over the ground. One of them flips up and flattens itself against the runner’s exposed crotch, shrink-wrapping itself around privates and pubis before being whipped away in the breeze. The paper had contained a Four ‘n Twenty pie with sauce. The sauce is now very much in evidence and Ponting’s gaze turns to horror and revulsion as the lunatic advances upon him with intent, teeth bared in a rictus of effort, a seemingly bloodied penis flapping crazily in the impetus of the charge.
      As the lunatic thunders up to him, Ponting deftly takes a step back and to the left, delivering a considered cover drive to the unprotected buttocks of the madman as he careers past.
      From this point, the matter is quickly resolved, the force of the blow lifting the miscreant off his feet to trip and stumble in the mown turf of forward short leg. He is undone as Security men converge and bundle him from the ground in search of abandoned garments and a cool cell.
      It is only now that I realize Hugo is missing.

    • Usually I’M not funny;but the other day I had an opportunity to pull off a gag a t work-Fthat got a few laughs.First of all I work for a computer company.I’M a trouble shooter.I aid people via phone when their computer gets out of wack.I had an idea since it was a boring day I’D have some fun with the customers.AS the phones lit up I took a call and told the caller she called THE ACE FUNERAL HOME by error.She said she was sorry and hung up.I took the next call waiting and told him he had called THE REX CAR RENTAL SERVICE.HE apologized and hung up quickly.Several more calls came in and I kept up the gag and laughing to myselfas the callers hung up.Then for a while the phones were silent.I sat there and pulled out a deck of cards decided to play solitaire.A few calls more came about and I kept up the charade.Then a call came through and before I could stop myself I told the caller it was CLIFFS’GAS STATION.The caller was not amused for it was my supervisor who yelled a few unkind words at me for being so stupid.IN time I got a written warning which was not a joke so my funny stuff backfired .WELL to say the least I learned a hard lesson from all this.I’M usually not funny and boy I found out the hard way I am not cut out to be a comic either.OH well excuse me my phones are ringing and I better get serious or else.Plus who knows one caller may be the boss checking on me.
      THE END

    • Chris says:

      Usually, I’m not a funny guy, but the other day, it seemed that I couldn’t help but make people laugh. Of course, it was kind of nervous laughter. You know that kind of laughter that is generated as a defense mechanism so that the psychopath who is reading a “Barely Legal” magazine, with laser-focus attention, and bit too much vigor, in a crowded subway car, will ignore them.

      -Hey, they sell them at the newsstand just outside the station, and there’s freedom of the press, so get off my ass!

      At first, there were some disapproving glances while the magazine was still pinned against my chest while we were all packed together as the train left the station.

      -Hey, nobody told Mother-Superior to get on the same car as me and then press her starched wimple against my chest, putting her on eye-level with a beautiful Ginger wearing a school uniform. For all I know, Mother-Superior might have taught her.

      After thinking about that prospect for a minute or two, I had to shift my direction of facing about 90 degrees. Then, people started sighing and murmuring when I opened the magazine and started scanning the pages.

      -Hey, it’s not MY problem that I read with a lot of emotion and interest. And sweat.

      Still, I get the sneers of contempt from parents of children. “Hey!” I say, “It says ‘Legal,’ so don’t focus so much on the ‘barely!'”

      Finally, a seat becomes available next to a rather mannish-looking woman in her early twenties, so I settle in and spread out. Of course, she too looks down her pierced-nose at me too, and when I start turning the magazine vertical to take in these two-page babies, she snorts her contempt so loudly that she garners a small round of applause from the other passengers.

      Really, people are so uptight and prudish. It reminds me of the airplane trip I took with a copy of Penthouse Magazine, and my Fleshlight. Now THAT was funny!

    • Usually, I’m not funny, but the other day while shopping with my two year old granddaughter, and finally in line to checkout (only after the baby had thrown numerous items from the cart while shopping) humor invaded! Yogurt, parsley, even eggs were tossed. By the way, why does yogurt now come in containers with a thin peel off lid? When it falls it explodes spraying yogurt all over, which particularly amuses toddlers. In line we chatted, sang and I read my angel a book. The woman behind us was making annoyed sounds.
      I bagged my groceries as the cashier did her thing. The idiot behind me looked at me as if we were accomplices, saying “they are so slow!” I asked who “they” are, but since the cashier was African American and the idiot, white, I knew. Finally done, we were waiting for a pack of cigarettes I was purchasing for a friend. The cashier and I chatted as I stopped the baby from un-bagging food, when the idiot went ballistic. “Do I REALLY have to wait because of a pack of cigarettes?” The cashier explained store policy. The idiot got louder. Done with her, I asked, “Does this store sell cigarettes?” Rolling her eyes she said “Well of course, unfortunately they do!” I said “Well when my purchase is complete it will be your turn.” She turned on the cashier. I said “Stop harassing her and wait your turn like everyone else! Perhaps you could open your paper towels and polish your diamonds while you wait.” As we left, I said to the idiot “by the way ‘they’ are not slow, my husband performs ten surgeries a day.” Just then my granddaughter threw a yogurt which exploded, spraying all over the idiot’s Coach sneakers. The cashier offered to get another one, but I said “No thanks, 89 cents for a whole lot of Karma is the best purchase I ever made.”

    • Joe Giunta says:

      Usually I’m not funny, but the other day I was a regular standup comic. I had to buy a pair of shoes for my sister’s wedding. Since I work third shift, I bought the shoes one morning after work. I hate to shop so I went to a discount store where I could pick what I like and leave. I noticed a pair of black shoes that I liked and bought them. They were ties, which I normally hate, but they were nice looking and on sale.

      When I got home, I took the shoes out of the box and placed them on the floor of my closet with my work shoes. I jumped into bed and slept until my wakeup time. Since I get up at night when my wife is sleeping, I learned how to get ready in the dark so I won’t wake her.

      When I got to work, I went to the break room to get a cup of coffee where I saw Ed. I said hi and he looked at me with sleepy eyes and said, “I bet you got another pair of shoes just like those.” I didn’t think anything of it since I did have two pairs of work shoes. I just wondered why he mentioned it.

      As I approached my machine, Johnson said, “I bet you got another pair of shoes just like those.” I looked at him and said, “Yeah, so?” Then I met Al who said the same thing.

      Finally, I looked down and saw I was wearing one black shoe and one brown shoe. That was bad enough, but one was a slip on and the other was my new tie shoe. The guys broke out in laughter. “I can understand mixing up two slip-ons or two ties, but one of each requires talent,” said Arney.

      From then on, I was “Tommy Two-shoes” but I didn’t mind. For the first time in my life, I made people laugh. And besides, they weren’t really laughing at me, they were laughing with me because I laughed the hardest.

      • Nice short story Joe! The flow kept me reading and engaged. When you got to work, as each coworker made the same comment, I never saw having two different shoes on coming. Well written. Thanks for sharing.

      • Joe Giunta says:

        Thank you Irene. I appreciate the comment. I did enjoy your story too. This was a fun exercise. I hope to read your story in the next one.

        • It was fun Joe. Its amazing how the story flows better as we start to eliminate unnecessary wording to meet the max word count. Guess that is the intention. I look forward to your next one also.

      • Afzal says:

        Nice write up Joe!Enjoyed your work.
        All the best.

    • Usually, I’m not funny, but the other day I got engaged and it was pretty funny, as far as engagements go! My boyfriend Jack (now finance) and I were scheduled for our annual check-up but with a new doctor. We had to fill out new forms and one of the questions on the form asked “Who to contact in an emergency?” and he wrote my name. Next to my name in parentheses it said (Relationship). He didn’t really understand the question so I whispered to him, “they want to know what your relationship to me is, like sister, mother, girlfriend”. He snapped his head like a light bulb had gone on, then put pen back to paper and finished filling out the form. When he was done he handed me the clipboard and said, “Do me a favor and just look at this to see if I filled that out right, after all, you are the brains of this operation.”
      I took the clipboard and was poised with a pen in my hand ready to correct any mistakes my Jack may have made. I was going over each question, it was all very pedestrian until it came to my name. Next to my name, where it said “Relationship” he had written “fiancé?” with a question mark next to it. I looked at it, and then I looked back up at him. There he was staring at me with a huge smile stretched across his face, with his eyebrows raised like a facial question mark.
      At first, I couldn’t believe what I was reading, and that he was asking me to marry him in the waiting room of a doctor’s office. My immediate reaction was an overwhelming sense of
      love, and total joy. I looked at the paper once more, then I looked up into the eyes of my future husband. Then I turned to him and with a lump in my throat and a smile on face, I handed him back the clipboard and said, “I know what you mean… but you wrote finance.”

      • I saw it coming, I waited with anticipation. But I still felt a catch in my throat and felt the hair on my arms rise when you made the reveal.

        • Thanks Bob, looking at it now, I never should have given it away in the first sentence or two. Would have been better if I had done it like this: I’m not usually funny but the other day I was funny by accident. My boyfriend etc. etc.

          I appreciate your kind words… and I loved yours! Very often I too am “like a fool with shit from hand to heel” Cheers… Nancy

      • Aliya says:

        “but you wrote finance.” 🙂
        Cute story ended with a chuckle.

        Good job.
        *THUMBS UP*

      • Afzal says:

        “fiancée”….would be used.
        Cute write up.Welldone.

    • Usually, I’m not funny, but the other day I inadvertently stepped in it – figuratively and literally. My beloved and I were hiking along the Red Deer River, in central Alberta. It was a glorious day with the sun reflecting the mountains off the water and the lush green, of an unusually wet summer, providing opportunities for cooling shade. We were like big game hunters, following some fresh tracks; cougar we thought and desperately hoping that we didn’t find her. I was explaining, with some zest, the difference between the scat of deer, moose, bear and mountain lion that we saw and smelled along the trail.
      “You can tell from the texture and size whether the animal is healthy and what they have been eating recently. I imagine if you really were careful, you could estimate how long ago they passed through here.” I swung my arms in a grand gesture and knelt at a fresh pile. “You might even be able to make a stab at the size and gender.” I felt my left knee, the bad one, buckle and from the crouched position, my balance shift. The previous grand gesticulation now seemed minuscule as my arms wind milled as I tried to regain my composure and stability. To no avail; I started to topple and being someone who doesn’t surrender easily, I grasped for some purchase and came away with a handful of poop. The defense mechanism took over and I flailed to stand and managed to find two more piles, one for each foot. The slippery footing sent me teetering backwards where I unceremoniously landed on my ‘rucksack’.
      My beloved couldn’t resist. “When you are spouting BS, it isn’t surprising that you end up looking like a fool with shit from hand to heel.”

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