Tim Washer. Keynote Speaker + Event Emcee

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Tagged ‘comedy writing‘
Ex-SNL Writer Reveals How to Improve Storytelling

Ex-SNL Writer Reveals How to Improve Storytelling


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Juxtaposition is a simple technique that comedy writers employ when they’re wrestling with the blank page.   I had a fun visit with Marcia Riefer Johnston at the Content Marketing Institute about how marketers can use this approach to quickly generate a bunch of ideas.

comedy hacks to improve storytelling

Improv Exercise

We did a fun improv exercise at Social Media Marketing World in San Diego during my creative writing session.  I asked the audience for two suggestions, and they offered “circus” and “bacon.”  Together we applied the juxtaposition technique to inspire new ideas.  We discovered a few new patterns that led to a video concept, and a completed script.   And only seven minutes earlier, we had nothing but a blank page.

It’s not only the folks in corporate communications and marketing that are tasked with sharpening their storytelling chops.  Being able to communicate and persuade through story has become more of a critical skill set for all career paths.   By spending five minutes a day with this exercise, anyone can become much more creative and sharpen their writing skills.  If you don’t have access to an audience of 200 people to offer suggestions, try a random word generator.

Read the article here.

The Colbert Bump


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I spent two months’ of Saturdays in a class taught by the head writer for The Colbert Report, Tom Purcell. After the class ended, Tom decided to spend an additional three weeks with us, which says a lot about his generosity, or maybe the dimwittedness of our class.

It focused on developing a packet to submit to the show, but the lessons Tom shared have been a huge help in writing a few recent corporate viral videos. Here’s a sample I wrote for the “Threat Down,” a segment where Colbert convinces his audience that some innocuous issue will kill us all.

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Threat #1: Speedos

It’s the biggest scandal to rock Olympic swimming since 1932, when an IOC investigation revealed that 400 meter backstroke gold medalist Babe Didrikson Zaharias was a mermaid.

[OTS: (Over The Shoulder graphic) Speedo LZR suit]

The New York Times reports that since Speedo introduced its LZR Racer swimsuit designed with input from NASA, swimmers wearing it have broken 22 world records. The Italian national team coach Alberto Castagnetti said using Speedo’s LZR suit was “technological doping.”

Nation, when does a swimsuit have too much technology? When the athlete wearing it can out-swim a tiger shark.  [Full Frame mock-up of three medal winners on Olympic podium, two guys in Speedos, and on the lowest tier wearing the bronze medal is a sulking Jabber Jaws. ]

These souped-up swim trunks are just a couple of gadgets away from transforming our athletes into full on aqua-robots. And as this integration of artificial and natural systems continues, by the time the games return to Helsinki, these NASA/Speedo swimming Symbiotes will have enough power to accomplish superhuman feats, such as winning eight gold medals, or devouring Cleveland.

[OTS: mock-up of Venom, symbiote from Spiderman II wearing Speedo and USA swim cap.]