5 Ways to Add Humor to Your Memoir

Do you believe that memoir has to be serious in order to get your point across? Think again! Let me teach you 5 Ways to Add Humor to Your Memoir.

5 Ways to Add Humor to Your Memoir Stacey Gustafson

Image courtesy of nuchylee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Adding humor to memoir will hold the attention of the reader longer by lightening the mood. It also helps us remember what we were reading.

In his bestselling book, “On Writing Well,” author William Zinsser, writes that “humor is the secret weapon of the nonfiction writer.” It is often the best tool and only tool for making an important point.


1. Use funny sounding words

Words that have the hard “k” and “p” elicit humor. We can’t help but laugh. Think Dr. Seuss.

The Cat in the Hat Quotes

“Look at me!

Look at me!

Look at me NOW!

It is fun to have fun

But you have to know how.” ― Dr. Seuss

Sometimes a word is funny sounding because it has gone out of fashion like mollycoddle and lollygag. We laugh because we have never heard the word before and it tickles our funny bone as it rolls off the tongue.

According to Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inherently_funny_word

An inherently funny word is a word, which can be found amusing without any given context, like onomatopoeia. Such words have been used by a range of influential comedians to enhance the humor of their routines.

The consonant plosives (so called because they start suddenly or “explosively”) p, b, t, d, k, and g are the funniest sounds in the English language.

List of Funny Sounding Words

Bamboozled                        Brouhaha

Cantankerous                    Floozy

Gobbledygook                   Kerfuffle

Ker plunk                           Klutz

Lackadaisical                     Lollygag

Persnickety                        Pantaloons

Scuttlebutt                         Spark

Tater                                   Wishy-washy



2. Use funny numbers

Odd numbers are funnier than even numbers. Would you rather have 13 mangy dogs or 10 smelly cats?

Large numbers that end in 9 catch the reader’s attention faster. Do you want to read about a kid that ate 579 jellybeans or a girl that could stuff 8 grapes in her mouth?

In the comedy series How I Met Your Mother, the character Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris) uses the number 83 in his made-up statistics, because he believes the number is funny. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inherently_funny_word

For great examples of numbers in comedy, Watch How I Met Your Mother – Countdown from 50 to 1. 

3. Similes and Metaphors

Use similes and metaphors to enrich your writing. Similes often use connecting words such as like, as, so, and than. A vivid simile will paint a picture in the reader’s mind and clarify an idea.

Simile – a figure of speech in which two unlike things are explicitly compared, as in “She is like a rose.”

Metaphor – a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance, as in “A mighty fortress is our God.” Think an emblem or symbol. “Janet is a pig when she eats.”



4. Add Dialogue

Use dialogue to move the story along. It develops your characters. Natural dialogue will make your story believable. Use contractions. It sounds more relatable to say, ‘I can’t go” rather than “I cannot go with you.” Speaking like a character in a Shakespearean play will always be a turn off.

To improve your dialogue, ease drop on customers at Starbucks or take notes at the dinner table. Read it aloud to others. Listen to television shows to understand the cadence of language.

“What’s for dinner?” he said, sniffing the air for a hint.

“Leftovers,” I said as I turned on the microwave.


5. Sound words

Bang! Crunch! Slurp! Zing! These words are called onomatopoeia, words that sound like what they mean. By adding them to your writing, you animate your prose and amp up the visual.

Example “Shut the Hell Up I’m Taking a Nap”

I popped up in bed, blinking like crazy. Out the window I spied a saw. And a tree. Timber. Next up, I watched as he reinstalled loose fence panels with a hammer. Bam, bam, buzzzzz. When finished, with a flourish he let out a big whistle for the kids to join him and admire his workmanship.

By that point, the dog couldn’t contain himself. He charged the open window and jumped up and down to get a peek at the commotion. Ruff, ruff, growl.


For more pointers, read How to Write Funny http://staceygustafson.com/write-funny/

Do you have any humorous writing tips? Please share!

Gustafson_Front_HINeed more laughs?

Are You Kidding Me? My Life with an Extremely Loud Family, Bathroom Calamities, and Crazy Relatives is available on Amazon and ebooks. It’s filled with stories about crazy families, holiday chaos, school disasters and more. Hoping to make you laugh one story at a time. Get your copy now!! Click to purchase on Amazon.


About staceygustafson


  1. I’ve always used humor in my writing, even tough subjects like breast cancer. Readers tell me they were sniffling one minute, laughing the next. It’ true. Laughter is the best medicine.

  2. This is AWESOME information. Thank you!

  3. Oy. I have resigned myself to being the only one who finds things funny. When a kindred funny spirit arrives on your radar, my advice is to tie them up and keep them in the basement, like I do with that wonderful young man who told me I looked 36. Oh! That reminds me, I’ve got to feed him.

    I consider myself an obfuscating humorist, who took pride in confusing her seventh graders. My problem is remembering the straight, unvarnished truth-

    • staceygustafson says

      By the way, your blog is hilarious! Go get your funny on.

      • You made my day! I might have to tie you up and keep you in the basement, too. You’ll like the others who are down there, I promise. (Psst! I don’t have a basement, so don’t get creeped out.) Thanks for the reply, too. So many bloggers can’t be bothered.

        • staceygustafson says

          I am grateful each time someone reads my work. I know people are out there reading, based on my stats, but I don’t get a lot of feedback. So, each comment is a treasure!

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