A bee stung me the other day. $20 for a jar of honey!

At least when you write and publish comedy online you don't have to personally endure the awkward silence of an audience where the laugh was supposed to be.

Instead, you just endure a blog post or article that sits in solitude with no comments, shares or engagement whilst you get on with your day.

I've personally experienced that feeling in-person and online, so I know how painful it can be to get it wrong. 

People attempt to include the value of comedy within their content all the time, and for good reason too. Comedy is an incredibly powerful means of engagement and connection. The trouble is, very few can consistently get it right without a little practice, structure and guiding principles.

I wish I could give you a formula for comedic home runs every time you speak or write something. Unfortunately, I cannot, however, after studying several comedians, comedy writers and lyricists, I can give you 11 key ingredients of comedy that can help your speech, blog post or anything else you want to brighten up.

1. Cleverness

Demonstrate an element of expertise, sophistication or challenge for the audience to rise to. An audience likes to be made to feel smart; if you achieve this, they automatically warm to you at the same time.

2. Cuteness

Make the audience love and adore the subject. Kids or fuzzy animals usually do the trick: puppies, bunny rabbits or bumble bees (but not the bees who sold me the honey - stay away from those guys).

3. Bizarre

Include something that's just plane surreal. If it's a little weird, it's memorable and bound to stand out enough to grab the attention of any audience.

4. Realism

From the ridiculous to the sublimity of reality. Observational humor often uses the bitter truth of reality to extremes in order to strike a chord with the audience. A cleverly observed detail can be the difference between side splitting humor or not.

5. Cruelty

Appeal to the dark side of an audience with slap-stick or dark humor. Usually this helps to hold the attention of the audience due to the bravery or intrigue of the subject you have chosen.

6. Exaggeration

Who hasn't been charmed by the poetic license of exaggeration? It's possibly the easiest way to transition a story into the realms of ridiculous or just spice things up or lighten otherwise dry subject matter. If you let the audience in on the secret, they can appreciate where you take them too.

7. Naughtiness

Consider being a little cheeky and risky with the audience and appeal to their mischievous, sassy side. Everyone likes the idea of breaking the rules every now and again, and this creates the same attraction.

8. Emotion

If you can add an element of anticipation to build a little tension, anxiety or suspense, you can hold the attention of an audience until you're ready to release your punch line with much more impact. There are other powerful emotions worth playing with too, such as nostalgia, disgust and fear.

9. Hostility

If you introduce conflict into your story, joke or scenario, you also create perspective that your audience can root for, side with or at least understand, especially if it's something your audience shares a loathing for. Have you ever read a good rant and chuckled at the precision of well articulated venom - it can be powerful and hysterical too.

10. Surprise

How many times have you experienced a good joke or story that leads you in a completely wrong direction to where you end up? Pulling the rug from under the audience can help build impact quickly and easily. In order for this to work, you have to firmly sell the audience on a premise or belief - you have to properly fool them before a big reveal that genuinely surprises them.

11. Familiarity

Create a situation that's familiar to the audience. Using inside jokes, running jokes or well-known references makes it easier for an audience to identify with the scenario you're creating.

Published on: Jul 28, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.