The Conan O’Brien School of Creative Writing: 7 Comedic Ideas to Break Writer’s Block

Do you ever watch a comedian and wonder where he gets his inspiration for comedy? The answer may surprise you … and the creativity involved is just the type of thing to break any writer’s block.

7. Robert DeNiro: Who knew someone like Robert DeNiro could be a comedian? Isn’t he a serious actor? He broke the mold with Analyze This and Analyze and has never looked back! We’re glad he took the skills he learned as a dramatic actor and ventured into the world of comedy. Apply what you have learned from other fields of study to give a fresh take on a subject. A lot of comedy does this very thing. Women are like computers because … . Men are like dogs because …. It opens an entire new way of thinking about a subject that just seems old.

6. David Letterman: Will it float? Letterman’s famous bit is also something most realists ask about any new venture: Will it stay afloat? Does it hold water? Try out any good idea just like a comedian does his jokes. They never get it right the first time either!

5. Jerry Seinfeld: Take the everyday and turn it on its head. Jerry Seinfeld was the master of doing this. He took common everyday events and people and made us laugh about them. He noticed people who stood too close, talked too low, walked with their arms by their sides, etc. You might find inspiration in your everyday life, just by intentionally thinking about the everyday all around you.

4. Gallagher: Sometimes you just need to take Gallagher’s approach and get out the sledgehammer.  Bust things up. Think outside the box? No, smash it instead! Sometimes you may need to just toss out an old idea and start over. Don’t be afraid to use File 13!

3. George Carlin: Take the George Carlin approach. His famous bit was about the words you can’t say on TV. Sometimes you need to purposefully go the places others say you can’t go. Don’t be afraid to take risks and push the limits! Risks lead to success. Ask the tough questions. Write about unmentionable subjects. You may find opposition, but you will break new ground.

2. Jay Leno: Sometimes you need to revisit the ideas you threw away before! Ask Jay Leno if it is OK to say, “I made a mistake!” Old ideas come around again. An idea has its time. Knowing when that is takes real talent! —even if it means taking back something you didn’t want.

1. Conan O’Brien: Think about the opposite extreme. Conan O’Brien has mastered the art of spoofing characters who are the most unlikely or undesirable you can imagine. Remember the bear? I’m embarrassed just thinking about it. All good brainstorming sessions take off this way too. Put the craziest ideas out there first. Sometimes you have to go through 15-20 ideas before you get to a real winner. Don’t be afraid to think of the wild, stupid ideas. They lead to creative, innovative ones.

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