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					                           Here are a few Wacky Reports from the
                        book 51 Wacky We-search reports.

Turn on your TV and watch some ads. Ask yourself these two questions: Who is the
audience whom the advertisers are aiming at (what age, what gender)? What image are
they trying to create (what will this product do for you)?

     Now you are going to pick one of the two biggest selling drugs in the world,
cigarettes and alcohol. Research the effects of these products and collect some specific

Now look at the product you researched. Note all the negative and destructive qualities of
cigarettes and alcohol. Now imagine you are an ad executive and you have to sell these
products to the public. Decide on what age and gender your audience will be, and then
what image you will create to sell your product.

     Here is the equation for creating a funny ad.
     False truth (image) + Reality = Funny

     For example: Coke is the Real Thing Eleven marshmallows plus carbonated water,
     caffeine, and flavoring-that’s the real, real thing. (My research showed me that there
     are 111/2 teaspoons of sugar in one can of Coke. A marshmallow is approximately
     one teaspoon of sugar.)
     Now it’s your turn to dynamite the image you created with the reality of your
research. Do it with words or do it with thought bubbles or do it with new glued-in
images. Put drunks in beer commercials, and cancer wards or green oxygen bottles in
cigarette commercials.

Funny Tip:
If you do your ad as a TV commercial (see storyboard template, page XXX), create your
image in the first four frames and dynamite it with truth in the last. Try to make your
setup seem almost like a real commercial and your truth will come across as funnier.

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                                      Passion, the Drink for Lovers

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                               Wacky Poetry

One thing I never understood about school is how we were always asked to write papers
or take tests to show what we had learned, but never asked to write poems. To me a
poem is probably the best way to show your understanding of a subject because it forces
you to shrink your understanding into a few lines or a few words. These next reports
explore some different types of poetry for you to explore. As always, begin with lists of
facts about your subjects.
     If you like to make lists, you will love list poetry. Here you will get to mix your silly
ideas with your real facts to create a humor soufflés that balloon off the page with big
belly laughs. The key to writing a funny and powerful list poem lies in one big word:
juxtaposition. That’s a fancy way of saying “how we place one thing next to another in a
poem.” Try juxtaposing serious or real facts with silly ideas and you are on the road to
understanding what makes a list poem work.
     Let’s say I am doing a top-ten list on “Why you want to be a leech” to display my
scientific research on the subject. A silly line might be “You love slime”; a serious line
might be “You want to eat ten times your body weight at one sitting.”

      Experiment with straight lines and silly ones. In general it’s good not to start with
your funniest punch line, but save it for third. Like the punch line of a joke, it’s best when
it sneaks up behind you and bites you on the neck. Look at report 47, 3-5-3 poems.
Rearrange the lines of your poem and read them to your friends to get the best
The best definition I have heard of poetry was from a child who said, “A poem is words
that sing.” Let your facts sing, and before long you’ll find they start to chuckle as well.
      Once you have written your poetry, don’t just read it to your friends. Perform it or
slam it. Here are a few tricks. After you have practiced reading the poem, memorize it.
Look back at the paper and give each line of your poem two things. First give it an
emotion such as happy, sad, nervous, mad, and so on, and then give it a motion,
something you do with your body. For example, in my poem “How to Be a Grizzly Bear”
the first line is “Stand 10 feet tall.” My emotion might be “proud,” or “proud and mean.”
My motion might be to bare my teeth like four-year-old Anise is doing on the opposite
page. Create your own creative ways to read and perform your poems, and remember that
poetry is not just words on paper, but a story you tell with your voice, your face, your
arms, and your individual soul.

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A rap poem is a wonderful way to report on processes. The best part is that after you’re
done writing the poem pa, you can get some friends together and perform it for the class.
Before writing raps, you might want to look at tool 3 (funny words with double

Listen to some rap music. Practice making the sound of the rap beat. Listen to the words
and notice how every two lines rhyme.

     When you listen awhile to a rap song.
     You find it don’t take you too long

     To find the beat inside your shoes
     Write it now, you can not lose.

     Don’t be shy, just take those facts
     Put them all in rhyming sacks.

     Hang those sacks up in the sky
     Know that you will never die.

Now look at your research about anything you have studied, from the birth of democracy
to photosynthesis to digestion to the big bang. Circle specific facts and words that you
want to get into your rap. Circle words that are easy to rhyme with. Test a word by
simply finding how many rhymes you can find for it. Easy rhymers will give you almost
ten right off the bat. Hard words will have you struggling to find even one rhyme. The
trick of a rap song is to have your lines end with words that are easy to rhyme. Though
it’s also fun to try and find rhymes for impossible words like orange. Decide what you
want to describe in your song and get to work. Include all your specific research in your

Funny Tip:
It will really add to your rap song if you and some friends act-dance it out as you sing it.
That way your listeners will see the ideas in your dance movements as well as in the
words. For even more humor, try making a movement that contradicts the words to your
song. For example: If I were writing a rap about the rain forest I may have a line like
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     I give you all your medicine.
     I give it all for free.

     And I really want to thank you,
     For taking care of me.

In the dance the other dancers are setting fire to the forest as she sings (don’t use real
fire!).This is irony and can be very funny when you perform it.


Digestion Rap

     Every time you eat, put something in your mouth,
     Your food starts on a path.
     It’s headed down, that’s south.

     Bm, bm, chh, chh, bm, bm, bm, chh.

     Once it’s in your mouth, your teeth begin to chew,
     Letting enzymes move right in to do the job they have to do.

     Bm, bm, chh, chh, bm, bm, bm, chh.

     With your food in tiny pieces, you’ll swallow it right down.
     If it’s not, you will be choking, which will surely make you frown,
     and spit, and splutter, and moan bm, bm, bm.
     Bm, bm, chh, chh, bm, bm, bm, chh.

Esophagus, a tube, connects our throat and belly,
It squeezes and relaxes, making our food look like jelly.
Peristalsis is the name we have for pushing the food through it,
When you think about how gross it is, be glad peri’s gonna do it.
Bm, bm, chh, chh, bm, bm, bm, chh.

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The stomach’s like a mixer, turning our food into soup.
Stomach lining dumps more enzymes in, and this soup turns to goop.

Bm, bm, chh, chh, bm, bm, bm, chh.

Small intestine is a coil, kinda thin and very long.
Muscles squeezing and relaxing, pushing food cannot go wrong
Your pancreas and liver dump in acids and enzymes.
This real disgusting image helps to keep us in our prime.

Bm, bm, chh, chh, bm, bm, bm, chh.

Moving on to large intestines, these guys take out what we need,
Absorbing all the nutrients, it’s how our body feeds.

Bm, bm, chh, chh, bm, bm, bm, chh.

Now our food has fed us, helping us grow strong and tall
We dump out the waste that we have left, and that, my friend, is all.

Bm, bm, chh, chh, bm, bm, bm, chh.
Bm, bm, chh, chh, bm, bm, bm, chh.

2004 Discover Writing Press. For classroom duplication only—available at
2004 Discover Writing Press. For classroom duplication only—available at
A poet named Wallace Stevens wrote a poem called “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a
Blackbird.” Each stanza of the poem was another way of looking at a blackbird as well
as the universe at large. As you look at your research on your subject think, of all the
different ways you can interpret that subject. Use this poetic report to explore the many
angles of a subject, and don’t be afraid to be like Stevens and expand your poem into
larger worlds.

Make lists of all the ways to see your subject. For example, if I were writing about Helen
Keller, my list might include deaf and blind woman, daughter, public speaker,
suffragette, upholder of the downtrodden, danger to society.

     Each one of these ways reflects what my research tells me about how people saw
Helen. As you read your research or the timeline of your subject’s life, note all the
different ways she was viewed by her peers. List these ways.

Now it’s time to have some fun. Pick a handful of ways to see your subject. Write your
title and start creating your poem. The key to a successful “___ Ways” poem is contrast
and variety. People are rarely viewed as either all good or all bad. For example, if I were
writing about Mahatma Gandhi, who led the country of India to independence from the
British Empire, I might call him a great leader if I were reflecting the Indian people’s
point of view and a great troublemaker if I were reflecting the British Empire’s point of
view. The same could be said of George Washington, for that matter. Both ways of
seeing Gandhi are equally true, and the more points of view you can create, the more
chance we have to see the big picture of who that subject really is.

     Have you ever created a collage? You know, where you cut out pictures from
magazines to illustrate ideas. Your poem is a collage too. When done, it will show the
reader all the different ways of seeing your subject.
Funny Tip:
Try illustrating your “ Ways” poem. Pick several of your favorite contrasting lines and
draw the pictures to go along with them. You could even create your own
commemorative postage stamp series for your subject.
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12 Ways of Looking at an Albert Einstein

    1 A child who won’t speak

    2 Why does the compass needle point north?

    3 Failed electrical engineer

    4 High school dropout

    5 Patent clerk

    6 Professor of physics

    7 Peacemaker

    8 Bomb maker

    9 A storm broke loose in a mind . . .

    10 A flash of light

    11 E = Mc_

    12 It’s all relative

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A 3-5-3 poem, sometimes called a lune, is a great way to boil down your research into a
few words and develop a feeling for the kind of details that surprise and delight. It’s so
simple. The first line of the poem is three words, the second line five words, and the third
line three words. Your goal as a writer is to surprise or delight the reader with those last 3
words. Think of a 3-5-3 poem as a joke (tool 6, setup and punch). The first 2 lines are the
setup, the last line is the punch line. Save it for your best fact or your silliest.

Begin by listing some facts about your subject. Pick one fact and write the first three
words of your poem-then the next five words. For example:

     The Roman Empire
     Spread from east to west

The last line of your 3-5-3 poem must do something funny or intriguing or weird or
surprising. Here is the last line to the poem above:

     Caesar salad anyone?

OK, It’s not very funny, but I am sure you could do better using your research. Look at
your facts and start writing. Remember to make your final line do something peculiar.

     Write about Lincoln
     A man with a long beard
     Free at last

     Try to make your last line reflect one of your oooh facts (tool 7) about the subject,
and your poem will get a stronger edge.

     Go to Rome
     Take a long hot bath
     With 33,000 people

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Funny Tip:

Try creating your own form of poetry. Give your form its own name, such as a 1-1-1-1-1-
5 poem, for example. Let’s call it a splatter poem because it mirrors the shape of a
raindrop falling on the pavement.

Make your own poetry form and plug in your research
3-5-3 Poem

    Field of reeds
    Is what the ancient Egyptians
    Thought was heaven

    Men who built
    The pyramids worked all day
    With curved spines

1-1-1-3-2-1 Poem
    The Roman Empire
    Lasts forever

3-7-2-4-1 Poem

    Electricity springs up
    From the batteries inside each tiny cell
    “I’m tired”
    Snap off the lights

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A top-ten list, made famous by comedian David Letterman, is a great report to face your
facts with fun.[NU52] Each entry on the list can create a broader, vivid, and of course,
sillier picture of the subject you write about. The fun comes when you mix totally serious
facts with totally silly ones (tool 6, setup and punch).

Begin by listing facts about your subject, as many facts as you can come up with. Next,
put stars next to the oooh facts or any facts that seem surprising or interesting or beyond
general knowledge. What are the facts that everybody knows? What are the facts that
seem new? Here’s an example:

Grizzly bears have brown fur They weigh over 1000 pounds Grizzly bears are big They
can run 45 miles per hour A grizzly bear can smell a rotting carcass 2 miles away

Can you see how some facts are general knowledge and others are closer to oooh facts
(tool 7). Try to find as many oooh facts as you can before writing your Top Ten. If you
are stuck, have your friends help you. That’s what we-search is all about.

Much of the humor in a top-ten list comes from the title of that list. Here are some
lists that may get you inspired.

Top Ten Reasons Why I Want to Be a Grizzly Bear Top Ten Ways to Get a British
Soldier Mad at You Top Ten Things to Do after the Romans Invade Your Village Top
Ten Places to Eat If You Are a Toad Top Ten Reasons to Become an Inca Top Ten
Things to Say to Your Mother When You Tell Her You Are Going to Fight in the Civil
War Top Ten Reasons Why It’s Better to Fight for the Union Top Ten Reasons Why It’s
Better to Fight for the Confederacy

Once you have your title, it’s time to start collecting facts for your list. Look at your
research and try to make the more general details more specific. This will give your list
some punch. For example, if I’m collecting facts about grizzly bears, I may find out that
an average grizzly eats fifty pounds of land mammals a day. This is a bit general, but
when I ask what kinds of land mammals, I find mice and moles. Now one of my ten
reasons for becoming a grizzly can be: You like eating fifty pounds of mice and moles a
day. That’s funnier. 2004 Discover Writing Press. For classroom duplication
only—available at
Funny Tip:

Your top-ten list will get stronger the more you mix real facts with funny or silly facts.
Your true facts are the straight man and your funny facts are the comedian. Experiment
with ordering your facts different ways to create the funniest effect. Try acting out your
top-ten lists with friends by creating serious and silly voices for each line.

Top Ten Reasons Why You Want to Be a Crusader
10. Pope Urban II told you to
 9. You have a lot of calories to burn
 8. You want to work on your relic collection
 7. You like wearing 40 pounds of chain mail and marching through the desert
 6. You want to kill the infidels for Christ
 5. You have heard the Muslim Seljuk Turks have stopped pilgrims from reaching
 4. You are a squire and your knight told you that you
     have to

 3. Your name is King Richard and you have to do
    something with all the taxes you collected

 2. The First Crusade failed and so did the Second
And the number one reason to go on the Crusades is . . .
 1. You don’t have anything better to do.

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Top Eight Reasons Why I Want to Be a Grizzly Bear
8. I could stand 10 feet tall
7. I could weight over 1000 pounds
6. I could smell a rotting carcass 2 miles away
5. I could kill a cow with one blow
4. I could run 40 miles per hour
3. I could outrun a horse
2. I could outswim an Olympian
And the number one reason why I want to be a grizzly bear is . . .
1. I could sleep from October to May

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When you research a subject you become an authority, someone who knows something
about that subject that others might not know. One way to show what you know and what
you think about your subject is to write and illustrate a “how-to poem.” A how-to poem is
a list of details that tells the reader exactly how to do something or be something or
someone. Tool 4 (opening specific presents) can help you dig for the most compelling
information about your topic.

Begin by studying your lists of research and then put stars next to or circle the most
interesting facts or ideas. When making your list play with formal and informal language.
For example, a formal line for a poem about tornados might say “be a rotating column of
air”; an informal line is “be a twist of terror.” Look beneath and see how sixth-grader
Mata Fonoti plays one line off another. Pick a title for your poem. Then get to work.

Now make a list of illustrated directions for how to be something or someone. Use your
research to make your directions both funny and true. Add illustrations or photographs to
make your how-to poem come to life for the reader.

    How to Be a Tornado
    Be a twist of terror.
          Suck things up, chew them, and spit them out all ruined.

              Come from the sky.
    Be a small rotating column of air
    that has high wind speed but low central pressure.
    Treat a house like a doll house and take the roof off.
    Don’t stop for anyone; keep going.
    Some people don’t like you; some people think you’re

    by Mata Fonoti - grade 6

Funny Tip:

Try doing a how-to poem with an unreliable narrator. An unreliable narrator cannot be
trusted by the reader to give the true story, and that is what creates the ironic humor. Here
are some titles of how-to poems with unreliable narrators. “How to Be a Gazelle” by A.
Lion, or “How to Be a Good Worker” by Andrew Carnegie, or “How to Be a Bird” by
A. Cat.

     How to Be a Shark

     Get born with a full set of self-replicating razor-sharp teeth

Swim in the oceans for 400 million years, 175 million years before the dinosaurs,
(but who’s counting)

Devour fish, or squid, or seals

And don’t worry if you break a tooth on a bone

Because you’ll grow 30,000 new ones in a lifetime

Lift up your nose and smell prey two miles away,

Roll back your eagle eyes take a bite

But don’t eat humans yuck, they taste bad even with ketchup.

How to Be an Amoeba

Date yourself

Never eat out

Look in the mirror

If you don’t like what you see

Split !

2004 Discover Writing Press. For classroom duplication only—available at

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