Craft a Comical Comparison (Enjoy the Simile with a Twist)

27.09.2020 |

Episode #7 of the course Humor boosters: Lighten and tighten your writing by Gay Merrill


Exaggeration, which you covered in the last lesson, is an essential humor enhancing technique for a humor writer.

Today’s lesson combines exaggeration with a figure of speech, the simile to create a comical comparison. A simile compares two items to highlight a similarity between them. We use similes to create emphasis or make a description more vivid.

Note: We most often recognize similes by the use of “like” or “as”, but they can also use the words “than” or “so”.

Some similes are so often repeated they’ve become cliché, such as…

• Blind as a bat.

• White as snow.

• Life is like a box of chocolates.

Here are some comical comparisons involving similes (highlighted in bold), which I’ve encountered in my reading:

“If you get any of it wrong, your writing lays on the side of the road like a squirrel that had a bad day last week.” —Scott Adams

“And my god, did the book just shoot out of my fingers like my undiscovered Jedi powers.” —Mark Mason

“This tactic is quick and dirty like a cheap hooker in a Las Vegas back alley.” —Jorden Roper

“So, the obvious solution here is to make your value and the amount of effort you put into your work clear as 40-proof vodka.” —Jorden Roper

“Feel like your current copy is about as exciting as a cardboard box.” —Celeste Mitchell

“The words are as dry as your grandma’s elbows.” —Marie Forleo

“Saying no to the relationship that’s as healthy as sipping motor oil.” —Paul Angone

In each of these examples, the writer uses the simile to compare and exaggerate the underlined word. Often, the underlined word is an adjective describing the noun in the sentence, for example, dry words compared to an old person’s dry elbows. The underlined word can also be a verb such as in Mark Mason’s description of how his book shot out of his fingers.


How to Craft a Comical Comparison

Look at the word you want to compare and make a list of images or concepts that are similar. Exaggerate the items on your list. Choose the one that makes you smile or laugh. That’s it.



Instead of saying “Avoid clichés like the plague”, look for a word to replace the plague. What else do people avoid? Make a list. Here are some ideas:

• Having a root canal.

• Going to the gynecologist (or proctologist).

• Sharing secrets with a gossipy neighbor or coworker.

I pick the last idea and revise the sentence to “Avoid clichés like sharing a dark secret with your blabbermouth neighbor”.

To add an element of humor to your writing, try creating a comical comparison that uses an exaggerated simile.



1. For practice try creating a comical simile to change these clichés:

• The lecture was as boring as watching paint dry. (What else is boring?)

• Without my glasses, I’m as blind as a bat. (What else has impaired vision?)

• Her uninvited guest was as welcome as a skunk at a lawn party. (What else is unwelcome?)

2. Go through your sample piece of writing and find a sentence where you can apply this technique. Rewrite that sentence to include a comical comparison.

Are you ready to play with your words? See you in the next lesson.


Recommended book

The Serious Guide to Joke Writing: How To Say Something Funny About Anything by Sally Holloway


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