Writing Assignment: Write A “Redefinition” Of A Popular Internet Term (Round II)

by Randy Murray on February 21, 2014

When I’m feeling particularly snarky I play a little game of “redefining” a popular term or product to try and make it a little more realistic (or at least to poke fun at it). You can find a few of my examples here: More of The Internet, Redefined

And yes, get the hell off my lawn.

A redefinition is an opportunity to create a new explanatory statement for something. Throw the old definition out. Write your own. It’s a great opportunity for humor and comedy. Comedy is often a surprising juxtaposition that strips the dignity from a subject, that shines a light at how ridiculous we all are.

Mel Brooks redefines comedy this way,

“Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.”

His definition is big, over the top, extreme, and illustrative. And it’s funny. It is not the literal truth. But it may contain a kernel of truth, something that an academic definition of comedy may obscure.

And it’s very, very specific. Even the broadest humor needs specificity. Mel’s definition is funny because he didn’t “hurt” is finger and you didn’t step in a puddle. It shocks, but you can picture exactly what he means and that’s what helps to bring out the laughter.

But why should I have all of the fun?

For today’s assignment, write a brief “redefinition” of a popular term, word, phrase, saying, or expression. I find it easy to select a product or service to redefine.

Keep your redefinition short. If you have to explain it, then you’ve failed. Try again.

And remember, the test of comedy is to try it out on an audience. Feel free to post your redefinition here (and be sure to try it on Twitter and reference me—I’m @cptnrandy). Comedy is a high wire act. If your material stinks, at least you can give your audience the pleasure of seeing you squirm (better than what Mr. Brooks suggests as funny).

Here’s another redefinition Writing Assignment to extend your exercise.


Writing Assignment: Write A “Redefinition” Of A Popular Internet Term (Round II) by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Leave a Comment

Previous post: