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Apr 03

Secret Comedy Writing Technique – Oxymorons

Here’s the next part in my on-going mini series Secret Comedy Writing Techniques, in this post I’m covering Oxymorons. And no, they’re not a type of stupid cattle. That’s Oxenmoron.

Anyway, Wikipedia gives us the following definition for Oxymoron:

“An oxymoron (plural oxymorons or, more rarely, oxymora) is a figure of speech that combines two normally contradictory terms. Oxymoron is a loanword from Greek oxy (“sharp”) and moros (“dull”). Thus the word oxymoron is itself an oxymoron.”

The thing is with this technique is that they are fairly frequent in the English language and as a result they don’t always create the desired humorous effect. I’m guessing but I think this is probably because we just accept some of the terms now without really seeing their comic absurdity. The following examples illustrate what I mean:


Jumbo Shrimp
Original copy
Constant change
Scheduled emergency
Military intelligence
Awfully nice
Anarchy rules

And my favourite… Microsoft Works!

I found a website that that has quite an extensive list and it’s alphabetised. Check out the following resource: OxymoronList.

You do, however, also have the option of developing original ones for use in your comedy material. Oxymorons might not make people laugh out loud, but they could possibly help with the chuckle factor.

Do you have a facility with words? Then this technique might be right up your street. You certainly don’t need to use this technique in order to create a humorous presentation. However, it wouldn’t hurt if you feel that that oxymorons are something that connect with you. There’s no sense forcing it if it’s not really your sense of humour.

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  1. Pro Humorist » Blog Archive » Secret Comedy Writing Technique - Malapropisms

    […] this next installment in my on-going mini series Secret Comedy Writing Techniques I’m going to cover Malapropisms. A malapropism is the incorrect use of a word by substituting […]

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