Me, neither. Jokes just pop into a brain, don’t they? There you are, sitting at the breakfast table, and suddenly, the jam on your toast sends a signal to your brain.
“Hey dear,” you call.
“What do you call jelly when it’s upset?”
“I don’t know, what?”
“A jam-sel in distress!”
“Please stop. I don’t know why I married you.”
Most of us should leave it to the professionals to compose these things. At best, you could be writing for Saturday Night Live making $100/joke, and at worst, you’ve offended your whole social circle, and now, no one wants to talk to you.
One thing that many amateur comedians don’t seem to grasp is that many of their jokes are “inside jokes” that are based on a certain shared acknowledgement that is offensive to a group of people. They aren’t clever, but of course they think they are clever. It isn’t that all offensive jokes aren’t funny, but that many offensive jokes rely on that inside agreement to be funny. There is a marked difference, and it’s easier to spot if you are being “targeted”, of course.
I could write a book on the politics behind that, but I keep it friendly ’round these parts. There are just things you need to be aware of in joke writing that are hard to see for yourself. That actually goes for a lot of writing. I saw an ad on Craigslist for editorial services with grammatical and punctuational errors throughout. That high-res picture of a bookshelf underneath did not save his credibility.
This is why as writers, it is essential that we get our work critiqued! You may never be a professional joke writer, but you definitely won’t be if you don’t ask for criticism. I do genuinely believe that with enough practice, we can all produce good work.