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What is it about funny stories that make people laugh? The stock answer might be timing. Or a hammy personality, the kind that feeds off the spotlight. A shared sense of humor must be part of it.

All of the above are true to some extent, but a sense of humor is only one component of writing comedy. It takes just as much exhaustive planning, drafting, and skill to pull off as any other kind of writing. When it’s done right, the jokes arrive with a singular kind of magic fairy dust floating around it. It has something extra, something elegant woven beneath the surface that you often miss it entirely.