Live from Button: How UX Writing is like Standup Comedy

How UX Writing is like Standup Comedy (and also how it’s not), by Vivek Sri

Vivek first wanted to be a standup comedian. He uses basic comedy rules to improve UX writing.

Premises, punches, and p*

A joke starts with a premise, but then the punch is the twist. But UX writing shouldn’t have a punch. It should have a p* (the opposite of a punch). It needs to take a premise and then move forward.

In comedy you subvert the expectation. In UX writing you satisfy the expectation. It’s not funny, but it’s successful.

It’s more like improve – always use “Yes, and.” In improv you want to make your partner look good. In UX writing, your partner is the end-user.

The four attitudes

People pay attention to the punchlines in comedy, but it really only works if the premise is good. Understanding the premise is empathy.

Here are 4 premises of comedy:

  • Weird: (when commedians start a joke with “you know what’s weird about…”) In UX we demystify the weird.
  • Scary: In UX we reassure against the scary.
  • Stupid: In UX we simplify what seems stupid.
  • Hard: In UX we clarify what’s hard.

These aren’t required responses, but whatever your responses are, those are your brand values.

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