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How to be funny in 140 characters or less

Tips on how to make an impression on Twitter

Twitter: Not just for talking about mind-blowing soup. Comedians of all stripes have taken to the micro­blogging service, and the Internet is funnier for it.

“It’s essentially cowardly stand-up,” says “Childrens’ Hospital” creator Rob Corddry (@robcorddry).”I can write a joke in the comfort of my underwear and get the equivalent of laughter. Or not — that happens a lot, too.” Here are some rules for success:

Seriously, be brief

Twitter has built-in constraints, but that doesn’t mean you need to milk every hash­tag and ampersand. “I used to think, ‘140 characters? That’s like Rich Little’s career,’ so I’d break up jokes over two or three tweets,” says David Angelo

(@dwangelo). No more. He honed his bits to the absolute essentials, and that brevity helped land his new job … as a monologue writer for “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.”

Don’t overthink it

“Full-on polished jokes are considered too hacky for Twitter,” claims Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling), writer and actress on “The Office.” “The tone is more like overheard conversations at a coffee shop.”

Embrace the silence

Live, comics rely on the energy in the room to measure the success or failure of any given joke. Online, the best jokes are the ones that get repeated by your readers. “Retweets are the new laughter,” says Natasha Leggero (@natashaleggero).

Come back to old tweets

It’s probably not wise to shove tweets directly on stage, but Nick Vatterott (@nickvatterott) uses the form to test material. “It’s a virtual notebook everyone can peek into,” says Vatterott, who has sold three jokes to Reader’s Digest based on his feed.

Be timely — very timely

Paul Scheer (@paulscheer), co-star of “The League” and brains behind this year’s “Night of 140 Tweets” charity night, stresses immediacy: “When I tweet something that’s in the zeitgeist, those are the ones that get retweeted.”

Don’t always be funny

Chris Hardwick (@nerdist), who’s built a following as the go-to nerd comic, advises developing a multi­faceted Twitter identity. “See Twitter as an information-sharing tool — jokes, promotional info, just things you like.”

— Steve Heisler (@steveheisler)

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