How To Write Dark Humor Without Sounding Like a Total Sociopath

Dark humor has always been tricky to pull off. If you do it right, it can be amazing. But if you don’t, you come off as a edgelord trying too hard to offend people. Of course, humor is subjective — but R.S. Benedict has identified five general rules that successful dark humor generally follows. She’s joined by Rite Gud producer, Matt Keeley, as they examine what makes dark humor work and when it doesn’t.

brass eye dark humor charlotte church breasts daily star
A two page spread from the Daily Star. On the right, the paper condemns ‘Brass Eye.’ On the left, an article about then 15-year-old singer Charlotte Church’s breasts.

In this episode, Benedict and Keeley talk about three examples of successful dark humor: The 1980s teen comedy Heathers, Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal and the 2001 Brass Eye “Paedogeddon” special from Chris Morris. They then turn their eye to a recent scandal over Nick Di Paolo’s special A Breath of Fresh Air to explore why some dark humor doesn’t work at all.

nick di paolo breath of fresh air early version with murdered black lives matter activist
The original poster image for Nick Di Paolo’s ‘A Breath of Fresh Air,’ featuring murdered Black Lives Matter activist Muhiyidin Moye.

Given the subject matter, there are a whole mess of content warnings for this one. The episode features discussion of: school shootings, murder, suicide, pedophilia, child molestation, police brutality, mob attacks, sexual assault and terrorism. If you are sensitive to any of those topics, you may wish to give this episode a pass.

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About Rite Gud: R.S. Benedict is an author, appearing in Fantasy and Science Fiction and Gardner Dozois’ The Very Best of the Best: 35 Years of The Year’s Best Science Fiction. Matt Keeley, founder of Kittysneezes, is producing Rite Gud for KS Media, LLC. Rite Gud is a Kittysneezes production. If you have questions, comments and concerns, email ritegud – at – kittysneezzes – dot – com. Rite Gud is also on Patreon, at Patrons receive access to the official Kittysneezes Discord, exclusive episodes, critiques and more.

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