British Comedy Guide
Boxing Gloves.

Punching Up vs Punching Down

As a comedy writer or stand-up you may have heard the phrase "punch up, not down" or a variation thereof. It's an important comedy guideline that concerns both the ethics and funniness of your material. Understanding and digesting this guideline is key to your success as a funny person.

The basics

"Punching up" is when your joke or routine takes aim at a strong or powerful person or group. This might mean joking about a powerful politician or a wealthy celebrity or perhaps a member of the monarchy who acts as if they're above the law. It is sometimes described...

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