Analyzing humor on the Internet is one of my favorite pastimes.
I know, the moment you start to look at why something is funny, it ceases to be funny. But that is my lot in life now. Every time I laugh, I then think:
Ooo, why did I just laugh?
Writing humor kinda ruins humor, but my life was in ruins before I started these messy writer shenanigans. (See what I did there?)
Thus you, Gentle Reader, have been warned: read the post at your own comedic risk.
Sample 1: Will it Sous Vide? Hot Pockets
- What kind of humor? Clever, it made me smile but not actually chuckle.
- What it does? Juxtaposes nostalgia for the hot pocket (and the Will it blend? meme) against the snotty modern food movement (as represented at, say, the Top Chef critics table) presenting results in a ridiculously scientific manner.
- Why is it funny? Contrast (two things put together that you would never expect) is great for both shock and comedic value. Also this plays on call-back (hearkening to the older meme) and rule of three: words hot pocket + sous vide + the meme of will it blend
Sample 2: Town Square Live Feed Comments
- What kind of humor? Ridiculous. It gave me a full on laugh. This is the kind of funny thing that I thought about again at 5am and started chuckling just remembering it.
- What it does? Crowd sources the total ridiculousness of overreaction to the everyday.
- Why is it funny? Pure silliness. Overreaction humor is one of my favorites. Recently, I read a m/m contemporary where a group of frat boys react to one of their own coming out as if he were giving birth (as a result of sensitivity training). People reacting in an out of control manner to perfectly ordinary everyday things = fertile ground for humor. The opposite also works. Much of Alexia’s humor comes from her not really reacting to things that would shock a normal person. Alexia is always practical and deadpan even when presented with a vampire attacking her in a library. Overreaction and underreaction are both great tools.
Sample 3: Cat vs Baby
- What kind of humor? Shock value. Bark of surprised laughter.
- What it does? Surprises the viewer/reader into a laugh. This is the kind of humor that edges into horror.
- Why is it funny? The baby is so happy and innocent waddling along and then bam CAT. Contrast is in play again (happy baby, angry cat), but really what’s funny is the unexpected nature of the attack. America’s Funniest home videos had their stock in trade on this kind of humor.
Sample 4: Excuse Me
- What kind of humor? Exaggerated everyday. The delighted chuckle of familiarity.
- What it does? Plays on an everyday human experience though exaggeration and mockery.
- Why is it funny? Anyone who has spent time with a cat (or a few dogs I know) has probably had this experience of using the bathroom and the cat insisting on joining. Some of us have stories of cats taking this to the next level. This is a particularly telling example because it also touches on taboo (private bathroom use) in a completely nonthreatening manner (the cat) allowing the twinge of discomfort to turn into humor. I, for example, often play with the fact that werewolves have to get naked to shift form, and how this contrasts with the strict morals of Victorian society. This works best with a character already highly positioned in society, e.g. Lord Maccon, than with one who is outside of society and female, e.g. Tasherit. Tash does get naked but rarely in a funny way, instead I play on her catlike nature to get humor. (Which makes me wonder if Tasherit has to constantly stop herself from trying to join people in the privy?)
Oh, that gives me an idea. TTFN.
I actually have a proper less flippant presentation on how to write humor. You can read about it here and have me talk for your writers group or convention if you like.
More on Writing funny?
- Essay: Have You Considered Making It Funny? The Power of Humor as Subversion for Fiction Authors
- Literary Technique: Lamplighting (lighthousing) in Comedic Writing
- A Completely Biased List of Funny Books that Make Me LAUGH!
- Hidden Brain Podcast: Humor Us
- The Basics of Writing for Comedy
- 10 Ways to Improve Your Writing By Thinking Like a Comedy Writer
- The Ultimate Guide to Writing Literary Comedy for Beginners
- 4 Ways to Write Meaningful Comedy
- How to Write a Humorous Memoir
10 More Installments of Gail talking about publishing?
- 10 Things About Publishing This Author Wishes Everyone Knew
- 30+ Blogs & Podcasts for Authors
- 7 Tips for Getting Over Writer’s Block
- What is an author style guide? How about a style sheet?
- How to Write (and Not to Write) an Author Bio
- The Pros & Cons of Cons
- 7 Side Effects of Being a Full Time Author
- Pen Names, Cover Art & Reader Betrayal
- Plot Versus Pace (Why That Book Sucks)
- Learn to Let Go of the 10%
Meanwhile if you want to learn more about why comedy rarely wins awards in writing or in movies or TV, then you need to read THIS BOOK…
Yours (destined to get in trouble for saying the wrong thing),
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BOOK DE JOUR!
- Tired of the hero’s journey?
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- Sad that the books and movies you love never seem to be critically acclaimed, even when they sell like crazy?
The Heroine’s Journey is here to help.
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GAIL’S DAILY DOSE
Your Moment of Parasol . . .
Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
Quote of the Day:
“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.”
~ Orson Welles
Tags: Beginning Writers