Monday, September 24, 2012

What's so funny?

Crying LaughterI'm on vacation for a couple weeks, but I have some posts scheduled to keep you company in the mean time. Starting with today's:

Humor is a very tricky subject for authors. Writing something funny is a lot harder than being funny. So much of humor depends on tone, facial expression, timing and body language. Just coming up with funny words is not enough, somehow you have to capture the whole scene without actually describing all the details (that would grind everything to a halt).

And you still have to have the funny words. You have to be able to sit down and actually write jokes. New ones. It's hard. Too hard for me.

There is another option. Instead of being funny, you can be clever. Cleverness actually comes across much easier in writing. It's not as dependent on the physicality of the joke. It often gets interpreted as funny. At least, it makes people laugh inside, which is the next best thing to real laughter. It lightens the mood and brings enjoyment, which is often the goal of a joke.

But you still have to come up with the words. You still have to be clever. That's a skill in its own right.

Whichever way you go, it's essential that you get an outside opinion on your results. You can never judge your own funniness, or cleverness, or any-ness. So do your best, but get some feedback before you walk up on stage and make a fool of yourself.

Having said that, I'll throw caution to the wind and share some of my own work. Is it funny? Clever? Or nothing?

Games People Play

"Oh, Come on! You cannot be serious!"
"What? What's wrong with my plan?"
"You can't be so open and direct like that. It'll never work. She'll crush you."
"This is who I am. It's worked for me in the past. She's not so different."
"Worked when? Back in high school? On the country bumpkins? Well, you're in the big city now. This is a whole new ballgame. People are devious and tricky here. You have to hide what you want in order to get it."
"That's just not my style. I think I'm better off staying true to myself."
"You have no style. That's what we've got to work on."
"Looks who's talking"
"Hey, I have plenty of style. I can be as devious as anyone. But I'm not the one playing this game. I'm just here to help - and you would serve yourself well by listening to my advice."
"OK, I do appreciate the help. I'm just not sure I can do what you're talking about."
"Sure you can. You just have to be more reserved; take your time and feel her out before making a move."
"Patience isn't one of my virtues. I'd rather jump ahead to see how it's going to end."
"Everyone wants to jump ahead but that's missing the fun of the game. You have to learn to enjoy the courtship, when all the possibilities are still open. You jump ahead and you end up disappointed."
"OK, I'll give it a try. But if I get embarrassed I'm going to kick your ass."
"Come on, let’s reset the pieces and start over. Begin with the Knight's Pawn gambit and hold your queen back until at least a bishop is committed. We'll get you through this tournament somehow."

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