This week: Humor + Characters = EntertainmentEdited by: Lornda
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This week's Comedy Editor:
"A man walks into a bookstore. Where's the self-help section?" he asks the clerk. She shrugs and replies, "If I tell you, won't that defeat the purpose?
Using characters for comedy relief will entertain a reader, but what is the right way to inject the humor?
These three characters have appeared in many novels. The story lines did not have children running through a meadow with butterflies, rainbows, and unicorns on a sunny day, but rather had a dark tone. In each of these books, there is an important fact to focus on—the humor found its way through the characters to entertain the reader.
Subtle use of humor can ease both the tension and provide a respite from difficult moments. But how exactly do you accomplish injecting humor into a character? What about the creative process itself? Should you plan your strategies out in advance, or just let the humor happen?
The best way is to let the humor happen naturally. Put yourself into the character’s mind and get totally engrossed in the story. The humor will spring forth on its own. Keep a balance between the sentimental, warm moments, and the dark. Do you know why? The answer is simple: because the real life has both.
Humorous moments are to be written with caution. They should be sprinkled here and there for the biggest impact. If there’s too much, your readers may end up not caring about the character. With the creative process, the humor can be achieved by clever word choice, pacing, and the most important, timing. If you need help in this area, watch how a stand-up comedian times his punchline.
Many writers will say, “I’m not a funny person, so I can’t write it.” Do your research and draw on the real life. You must know of a humorous incident or a family member who has done something funny. The best research you can do is to read other author’s work and note how the writing made you laugh. Here are a two of examples for your consideration:
Character: Mavis Shipley - Strict Business Woman, but underneath that exterior, she has a sense of humor.
Mavis took a sip of her wine, then looked down at her lap primly. "People assume a lot of things about me. I learned a long time ago I'd rather have my privacy and let people make their assumptions than give people the assumption that they can violate my privacy. I'm very happy to lead my life under the radar, so to speak." She looked up and smiled at Allison, "I don't judge people for their lifestyle unless it involves pain and death to others, so are you gonna tell me what happened or am I gonna have to stalk your instagram?"
Character: Lucifer Lightbringer - A sarcastic bad guy.
The soft crunch of bare feet on fresh-fallen snow pricked his ears. A brown-robed figure trudged up the treacherous trail towards him. Snatches of perspiration carried on the winds smelled clean, like that of someone who had fasted an entire life. Fine snow crystals laced the long, black hair, making it seem gray from distance. Near enough, one first noticed the startling gray-green eyes that smiled with warmth and recognition, and then the lined, weathered skin.
“Michael,” Lucifer clicked his tongue critically. “After all this time, your fashion sense and skin-care regimen still leave much to be desired. Forgot your shoes, eh?”
In each of these examples, there were no butterflies, rainbows, or unicorns in the story line, but the authors worked with the character and recognized when the humor should be written. They got inside their head. For instance, if they tend to be sarcastic, it lends itself for a couple of hilarious one-liners. If they are a grouchy boss, toss in a few lines of funny banter. Was it necessary to add the wit? Sure, because a reader who smiles is one who is paying attention and is eager to read on.
Try injecting humor in your next story. The three authors mentioned at the outset did not hesitate. They entertained with not only dark moments, but wrote humor to ease the tension. They made sure the readers kept turning those pages, and there is one other added bonus—they made a ton of money—enough to buy a lot of unicorns.
Note: To further your research, here is a clip featuring the character mentioned of Philip Marlowe played by Humphrey Bogart. The movie is The Big Sleep, and this scene sticks close to the original writing from the novel by, Raymond Chandler. What do you think of the humor in both characters? Does it distract or enhance the scene?
The Big Sleep Clip
Funny Poems and Winner's from "The Humorous Poetry Contest" :
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Have you tried writing a humorous scene with a character? Is it something you are going to try in the future? Feel free to send in a snippet to make us laugh!
These two Comedy peeps answered my challenge from my last newsletter: "Comedy in Marriage" . They were asked to write something funny that has happened in their marriage/relationship. They both win a Queen of Comedy merit badge. Thanks for writing in with your response!
Genipher-gone fishing! :
When Mathman and I were first married we only had one car, so I would drive him to work EARLY every morning. Being pregnant with our first, I would drive home and crawl back into bed for another hour or two of sleep. Well, one particular morning I had just closed my eyes when I heard our front doorknob being jiggled. Knowing my hero was at work, I assumed someone was breaking in. Now, at that time Mathman and I collected costume swords. I kept my favorite next to our bed. Ever so slowly, I grabbed the hilt and scooted to the end of the bed. The bedroom door started to open and I hear a whisper, "It's me..."
Mathman had gotten a ride home since his work day had been canceled. We now laugh about the time I almost gutted him because he came home early.
I was so nervous on our wedding day, I didn't even notice my soon-to-be husband was still drunk from the night before. My father and brothers as well as his dad, uncles and brothers kept him in the pool for hours. When he would try to get out, they'd hand him another drink!(This is his version of course) Still married after 40 years, so I guess its the laughs like that which keep us together.
Comment from: the Wordy Jay :
The difference between the male brain and the female brain, err . . . I mean the left and the right brain.
Jeanne Robertson:Don't send a man to the grocery story!
Thanks for sending in the video. It's hilarious!
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