This week: That Pesky ClicheEdited by: Kate Writes 2020
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”The most protean aspect of comedy is its potentiality
for transcending itself, for responding to the conditions
of tragedy by laughing in the darkness.”
Harry Tuchman Levin (American Literary Critic and Scholar)
I am honored to be your guest host for this week’s edition of the Comedy Newsletter. If we look, we can find humor in most anything. As writers, we strive to expose and adroitly express that humor in prose and/or poetry. Humor is healing, rejuvenating, and provides a welcome respite from tension.
The writer who can impart a few moments of humor, whether it be straight comedy or a comedic twist in another medium, is welcomed into homes, businesses, with open arms and a smile. - Do you see the returning readers
Okay, cliché time ~ “Laughter is good medicine!.” It’s being tested (and perhaps proven) daily in worker productivity, social altruism, and family harmony (or lack of overt hostility). Medical science is even jumping in with scientific studies postulating that humor is good preventive medicine; with studies which apparently show laughter releases beneficent endorphins into the bloodstream. The act of laughing has even been touted as an easy, age retarding, low impact physical exercise, requiring merely seven muscles to raise a smile, as opposed to twenty-some for a line-scoring, drooping frown.
"Funny is in the eye of the beholder" Humor is out there, seeking but the discerning eye and open mind (which writers, by nature, must have). Comedy today has quite a variety of forms for expression, from slapstick and physical comedy to the sardonic and wry wit of political jokes. Just think about it, who wouldn’t laugh as the convenience store robber, running for the exit, holding tight his bag of cash from the register, finds his unbelted ‘fashionable’ droopy drawers falling to his ankles. He has to stop and bend over to pull them up, an apparent invitation to the arriving cops to cuff his wrists and retrieve the money, his pants effectively still shackling his ankles. Here, a potential crime becomes a comedic repast.
As you see, humor can be subtle or satiric, as well as out-and-out funny, like the joking miming clown (physical) or stand-up comedian telling jokes. To be effective (and get a laugh or smile), what they all require is a sense of pacing - a writer who can see the humor in something others may overlook or bypass as white noise, and build up to it by expectation or with a twist.
If you google or bing or otherwise search-engine the word 'cliche' you will be surprised at some of the examples - from common speech to inspirational to solemn to silly. Cliches exist because we have common understanding of certain spoken images. I believe we can look at clichés as precursors to text-speak - where certain expressions or statements are understood to have a generally understood meaning. In that way, I can see them as precursors to text-speak.
So, how do we make the old cliché something fresh, un-common - can we? Come on, we're writers here
My neighbor is all thumbs - now, with ten opposable strong digits (doesn't have to be ten, by the way}, what can he do with those strong opposable digits at the end of his hand? One possible, he can open a six pack (not abs) simultaneously. By imagining a use outside the pale, I've come up with an alternate image. Is this funny, maybe. It started with a cliché taken out of context.
That's just one possible - create something unexpected - startle, confuse, intrigue your readers - take away their complacency with a new perspective on something they thought they understood. Alternatively, take on the understood meaning, and expand on it to make it uncommon. They may laugh, chuckle, roll their eyes - but they will see your new image, not the one they expected and, likely, continue reading the story to see what happens next Try a twist on words in your next story - make it your own
See how these stories and poems create something unique from the familiar - share your thoughts with a review, perchance, then maybe try one of your own
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Thank you for allowing me to invite myself to your virtual home. Tell the tale, cliché your image in your own way, or not, but whatever you do, have fun with it
Kate Writes 2020
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