Friday, December 24, 2010

Think You're Funny?



I am Lady Gaga’s male equivalent…Gentleman Goo Goo. Are you witty enough to sell a humor title, or put a character in your otherwise serious book that can make the reader chuckle? Hint: you won’t know because your friends or critique group tells you so.

Reviewers tell me that my work is funny. When I do stand up comedy, I get laughs. So, modestly, I offer you some tips on injecting humor into your manuscript. After all, the trickster or comic relief in your story will have to have some good one-liners, right?

There are tons of books out there on how to write jokes and do comedy. When I first started goofing around with stand-up, I read a few of them. The funny thing is: I threw them out after I bombed on my first try. After I cried my eyes out, drank myself silly, and got all melancholy and philosophical--Not really, but it sounded dramatic--I wondered how I could have crashed when everyone thought I was so damn funny growing up. Didn’t I make everyone roll when I got on my hot streaks at the Christmas get-together?

Well…yeah, but they were my family. And most importantly, spontaneous humor is way easier than designed humor. Yes, if you’re typically a class clown and make your partners in crime bust up frequently, you probably do have the wit to pull off funny in a manuscript. On the flip side, if you aren’t an extroverted type, there are techniques you can use to lighten up your story.

Of course, I’m going to write a series on this topic simply because there are too many techniques to cover in this one posting. But I’ll get you kicked off with a good trick. The first one is….are you ready…the SIMILE. This beautiful literary device is probably the oldest comedy gag in the book. And the top names in stand-up lean on them heavily.

“Governor Schwarzenegger is a liberal republican. He’s kind of like a BMW with a gun rack.” – Robin Williams.

It’s hard for a book to make me laugh. That’s why when I run into Mario Acevedo at RMFW social events, I get all ditzy. His books make me laugh. And once again, he wields the simile like the pro he is. Study his technique, and you’re well on your way to tickling that manuscript.

More to come. Have a great holiday.

Gusto Dave

6 comments:

j. a. kazimer said...

Looking forward to these posts. Humor sells me in any book. Mario's especially.

Cynthia D. Echterling said...

Very funny. Do you have trouble rewriting humor, as in after you've read your own jokes several times, they don't seem funny any more?

Anonymous said...

I've written humor. I found I can't force humor but it comes from own experiences that are unique and yet have some grain of truth for others...Readers sense how they'd feel in the same situation. Basically it seems to be all about voyeurism and release of tension created by embarrassment.
Karen Lin

Anonymous said...

I've written humor. I found I can't force humor but it comes from my own experiences that are unique and yet have some grain of truth for others...Readers sense how they'd feel in the same situation. Basically it seems to be all about voyeurism and release of tension created by embarrassment.
Karen Lin

Chiseled in Rock said...

Karen actually touched on something that I'll be covering next month...recording funny moments that happen to you. This is but one of several techniques. Lots of comics employ the "a funny thing happened to me today" as do authors. As for rewriting, if you came up with something funny off the top of your head, it's probably best to leave that as is. It's kind of like taking a exam. Always stick with your first impulse unless you definitely know you can make it better. And I'll be talking about how to know for sure if you nailed it.

Dave

Patricia Stoltey said...

I admire those who write humor and make it seem effortless. When I'm funny, it's totally by accident.