Wednesday, January 12, 2011

When the Funny Bone Hurts


Saturday, traffic brought me to a halt in front of a Target store. Spacing out while I was waiting on movement, I stared at their logo of the bullseye. I focused on it so long that I swear the target blinked at me.

For some more warped observations, I’ll be at the LODO Comedy Works next Tuesday January 18th. Show starts at 8PM.

To wrap up my humble suggestions on how to be funny in prose, I’m going to comment on the humor/satire novel.

It became clear to me when I started jacking around with stand-up that when you proclaim to people that you’re a comedian, then you damn well better be able to make them laugh. Audiences are not forgiving if you’re just kind of cute. It's almost heartbreaking to see someone who didn't test their material bomb on a comedy club stage. The same goes for a humor/satire book. If you pitch it as funny, you have to deliver. It’s actually easier to write a thriller or romance and merely slide in some humor. Then the audience is pleasantly surprised by the bonus.

I beg you, please, if you’re going to write a humor book, try some stand up comedy. Okay, keeping in mind that most writers—introverts by nature—would rather shave their heads with a potato peeler than go on stage in front of strangers and crack jokes, I then urge that you at least try your material with strangers.

Strangers don’t owe you the courtesy laugh that often slips out when people are awkwardly getting to know each other. Strangers aren’t obligated to be nice to you because they’re waiting for you to reciprocate a critique on their manuscript. If you can make a stranger laugh, you got it down. Best test.

But Dave, I don’t want to go around to grocery stores and blurt out excerpts of my books to total strangers!

Whereas I have actually accosted shoppers with jokes, I know that this stunt is extreme for people with common sense. So, another gauge I use for determining whether something I came up with was truly funny or not is social networks. If I post a blurb and people I don’t know comment or put the ever so elating “LOL” in my box, I know that I’m at least close.


Gusto Dave

3 comments:

j. a. kazimer said...

Congrats on the stand-up show. I bet you are great at it.

Patricia Stoltey said...

That's great, Dave. I sampled your wonderful sense of humor at the conference last year, so I know you're funny.

Writing humor, I think, is very hard. I envy those who seem to do it so effortlessly.

N. R. Williams said...

You are funny...so have some fun and get them to laugh.
Nancy
N. R. Williams, fantasy author