Do you like reading humor? I do. I enjoy reading and writing humor, especially when the dialogue is witty and quick. To me, humor is the social lubrication that allows people to coexist. Well, humor along with flirting, which is a skill that rarely appears anywhere outside the big screen or really great books.
Unfortunately, comedic writers are not always given their due, because, well, many people think writing funny is simple. Plus, there are so many types of humor ranging from dry wit to slap stick. One person’s “funny” is another’s “not so much.”
What readers who don’t appreciate humor may not understand is that comedic writing does not differ much from drama. As with all writing, humor draws on the author’s experiences. Humor can reveal, mask, or define a character’s emotional response to conflict.
For example, sometimes I’m unsure about a character’s motivation until I grasp their comedic response to a situation. Is my heroine telling jokes to cover her nerves at standing beside a really hot guy? Or is she flirty, confident in her sexuality? Now I must dig deeper, because comedy has its roots in misfortune. Shall I embarrass my heroine or show her getting over herself and growing through her fear? Fight or flight becomes laugh or leave.
Writing humor well means exposing a character’s vulnerability in a way that makes them look strong rather than weak. That’s also true for protagonists and secondary characters. Humor is finding the common bond that ties women (or men) together through similar or shared experiences. The connection often has its roots in disaster, but the character’s—and (hopefully) reader’s--reaction is funny rather than reflective.
Though, let’s face it, you often have to reflect on something before seeing the light side. Kind of like learning how to laugh at your mistakes instead of letting small errors—like finding spinach on your teeth after your blind date takes you home early--negatively influence you throughout your lifetime. Besides, if your date couldn’t tactfully tell you to check the mirror, how will he approach more difficult topics later on? I rest my case.
In the process of writing, the humorist faces conflict, reflects on it and blows raspberries in response. Reading humor allows readers the same journey, but with a smile on our face. And a heck of a lot less work!
Remember the Greek’s masks for drama and comedy? The idea is that both are flip sides of the same coin-human experience. You can choose to move through life wearing the drama face or the comedy face. Neither is better than the other; both have advantages and are appropriate at different times.
Me? I reach for a comedy every chance I get. Laughing uses less muscle power and leaves no frown lines. And a smile is the ultimate in social lubrication, saying so much without words. So give humor a try. All you’ve got to lose is your stiff upper lip!
Ashantay Peters loves escaping into a well-written book. Her reading addiction also has her perusing magazines, newspapers, Internet articles and even food labels. The last is usually feebly excused as an attempt to maintain health, however. She lives in the mountains of western North Carolina, a happy transplant from the much colder (and flatter) midwest.
Death Rub Coming Soon!