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Writing Humor (1 Viewer)

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MistWolf

Senior Member
Version #2

Dwight handed her a bouquet of small, yellow flowers. Jennifer buried her nose into them and said, “They smell heavenly. What are they?

“They’re yellow jasmine. I chose them because they are a symbol of grace and elegance.” He grinned.
She thought it was the most romantic thing he’d ever said, until he added, “Like me,” and then chuckled. Always sarcastic! she thought.

The elements of humor are there, but the beats and delivery are off. I would try something more like this-

Jenn buried her nose in the bouquet of small yellow flowers "Dwight, they're beautiful!- and they smell wonderful. What are they?"

"Yellow Jasmine. They're a symbol of elegance and grace. Like me!"

"You're so full of yourself." But she did smile. A little.
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
The elements of humor are there, but the beats and delivery are off. I would try something more like this-

Jenn buried her nose in the bouquet of small yellow flowers "Dwight, they're beautiful!- and they smell wonderful. What are they?"

"Yellow Jasmine. They're a symbol of elegance and grace. Like me!"

"You're so full of yourself." But she did smile. A little.

So true, the beats and delivery are everything with humor. I like your version!
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
How lucky you are!! My husband and son both have a very dry British wit. I don't know how I would survive without it!

It sounds like we are both lucky and yes, thank God. I don’t know how people get through just daily everything— let alone COVID— if you can’t find the humor together. I do believe it’s vital! Ans I love this thread because cheers to you for remembering to put in humor. It will help me to think about it too.

I would like to talk about a few books/authors who have had me in stitches and I would love to hear from other authors about their ideas on books that made them laugh.

J.P. Wodehouse. Delightfully ridiculous characters!
Diary of. Wimpy Kid—- I think it was the fourth book. I was reading to my kids and I think I laughed for 5 minutes. The author was secretly making fun of grownups freaking out about the possibility of romantic relations between the 10 year olds at a school sleep-over. The MC was just watching these grown ups like “What is going on?” Oh it was good!
“Duh...oh tay Buttacup” was a line in the book The Princess Bride that made me laugh for a good long time.
Frans G. Bengtsson’s The Long Ships has this wonderful dry wit... it’s just (kiss noise) mwah! Roald Dahl has some hilarious (and sexy) short stories for adults (an obvious male target audience) which he wrote for Playboy Magazine and other magazines (I think) back in the day. Oh and my dad used to read me those funny poems by Robert W. Service “The Cremation of Sam McGee” “The Shooting of Dan McGrew”. I think humor in classics like Austen, Salinger, Dickens... that undertow of humor is a really important part of those authors.

Who else guys? I’d love to hear.
 

VRanger

Staff member
Administrator
(1) I was reading to my kids and I think I laughed for 5 minutes.

(2) “The Shooting of Dan McGrew”.
(1) 9th Grade geometry. I had a knack for geometry proofs, and I didn't have to watch the teacher explain them in class, so I'd hide a sci-fi book inside the geometry text and read during class. One day I was reading a book about a spaceship pilot who gets captured. He escapes by using a gun filled with stink pellets to cause anyone in his way to collapse and retch. It's slapstick, but it was damned funny.

So I'm sitting there reading and stifling laughs. My friend in the next row notices and wants to know what's funny. So I pass him the book and point to the place he needs to start. Now he's trying to stifle laughs. After about five minutes the whole section of the class is serially chuckling, which of course made it contagious. Mrs. Jacobs finally had to take a hand, and confiscated my book until the bell rang. Mrs. Jacobs could never really get mad at me, because my facility with geometry proofs made her look good, but I did get a stern warning to keep my books to myself thereafter.

(2) If you haven't, you need to see Margaret Rutherford perform that as Miss Jane Marple in "Murder Most Foul". Very entertaining. :)

ETA: Leave it to Youtube. :)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1ETEfIGCKg

Someone else who is funny? In sci-fi: Keith Laumer's Retief books, and most things by Ron Goulart. In fantasy, Robert Asprin's Myth, Inc. series.
 

EmmaSohan

WF Veterans

“They’re yellow jasmine. I chose them because they are a symbol of grace and elegance.” He grinned.
She thought it was the most romantic thing he’d ever said, until he added, “Like me,” and then chuckled. Always sarcastic! she thought.

I was just writing about jokes for my Modern Punctuation and Grammar Book! They seem to be highly structured, and you are breaking a few rules (for better or worse, that's your problem to decide.)

Until implies a change in direction and hence gives away the punch line.

Humor gets overshadowed if you bring up important issues. Here, you have the problem (from my point of view) that he sounds like a narcissist, and that's not good for her. So, IF I was writing it, I would explore making it obvious that wasn't an issue. (Or, if it is an issue, this is never going to be funny for me.)

“They’re yellow jasmine. I chose them because they are a symbol of grace and elegance.” That was the most romantic thing he’d ever said. "Just like me" he added, trying to annoy her.
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
I immediately put myself into the shoes of the person who made the joke. And that seemed real to me— I know and understand the need and reason someone jokes. It’s a way of seeing if certain parts of you are accepted and/or understood. The joke didn’t hurt anyone else, in fact it’s like making fun of yourself the way he did it. Self-deprecating humor and/or hyperbole can then make the other person react in a way that tells you how they actually feel about you. I see reactions of people who don’t quite understand the need for a joke in a certain place. The writing seemed real to me with that because I definitely see personalities like the main character’s out there too. It’s as if they wouldn’t get that giving flowers is a very vulnerable thing. That there might be different layers of rejection that might occur for the giver. And so her reaction to his joke really annoyed me. She didn’t understand why he made the joke is what I felt due to usually being the person who makes the joke and she didn’t see the thing for her to do that he maybe hoped for. But if she at least accepted the flowers and accepted the joke on one level, maybe he could live with that. That’s now what I’m interested in after reading it. Honestly, I couldn’t live with that. I would want someone who understood my sense of humor. I would need someone who understands the layers and meanings behind making jokes. But this all seems like normal stuff to me— like this seems like a very real-life exchange due to the joke that you put into it. We learned a lot about both of them because he made this joke

I’d just want to see more to know if he’s okay with this and if she’s okay with this... all these deeper layers of acceptance and rejection. It’s interesting and it seems real... there are all those levels that are the subtext in real life and subtext is the most interesting thing about dialogue in books too. At that point I am analyzing even bigger things though... like just human relationships and the real personality differences between us all out there and what love is expected to somehow gloss over about all of our blind spots and insecurities. Like will this difference in humor keep hurting them along their way? Or will other things between them bind them enough to make up for the lack? Where will gaping holes end up showing up? I’m serious, these are the kinds of questions that can come up after such an exchange for me with someone I’m trying to get to be friends with or deeper. And sometimes the smallest exchange can be dwelled on for days if the person is important enough (for who knows why? Who knows why certain people just ARE so important?) to me. So... great subtext! This is where I would usually stick in some slightly-self-depreciating joke and run!
 
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Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
I'm bad with humour. It is one thing I need to get better at. I have tried to be sarcastic in my writing at times, but not sure if it translates well. Being sarcastic in writing can be very hard.

I find dialogue is a bit easier if you can bounce two or more characters off eachother with punchy comeback lines.

I think humour is one of the hardest things to write.



You know I meant I agree with the part about humour being the hardest thing to write, right?

Part of the challenge, is that everyone has a different sense of humor. It takes a master comedian to write good humor that has a wide appeal. I was watching the reruns to Friends over the holiday. I was amazed at how funny the lines were and still so relevant. Other than I Love Lucy, it is likely the most popular sitcom of all time. My nephews and nieces, a few generations after me, still find it funny.


I was surprised at the time when they decided to phase it out. It still had a very high rating. But I wonder if the writers just burned out after eight years. The last year was still funny, but a little belaboured at times. Of course, script writers have the added benefit of working with the actors portrayal of the character. Friends cast was very strong, all six of them, not a weak one in the bunch!

 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
. I would like to talk about a few books/authors who have had me in stitches and I would love to hear from other authors about their ideas on books that made them laugh.

J.P. Wodehouse. Delightfully ridiculous characters!
Diary of. Wimpy Kid—- I think it was the fourth book. I was reading to my kids and I think I laughed for 5 minutes. The author was secretly making fun of grownups freaking out about the possibility of romantic relations between the 10 year olds at a school sleep-over. The MC was just watching these grown ups like “What is going on?” Oh it was good!
“Duh...oh tay Buttacup” was a line in the book The Princess Bride that made me laugh for a good long time.
Frans G. Bengtsson’s The Long Ships has this wonderful dry wit... it’s just (kiss noise) mwah! Roald Dahl has some hilarious (and sexy) short stories for adults (an obvious male target audience) which he wrote for Playboy Magazine and other magazines (I think) back in the day. Oh and my dad used to read me those funny poems by Robert W. Service “The Cremation of Sam McGee” “The Shooting of Dan McGrew”. I think humor in classics like Austen, Salinger, Dickens... that undertow of humor is a really important part of those authors.

Who else guys? I’d love to hear.

Fannie Flagg can be funny at times. I just Finished The All Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion. Some of the situations she puts people in can be hilarious, like her MC goes to a shrink, but lives in a small town and she doesn't want anyone to know shes getting therapy, so she arranges to meet him in secret outside of his office in a restaurant. The only problem is that someone sees them together, so then the rumour spreads that she is having an affair. But sometimes she borderlines on slapstick. She had one woman trying to impress at a wedding by wearing a hat with two live birds in a cage on it. It's so unrealistic, it's just not funny.

Kevin Kwan writes some choice morsels. Mostly the characterizations of some of his personalities. I think he bases his characters on people he knows, but they are so over the top, you have to laugh, because likely they are not that far-fetched.

I'm just reading Candice Bushnell's One Fifth Avenue. On the jacket she is described as "a philosopher queen of the social scene." I thought I might find some humor there. So far it's pretty clever, but I'm not laughing out loud. Mostly she pokes fun at certain types in New York society. They're not too stereo, so I think she does a good job at making the characters believable. Like Kevin Kwan, you get a chuckle when you recognize someone you may have known along the way.

I have to say, there are not that many authors that come to mind as having a lot of humor. I'll keep thinking...
 
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Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
Until implies a change in direction and hence gives away the punch line.

Humor gets overshadowed if you bring up important issues. Here, you have the problem (from my point of view) that he sounds like a narcissist, and that's not good for her. So, IF I was writing it, I would explore making it obvious that wasn't an issue. (Or, if it is an issue, this is never going to be funny for me.)

I immediately put myself into the shoes of the person who made the joke. And that seemed real to me— I know and understand the need and reason someone jokes. It’s a way of seeing if certain parts of you are accepted and/or understood. The joke didn’t hurt anyone else, in fact it’s like making fun of yourself the way he did it. Self-deprecating humor and/or hyperbole can then make the other person react in a way that tells you how they actually feel about you. I see reactions of people who don’t quite understand the need for a joke in a certain place. The writing seemed real to me with that because I definitely see personalities like the main character’s out there too. It’s as if they wouldn’t get that giving flowers is a very vulnerable thing. That there might be different layers of rejection that might occur for the giver. And so her reaction to his joke really annoyed me. She didn’t understand why he made the joke is what I felt due to usually being the person who makes the joke and she didn’t see the thing for her to do that he maybe hoped for. But if she at least accepted the flowers and accepted the joke on one level, maybe he could live with that. That’s now what I’m interested in after reading it. Honestly, I couldn’t live with that. I would want someone who understood my sense of humor. I would need someone who understands the layers and meanings behind making jokes. But this all seems like normal stuff to me— like this seems like a very real-life exchange due to the joke that you put into it. We learned a lot about both of them because he made this joke

I’d just want to see more to know if he’s okay with this and if she’s okay with this... all these deeper layers of acceptance and rejection.

I've been meaning to circle back on this, but I was waiting to come up with a more funny version...but alas I cannot! Humour is tough.

Originally when I wrote this, I was trying to make sure my FMC's love interest wasn't too perfect. That's the caveat of taking a snippet from a novel. You don't have the background, so this may help. She adores him and he treats her like gold, but this is the one thing that bugs her...his constant joking at everything. Sometimes she laughs with him.

So it may not be that funny but it serves the purpose for the character. I changed it to this:




Dwight handed her a bouquet of small, yellow flowers. Jennifer buried her nose into them and said, “They smell heavenly. What are they?


“They’re yellow jasmine. I chose them because they are a symbol of grace and elegance.” He grinned. She thought it was the most romantic thing he’d ever said, and then he added, “Just like me, right?”

Jennifer chuckled. Laughter was more important to her than cheesy romance.


 

Llyralen

Senior Member
I've been meaning to circle back on this, but I was waiting to come up with a more funny version...but alas I cannot! Humour is tough.

Originally when I wrote this, I was trying to make sure my FMC's love interest wasn't too perfect. That's the caveat of taking a snippet from a novel. You don't have the background, so this may help. She adores him and he treats her like gold, but this is the one thing that bugs her...his constant joking at everything. Sometimes she laughs with him.

So it may not be that funny but it serves the purpose for the character. I changed it to this:




Dwight handed her a bouquet of small, yellow flowers. Jennifer buried her nose into them and said, “They smell heavenly. What are they?


“They’re yellow jasmine. I chose them because they are a symbol of grace and elegance.” He grinned. She thought it was the most romantic thing he’d ever said, and then he added, “Just like me, right?”

Jennifer chuckled. Laughter was more important to her than cheesy romance.



Okay, so she accepts his humor?
Why did this particular joke told at this time make me feel like I understood him? It’s a pressure to stay on a pedestal, the higher up the more dangerous. So when you’re doing something “perfect” or a big gesture I think it just feels better for someone who is humble to make a joke... basically to ease the tension of doing something big. Basically to say “Please know I’m human and I make mistakes. Don’t put me up on that pedestal even though I’m doing something romantic. That kind of thing. That’s my thinking.... her acceptance of what is probably a really good sign (an excellent trait) in him is important in my opinion... at least to me it shows a cohesion versus a crack in the relationship. If someone does some very classic romantic gesture and isn’t a bit bashful about it would actually be kind of a red flag to me in some characters, depending. I don’t know... I went pretty far to explain something that was a gut reaction from me, I was trying to figure it out in myself as well.

I like her acceptance of it on this, I felt he was misunderstood without it.
I felt like I was going pretty far, so thank you for coming back to this!
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
Okay, so she accepts his humor?
Why did this particular joke told at this time make me feel like I understood him? It’s a pressure to stay on a pedestal, the higher up the more dangerous. So when you’re doing something “perfect” or a big gesture I think it just feels better for someone who is humble to make a joke... basically to ease the tension of doing something big. Basically to say “Please know I’m human and I make mistakes. Don’t put me up on that pedestal even though I’m doing something romantic. That kind of thing. That’s my thinking.... her acceptance of what is probably a really good sign (an excellent trait) in him is important in my opinion... at least to me it shows a cohesion versus a crack in the relationship. If someone does some very classic romantic gesture and isn’t a bit bashful about it would actually be kind of a red flag to me in some characters, depending. I don’t know... I went pretty far to explain something that was a gut reaction from me, I was trying to figure it out in myself as well.

I like her acceptance of it on this, I felt he was misunderstood without it.
I felt like I was going pretty far, so thank you for coming back to this!

But you were absolutely right, the way it was before made her look a little nasty and unforgiving. I understood perfectly what you were saying in the previous post. So thanks for that!

 

Llyralen

Senior Member
But you were absolutely right, the way it was before made her look a little nasty and unforgiving. I understood perfectly what you were saying in the previous post. So thanks for that!


Oh good! I wasn’t so sure I understood myself, but I tried. /super big hugs my writing friend! Yay!
 

druid12000

Senior Member
I try to inject humor whenever possible. I'm kind of a sarcastic, snarky guy anyway so it often comes out in my writing. Whether others 'get it' or not is still up for debate.

Has anyone here read any of Christopher Moore's books? He takes humor to another level, IMO.
 

EmmaSohan

WF Veterans
Dwight handed her a bouquet of small, yellow flowers. Jennifer buried her nose into them and said, “They smell heavenly. What are they?

“They’re yellow jasmine. I chose them because they are a symbol of grace and elegance.” He grinned. She thought it was the most romantic thing he’d ever said, and then he added, “Just like me, right?”

Jennifer chuckled. Laughter was more important to her than cheesy romance.

Thumbs up! This works for me. I think it does exactly what you wanted, which had nothing to do with making the reader laugh. But I think I too smiled along with Jennifer at the humor.
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
I try to inject humor whenever possible. I'm kind of a sarcastic, snarky guy anyway so it often comes out in my writing. Whether others 'get it' or not is still up for debate.

Has anyone here read any of Christopher Moore's books? He takes humor to another level, IMO.

If you can write humour, then you are gifted. It's very hard to find! Thanks for the recommendation. I'll check it out.
 
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