Monday, March 17, 2014

Ha ha ha ha!

Image by Grant Cochrane
Laughter is the best medicine. It's an old adage, and a popular section in Reader's Digest, and so true. Ask any woman and she'll tell you that a man with a sense of humor is very attractive, no matter what he looks like. I mean really, Jerry Seinfeld isn't GQ but as soon as you laugh, he's handsome. The same could be said for the recently departed David Brenner, one of my favorites from childhood. I can't think of anyone who doesn't like a comedy club, regardless of the drink minimum and cover charge. Being around people who make us laugh is something we all like.

But what does it mean to be "funny?" Is it acting funny? People do laugh at the Keystone Cops and their slap-stick antics. Then there is the phenomenon of the The Three Stooges. I mean really? Three grown men slapping each other in the head is funny? There's a lot to be said for physical humor - Dick van Dyke, Lucille Ball, Charlie Chaplin, Steve Martin, Tim Conway, Carol Burnett, Jim Carrey, Don Knotts - just to name a few physical comedians. They always succeed in making us laugh. And clowns have been around for  centuries and seem to bring joy to people. (Personally, I find clowns creepy.)

Observational comedians such as Bob Newhart, George Carlin, Bill Cosby, and Phyllis Diller are funny without the physical element. They bring to light the ridiculousness in our every day life by simply exaggerating our silly human actions and responses and most often there is more than just an element of truth to it. Although these comedians tend to be more cerebral than their physical counter-parts, they are just as funny.

Still, what does it mean to be funny? Is it life observations? Is it exaggeration? Is it timing? Who are these joke writers? How do you write funny? Is it merely a matter of writing real actions, real thoughts, real conversations and allowing the audience to find the humor on their own? Does it have to make me as a writer laugh when I write it?

I long to have funny sections in my novel. I want the funny, odd, weird, quirky side of my characters to come through. I want them to be just as funny as they are serious or pathetic or uplifting. Yet, it seems that funny is more difficult to write. Still working on it.

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