Monday, September 17, 2012

Writing Humour

Writing humour is actually theory.  You just have to write something that people will laugh at.  Oh, you want to know how.  Be like that then.

In order to be funny you need to see things from a different angle, or perspective.  Take an everyday object and see it differently.  Like in this photo.

These are ordinary objects seen differently to produce humour.  If you want some practice try describing one of those scenes.

Written humour works differently from visual humour, but still has the same rule, see it from a different perspective.  For instance:

A man walks into a bar.  Ouch!

The hardest thing you can attempt is to make a serious scene funny.  You have to write it as humour from the start or you'll end up getting yourself into a mess.

Of course, some humour won't travel very well.  Things that are humourous to one person will leave another person scratching their head.  British comedians don't necessarily do well in the USA and vice versa.  Jokes about London only tend work if you live or work there, while those about Big Brother only work if you know what it is.

So how do you write humour?  Stand back and look at something from a different angle.  If you want to see how it's done, read some of the greats.  Terry Pratchett, Tom Holt, Neil Gaiman and Douglas Adams, or hunt around the bookshop and see what they have.  Alternatively, watch a few TV shows and films.

Above all, write what makes you laugh.  If you're not laughing, I guarantee no one else will.


Caitlin said...

Oh I'm terrible at writing humor. Thanks for the tips!

defcon said...

Methinks you don't write enough humor. I've seen serious scenes with a humorous undertone, usually in the form of sarcasm. Then there's comedy dramas or "dramedies" where the situation is serious, but the characters can be ridiculous.(ex: the TV show Scrubs)

Also, I think British comedians do fairly well in the USA. Just look at Ricky Gervais. However, I don't know how well American comedians do across the pond.

Fran said...

I've been reading Mark Twain's short stories. Now there's humour. I'd forgotten how funny he is. Was. Is was.

Lisa Shafer said...

Those are great pics!
I don't have much trouble writing humor because -- so far -- all my books have had junior high kids in them, and early adolescents just have a knack for the awkward. Seriously. All I have to do is think, "Now, what would this kid probably do?" and half the time, the answer is something funny.

Martin Willoughby said...

Caitlin: Everyone is when they try for the first time.

Defcon: I try to write it, I try honestly.

Fran: Connecticut Yankee is amusing.

Lisa: Teachers have a head start with humour. I'm surprised there aren't more cases of them laughing out loud in classes.

Gabriel C. Taylor said...

So true. I tend to avoid writing comical stories becausse it is so difficult to do, and instead save up my humor for brief interludes between drama.

Martin Willoughby said...

Gabriel: If it makes you laugh, it works.