Sunday, February 07, 2010
The writing group I facilitate met yesterday, and we were discussing humor writing. The "assignment" for next time (also to be completed by me) is a choice of: 1) writing something humorous, 2) writing about something funny that happened to you, or 3) writing about something funny that you did.
The last one was suggested by one of the members of the group. I thought that was rather clever of her.
I brought in a story by Garrison Keillor for the group and they all loved it. He is probably one of the funniest writers I've ever encountered, and I probably also favor him because we were both born in Minnesota, and had some pretty conservative religious relatives. He does a great job of skewering them in his stories (probably without their knowing), and literally everyone laughed out loud while reading "silently."
We got into discussing what makes a good piece of humor writing, and we all agreed that it was generally very difficult stuff to write. I realized yesterday that all of my funny writing is unintentionally funny - it's written in a straightforward way, but I suppose I'm just weird enough, or the people around me are weird enough, for the stories to make other people laugh. I think I do work and hang out with funny people, though. Sometimes I feel like I'm in a John Cleese movie. For instance, my boss and I recently had a meeting with someone whose name rhymed with penis holder. I'm not making this up.
So another example - I wrote a review of a vegetarian cookbook that came with great recipes, but little instruction. I literally chronicled my experience with the recipes. I did not try to be funny (and I didn't think it was funny), but when I sent the review to my dad, he wrote back, "Great! This is hilarious! By the way, the author probably died of meat withdrawal..."
For years my dad was freaked out by my vegetarian diet, and now he has accepted the fact that I won't actually starve to death, but he is still puzzled about why I don't want to eat a bacon cheeseburger.
How about you? Are you funny on purpose, or by accident?