Sunday, February 07, 2010

Accidental humor

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?


Ily said...

I wish I could be a part of your group. It would help with my 2010 goal to write a short story.

I write like I think, so if I'm thinking something funny it comes out kind of funny (or kind of weird). Not everyone gets my sense of humor, so I don't aim to please. I aim to get it down the way I see it. Does that make any sense?

Darth Weasel said...

sadly, the funnier I try to write, the less humor people find in it, whereas when i spew out my vitriolic acerbic responses to people being people...I get a lor of laughs. Grr.

G said...

I try to be funny on purpose, never by accident. If it's something that I found incredibly funny (and trust me, work gives me all that I need), I write it in such a way that it comes out not funny ha-ha, but funny WTF.

Sarcasm I guess you can call it.

Lynn said...

By accident, but I do like to share when I think there are things that are quirky funny.

I heard Garrison Keillor speak back in the fall - he is great. Red socks and all.

LL Cool Joe said...

I don't really try to be anything.I tend to go with how I'm feeling at the time. That's why I can write a post that can make you laugh one minute and cry the next.

That's real life isn't it?

I often find that when people try to be funny they aren't. Or when I try to be funny I'm not.

Fireblossom said...

Dahling, here is a story I find extremely amusing. I laugh all over again every time I think of it.

Mabel Van Deusen is mad for the actor Richard Gere. She would do anything, scale his security fence, or sell off her custom tennis racket, just for a glimpse of the man. (I find him rather tiresome, myself.) Anyway, she had to change planes at LAX for her trip to some godawful Pacific atoll where she and her husband have a grass hut or something, and when she got inside the terminal, people around her were talking about Richard Gere. Well, her little rabbit ears must have shot up faster than a soda bottle crammed with Mentos. She asked someone (I say asked, but what I mean is, shook them by the lapels), and apparently Mr. Gere had been in that very terminal with his entourage scant moments before Mabel got there. She just missed him!

Dahling, is that funny or what?

Air kisses,


Riot Kitty said...

Ily: That does make sense. How short is short? I mean, some of them are two sentences long!
Darth: I find your funny stuff hilarious...
G: "Funny WTF" is my new favorite expression.
L: I'm jealous! And I didn't know about the red socks.
Joey: So I suppose I'm real :)
FB: Babs is extremely amusing indeed!

Robert Tres said...

Funny is another word for strange. I am one or the other somewhat frequently but never on purpose. It's not at all like when I was a newt.

Granny Annie said...

I can never be funny intentionally. It amazes me how people write comedy because if I think about it, nothing seems funny. If it is ever humorous on my part it is totally accidental.

Anonymous said...


Riot Kitty said...

RT: You always crack me up!
GA: I know! Although this weird numerical stuff at the bottom is starting to look funny to me.