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quoth the ravin’

George Washington’s brother, Lawrence, was the Uncle of Our Country.

                                                                                      —George Carlin

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

                                                   —Groucho Marx

Whose cruel idea was it for the word “lisp” to have an “s” in it?
                                                                      —Steven Wright

If you ever start feeling like you have the goofiest, craziest, most dysfunctional family in the world, all you have to do is go to a state fair. Because five minutes at the fair, you’ll be going, ‘you know, we’re alright. We are dang near royalty.’

                                                          —Jeff Foxworthy

I had the right to remain silent… but I didn’t have the ability.

                                                                   —Ron White

I don’t deserve this award, but I have arthritis, and I don’t deserve that either.

                                                                                                        —Jack Benny

I once spent a year in Philadelphia, I think it was on a Sunday.

                                                                                      —W.C. Fields

Brevity is the soul of lingerie.

                 –Dorothy Parker

laughing in the dark

Real, for-true life has been getting in the way of my writing, twittering and blogging.  It’s been just awful.  Ask my dog.

noYOUwalktheplank

Freckles and I did get to attend a nifty writing workshop thrown by Dan Schwabauer–author, speaker, writing coach extraordinaire.  We spent an afternoon looking at elements of story, as illustrated through the silver screen.

Cool, huh?

One of the movies Dan used for his examples was Life is Beautiful. The one about the father who convinces his little boy that the Nazi concentration camp they’re in is really an elaborate contest.  And the winner gets a tank.

Dan showed us clips that made the other workshop participants laugh.

I. Could. Not. Stand. It.

Because here is what I know about humor:

The funniest people on the planet are intimately acquainted with pain.

Humor is an endorphin-delivery system.

And also a weapon.

If you only know me from the hilarity *cough* which I spew in my articles, blogs and twitter, you’ll be surprised to learn that I write rather dark YA.  Oh, there’s  funny.  Because the best funny grows out of the dark.

I’ve been kind of startled by some of the stuff I’ve been able to scrounge out of myself for my WIP.   Maybe even been a little afraid of it.

How ridiculous!

Where did I think all my knee-slappers came from?

what’s so dang funny? the characters

I think about 15% of my time with my friends is spent in deep, serious discussion.  The other 85% is spent laughing.  Giggling, guffawing, snorting, chortling, snickering, tittering, sneering…

Etc.

Pretty sure you see the point bearing down on you like a freight train: we like people who make us laugh.

And we like our book-people to make us laugh, just like our flesh-people.  The right mixture of pathos and humor will connect readers with your characters.  Our audience is familiar with feeling embarrassed, exasperated, frustrated.  The quickest way to a reader’s heart is through his gut.

In The Sorcerer’s Stone, we meet Hagrid when he bursts into the shack with a bedraggled cake.  He ties the Dursleys’ gun in a knot, spouts cheeky vernacular, and hedges on the real reason he didn’t finish his education.   Comedy comes in the form of a surprise.  Memorable?  Yes siree Bob.  We are in love.  And not with the book, with Hagrid, in particular.

guffawfestThen there’s humor from the character’s wry observations and clever turns of phrase.  See:  Louise Rennison or John Green:

He opened the drain in the tub, stood up, toweled off, and got  dressed. When he exited the bathroom, his parents were sitting together on his bed. It was never a good sign when both his parents were in his room at the same time. Over the years it had meant:

1. Your grandmother/grandfather/Aunt-Suzie-whom-you-never-met-but-trust- me-she-was-nice-and-it’s-a-shame is dead.

2. You’re letting a girl named Katherine distract you from your studies.

3. Babies are made through an act that you will eventually find intriguing but for right now will just sort of horrify you, and also sometimes people do stuff that involves baby-making parts that does not actually involve making babies, like for instance kiss each other in places that are not on the face.

An Abundance of Katherines

Colin’s funny comes from being so dead-on true.  Saying what we’re all thinking right-out-loud (metaphorically speaking) in a slightly askew fashion.

It’s one thing to show the funny through your characters’ actions, or let funny happen to your characters, or even let funny spew from their pieholes.  The trickiest funny is Voice.

It ‘s too easy to come off as a smart-ass.  If you read through your draft and hear the rim-shots, you’ve got too many one-liners. (Ba-dum-bum-bing!) And oh, Lawsy, it’s hard to strangle our little darlings, isn’t it?  But if it’s too heart-wrenching to let go, cut and deposit in another document.  Take a look in six months, and I bet you’ll wonder what you ever saw in them.

Here is THE MASTER at comedic voice, Christopher Moore.  He started as a YA writer, but has gradually moved into adult novels:

Nate did not watch her rub the SPF50 on her legs, over her ankles and feet.  He did not watch her strip to her bikini top and apply the sunscreen over her chest and shoulders.  (Tropical sun can fry you even through a shirt.)  Nate especially did not notice when she grabbed his hand, squirted lotion into it, then turned, indicating that he should apply it to her back, which he did–not noticing anything about her in the process.  Professional courtesy.  He was working.  He was a scientist.

—-Fluke

Moore gets the mechanics of the scene across, as well as the facts about the tropical sun, the obliviousness of the bikini babe, the very interested disinterest of  Nate. (*Caution: This is a raunchy, adult book.  And it is a scream.)

sploosh

When you use humor just right, the reader surrenders a piece of himself to your story.    A sure way to keep him turning the pages.

Stop by http://community.livejournal.com/kidlit_central/ tomorrow to find out when not to use humor in your writing.

**Edit  Here is the perma-link to  what’s so dang funny?  when the answer should be: nothin’

what’s so dang funny? the plot

You might be Robin Williams in everyday life, but that won’t do you much good in your WIP.  When a writer uses humor, it has to serve the story.  Otherwise, you get a bunch of random one-liners that jump out at the reader like an Attack of the Living Dead.

Buff up your plot with situational humor.

juniorhighhilarity Everything that’s achingly funny starts with real life, but that doesn’t mean you can’t exaggerate. Like in Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney–the stuff about “the cheese touch”.   Didn’t everybody have some stupid superstition like that in school? Jeff Kinney starts with a perfectly mundane, childish scenario and blows it up until it’s a side-splitting recurring  joke.

Or look at  An Abundance of Katherines by John Green.  It’s about Colin 19?really?Singleton, a boy who’s dated and been dumped by 19 girls, all named Katherine.  Sure it’s possible, though not probable.  But a reader might have dated all blonds, or all baton-twirlers, and would identify with Colin’s inability to branch out.

Take a look at something interesting and swerve in a different direction.  Ask yourself, and then what?

Say, for instance, Main Character throws a water balloon at Nemesis.  And then what?  Nemesis retaliates with a water balloon barrage launched by sling shot.  Then what?  Main Character gets his buds together, puts together a plan of attack and rains water balloon hell upon Nemesis’ territory.  Then what?  Nemesis calls upon the entire fifth grade.  Then what?  They buy out the entire supply of water balloons at Nugent’s Drugstore. Then what?   Main Character’s Army frets and worries, shores up the battlements.  Patrols the perimeter.  Then what?  Finally, Nemesis’  Minions attack—with shaving cream!  Ah, the unexpected twist. Gotta love it.

Even serious stories need humor.  A tense plot must allow the reader an occasional breather.  Novels are not verbatim transcripts of life, but they are reflections.  And no matter how dire the straits, there is always room for humor.

“I would never have made it if I could not have laughed. Laughing lifted me momentarily . . . out of this horrible situation, just enough to make it livable . . . survivable.” (Victor Frankl)

A little humor gives your reader the confidence to believe he, too, could survive the ordeal your Main Character endures.  Another way to draw your audience in.

Lucky for the rest of us, you don’t have to be Bill Cosby, (the early years),  Douglas Adams, (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), or Tim Conway (with Carol Burnett).  Be observant.  Life is funny enough if you squint just right.

hic

what’s so dang funny?

People love you when you’re funny.

You can get all scientificky and say the reason is laughter releases dopamine–the pleasure hormone.    And endorphins, your natural opiates.

C’mon. It’s more than that.

When someone diddles your (READ THIS WORD CAREFULLY)  titterer, you feel immediately closer to them.  That’s why icebreakers always have some facet of humor to them.  Though I concede it’s usually pretty lame.

Notice that the best speeches open with a joke.

(Though that one really pushes the envelope.)

And even sermons.  In fact, in my opinion the very best sermons last the amount of time it takes to tell a joke, but no one listens to me. Yet another reason they won’t ordain me.  Right behind the fact that I’m not male.

So, writers and writerettes, humor is your power tool.  Use it to build a relationship with your reader, just like you use it to build relationships in real life.  When people talk about a book like The Road by Cormac McCarthy, they might say it’s “powerful” or “thought-provoking”.  But mention Lamb or Island of the Sequined Love Nun by Christopher Moore, or Skipping Christmas by John Grisham,  people will show their pearly whites and enthuse, “Oh, I LOVED that book!”

Don’t we all want to be loved?

Since I’m semi-famous in my circle for being a smart ass peculiar kind of scary funny, I’ll have some more things to say about humor in the next several posts.

guest-blog #2

I’m baAaAaAack!!!!

1st- The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson

2nd- Mike Rowe’s Dirty Jobs

3rd- Spongebob Squarepants

4th- Criminal Minds

5th- Bones

6th- House

7th- Law and Order

 

Mike Rowe’s Dirty Jobs

 

Mike Rowe started out in a paid program called QVC. He was fired many times for reasons unknown.

He tried out a few more shows and jobs until he found his true calling in Dirty Jobs. Before that, he also sang in the Baltimore Opera.

His most famous episode was when he went to visit the “Snake Lady” in Rhode Island. You might say that he is….tasty. Watch and enjoy Mike’s pain XD.

 

 

If you watched it then you might understand what I am going to say next.

He seriously has the worst luck ever.

1. The snakes chewed him.

2. He pretty much lost a baseball game for the team he was working for.

3. I will think of more later.

 

Here is his resume in alphabetical order!

Aerospace

Kansas City Airport Maintenance
Kansas City Airport Runway Painter
NASA Shuttle Crawler

 

Animal Jobs

Alligator Farmer
Alpaca Shearer
Avian Vomitologist
Bat Biologist’s Assistant
Bee Keeper
Bird Tagger
Bloodworm Digger
Bug Breeder
Chick Sexer
Cow Feed Lot Worker
Cow Hoof Trimmer
Dog Groomer
Duck Wrangler
Exotic Animal Keeper
Fainting Goats Farmer
Goat Milk Soap Maker
Hippo Wrangler
Horse Ferrier
Horse Inseminator
Island Horse Keeper
Monkey Rehabilitation Worker
Mosquito Control Officer
Ostrich Farmer
Penguin Keeper
Pest Control Technician
Pig Farmer
Pregnant Cow Examiner
Snake Breeder
Snake Researcher
Termite Exterminator
Turkey Farmer
Wild Goose Swabber
Yaks and Big Animal Veterinarian
Zoo Keeper

 

Construction

Billboard Installer
Bridge Painter
Chimney Sweeper
Concrete Chipper
Demolition Man
Fire Overhauler
Frac Tank Refurbisher
Hot Tar Roofer
House Mover
Mule Logger
Parade Float Demolition Worker
Plumber
Spray Installation
Well Digger
Wine Barrel Maker
Wine Cave Digger

 

Food

Brewery Vat Cleaner
Candy Factory Worker
Casino Buffet Recycler
Cheese Maker
Coffee Bean Picker
Micro Algae Farmer
Mushroom Grower
Potato Farmer
Sausage Maker
Sugar Cane Farmer
Taro Farmer

 

Green/Environmental

Bell Maker
Bio Diesel Fuel Maker
Cobb Home Builder
Geo Thermal Driller
Hotel Keeper
House Deconstruction Worker
Hydro Seed / Erosion Control
Malibu Creek Clean-Up
Mud Shampooer
Poo Pot Maker
Put-In-Bay Seaweed Harvester
Reef Ball Worker
San Francisco Debris Collector
Sludge Remover
Storm Drain Cleaner
Tank Liner Cleaner
Transfer Station Utility Worker
Tree Stump Remover
Wine Maker

 

Manufacturing

Charcoal Maker
Coal Miner
Coke Hopper Cleaner
Concrete Stamping
Copper Foundry Worker
Jug Pot Maker
Leather Tanner
Lithograph Press Worker
Marble Quarrier
Rock Quarrier
Salt Miner
Salvage Worker
Scrap Metal Worker
Special Effects Mask Maker
Stone Cutter
Terra Cotta Maker
Underwater Logger

 

Military

Air Force Fuel Tank Cleaner
U.S. Army Vehicle Mechanic

 

Nautical Fishing

Boat Mooring Repairman
Catfish Noodler
Crab Fisherman
Crawfish Catcher
Fish Gutter
Geoduck Harvester
Kelp Harvester
Lobster Fisherman
Marine Mammal Rescuer
Marine Salvager
Mussel Harvester
Oyster Fisherman
Oyster Shucker
Salmon Carcass Counter
Seabass Fisherman
Shrimper
Stamford Water Barrier Repairman
Steam Ship Boiler Cleaner
Yacht Builder

 

Petrochemical

Heating Oil Tank Remover
Mud Driller
Oilfield Roughneck

 

Sanitation

Disaster Clean-Up Crewman
Garbage Collector
Gum Remover
Odor Eater
Road Kill Remover
Septic Tank Cleaner
Sewage Treatment Plant Operator
Sewer Inspector
Skull Cleaner
Waste Engineer

 

Shark Week 2006

Chain Metal Suit Tester
Necropsy Technician
Shark Repellant Tester
Shark Spotter/Researcher
Shark Tagger
Shark Taxidermist
a Shark Wrangler

 

Soil/Fertilizer

Lava Evaluator
Worm Poop Rancher

 

Sports/Leisure

Bar-B-Q Smoker
Baseball Mud Gatherer
Bowie Bay Sox Baseball Groundskeeper
Crew Cruise Director
Golf Ball Collector/Diver
Pipe Organ Cleaner
Spa Mud Mixer
Special Effects Artist/Victim
Surfboard Shaper

 

Transportation

Auto Salvage
Gandy Dancer
Tire Recycler
Tire Retreader

 

Yes. That is all he has so far!

I urge all of you to watch this show. He adds a certain charm to the screen. I can’t quite put my finger on what makes him so darn funny! He will certainly make you smile. 😄 << like that. 😄

 

If you choose to watch it you can rent the second season from the library. Or you can watch it on the Discovery Channel!! Thanks for reading/watching!

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