Last night, I gave an odd and wandering (as is my wont) little talk about infusing humor into one’s writing for The Hook’s Write Night. I had Fozzie Bear along. I read the introduction to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I told a Sarah Tiana joke (which, it perhaps goes without saying, she tells better than I do).
None of this helped me write a new scene for The Sequel. But in the interest of not forgetting my own advice, here are the things I said were important to consider when trying to be funny on the page:
- Think about what/who you think is funny. Then think hard about why you find that material/person funny. What is the mechanism at work? How can you replicate it?
- The setup is at least as important as the punchline. Screw up the setup and you can’t land the joke, no matter how good the punchline is.
- Give some thought to the purpose of the humor. What are you trying to do — and why?
- Context is important. Some humor only works if the people reacting to it have enough context to get the joke. This goes well beyond a good setup; this is about knowing to whom your talking.
Oh, and then I read a snippet of Murder by the Slice that I’m pretty sure I’ve never read in public before. Happy to say: it got a laugh.