Wednesday, October 27, 2010


When I volunteered to do a post on TEH FUNNY I didn't quite realize that NOTHING I WRITE IS EVER COMEDY. Instead there's always an underlying current of tongue-in-cheek humor, little lines here and there to lighten the emotional load. Because the stories I write are about families torn apart, the death of a friend, alcoholism, and love stories that never quite go the way they're supposed to.

I'm not a comedy writer, but you have no idea how much I sometimes wish I were. I can spend hours watching shows like 30 Rock, Community, and The Office, and trying to figure out why the funny works as well as it does. So it's no surprise that, when doing a post on TEH FUNNIES, I'm going to be looking at both television and books.

Elements of Funny
Keep in mind, please, that there's no reason to use EVERY SINGLE ELEMENT unless you just want to. This is just a list of common funny things I've noticed that some hilarious works make use of, if that makes sense. And, because I didn't have a whole heap of time to write this post I only came up with three. SOZ BOUT THAT.

Spencer, from Suite Scarlett
Alpha, from The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (arguably)
Spencer, from iCarly
Tracy Jordan, from 30 Rock

This is the character that makes you laugh. You learn pretty quickly that this character is never going to have a not-funny scene. They just say the darndest things. Or do the darndest things. This is the character that you can always rely on to be funny. (For all you TV tropes fans, the funnyman can sometimes be the Cloudcuckoolander, but not always.)

In television it's fine to have a character whose sole purpose is to be funny, but one of the reasons that Spencer (the Suite Scarlett one) works so well is that not only is he the funnyman in pretty much every scene, but he's also one of the most important characters and has a very strong relationship with the protagonist. He's not the primary main character, but he's close.

Everything 30 Rock does
Most of Community
Everything Spencer from Suite Scarlett is ever involved in

These are the situations that, even on their own with no characters to support them, are completely insane. Things like putting on a Shakespeare play (complete with unicycles!) in your home, breaking into a KFC space shuttle simulation and being towed away. Those things. They just sound ridiculous, and if you can fit something that ridiculous into your completely-grounded (or even un-grounded) story, KUDOS TO YOU. It's funny.

The best example of this one is Serafina67, in which the entire book is told in blog format and there are whole chapters (including scenes and dialogue) written in... wait for it... LOLCAT. For serious. It's undoubtedly off-putting to some readers, but for others (like me) it's absolutely hilarious.

I'm not telling you to write your book in lolcat. But telling it in an interesting, offbeat way usually gives it some humor.

I absolutely love jokes. I wish I could write them into my stories, but I have no idea. I know nothing about them, but obviously they're hilarious.