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Writing Make 'em Laugh ARCHIVE > How To Avoid Offending Anyone With Your Humor

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message 1: by Joel (new)

Joel Jurrens | 25 comments You are never safe with ethnic humor these days. I think most people look for a reason to be offended. A couple days ago I put a humorous post about Thanksgiving up on my blog and received a few negative comments about it being anti-religious. It was never my intention. I was just being silly.


message 2: by J.E. (last edited Nov 25, 2013 07:32PM) (new)

J.E. Negrete (jenegrete) "...be aware that not everyone who reads a joke is intellectually sophisticated enough to understand the meaning."

I feel unconfortable with this... it don't sounds good.


message 3: by Sybil (new)

Sybil Powell (sybilpowell) | 58 comments It's interesting that the three contributers are all men, you're right men are more funny than women but that's the way nature made us.


message 4: by Heidi (new)

Heidi Angell (heidiangell) | 131 comments Joel,

You got me, I am curious about your post! How is Thanksgiving even a religious holiday? I mean, I know that there are religious undertones, but it is a national holiday.

I am not good at writing humor (except for the occasional irony!), but I love humor! As for the Black Friday joke... I don't know that it was offensive, but it didn't tickle my funny bone. I totally got it, mocking PC and all, and that can be funny... I think this one just lacked a bit of... continuity, perhaps? Meh, I can't quite put my finger on it, (I'm not good at writing humor myself, see?) but something about it just doesn't really jive for me... maybe the lack of information about the individual making the statement?


message 5: by Ellen (new)

Ellen Benefield | 58 comments Funny girl here myself but I was raised with five brothers--only girl. I write Y.A. Funny Fantasy and speculative fiction (twice published in ComputerEdge.) I would wonder at anyone who was offended by it--unless I make fun of D and D, LOL. Some people take their games so seriously. The Black Friday thing doesn't tickle my funny bone and neither does bathroom humor which many guys seem to enjoy. As you say humor is subjective. I don't find four letter words especially amusing either although I do use terms like "Dragon fewmets." I don't find videos of people getting hurt on America's funniest videos amusing either. Now dogs saying "Mama" crack me up. . .I'd rethink the Black Friday joke. I'm convinced some people look for things to offend them especially if they think they can get some attention or money out of it.


message 6: by Reed (new)

Reed Bosgoed (ReedBosgoed) | 10 comments If you're worried about offending people, writing humor is going to be challenging. If you like making ethnic themed jokes and mocking the PC crowd, as a previous poster mentioned, people will go out of their way to be offended. You can't please everyone. Even if people aren't offended, they may just not like your flavor of humor. For example: A friend of mine adores Eddy Murphy's comedy specials. I can't stand it, as I have no interest in hearing the 2000 ways that Murphy thinks black people are better than whites. I don't find him offensive, I just think that racial comparison humor is lazy and overdone.

I have my own strategy for the occasionally 'offensive' jokes in my work. In my first novel, I have a character who is an alexithymic man (someone devoid of natural emotional response)who frequently says things that could be seen as humorous, but are also frequently ignorant and very rude. The other characters call him out on it when he steps out of line. Its not the perfect system, as people could still be rubbed the wrong way by what the character says. However, its my way of acknowledging to the reader, "Yes, I understand that not everyone is going to approve of that statement."


message 7: by Ellen (new)

Ellen Benefield | 58 comments I was invited to speak on a panel at Conjecture a couple of years ago about writing humor in speculative fiction. I've had more funny pieces published than regular ones. (Not self-published--both small and large presses have published them.) One of the things I told the audience is a mentor of mine (Lee McKeone) told me not to write the first thing that came to mind that I liked but to investigate my future audience--study the writer's guidelines and copies of the magazines and see what sells. Writers guidelines often list a bunch of things they won't publish. Of course years of rejection letters from editors also told me what did not. Editors don't seem to take the time to write back to what they considered "B" list writers anymore which is a shame. The "A" list of course are the ones that have already made a name for themselves and they get most of the slots. If there is a spot left they look through the "B" list i.e. newbies that they consider have a chance of becoming "A" list writers. Several writers guidelines I read said "We hate cat stories" so I didn't bother sending "Suki" there but Echelon Press loved it for Wyrd Wravings. You might consider looking at some online magazines' posted writers guidelines about humor. I think most of them reject anything that has a hint of "ethnic" humor about it but it would give you some idea. Wyrd Wravings An Anthology of Humorous Speculative Fiction by Candace Sams


message 8: by Joel (new)

Joel Jurrens | 25 comments Heidi wrote: "Joel,

You got me, I am curious about your post! How is Thanksgiving even a religious holiday? I mean, I know that there are religious undertones, but it is a national holiday.

I am not good at ..."


I was told that we should be thanking God for what we have. I believe they were people who held the opinion that the Pilgrims were a highly religious group and making fun of them was somehow sacrilegious. The post is at http://www.thewritingdeputy.wordpress... if you want to check it out.


message 9: by Xdyj (last edited Nov 26, 2013 10:55AM) (new)

Xdyj | 35 comments I don't think it is fair to blame it all on "intellectual sophistication" of readers. The same words may mean different things for people with different life experiences, personal beliefs or cultural backgrounds, which often have nothing to do with intellectual sophistication. imho writers can minimize unintended offenses by educating themselves & seeking lots of feedbacks from members of groups they write about, or maybe by becoming an equal-opportunity offender & intentionally making fun of everyone and everything including themselves :)


message 10: by Ellen (new)

Ellen Benefield | 58 comments Dixie Lee McKeone writes some funny novels dealing with "Kender." Erama Bombeck was a hoot to read.Erma Bombeck


message 11: by Travis, Moderator (new)

Travis Luedke (twluedke) | 450 comments Mod
I love a good miscommunication joke. And seriously Black Friday? Why not a Red Saturday, Yellow Sunday and White Cracker Monday?

All the races should have an official shopping day during the holidays. Equality and all that...


message 12: by Bob (new)

Bob Rector | 11 comments My personal experience (years in the entertainment biz) is that neither gender holds a lock on humor. I've known many, many guys AND gals that could bend me double with their jokes. I've noticed that women's jokes tend to be wackier and men's courser but I've known lots of gals who could tell outrageously raunchy gut-busting jokes. Funny is funny and delivery is everything. Either a joke is funny or it's not. No middle ground. No such thing as almost funny.


message 13: by Heidi (new)

Heidi Angell (heidiangell) | 131 comments Joel,

Read it, loved it. Those folks are just being silly. Sure you can be thankful to whatever diety you choose to worship on Thanksgiving. The Jews are having a double wammy, what with Thanksgivikuh and all ;) Until I see Athiests protesting the celebration of the holiday, it ain't religious!


message 14: by Joel (new)

Joel Jurrens | 25 comments Thanks for the comments, Heidi. I think people take themselves WAY too seriously. The post actually highlights the ignorance of the writer. Ithought the biggest protest I would get would be over the term Redskin.


message 15: by M.K. (last edited Dec 05, 2013 07:06PM) (new)

M.K. Clinton (mkclinton) The majority of people take life way too seriously. I thought your Black Friday joke was funny, but I have a very broad sense of humor. When I began writing I thought I'd write romance since it's the genre I read. After a few attempts at love scenes, I quickly discovered I was better at making people laugh than arousing them. I ended up writing two humor books about humans who are killed & return to Earth in the bodies of dogs. The majority of my readers love it and say they laugh out loud. I get the occasional one that simply don't "get" the spirit of fun. Not everyone has a funny bone or the ability to enjoy a good belly laugh. It a shame but we should just laugh harder to make up for them. : )


message 16: by Jim (last edited Dec 09, 2013 02:10PM) (new)

Jim Vuksic Injecting humor into a serious novel can be tricky; especially if the story deals with sensitive moral or social issues.

Although the reader may welcome the occasional respite from a tense or stressful situation, the author must always remember that what one reader may consider hilarious another may interpret it as an insult; particularly if it deals with a cultural, racial, or religious matter.


message 17: by Sybil (new)

Sybil Powell (sybilpowell) | 58 comments You can offend some of the people all the time, you can offend all the people some of the time and you can offend an individual every time.


message 18: by Jim (new)

Jim Vuksic Sybil wrote: "You can offend some of the people all the time, you can offend all the people some of the time and you can offend an individual every time."

Careful Sybil, if Abraham Lincoln reads what you just wrote, he may sue!


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