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Favorite Humor in a Novel

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message 1: by Lara (new)

Lara Lee | 507 comments Mod
I have been researching humor for one of my novels. I am afraid that my wit is not quite sharp enough for my character's. Humor is actually quite a new development to my personality (long story). What is your favorite style of humor? I was amazed to see all the different methods such as irony, puns, one-liners, slapstick. etc. Some good examples of your favorite funny scenes or dialogue are welcome. What makes something humorous?


message 2: by Steve (new)

Steve Pillinger | 517 comments Mod
I read once that the essence of humour is (something like) the unexpected juxtaposition of incongruous elements—like the dignified bank manager sitting down and missing the chair.

My all-time favourite comic author is P.G. Wodehouse. He's the master of the mot juste. One of his that I find hilarious is the statement: "I hadn't had such a fright since Barmy Fotheringay blew a trumpet in my immediate ear."

Then there are the superb phrases that sum up a situation perfectly: After Bertie Wooster has tried cracking a couple of jokes at a poker-faced, uptight lunch table he gets a withering look and realises that it's "back to the basket for Bertram". This was one of those "silent, bread-crumbling lunches where you sit for ten minutes thinking of something to say and then decide not to say it."

There are plenty more examples where those came from! But I think it's the unexpecteness and incongruity of a word, reaction or event that makes something funny.


message 3: by Stan (new)

Stan | 288 comments Mod
Humor is not my strong suit. In fact, my wife always tells me not to try to be funny when I speak in public. I think I've only pulled it off once in 18 years. So, after I tell a joke that falls flat, I follow up with an explanation that my wife always tells me not to try to be funny because I'm not any good at it. I usually have people laughing by the time its over, but I really am not any good at telling jokes.

That said, I'm a fan of the late Steven Wright's brand of dry humor.

I bought a life-size map of the United States. 1 mile = 1 mile. This summer I'm going to try to fold it.

I bought some dehydrated water. I don't know what to add.

Yeah, you either find that brilliant or annoyingly dumb. That's my kind of humor.


message 4: by Lara (new)

Lara Lee | 507 comments Mod
Stan wrote: "Humor is not my strong suit. In fact, my wife always tells me not to try to be funny when I speak in public. I think I've only pulled it off once in 18 years. So, after I tell a joke that falls fla..."

I married into a family who all sit around their dining room table spitting out one-liners and sarcasm during a meal. It has become a running joke that I understand sarcasm. I don't mind, though, because it's true. I have discovered that I do understand irony and self-deprecating wit. Recently, I proudly had them laughing in tears for the first time 14 years of knowing them. I'm getting there.


message 5: by C.S. (new)

C.S. Wachter | 351 comments I would love to be humorous, have my characters make snarky remarks that actually come out funny. I am sorely lacking in the humor department. So, thanks for this thread. I am enjoying reading the comments.


message 6: by Craig (new)

Craig Dressler (craigdressler) | 10 comments Though not fantasy, my favorite Christian humorous author is Stephen Bly, an historical novelist. I have read his novels two and three times and still laugh. It's Your Misfortune and None of My Own (Code of the West Book 1) by Stephen Bly


message 7: by Stan (new)

Stan | 288 comments Mod
Craig wrote: "Though not fantasy, my favorite Christian humorous author is Stephen Bly, an historical novelist. I have read his novels two and three times and still laugh."

Do you have a favorite series from this author that you'd recommend? I see he wrote over 100 novels, so it would be good to narrow it down a bit for those of us who want to give him a try.


message 8: by Stoney (new)

Stoney deGeyter | 134 comments I love sarcasm and dry humor. Both of which I excel at, much to my wife's chagrin. I think my favorite humor in a novel was The Martian. It was played so well.

I am trying to make my book humorous but not at the expense of the danger & excitement. It's tough because you have to have characters say things that no reasonable person would say in that situation, but it's a way to lighten the mood and keep the fun in the story. But that can only go so far.


message 9: by Steve (new)

Steve Pillinger | 517 comments Mod
I've followed the time-honoured tradition of having a couple of comic characters to lighten the mood. They're convenient because they're not front-line characters, so I can banish them to the background when serious stuff is going on.

Our 32-year-old son is the comic in our family. The other day he asked the rest of us, "So what jokes do you know?"—and was shocked when we all shook our heads and said we never remembered jokes! We decided that some people's humour is proactive, and others' is reactive. I can be funny in response to something someone else says, but it seldom works for me to try and tell a joke myself—unless it's in fiction, when I can polish and prune and get the timing just right!


message 10: by Ann (new)

Ann | 50 comments I have a son who loves humor but has a very difficult time pulling it off, and another son, who just easily takes his frustration and turns it into a joke. My father got a kick from being completely dead pan and pulling someone's 'leg'. He had my mother believing she was a year older than she was for at least a year. I tend toward the sarcastic, but as a Christian, I look at it as a fleshy weakness. But I do tend to look toward the ridiculous when I'm in a tense situation. When my father was dying, he had a very sore thumb and my mom bumped it, sending him in pain, which he in turn asked her if she'd like that thumb in a rather graphic placement. The moment became tense, and I turned to my mom and said, "So Janet, what were Jim's last words to you?" She loved it. Last fall my mom had emergency bypass surgery and I was falling apart. My kids came to me and literally healed emotionally with humor. I really is the best medicine! if you can't produce it, please enjoy it where you find it! I don't have any words of wisdom on writing it though.


message 11: by Stoney (new)

Stoney deGeyter | 134 comments Ann wrote: "I tend toward the sarcastic, but as a Christian, I look at it as a fleshy weakness. "

My wife tends to think the same, but then I just remind her of the Bible. God was super-sarcastic to Job, and Paul never shied away from sarcasm to make a point. I just tell her I'm following God's leadership.

Though I will concede that I try not to use sarcasm to be hurtful. I try.


message 12: by Lara (new)

Lara Lee | 507 comments Mod
Ann wrote: "My kids came to me and literally healed emotionally with humor. I really is the best medicine! if you can't produce it, please enjoy it where you find it! ...."

I totally agree with this! It is part of the reason I am trying to learn to laugh at myself more. I have read about multiple famous leaders who actually kept cards of jokes around to memorize and use when dealing with other leaders or the public. I have discovered that it can be a learned skill.

On another point, has anyone read the Discworld Series by Terry Pratchett? I have heard that is was super funny, but I am not sure if that means it is witty or just slapstick humor like the Hitchhicker's Guide to the Galaxy. I am not a fan of slapstick or silly humor. It gets perhaps a snort or chuckles from me, but not the tear rolling belly laugh.


message 13: by Stan (new)

Stan | 288 comments Mod
Lara wrote: "I have discovered that it can be a learned skill."

If I remember correctly, the book Lincoln on Leadership: Executive Strategies for Tough Times speaks about Lincoln's use of humor and his life-long collection of humor from various sources. Perhaps it was more about his collection of anecdotes, but the principle is the same. I left the book in the U.S., so I can't go back and look for specifics.


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