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Footnotes 2017-2018 > Sunday Conversation Topic - 6/10

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message 1: by Jason (new)

Jason Oliver | 2097 comments Humor/comedy in books. Do you find that comedians and real life humor translates well into the written word, or is literary comedy a skill and talent all on its own? Is your preference of comedy the same in movies as in books? Do you find it embarrassing when you bust out laughing in public while reading a book? Do books make you laugh out loud? Do you prefer comedy over drama, tragedy, history? Does a narrator add to or detract from the comedy? Do you think its harder to write drama or to write comedy?

These questions are just a guide to get a conversation going. Do not feel like you have to answer every question or even stick to the questions.


message 2: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) I would love to be reading a book so funny I laughed out loud in public.

Every story needs "comic relief."
I am so tired of historical fiction, especially the award winners written for children, being so relentlessly glum. In real life, there are always moments of joy, whether it's kissing the baby's tummy or watching the pigeons strut.

I despise the 'humor' that is based on misfortune. For example, I do not think David Sedaris's depiction of his neuroses or his family's dysfunction is funny.

I do have to admit, though, that Allie Brosh, in Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened, does make me giggle almost as many times as she makes me sniffle.


message 3: by Karin (last edited Jun 10, 2018 02:36PM) (new)

Karin | 7460 comments That really depends on the comedian and the type of humour. I think sometimes fans of a comedian will find a book by the same comedian funny because they hear that comedian's voice, inflections, etc when they read it in a way that someone who as never heard them won't, for example. But more than that, not all humour works well in both places.

I can't get into every example (it might take a book), but there are people who can take the most basic sentences and make them screamingly funny by how they are said, but then we know that you can entirely change the meaning of a sentence with punctuation (as in the title of Eats Shoots and Leaves with the comma being erased from Eats, Shoot and Leaves), but there are things done with tone of voice, mannerisms, etc that don't always translate well to the written page.


message 4: by JoLene (new)

JoLene (trvl2mtns) | 1532 comments Comedy is a really personal thing. I don’t usually go to comedy shows, but I do enjoy some comedies in movie form. I have enjoyed some of the memoirs written by comedians — with Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood at the top of the list. I think it was a great example of using humor to balance out a lot of difficult issues/life experience. This was a book that made me laugh out loud.


message 5: by Amy (new)

Amy | 9334 comments I answered someone’s question recently about humor on books and mentioned Elinor Lipman. I truly think she’s great! And I love how her books make me laugh out loud, and that the plots are just incredibly quirky and it and possibly hilarious. And yet I find her books moving as well.


Tessa (FutureAuthor23) | 229 comments I'm a huge fan of comedy and comedy shows. I've seen Dane Cook, Wanda Sykes, Tom Cotter, Amy Schumer, Aziz Ansari, Bridget Everett, Keith Robinson, and some others I'm forgetting right now.

I definitely do not think famous comedians' comedy always translates well into the written word. Doesn't stop me from reading their books and being somewhat disappointed each time though. Haha. We've had this discussion a little bit on other threads before and I've said the only comedian whose comedy consistently translates well into print, is Chelsea Handler. I did just finish The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Hashish and was definitely not disappointed with that one though. Laughed out loud.


message 7: by LibraryCin (new)

LibraryCin | 9055 comments Humour does vary from person to person. I have laughed out loud while reading on public transit. I prefer if I'm reading a print or ebook when that happens, so at least people know why I'm laughing. A little odder (though I know I've done it) is during an audio book. People tend to assume you're listening to music, so it seems a bit odd. :-)


message 8: by Meli (new)

Meli (melihooker) | 3673 comments I don't read a lot of memoirs or autobiographies, so I can't speak to whether a comedian's voice translates well to books, but I find it interesting that people can be really funny on social media, "Twitter comedian" comes to mind, but not necessarily in real life.

I've found that even with people I meet online, then in real life.
Online they are vibrant, hilarious, outgoing, but extremely shy in real life when you meet in person.

Going back to comedians as writers - As Tessa also mentioned, heard great things about Tiffany Haddish' book The Last Black Unicorn, so I will try to read that at some point.

This thread, as well as the thread about books with humor, got me thinking - I don't read a lot of humor. It's not really intentional, I just tend to gravitate toward horror, true crime, thrillers, and literary fiction that deals with dark subject matter. Not to say they lack humor completely, but it is usually sporadic.


message 9: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) LibraryCin wrote: "..A little odder (though I know I've done it) is during an audio book. People tend to assume you're listening to music, so it seems a bit odd. :-) .."

Ah, I would just guess that you were listening to a humorous podcast. I know my husband, on his walks, lols to his podcasts, and I doubt he gets more than a glance.


message 10: by Meli (new)

Meli (melihooker) | 3673 comments Cheryl wrote: "LibraryCin wrote: "..A little odder (though I know I've done it) is during an audio book. People tend to assume you're listening to music, so it seems a bit odd. :-) .."

Ah, I would just guess tha..."


Yeah, me too.
I laugh out loud at podcasts all the time :)


message 11: by Anita (new)

Anita Pomerantz | 6732 comments Cheryl wrote: "I would love to be reading a book so funny I laughed out loud in public.

Every story needs "comic relief."
I am so tired of historical fiction, especially the award winners written for children, ..."


I just recently finished Brosh's book, and I have to say - - it really made me laugh. Hard. It takes a lot for me to even snicker at a book, so kudos to her for writing something so funny.


message 12: by LibraryCin (new)

LibraryCin | 9055 comments Cheryl wrote: "Ah, I would just guess that you were listening to a humorous podcast. I know my husband, on his walks, lols to his podcasts, and I doubt he gets more than a glance. ..."

Funny! I listen to audio books all the time, but when I see someone else listening to something, I always assume it's music!


message 13: by KateNZ (new)

KateNZ | 2666 comments I think it’s harder to write successful comedy because a lot of comedy is in the timing and the tone. I find I have to be able to hear the characters speaking to be able to pick up on the humour properly. That’s one reason I love Ben Aaronovich’s Rivers of London series so much - I can hear them all and see them all. The dialogue and the pace is brilliant.

I totally laugh out loud on public transport. Closely followed by coughing and blushing.


message 14: by Tara (new)

Tara (taraash) | 25 comments I laugh loads while reading, but I think it depends on how invested I am in the story. If I’m able to see and hear the characters talking in my head it makes it easier to laugh with them, or at them. I recently started listening to more audiobooks and I think I laugh even more when listening to a book as opposed to just reading it. I imagine it would be hard to make a book that’s solely comedy, there needs to something else that’s the main focus and then work in some funny bits here and there or else I feel like it stops being funny. I try not to actually laugh out loud in public, but that usually leaves me with a dumb smile on my face so I’m not sure if that’s much better.


message 15: by Karin (last edited Jun 13, 2018 03:31PM) (new)

Karin | 7460 comments KateNZ wrote: "I think it’s harder to write successful comedy because a lot of comedy is in the timing and the tone. I find I have to be able to hear the characters speaking to be able to pick up on the humour pr..."

It can be difficult to do comedy on stage as well, though, and while some actors can do both comedy and drama (Robin Williams could), there are plenty of actors that really are better with one than the other. I once saw Steve Martin in a drama and did not think he was very good at all, but he is excellent at comedy even though I don't like all of his films. Roxanne is my favourite of his films.


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