I’m told that I write funny. People laugh at my comments all the time, but I can’t say that I always understand why. Anyway, there is no point trying to dissect the why of a joke because then the joke is no longer funny.
Some of the world’s funniest people had no sense of humour at all, but their work is hilarious. Think Lucille Ball. You don’t need a sense of humour to be funny because funny is in your mind.
Finding Humour in Life’s Darkest Moments
Humour has to have some semblance of truth. For instance, try this paragraph on for size. It’s from my book The Pregnant Pause of Grief: The First Trimester of Widowhood.
“In the past, I learned that when the way is rough, our faith has a chance to grow. Is this still true? Is God still who He says He is? If He is, then through these new experiences we’ll become the biggest mountain of faith you ever saw. Maybe mine is hiding in my twenty extra pounds! In that case, I’d better not lose it!”
The Pregnant Pause of Grief is about how to survive the first three months of widowhood. I wrote it from a place of complete devastation, but the truth is that I’ve also spent a lifetime trying to lose that last twenty pounds and that twist at the end lightens the mood of the chapter. (I told you that explaining a laugh is never funny.)
Humour is rational and yet, at the same time, unreasonable. There is no one right way to write it for humour depends on the listener. Humour should make you think while, make no sense and occasionally, be totally outrageous. Some people will never get the joke while others will take offence at your humour—and for that matter, everyone else’s.
Always be true to yourself and your experiences. People going through the same thing need to know that it’s okay to laugh in the midst of their pain. We bond in the experience and lower our stress level. I’ve earned the right to make jokes about widowhood because I’m a widow. A twenty-year-old unmarried individual has not earned the right to poke fun at my circumstances, but they are welcome to joke about their own.
Change a word or a phrase to the unexpected. Why write, “George ate dinner” when you can write, “George became one with the plate before him and inhaled his pork chop with the fierceness of a momma tiger defending her antelope.” For that matter, why call this article “How to Write Funny,” when “How to ‘Right’ Funny” gets more attention?
In my book Meeting Myself: Snippets from a Binging and Bulging Mind, the reader might expect something like “I started my diet on Monday,” but that isn’t funny. Instead they read, “Starting on Monday, I sincerely promised to stop swallowing my own saliva and drip-dry the coffee.” Or try this line on for size. “I was twenty-five before I found out that gravy was not a beverage.”
A person might describe themselves as having a “wry” sense of humour, but if they change that to a “rye” sense of humour, that adds an entirely different dimension to his stories. A simple change of word makes all the difference.
And certain words are funnier than others. If I was telling a story about a man named Hubert, I would use the funnier pronunciation, “HUUU-bert.”
Now I suppose you are going to say that an article about humour should be funnier. You are right, so rewrite this article and up think yourself. I promise to laugh.