One of the best songs in the movie Singing in the Rain is “Make ’em Laugh,” written by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown especially for Donald O’Connor. You might watch this film just for the dancing, but I also enjoy the comedic words and actions of Donald O’Connor.
By the way, it’s said the O’Connor did all those scenes while continuing to smoke four packs of cigarettes per day. O’Connor has a lot of funny lines, but watch his body language, his facial expressions, and his snide delivery.
Let me warn you nobody sees your funny the same way you do. In my family, we call our weird family jokes “The Treanor Humour” and privately think, “You don’t get it, you poor non-laughing soul.” By the way, I make jokes about myself and my own life. I never satirize another person. Their story is their story. Meanness is never funny.
Here are a few lines from my poem “The Dieter’s Lament.” I wrote it in pain, but when I recite it, people with weight issues laugh hysterically at every line because they have experienced it all. A Skinny Minnie sits there with a stoic.
The sleeves are bulging in my dress; my bra is double rolled,
The calories I ate at lunch have multiplied untold,
My pantyhose is at half-mast and cutting off my veins,
My extra 50 pounds or so are giving knee joint pains.
My waistline is herniated by the elastic in my dress
And as I speak, a button pops, my own fault I do confess,
My underwear is crying out from definite overstrain,
My arches falling to my sole, surely need a crane.
When waving bye to all my friends, my arm did slap my face,
I switched to slip-on shoes today; I can’t reach to tie a lace,
What is cause of this mutilation of body, heart, and soul?
It is greed and self-destruction; it’s licking every bowl.
I didn’t start out to be funny. It’s just that my mind works in quirky ways. Yours does too, but you have to let it, and you have to time it out on the delivery of the line. I practice all the time by reading my words aloud. I watch comedians time their routines. I’ve learned to wait for the audience. If they are still laughing at your last line, there is no point in starting the next one.
Quite frankly, with my life as it was, I had to choose whether to laugh or cry. It is said that if we laugh, the world laughs with us, but if we cry, we cry alone. Martin Luther said, “If you’re not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don’t want to go there.” The same is true of a heavy-hearted, gloomy book. Sometimes a small word change will perk up your script. Go for it.