Tuesday, April 9, 2013

H is for Homework

This month I'm participating in the A-Z Blogging Challenge. The theme I'm going with this year is writing humor. Follow along to learn more about the different ways to make your fiction, articles or blog posts humorous. 

If you want to be able to write funny stuff then you better start doing your homework.

#1: Watch funny movies. But don't stop there. Analyze them. What made you laugh? And why?

One of my favorite comedies is Murder By Death (although I wish it didn't have all the swearing! I need one of those cool DVD players that bleeps it out). One of the things I love about the humor in this movie is how everyone takes everything so seriously. They're trying to solve a murder that hasn't happened, yet. That's serious business people. But then you have a wheel chaired old lady rubbing men's knees. A mute and deaf maid who turns out to be a robot. A blind butler who thinks he's serving them soup, but is in fact serving them nothing. And the villain who uses the mounted head of a moose to communicate with the dinner party. Great stuff.

#2: Read funny books. Pay attention to how the author uses humor. Pull the jokes apart until you see how they work. How did they make characters funny? How did they make that paragraph funny? Or just that sentence?

Some of my favorite funny books are ones by M.T. Anderson. Whales on Stilts, The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen, Jasper Dash and the Flame Pits of Delaware....oh my. These are brilliant books. I can't help but laugh out loud. We listened to Whales on Stilts as a family on a trip to California a couple years ago. Everyone, from my husband to my young kids, loved it.

What makes these books so stinking funny is the deadpan humor. Ok. I'm sensing a pattern. I love deadpan. Oh! And the crazy extreme situations the characters find themselves in. It's all very silly and strange, but everyone is so serious about it. If you need a chuckle, check these out.

#3: Practice. Practic. Practic. Try your hand at writing callbacks. Or some funny anecdotes. Pick some funny words from one of these lists and write a story. Hey, you could even pick some funny words to weave into an anecdote that ends with a callback! Yep, there's some homework.

What's your favorite comedy? Favorite funny book? What is it you love about the humor?


  1. Mmm... I like all sorts of comedy. Mainly dark and bitter, but I also like farce like Alo Alo and Blackadder. Oh yes. And Monty Python and the Holy Grail. :-D

  2. I love Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I could watch it repeatedly. I am amazed by how many of my husbands students (High School) totally get a Monty Python reference. That one is timeless.

  3. Homework to write funny? I could do that.

  4. Great ideas! Thanks, Erin. No wonder you are so funny! It's all this homework you've been doing. :)

  5. It's quite hard to analyse what makes something funny, I just know what I like! I think a lot of it has to do with character interaction, eg two people who rub each other up the wrong way. In my fave show, Red Dwarf, the two main characters hate each other, but they're stuck on a spaceship together.

  6. I am with Nick, I think I'd have a hard time analyzing what I like and why. I do know I also am a fan of deadpan humor. I may have to try your homework assignment out!

    As for my favorite comedy, it might be easier to say I have favorite comedians (Jeff Dunham, Eddie Izzard) more so than comedies as I actually don't watch a lot of comedies because I tend to find them too silly…

    Lyre at Lyre's Musings

  7. I think writing humor is probably the most difficult to accomplish, at least in relation to portraying it in film, speaking, acting, etc. I admire those who can do it well.