Very Funny

Welcome back, loyal listeners! This week we talk humor. What makes something funny, and how can we use humor to make our fiction stronger. Special thanks to Pops for saving the end of the cast when my video feed cut out. As always, you can listen and watch below. Show notes are below the YouTube embed. Please don’t forget to subscribe and like. Thanks!



  1. Humor belongs in fiction because humor belongs in humanity.
    1. “Shakespeare understood that life is funny at least as often as it is tragic.” –David Bouchier
    2. Also, “One sure way to make your fiction more appealing is to add a carefully calculated dose of humor.” Note “carefully calculated.” –David Bouchier
  2. Humor in fiction must first be organic. It serves the story; the story doesn’t serve it.
  3. What makes something funny?
    1. Wit (Mark Twain was a master of wit.)
    2. The unexpected
    3. The ironic twist
  4. Fiction needs humor, especially when it’s not comedic.
    1. Humor alleviates tension, and allows us to endure more
    2. Humor allows us a moment of reprieve
  5. Comedic writing is different altogether:
    1. Jokes, set-ups, punchlines
  6. How to use humor:
    1. Surprise
      1. Surprising connections (figurative language–think “Things that are inevitable” Lists of three work well, two for the set-up, and the final for the punchline–”Death, taxes, and celebrity drama in the grocery checkout aisle.)
    2. Funny character. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
    3. Misdirection
    4. Incongruous juxtaposition (Incongruity) “Wit is the unexpected copulation of ideas.” –DB
      1. Subverting the commonplace. (Spider Robinson’s Callahan’s Bar series.
      2. Unexpected events
    5. Irony
      1. Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. The characters search for “The meaning of life, the universe and everything.” They discover the answer is 42.
    6. Dialog
      1. From Tinker, Tailor, Toddler, Spy, Mark Leyner
        Dialogue between mother and four-year-old
    7. True stories
    8. Be intentional–when is comedy best? When tension is highest.
    9. Don’t overuse it.
    10. Don’t let it overshadow the other work you’re doing.
    11. Running jokes
    12. Read humor books
    13. Hyperbole, litotes (understatements)

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