Thursday, February 4, 2010

The fine art of funny

Um, so I was kinda kidding in Monday’s blog post when I mentioned penis jokes. But apparently my humor missed the mark (or more likely, people who read my blog are perverts) because I’ve had several emails from people wanting to know when I’m going to get to the penis jokes.

Fine, Grandma – I”ll tell one in just a minute, OK?

First, I want to talk a bit about humor.

Since I write humorous fiction, a good portion of my writing time is devoted to trying to be funny. Sometimes it comes naturally, and sometimes . . . well, not so much. Other times I’m funny when I don’t mean to be.

This actually ties to my point yesterday about everything being subjective.

I work with an amazing group of women who serve as critique partners and beta readers for me. My critique partners, Linda Brundage and Cynthia Reese are both PHENOMENAL writers with whom I swap ideas, critiques, and general bitching. My three beta readers are all book nuts with eagle eyes and strong opinions they’re not afraid to share with me. To say I couldn’t do this without all of them would be a disgusting understatement.

Recently, all five women critiqued my newest manuscript, BELIEVE IT OR NOT. They all did a bang-up job catching plot holes and typos, but on top of all that, they were all more diligent than usual about flagging scenes that were funny.

As one of my beta readers put it, “I thought it might be helpful for you to see what made me laugh so you’d know if there were any long stretches without humor.”

I thought it was a terrific idea, and Lord knows I love to know what makes people chuckle.

But here’s the funny part – they were all amused by different things. One beta reader had a clear fondness for any jokes that were alcohol-inspired. One critique partner loved all the deadpan humor, while the other seemed to gravitate toward the more goofy stuff. Still another reader kept laughing at things I hadn’t realized were funny. The third beta reader – pervert that she is – giggled like a fiend over all the raunchy stuff.

It was a terrific reminder for me that not everyone has the same sense of humor, but if I do my job right, I can make sure there’s something in my books to tickle everyone’s funny bone.

OK, OK . . . keep your pants on, Grandma. Here’s your penis joke:

An old man and an old woman are sitting together at their nursing home.

“Bet I can tell how old you are,” says the old woman.

“No way,” says the old man.

“Sure,” she replies. “Pull down your pants.”

Intrigued, the old man complies. The woman studies him thoughtfully for a moment.

“You’re 89 years old,” she reports.

“Wow, how did you do that?” he asks, buttoning up his pants.

“You told me yesterday.”

1 comment :

Linda G. said...

I think I'd get along great with your grandma.

Re writing humorous fiction: me too! Like you, I have a fantastic group of crit partners and beta readers. I love it when they tell me what made them laugh, and I've noticed the same thing--they all laugh at different things. Which is great. It means I have a better shot at hitting the funny bones of a variety of future readers.