Do you consider yourself funny? What role does humor play in your life? Who’s the funniest person you know?
The Three Stooges are funny (not to me, but for the sake of argument). Some comedians are funny and some are humorous. George Carlin and Bill Cosby are humorous. Funny is trying for the joke. Humor is finding the joke and exposing it. Humor is more of an art. It’s like the sculpture artist; he knows the object is in the block of stone, he just has to find it.
My brain has always seen a twist in everything. I was one of those annoying kids that sat in a Saturday afternoon matinée and gave humorous lines to what was happening on the screen. Yet, I’m not a joke writer. Yet, I tag many of my articles with “humor.” Nobody has told me, yet, “Hey, that ain’t funny.” Well there were a few teachers when I was a kid, but they were a tough audience; beatings only made them smile, at least when beating me.
Humor is surprising. When I write, it never starts out that way. It is a twist in the story. Not all humor is uproariously funny. Some is subtle. That is what I lean toward. Humor makes the reader remember the point you are making.
Funny, to me, is forced. It is contrived. Is not well hidden. Slapstick is funny. Peter Sellers in The Pink Panther movies was slapstick, but was so brilliant the it was humorous. The character did not see the humor in what he was doing, but the supporting characters were embarrassingly amused by his actions. It was funny and humorous, rare.
My novels are serious, but I will lighten moments with a humorous remark. If, though, the reader doesn’t have a sense of humor it will pass without notice.
One of the funniest scenes I’ve ever seen was from Animal House. John Belushi is in the dean’s office with four legs of a dead horse behind him. A maintenance worker is in the background measuring the horse and the door and can’t figure how to remove the horse through the door. At last he starts up a chain saw. At first it looks as though he will attempt to widen the door, but instead moves to carve the horse. You don’t see it coming. A brilliant mixture of rationale with absurdity. Stuff that happens everyday.
Funny is for the moment, humor is for the long haul. I try to write humor.