Amusing or Ridiculous?
Write your opinion on what makes a text humorous in a qualitative way. I am curious about what you think a good funny story is. List criteria and preferences, and whatever else crosses your mind.
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flaunt it dauntlessly
I found a forum similar to this in the "Romance" category, and thought it would be interesting to see what people had to say about different topics, one being humor in writing.

This thread could deal with what you think the protagonist of a "funny" story should be like, or how he/she should be described. Is emotion just as important in this category as in romance? Does he/she need to have human flaws, or is this not neccessary and up to the author if he/she likes them as a stylistic element? What about the storylines - are the situations the character gets him or herself into what makes the story amusing, or is it rather the way they get of it?

Those are a few things I look forward to reading about, but please feel free to write about any other aspect of humor, since I am trying to learn more about it.

3/12/2007 #1
Lex Anderson
Here's the thing about comedy - there's no boundaries. Regulations and formats are what make things predictable, boring, and stagnant. Comedy is probably the most experimental of all genres. Romance is about love. Action's about blowing up. Comedy's about making someone laugh - and there are countless ways to do that.

My style's been called weird, offensive, disturbing - pretty much everything along those lines. However, I would only be offended if it were called predictable.

3/25/2007 #2
Lex Anderson
Here's the thing about comedy - there's no boundaries. Regulations and formats are what make things predictable, boring, and stagnant. Comedy is probably the most experimental of all genres. Romance is about love. Action's about blowing up. Comedy's about making someone laugh - and there are countless ways to do that.

My style's been called weird, offensive, disturbing - pretty much everything along those lines. However, I would only be offended if it were called predictable.

3/25/2007 #3
Begging to Differ
I agree with Lex Anderson (whoever you are, no offense intended). Comedy really HAS no boundaries in a sense.

My idea of "funny" is something witty that targets human error. I'm not sure that made sense, but I'll include an example... In Terry Pratchett's "The Wyrd Sisters" he "made fun of" the story of King Midas (the guy who turned everything he touched into gold) and typing mistakes. He said there was this person who kept duplicating an unfortunate person named Glod because the person who granted him this ability mispelled gold. I don't think that targetting people is humourous... laughing at people's misfortunes is a cheap sort of humour. It doesn't stick with you.

4/1/2007 #4
Begging to Differ
Oops. I neglected to mention...

Funny is NOT horrific puns and terrible wordplay. I have enough of those. You only laugh for approximately two seconds and not at the "joke", but "why on earth did this person think of this?". No more puns please. I had a nightmare about puns.

4/1/2007 #5
Rozovian G
I read a swedish translation of Douglas Adams Hitchhiker series/books/book. I have never laughed as much as I did then. Look at quotes from it, and you'll see why. Those are good really bad puns, surrealist scifi, and stupid ways of bending common expressions into... eh, jsut have a look:

"He attacked everything in life with a mix of extraordinary genius and naive incompetence, and it was often difficult to tell which was which."

"It is no coincidence that in no known language does the phrase 'As pretty as an Airport' appear."

"Life... is like a grapefruit. It's orange and squishy, and has a few pips in it, and some folks have half a one for breakfast."

"He felt that his whole life was some kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it."

"Nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws."

"The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair."

"Even he, to whom most things that most people would think were pretty smart were pretty dumb, thought it was pretty smart." (scratch your heads at this one, it's almost worse that Bilbo's speech... about half those he knew half as well as, eh, something)

And the ultimate, my favourite, the memorable:

"The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't."

That's funny. The story itself isn't nearly as good. Funny is often very character-centric, a funny plot usually borders on surrealistic or unrealistically coincidental, which can be funny, yes, but can just as well be terrifyingly insane (or insanely terrifying).

Look at comedies for funny characters. Some have 'em, some don't. I think extreme enough characters are funny, even if they are extremely dull. Contrast is fun, especially when you have an extremely dull character and one that is bordering on being his/her polar opposite. The writing itself has to be in the way that Douglas Adams wrote his stuff to be funny, but even if that's not the type of funny that you write, a funny enough character can turn your story into a comedy.

Those are my two cents. Ironically, they're free.

4/5/2007 #6
flaunt it dauntlessly
Thank you all for your wonderful input! It's been very helpful and I really appreciate it. I agree with nearly everything you've mentioned here, and will take time to think about it.

If anyone thinks of anything else they might want to contribute to this topic, please feel free to do so, my ears are still all open.

4/6/2007 #7
Greenfire42
I there are a lot of things I consider funny. Some times things are funny when you wern't even, trying to make them funny. I like silly commets like Mr,t pitys the fool. Or, your moma is so fat even, the tide wouldn't take her out.lol Plus, "What the fish?" is funny. ps. go bslap yourself! I'm not sure why you would need to bslap your but, I think you could find some reason to do so. Au revoir. (: be happy or die.lol
6/3/2007 #8
Greenfire42
Comedy's about making someone laugh and there's meant ways to do it.

true dat. true dat.

6/3/2007 #9
Luny Loona
I think the most important thing about humour story is just putting in loads of jokes 'logically'...like, putting in funny parts where they fit, and not forcing it in.

Characters...for short stories, strange characters are good, but for longer ones, there should be contrasting characters e.g. very serious one, to show exactly how crazy the comic relief is.

I disagree with the punning comment, but it is true that bad puns kill. And it isn't easy at all to have good wordplay.

Also, I think the plot itself has to support humour.

That's about it. Otherwise, just write down all your thoughts on what's funny and what's not. Although planning is good, sometimes, too much planning can take out the humour. In my opinion, first impressions and reactions are the most important.

Yeah...if any of that made sense...

6/10/2007 #10
concerto49
I naturally can't force humour. I tried doing that and it failed miserably. If you're just able to create the story and add cool whimsical and humorous elements naturally, it's cool. I mean even in something that might not be purposely humorous, there could be plenty of room for jokes and laughter.
7/20/2007 #11
firestar267
I love funny stories, because finding a good one, is in my opinion, rare. There are so many different ways that you can input humour into a story and they are every aspect of your writing, and i think humour is not forcing it or being over the top. Personally, i dont find the over the top stories funny because they just get on my nerves but other than that it just depends on the story. Some use the situation to be funny, or it may be a very unique person from first person point of view - there are loads, but in my opinion when ive found a good humour fic ill know because it doesnt force it all the time. Hope that helps :)
7/25/2007 . Edited 7/25/2007 #12
Iced Tea Junkie
There is an important difference between being funny and being random. It seems that far too many writers on this site fail to grasp that concept. Random is alright; it can make you laugh - only when it's delivered RANDOMLY! But if your whole story's full of flying pink zebras from Neptune who conquer the Earth with bubble rays, and then toast their victory with a large mushroom pizza - well, that's just not funny. Not in my opinion, anyway.

You've gotta mix it up. Establish a non-random base. This could be your setting, or a serious character - anything you can use as an "anchor" for out-there comedy.

Another thing about humor on FictionPress is the plague of bad grammar. Just because it's supposed to be funny, and a bit more carefree than the other genres, does NOT give you the right to get lazy!

About the wording - I find the funniest stories are the ones written most seriously. Just like Douglas Adams and Terry Prachett. It's one thing to write, "All of sudden, Dan got runover by a golf cart!", and another to say, "Dan had a feeling he shouldn't have wandered onto that golf course. The runaway golf cart proved his feeling correct."

8/15/2007 #13
concerto49
Yeah, though I personally don't know how to be random. I've been told I had issues doing side-plots. I stick to the story too much.

Well I can't say what other people are doing. I can only speak for myself, but then I can't judge for myself. So what you said above might be true for me as well, but unless someone proves me so, I won't say.

Hm, interesting Ice, I wonder. You might make a good judge then.

8/16/2007 #14
Girlbrainiac
I've definitely got to agree with Iced Tea Junkie on this one. There ARE too many completely random stories being passed off as humor around here. I don't find them remotely funny. The best ones, in my opinion, are the ones that poke fun at the silly things that humans do... Sort of a social commentary or satire, if you will.

Take Monty Python, for example. Now we all know that the Ministry of Silly walks doesn't exist, and laugh at how totally ridiculous John Cleese's walk is while he maintains a completely serious expression... But, at the same time, you snicker at the fact that there ARE government programs out there that are utterly ridiculous for you to be spending your tax dollars on...

Another thing that makes something funny is juxtaposition. Put two totally unlike things together and see what happens. This can be done with two completely different characters, a serious character put in a ridiculous situation, etc.

Lastly, it's all in the delivery.

Girlbrainiac

9/20/2007 #15
fatbird33
i agree that there are way too many stories that are random. random, if too random isn't funny. also people tell inside jokes with thier freinds that they have or write about 'funny' things that have happened to them and it's just not funny.

when writing comedies, characters have no boundires. just go for it!

11/16/2007 #16
Gai
When things get too random, or consists of 'inside jokes', it'll only be funny to a few people, namely the writer and his or her friends, which is probably the most important ones(unless you write for a profession). Of course everyone else will think the writer's an idiot.
11/25/2007 #17
Lainiee
The so called 'stories' which are actually quote lists in chapter form which are one of the more annoying things to me, here on fp. They tend to be esoteric, random to the extreme and most importantly- not funny.

I know puns and wit were mentioned far in the beginning of this thread, but has anyone else read "Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead?" If my memory serves me correctly, there were a lot of puns in that one, as well as a major theme in absurdity. Wasn't one of those laugh-out-loud things, but LOL moments rarely happen for me when I'm reading.

There's this general feeling, I think, that humor stories are supposed to be really light, if you know what I mean- which is why people usually fall into writing 'randomness.' I find that the funnier ones tend to be stories that have a logic to them, and ones that don't persistantly try to throw the humor in the reader's face all the time (i.e. falling into the 'random' trap again).

11/26/2007 #18
awilla the hun
Try to make a bill bryson style adventure in a serious environment.
1/20/2008 #19
lockedxup
One of the funniest things to me is when they point out normal human behavior in a certain way that's funny.

ex. Blue Collar Comedy, Redneck Comedy

3/21/2008 #20
Wowingglow

Style is the greatest factor in good humor stories. If you use a serious style to depict a comical situation, it has an absolutely amazing effect.

4/3/2008 #21
thebloodfiend

When I write humor randomness is a minor thing. There is a difference between having a character blurt out something so dumb its funny and just having random things that don't make any sense. The movie Borat is a good example of this. Where Borat randomly brings his bag of crap out to the table. That was funny. If anyones interested read my story Peoplemops and tell me what you think in a review cause my E-mail isn't working.

9/3/2008 #22
fatbird33

i think that to make a good sucessful character in comedy you have to think of one cliche, one keyword that describes them. such as nerdy farmboy who saves the world, or totally evil bad guy. something along those lines. comedy has no boundries, but it's a good idea to start somewhere

9/7/2008 #23
Mo-Q

I totally agree. I think there's a lot to be said for subtlety in humour. It doesn't all have to be SO FUNNY! My writing prof always reminds us not to be "too clever" - if every single line in your story is over-the-top hilarious (or over the top anything) the reader's going to get totally numbed to the humour, and it won't be funny anymore. (It's the same with stories that are overly tragic, and it's just one sad thing after another.)

As a few people mentioned, "Random" and "funny" are totally different things, and there's definitely a lot of "random" stories on here that end up in humour, unfortunately.

Character-wise, I don't think humour characters necessarily need to be "funny people" per se - very serious characters can also be hilarious. It's all about context and how they integrate into the environment around them, and with other characters.

10/17/2009 #24
A Fire Rose
Ironically, it seems like a character is most funny when a person can also take them seriously. If they're all goof, they have no substance to put any weight in. But if they are realistic, flawed, capable, professional, dramatic, etc., people with a sense of humor, it adds to who they are. By the way, I have just completed a story called "Revenge" that shows what happens when one character challenges his older brother to a prank war and gets some of their other brothers involved. Each has a different skill set and a different sense of humor, and has different qualities to bring to the table. Liam is the most gifted liar of the McCallisters, but Rearden is the King of Pranks. Alasdair, the youngest, is impulsive and over-confident, and it shows.
11/13/2011 #25
Sentio Infirmum

Personally, I think that there are different kinds of humor and different things happen for each of them.

For example, the best humor story I ever read was Joseph Heller's "Catch-22"; that was an incredibly depressing story, but it's also one of the only stories in the world I've ever laughed out loud at. Randomness was all right there, because it all had a definate point and it was anchored in a serious story- one of my favorite parts is when Yossarian tackled Major Major, and I loved Hungry Joe's continuous battle with Huple's cat sitting on his face when he tries to sleep. Those things had a purpose in the story, though. Yossarian is spending the story trying to make himself appear insane, so of course he'd do something strange, like tackling the Major. He wants the military officials to believe it is necessary to send him home. Hungry Joe battles with the cat because it sets the stage for the absurd incident that would later kill him; his suffocation under the cat's body. That book was a masterpeice because it's humor fit the story, and because it clearly displayed the human absurdity that Joseph Heller wanted us to see all along- that's the whole point of the story. Humor has to serve a purpose. It needs to be there for a reason, and it has to tell the story, not just be an element of it.

Just a thought, I guess.

4/29/2012 #26
let's.go.with.the.wind

my idea of humor is not something i can really describe...but i think ridiculous things make me smile...you know the expression, "your joke is so not funny it's actually funny"? yep...insults also make me smile especially when they are hiding true feelings or just ridiculous...

5/29/2013 #27
boona

Madcap insanity like a lion using tank to chase deer, is what I find humorous. like in one of favorite shows the main character is tasked with killing her creator. talk about laughing, so hard I almost passed out.

6/10/2013 #28
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