Monday, June 26, 2006


Being funny is depressing, or at least it is if nobody laughs. There are few things more miserable than an unfunny humorist. It's embarrassing. But it's not like you can turn on a funny tap somewhere whenever you need to and have witty repartee pour in an erudite stream from your perfectly strawberry-glossed lips. Unless a magic Charlie Chapstick has been invented somewhere that I don't know about.

I recently started a short story that is not funny- serious/wistful/emotional yes. Funny no. My CPs say it doesn't sound like me, and the fact it doesn't make anyone smile has me nervous. Sure, they like it even without humor, but I wonder where oh where has my funny bone gone and when can I expect it back? Did it take a packed lunch or its entire wardrobe? How easily can I lose that essential part of my voice?

Come back! I promise I'll take out the trash!

Perhaps if we knew the nature of funniness (wow, there's a lot of n's in that word) we could find an answer. Is humor like a muscle that gets stronger every time we use it, or is it like a box of bon bons? Every bon bon ... er, bon mot used is one less we have left. Knowing my luck it's like Harry Potter's bags of many flavor beans and mine will be the vomit flavored ones. Come to think of it, I've often been told my humor is sick. Hmmmm?

Is humor something we have or something we are? I definitely live a little left of center. (Well hey, Tasmania is about as far as you can get from center before you start getting closer again.) I think most folk I know live left of center too, metaphorically speaking. I think it's a general sociological trend. People only aspire to appear normal because they're afraid to be their nutty selves, afraid what others may think of them. What if we find things funny because we're all living left of center and left is really the true center but no one is game to admit it.

Babe King's new clothes.

While I'm waiting for my humor to return, perhaps I'll cling to the Little Bo Peep theory. Leave your wits alone and they will come home, dragging their multi-book tales behind them. That way I can live in hope, as long as they return in time for me to die laughing.


Jodie said...

Humor is subjective. I'm not humorous to others at all, although I crack myself up...and for backup my twin sister! :) So I'm used to having my witty reparte falling flat..WAY flat. Odd looks and shaking heads.

Something different is always a good way to expand your craft. Enjoy it. I bet it's wonderful.

Kristen Painter said...

It's okay not to be funny all the time. There are other emotions that involve the reader.

My first book wasn't funny but apparently my last two are. Who can figure this stuff out?

Bebe Thomas said...

I think I'm a lot funnier in person than I am on the written page. But like Kristen said, "Who knows?" Sometimes I crack people up, sometimes I don't.

Laura Rose said...

Maybe your funny bone took a holiday with my muse...

If that's the case, then I know exactly where they are *g*

You'll need to contact a cruise ship sailing lazily around the Caribbean.

No really. I'm serious.


Amanda Brice said...

"Funny" is totally subjective. Sometimes people will read something and crack up. Others will think it wasn't funny.

I've been told that my writing is funny, but then I have parts in my ms that people say don't sound like me (I was intentionally going for deep and emotional, not light in funny in that scene) so who knows.

Jen said...

If you buy the idea that we're mult-faceted human beings, it's natural that sometimes we'll want to write something "different". Every writer has a voice, but just because one storyline isn't funny, doesn't mean your voice isn't there.
I find, for me, if I go for "funny", it comes out all wrong. I'm hilarious in person (really, that's what I'm told, not my ego), but my ms is NOT funny. Mainly because I dealt with heavy emotions I felt when my Dad died.
Babe, I think anything you write will be just like you are--free and flowing. Just because it's not funny, doesn't mean it's not you.

Zeek said...

I totally get this post.

In real life I'm considered "funny". (funny ha ha, Not funny strange. Ok. You got me. Funny strange too.)

The only problem is I don't always have a "funny" to pull out my arse AND I also have a quiet sedate side. People who know me socially don't see the quiet side often and always expect a laugh. That's just annoying.

I often feel the pressure to be "on" at parties, but I don't like "preforming". I just like being who I am.

So when they say "Zeek, say something and get the party rolling" I will give a humorous quip (if I have one) and go hit the booze counter. After that, I either feel "funnier" OR I'll keep a drink in my hand so I can sip it if I don't.

Zeek said...

Oh yeah, write what YOU want to write, chances are if you love it, the readers will too!

Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan said...

I think you can work the funny muscle, but it's one of those rare things, if you try too hard, you cause a strain and that's not funny at all. If you look at life as being essentially, sardonically funny, that will show in your writing.

BTW, I got a chuckle from your post, for what its worth. ;)

Silma said...

You know, it's hard to be funny all the time. Besides, humor is very subjective. Just relax and be yourself.