…nob’dy ever claims that writing in any kinda JONGRR is easy, but in my not-so-‘umble opinion, producing comedy in print ranks among the toughest… my great pal, Authoress, Suzanne Kelman has that magic brain-tickling touch… her gem, THE REJECTED WRITERS’ BOOK CLUB, relaunching March 29th, is one such sampler of her WURK…
…but m’Lady can speak for herself… enjoy…
Make ‘em Laff – Free-falling into Laughter
How to write funny is no laughing matter. I write comedy and I personally don’t know of the perfect equation to create spontaneous howls. You know, something like a snigger plus a chuckle equals a guffaw or anything like that. Now there are many books out there that claim to help people write hilarious stuff, but the ones I have read, I found drier than an Amish man’s liquor cabinet. What I can do is give you some insight into how I write.
First, I can’t force it. Forcing is like forcing someone to love you. Before you know it you’re boiling their bunny. The more obsessive you become over the comedy, the harder it becomes to work. This is not good. I met a very straight laced, old school teacher type once, who looked me dead in the eye over her half moon glasses as she handed me her manuscript and said in one long monotone, “I can write funny.” I hadn’t the heart to tell her SHE was funny, her saying it that way WAS Funny, but alas, after reading it, her writing wasn’t.
You see, she approached it in a very rigid and controlled way. She read a bunch of books, commanded all her words to sit up straight in their chairs and line up quietly all in very grammatically correct order. Then she slaved over the perfectly crafted punchline, but it fell flat.
Comedy for me isn’t like that. It’s like a form of free falling. I jump in naked. I run with the wild bulls of the adjectives. I dance with my hair on fire. If you could see the first drafts of my posts it would look something like this:
“Mi furst draughts our perfext“
It’s just a raucous can-can with the dancing red squiggly lines and me.
I just have fun with the words. We hang out together like two old friends laughing at the bar. I type something funny and then I answer myself in a kind of schizophrenic double act. So my first advice is, free fall, and don’t edit.
Second thing I do is look for visual extremes to take along on my word journey, such as “run naked,” or “hair on fire.” The funnier you can make the visual for the reader, the more fun they’re going to have reading it. Comedy should leap off the page. For example, if you’re going to jump into water, dive from a great height into a tin bucket. If someone is pulling a face, tell me she looks like she was chewing a bumblebee. You can always pull back if your editor rolls their grammatical eyes. You can tell they are doing that when they send you back little bubbles in the track change function accompanied by the tut-tut-tut of the three question mark disapproval,??? This is editor talk for: “What the hell is that?”
Sometimes, a few of mine have slipped through. Here is one from my book:
“Doris, a rather rotund woman, was squished into the booth like a tube of toothpaste, just waiting for someone to take off her cap so she could spray the walls.”
Lastly, because I can’t think of any more, I allow my mind to go on a constant Mardi Gras. Enjoy everything around me, especially characters that I meet. I’m always eavesdropping other peoples conversations too. Firstly, because it’s fun, but mostly because I often hear nuggets that will take my mind into a million comical directions. Like the result of someone shouting “FIRE!” At a clown convention. Did I tell you I like writing in extreme visuals?
When the right juicy overheard nugget is mined it can hit you in the face like a wet kipper, and it can happen just like the 80’s martini commercial, “Anytime, any place, and anywhere.” Once I was reading my way through food labels in the supermarket, thinking about having Mexican food for dinner, when I suddenly overheard a snippet of a conversation that went something like this:
“So if only she chopped all that wood, they would still be together today.” That was all it took. What wood? Why was she chopping? Why was it so pivotal in their relationship? That’s when I was struck with an idea. A brilliant, non-stick, sparkly, voluptuous idea. And, as is so often the case for me, a comedic idea. My shopping basket was tossed asunder, as I made my way hastily out of the store saying under my breath, “Out of my way, pregnant writer coming through.”
I raced to my car holding that fiery idea ahead of me like a flaming torch, hoping to not lose a fragment of it before I got home to type it onto my computer.
So, there you are, read from the back of a postage stamp, is my process. If you want to make them laugh, I encourage you to find your own voice in it. Because at the end of the day, you should enjoy it because after all it’s comedy and if you meet the tut-tut-tut of the bubble of doom, at least you had a blast of a time while you were free-falling.
Suzanne Kelman is and an award-winning screenwriter and playwright and the author of “The Rejected Writers’ Book Club,” being released March 29th. Her accolades include The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences – Nicholl Fellowship Finalist, Best Comedy Feature Script – L.A. International Film Festival and Gold Award Winner – California Film Awards.
…thanks gazillions, Suzanne… Lads and Lassies of Blog Land, yeez can linkup with Her Ladyship thus:
…see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!…
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