I’ve been thinking a lot about humor lately.
Because when things turn dark, I let it in more than ever. I seek out humor the way other people seek other things that make them feel better.
I’ve been to panels that discuss humor, but for entertainment and to hear some of my favorite humorists.
Not because I thought for a second that humor can be taught.
Last year I got into a bit of trouble because I made a joke about pedophilia that wasn’t well received by some.
I talked to my Papa about it. He is one of the funniest people I know (as is Mama) and I turned to him for guidance.
“Are some subjects off limits?” I asked him in Russian. We were taking the subway uptown to see a show and the train was crowded.
“I don’t think so,” he said. In Russian.
“What about the Holocaust?” I prodded. “Surely there are no good jokes about the Holocaust?” I spoke in the language of Dostoyevsky.
“WHAT? THERE ARE TONS OF THE FANTASTIC JOKES ABOUT THE HOLOCAUST!” My father practically screamed. In English. On the subway. At rush hour.
And then he told me some. I didn’t think they were great. But my threshold for humor about the genocide is pretty high.
Here are my tips about humor writing. Please take them with a mine-sized grain of salt:
1. If you’re laughing at your own jokes, consider joining The Carol Burnett Show. Don’t put LOLs in your blog post, we’ll know what’s funny.
2. Self-deprecation works. Illusions of grandeur don’t. Unless you’re awesomely amazing like I am.
3. Know your limits. I truly believe that any subject can be fodder for humor, but not everyone can get away with everything.
4. But reach a little. The funniest things make us a tiny bit uncomfortable.
5. Be prepared for backlash. And don’t get defensive and scream “it’s SATIRE!” If you have to explain that it’s satire, it probably isn’t.
6. Humor writing is a craft, not backbreaking labor. If it’s killing you, look into other forms of writing. Like memes.
7. Don’t beat a joke into the ground. Repetition kills it. Don’t beat a joke into the ground. What’s funny once is unreadable by the fourth time.
What do you think?
Since the people who comment here are so, so funny (not so-so, LOL!) I’d love to hear your tips!
One year ago ...
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