20 September 2011

funny writing

Now that the excitement of the August 31 ElectricSpec Issue is abating, we editors are valiantly going through the slush pile. I came across a piece that was trying to be funny, I think. Sadly, it didn't quite work. Humor is tricky. I've blogged about it before, but the point is: humor is based on surprise. It's tricky because suprise is based on one's background and expectations--and these are different for everyone.

I did hear a joke at conference which will illustrate my point:

What's brown and sticky?

A stick.

This works because we don't think of a stick as gooey, but of course, it is stick-like. Our brain has to readjust because we end up somewhere we weren't expecting. :) The surprise is key. For example, What's white and frosty? Frost. isn't as funny because it's not as surprising.

Humor is very subjective. For example, our Editor's Corner story "The Dog that Broke the Camel's Back" was humorous to some, and annoying to some. Although, hopefully more the former than the latter.

So, I guess my point is, we enjoy humor here at ElectricSpec. Give it a try, but be careful. Good luck!


Betsy Dornbusch said...

I just put a story in the hold file that is funny. At first I was thinking it was a near miss, then a few lines made me laugh out loud. So it made the first cut. But we'll see...

Martin Willoughby said...

There are commonalities to what horrifies us (a head being cut off for instance) and to what humours us (slapstick).

The difficult part, is that while you can easily (sort of) describe someone's head being chopped off, slapstick is very difficult to describe and would be very boring in an 80,000 word novel.

Won't stop me trying though!