The most important thing that you need to do when you're writing humor is to try to make it funny. This is very important. If you're unsure whether it is funny, show it to someone and let them read it. If they laugh, then it's funny. Unless, of course, they're laughing at the idea that you think it's funny, then you're in trouble. For those of you who are unfamiliar with what laughter sounds like, you might want to watch a comedy routine by someone like George Carlin. Listen to the sounds the people around you are making. It's called laughter. You may have laughed a great deal in your lifetime, but it doesn't really count when everyone else at the time was either terrified or crying. No matter how much you enjoyed it, the kind of laughter you're after here is "laughing 'cause it's funny". Additionally, just because you can tell a joke, that doesn't mean you'll be able to write something humorous, especially if you're the only one laughing. This is an important concept. You have to make other people laugh if it is to be considered humorous.
I had the privilege recently, to interview the wildly popular on-line humorist, Mike Stevens. His insights into the world of humor writing were invaluable. When I placed the phone call to Mike's residence, I first spent a minute or two chatting with his mother. I asked her whether she remembered the time when Mike first started being funny, and she chuckled and said that even when he was a baby he was a little bit funny looking. After several other amusing recollections, I thanked her, and asked if she could put Mike on the line.
Brucek: I want to thank you again for this interview Mike.
Mike: Yeah, I guess the great unwashed public's got a right to hear about me, at least what I want them to.
Brucek: When I was speaking with your mother, she remembered a time when you went out to eat at a sushi restaurant, and a few hours later you complained that you were feeling funny. I was wondering if this "funny feeling" helped in any way with your humor writing?
Mike: Yes, that tainted fish changed my life. As I was kneeling before the porcelain throne, I suddenly had a comedy epiphany. I was ralphing so long, I had time to think up a whole comedy routine on the subject of ralphing. Believe me, if you can make yourself laugh while worshipping the porcelain god, you know something's funny! Just a second...........What's that Mom?............You're glad that the uncooked fish didn't kill me?...........What?...........Are telling me that sushi is RAW fish!?...........Yeah?..........I thought it was the name of the chef who invented a new dish, Sue Shi. If you'll excuse me, I'll need to cut this interview short. Clear a path to the bathroom!
Brucek: What do you think is the most important part of your "humor writing", the "humor" or the "writing"?
Mike: Oh, definitely the humor. I learned to write in the first couple of years of elementary school, and I've learned to ignore those people who said that apparently, that's about the same time I developed my sense of humor. Most people progress as they age, but not me! It's just not true. Booger humor is still good for a laugh!
Brucek: I understand you have plans of being even funnier in the future. Is that true?
Mike: Why would I plan to be even funnier in the future? I've already reached the zenith of humor. Just ask my Uncle Ward, who said "Oh, you mean that annoying nephew of mine, who grew into an even more annoying adult? That guy wouldn't know funny if it fell on him, and crushed-------." Yeah, Uncle Ward, have some more Christmas punch. Maybe he's not a good guy to ask.
Brucek: You recently said in an interview with Rolling Stone that you could "give a d___ what all you f___ing hippies think about my writing. My fans love me." Which fans were refering to, Mike?
Mike: I'm not sure. I thought there were millions-----lots of people! There's Jimmy Scouring, who thinks I'm hilarious. Of course, he also thinks farting the national anthem is hilarious. Let's see, there are many, but I'm having a little trouble remembering their names, but believe me, there's a lot! If I wasn't feeling pressure from being interviewed, I could come up with many, many names!
Brucek: Have you ever thought of any of your Booksie fans as Mike Stevens groupies?
Mike: I probably shouldn't say this, but I don't think of them as Mike Stevens groupies; I don't think of them at all.
Brucek: Is there anything you can tell us about what you're working on right now?
Mike: Well, let's see, right now I'm editing a novel about an absolute moron who becomes governor of Alabama, called "Eye Ahem da Guvner". It's due to hit stores in January, provided I can throw it that far out of my car window!
Brucek: I'm sure it will be hilarious, Mike!
Mike: Well, I tried to be funny, but you never know!
Brucek: Trust me Mike, you're funny even when you're not trying.
According to his mother during a follow up phone conversation I had with her a few days later, at this point Mike took off one of his steel toed work boots and threw it against the wall, while simultaneously shouting, "physical humor, you orangutan, physical humor!" Mrs. Stevens assured me that he would feel right as rain in a week or two. I can only assume he had suffered through an artistic mood swing, the kind that all truly brilliant humorists are prone to. Or perhaps this was when Mike decided to give up humor writing in favor of slap stick and pratfalls. Your guess is as good as mine.
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