how am I supposed to write humor?

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thisisobservantme

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Seriously, I don't know! I'm not usually witty on my feet anyway, so how am I supposed to make my MC funny, sarcastic and likeable?
Any ideas?
 

Kerosene

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Have them tell jokes...

What should I tell you? :Shrug:

You don't have to make your characters funny if you don't want to. I think it takes a particular person to tell a joke properly, and some people just are not that person. Then again, doesn't mean you can't try.


And making them funny and sarcastic don't make them automatically likable.
 

Wilde_at_heart

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I was a 'smart' and 'cheeky' since I was a little kid and if anything it was something my mum tried valiantly to crush. Too bad for her :D

If it doesn't come naturally, maybe practice wit and sarcasm? :Shrug: Or steal from other people and keep a list ;)

Troll internet forums at places where that's allowed and test other people's reactions or see how people respond to other people's comments to see what works and what doesn't. http://www.fark.com/
 

Bush_moon

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I've wrote two pieces on things i experienced and just started like that. I find the best way for me to write is by recalling something in real life and retelling it. I "think" that in the future i might be able to take a fictional setting and people but blend new ideas with real personalities i have observed and thier quirks. It just might provide the medium for totally new fictional humor in my case! I hope!

BM
 

Ken

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... read Chase's post, on AW.
He's a wiz at humor, though he'd probably deny it ;-)
(Funny stuff)
 
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Koulentis

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Joke funny vs situation funny.

Writing humor depends on the kind of humor you're going for.

Original joke funny: Monty Python "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!" That line is funny on it's own. This is pretty hard to do. I've read that some stand-up comedians can take months to come up with a single joke. Bob Hope treasured his jokes so much he kept them in a vault.

Situation funny: Princess Leia trying to push past Chewbacca "Will somebody please get this walking carpet out of my way." This is much more common. So common that most humor in situation-comedies wouldn't be funny without the context of the situation. Here it isn't about the action, it's about the reaction - usually nested in conflict. If you can write a story, then you can definitely write this type of humor.

Hope that helps.
 
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chompers

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Practice? Watch shows that has it in abundance?:Shrug:

I learned it by coming from a big family.

And just fyi, sarcasm tends to make you UNlikeable. Only sarcastic people like you for being sarcastic. I've had to tone down my sarcasm for most people or else they either get offended or hurt.

It's usually a play on words. Maybe start by trying dirty jokes. That's usually a bit easier to do a play on words (at least I think so).
 
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Meditate

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Everybody has a different zone where they "feel" funny. Professionals like stand up comedians can turn it on and off. I personally need to be relaxed and the words need to already be flowing before I can write a joke.

Some people need conflict, pressure, feel insulted or hurt or sad to react with humor.

Think about it. Find your space. But for the love of god don't copy jokes from the internet and paste them in your novel.
 

RightHoJeeves

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Most people can only do one sort of comedy. It's a matter of finding out what that is. Larry David is amazingly funny, but he would look quite out of place in a Coen brothers movie.

Actually that would be amazing.
 

Nymtoc

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I suppose reading humorous writers and watching funny movies and TV helps. Practicing should help, too, but a sense of humor tends to be something that you either have or don't have. As others have indicated, there are different kinds of humor--loud, bawdy, gentle, ironic, subtle, sophisticated, etc.

Why not try to analyze the kind of thing you find funny yourself and go in that direction? It can't hurt, and you might get a few laughs out of it.
 

Cathy C

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Written humor is different from spoken or visual humor because you have to use the readers' own imagination as part of the process. Playing it straight works, or matters left unsaid, or even twists of words/puns. Here's one of my favorite written jokes.It really doesn't work as well via audio and while it might be an interesting YouTube vid, it's much funnier in written form.
 

Gegalix

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Personally, most of my inspiration for funny writing comes from watching people interact. Try going to Starbucks, grabbing a coffee, and then observing the way people act. They can be quite quirky
 

Kes Cross

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Play with language. Read the classics (PG Wodehouse is a great starting point for the sheer complexity of comedic language).

And if you're still struggling, throw in a fart joke. That always slays 'em.
 

jerrimander

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Find the funniest person you know in your life and stalk them for about 2 weeks. Like Jane goodall and the gorillas. Learn through observation.

Always remember to end on a high note. Do not beat the laughter into submission. If it's funny, the audience will laugh. Do not repeat the joke, or drag it out expecting more laughter. It will fall flat. Right on its figurative nose. So get the laugh, and say good night Gracie. Punchline, then move on. Right on to the next joke.
 

Kameea

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I happen to have the same problem.
In my "real life" I am a fun and outgoing person with familiar people and in those situations humor flows naturally.
When I find myself in front of the black screen that practically screams "Make me laugh" I almost completely shut down.
 

Jamesaritchie

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That's really a great question. Can you write funny if you aren't funny? I have no idea. I write a lot of humor, but it's all natural humor, almost exactly as I am in real life. I have a son who does standup comedy, and he's the same way onstage as off.
 

Ride the Pen

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Homor many times comes out of how two totally different personalities clash into each other. Humor is about what to expect: Set an expectation - break it in a witty way!

So if there is one character with some quirk, and it plays directly against what another character expects, that's tension that will, if it's broken the right way, be relieved in laughter. Look at, for example, the two main characters in "Two and a half men".
 

Lady Esther

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Thisisobservantme, I'm sure you're funny. You're just the kind of funny that makes no one laugh.

I'm only kidding. I wrote that as an example of sarcastic humor. If taken wrongly, you look like a jerk.

I think the only way to know if you're funny is to have someone read your work and see if they laugh. That's what I have to do once I'm finished my WIP.
 

gdossetto

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Write comedy for yourself, don't try to be funny to others. Put down what would make you laugh and you'll find an audience.
 

caracy

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Funny is subjective. How are you supposed to be funny? If you force funny, you will likely find yourself miserable writing humor.

I used to write dark fantasy and sci fi quite a bit. When I decided to make a change, I kind of had to give up alot of the books I loved and find new ones (as well as new movies, TV, in some cases friend) that feed a different part of me.
 

caracy

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And don't expect everyone to laugh all the time. Doesn't mean you've lost your touch. It just means you've picked the wrong audience this time.
 

Ken

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It's funny though. The characters in books I've read who are sarcastic are not usually likeable. Actually, I don't believe any are. In general, they were rather nasty. That's books though and only those I've read. "Funny" is another matter. Lots of funny, likeable characters.
 

hearosvoice

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I would keep a list of witty comments or jokes you come across while watching funny tv shows, comedy movies, and writing. Then I would recycle these to apply to situations relevant to your story and probably bring them out in dialogue.

Sarcasm and likability are not mutually exclusive, though some kinds of sarcasm can make someone mean, annoying, and unlikeable. But off the top of my head I think if the sarcasm is aimed at oneself (self-deprecation) or expressing something most would tend to agree with then I think there's a better chance of the character being likable.

Also, I think endearing quirks about a character's description can make them seem funny and likable.
 

caracy

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Self-deprecation only works to a degree before you characters become unlikable. The character must balance the jokes on him with a sense of self worth or the reader is likely to wonder why they should waste their time or care.
 
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Elizabeth George's book Write Away