Is everything you write funny or humorous?

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gettingby

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I never set out to write humorous or funny fiction. It just happened when I started writing fiction, and I went with it. I'm still a little surprised by this because I don't really consider myself a funny person. But my readers (at this point writer friends and professors) seem to think it works. Most of the fiction I write is absurdist fiction and supposed to be funny.

But sometimes I try to write stories that are of a more serious tone. I recently wrote a short story about suicide, thinking there is nothing funny about that. I workshopped this story with my writing group, and people still picked up on my unintentional humor in the piece. They thought I was holding back and that my twisted dark humor should be unleashed. In no way do I make fun of suicide, and I was not trying to be funny. But I can see how I took a grieving character and went a little over the top with it. It's not a funny story, but it seems to have its moments.

So, I have two questions. Are there subject matters where humor doesn't belong or can some level of humor work for almost anything? And, for all you humor writers, do you ever try and write more serious fiction, too, or do you stick to the more humorous style many of us here are probably used to?

And should I just accept that this is how I write?
 
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buz

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To me, it kind of seems like I unconsciously want to try to be a little humorous in everything I write. (I'm not going to say I'm successful at it, lol, but the impetus seems to be there.) But sometimes I really don't mean for it to be there, or I'm not thinking about it either way. Sometimes it's obvious it shouldn't be there to readers, or people say "yeah this really clashes with everything else" or "this humor falls flat" or "this seems like it's trying too hard" or "this is just...bad" and I get embarrassed--because nothing really occurred to me at the time. Just going along pooping out words, you know?

But I can write more serious fiction, I think--the thing is I have to go back over it, and often have to have other eyes on it, to excise any horrible attempts at crappy humor that I accidentally put in. :D (...of course I may be wrong about that entire assertion, someone else would have to tell me, lol)

As for subject matters where it doesn't belong--I don't think there is anything as broad as a subject matter where humor is, overall, forbidden. However, there's such a thing as humor that is wrong for a piece, wrong for an approach to a subject, or poorly-executed humor that clashes with tone, or just plain poorly-executed humor in general :p (which I have been guilty of many times)

Should you accept it...I mean, that's up to you. I don't think it's a bad thing, if the humor you are inserting works for the piece, and if you're fine with it. Personally, if everything I wrote had lovely smart humor that worked for the readers, I would be ecstatic, even if I didn't mean to put it there. But I can't tell you how to feel... :D
 
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gettingby

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Thanks. I'm in no way saying every time I use humor it works, but every time I write there seems to be some sort of humor. Usually, I just go with it. Sometimes I question it. And, like in the last piece I workshopped, I don't even know it's there. I don't want it to seem like I am making a joke of everything every time I write. In the past, I have unintentionally managed to upset people who could relate to my subject matter but were offended by my approach. Sometimes I feel like I am walking a thin line between what is funny and what is offensive. Is the line really that thin or am I overthinking this?
 

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I think it's possible to find humor in any situation, even the darkest, most dreadful ones.
Not everyone will appreciate it, of course, but that's another story.
And yes, the line really can be that thin - for some people. It's a very personal thing.

If everything you write comes out this way, it could just be your "voice" - the tone you set with your style, usage, syntax, etc. If you enjoy writing, and are getting positive feedback, why fight it?
You may need to be careful about what topics you cover, and learn to temper that humor for certain types of work, but we all do that.

Me? I have a hard time keeping the snark level to a minimum. It's just there. And I often don't realize it until someone takes something I wrote entirely the wrong way. I've learned to recognize it and choose to do it deliberately, or temper it when needed.
 

LSMay

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When one of my early readers was giving me feedback, she said my novel was, "Really easy to read and funny." Whatever she found funny, it wasn't intentional.

I think humour can work in anything. Obviously dark, twisted humour would be targeted to a different audience than happy, feel-good humour, but there's no reason there wouldn't be an audience for both.
 

Elf474

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It worked for Piers Anthony and Terry Pratchett.


Look if you're funny than trying to change usually goes wrong. Like when Jim Carrey and Robin Williams tried doing horror or drama. Not a good idea.
 

cornflake

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It worked for Piers Anthony and Terry Pratchett.


Look if you're funny than trying to change usually goes wrong. Like when Jim Carrey and Robin Williams tried doing horror or drama. Not a good idea.

Yeah, those were only some of the most heralded roles of their careers. Robin Williams didn't win his Oscar for Patch Adams.
 

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Yeah, those were only some of the most heralded roles of their careers. Robin Williams didn't win his Oscar for Patch Adams.

Nor critical acclaim for works like Insomnia.
 

cornflake

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Nor critical acclaim for works like Insomnia.

No, and that photographer/horror one sucked too, but I was taking issue with the idea that it "usually goes wrong," and was "not a good idea" for Williams and Carey to do non-comedic roles. They're known as comedy-based but, as Patch Adams, and most of Carey's work, lots of that didn't work either.

Movies like Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting, Waiting for Godot, Awakenings, The Truman Show, etc., etc., etc., seem to suggest that dramatic roles were a good idea.
 

gettingby

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Why are we talking about actors and movies instead of writers and books? BTW I think Carey and Williams have pulled off dramas.
 

CrAbby.McCraberson

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I think any topic can be covered through humor, if it's done right. For example, Amy Schumer has written comedy sketches making fun of the rape culture in football, and another about how hard it is to report rape in the military. Both were hilarious (I thought).


On the other hand, Daniel Tosh often writes rape jokes for his stand-up act that make me cringe. A few years ago, he got mad at one woman in his audience who heckled him about rape jokes not being funny and he said, "Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by, like, five guys right now? Like right now?”


Ummmm... no Tosh. No I don't think that would be funny.


Eeesh.


Yet, some people love Tosh. I think he's a talented comedian, but for me the cringe factor outweighs the funny. Should he care? Not really. We both already know it's never going to work out between us.


It's not possible to please everyone, regardless of what you write. You can offend people just as easily writing a serious article as you can with a humorous one.


I say, write what you enjoy. Your audience will find you.


You asked if you should accept that this is how you write ... I think finding your own voice is your mission. Should you choose to accept it. #MissionNotImpossible

Is there really an alternative?

75f5a0f11ae48f7092e4ddf0baf4daeb.jpg
 

gettingby

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I think any topic can be covered through humor, if it's done right. For example, Amy Schumer has written comedy sketches making fun of the rape culture in football, and another about how hard it is to report rape in the military. Both were hilarious (I thought).

On the other hand, Daniel Tosh often writes rape jokes for his stand-up act that make me cringe. A few years ago, he got mad at one woman in his audience who heckled him about rape jokes not being funny and he said, "Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by, like, five guys right now? Like right now?”

Ummmm... no Tosh. No I don't think that would be funny.

Eeesh.

Yet, some people love Tosh. I think he's a talented comedian, but for me the cringe factor outweighs the funny. Should he care? Not really. We both already know it's never going to work out between us.

It's not possible to please everyone, regardless of what you write. You can offend people just as easily writing a serious article as you can with a humorous one.

I say, write what you enjoy. Your audience will find you.

You asked if you should accept that this is how you write ... I think finding your own voice is your mission. Should you choose to accept it. #MissionNotImpossible

Is there really an alternative?
75f5a0f11ae48f7092e4ddf0baf4daeb.jpg

That Tosh guy sounds awful. I have read something that was supposed to be funny about rape and found it just appalling. I don't remember who wrote it, but I couldn't even believe it was published. I guess there are some things I personally would not try to write with any sort of humor.

However, there is another piece I have read about rape that did work. It is a pretty famous short story about a girl at college on the phone with her mother. The girl tells her mother she was raped, but the story quickly changes and then changes again and again. I'm not sure how humorous it is, but the tone gets lighter as the story progresses.

I guess part of finding my own voice as a writer involves what sort of things I want to say with that voice. It's a little discouraging to try and write serious stuff and not be able to pull it off without humor on some level. I guess it's dark humor. But I feel a little uneasy about it. And with this story I wrote, I either need to take out the humor (if I can) or take it over the top a bit more. I'm going to have think about this one.
 

gettingby

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I think it's possible to find humor in any situation, even the darkest, most dreadful ones.
Not everyone will appreciate it, of course, but that's another story.
And yes, the line really can be that thin - for some people. It's a very personal thing.

If everything you write comes out this way, it could just be your "voice" - the tone you set with your style, usage, syntax, etc. If you enjoy writing, and are getting positive feedback, why fight it?
You may need to be careful about what topics you cover, and learn to temper that humor for certain types of work, but we all do that.

Me? I have a hard time keeping the snark level to a minimum. It's just there. And I often don't realize it until someone takes something I wrote entirely the wrong way. I've learned to recognize it and choose to do it deliberately, or temper it when needed.

It could be a voice thing with me. I like to play around with absurdity and satire. I think I feel like I need to entertain my readers. It's not something I think about directly, more subconsciously. How did you learn to recognize it in your writing? I think I will mostly write with some humor, but there are other things I would like to write about with zero humor. Can you really write both ways?
 

gettingby

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When one of my early readers was giving me feedback, she said my novel was, "Really easy to read and funny." Whatever she found funny, it wasn't intentional.

I think humour can work in anything. Obviously dark, twisted humour would be targeted to a different audience than happy, feel-good humour, but there's no reason there wouldn't be an audience for both.

So, now that someone has picked up on your unintended humor, what are you going to do with it? Are you going to try and make it funnier? Do you see the humor in it now? Is it working for you? These are the questions I am asking myself right now. I would love to hear how you handled it.
 

Mud

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Ooops, double post.
 
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Mud

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I have two questions. Are there subject matters where humor doesn't belong

Probably, but it shouldn't deter the writer from smuggling it in. If the subject is so highly charged the danger of constant peaks without the balance of troughs becomes a continuous threat. Humour is the first choice to dig the trough. Humour is the tool of pace control. Sub-plots provide the same purpose, but a humorous character stepping in at the right moment can happen mid-scene, whereas sub-plots normally command a chapter change. Absence of 'Some level of humour' would make for a very drab read.

... or can some level of humor work for almost anything?
I hope so or I'm f***ed.

And, for all you humor writers, do you ever try and write more serious fiction, too, or do you stick to the more humorous style many of us here are probably used to?

I had a 'serious' subject, which I wanted to write about. I knew what would happen before I started, so this is what I did. Chapter One (12 pages), is a third person objective narration of a mass execution! Chapter Two, fast forward several years to first person narration of a smart-alec ad-man and I crush all of the humour into his banter style dialogue exchanges. It ends with a shock-serious denouement.
Erm...but it's better than that.

And should I just accept that this is how I write?

It's too late for me, (sigh!)
 

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Humor theme has its own attraction. I think there are many people who would like get rid depression and unpleasant mental engagements. Good humor can be like a med.

It can cure sadness and disappointment of reader relatively. Most of writers prefer to write seriously because they think it is fitter with their characters and reputation than writing humor.

Basically the type of writing dependent on its writer's mood and choice. The Writers of humor are in minority. Writing humor is not easy because most of people tend to seriousness and official behaviors and they can't find a way to express humorous words, among the majority of writers.

In addition to the mood of a writer, writing humor needs a particular technique and experience. He not only should know people, their choice and sensitivity but also have written a lot of humor. Sometimes, an unwisely and awkwardly humor can be considered as an offensive and rudely expression. So, the comedy writer should be a knowledgeable person about every matter that he uses in his writing, in addition to the laughable expression.

However, although you are a capable writer in other themes, but if you want to write humor you should exercise a lot in this way.
 

Manss

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Humor theme has its own attraction. I think there are many people who would like get rid depression and unpleasant mental engagements. Good humor can be like a med.

It can cure sadness and disappointment of reader relatively. Most of writers prefer to write serious things because they think it is fitter with their characters and reputation than writing humor.

Basically the type of writing dependent on its writer's mood and choice. The Writers of humor are in minority. Writing humor is not easy because most of people tend to seriousness and official behaviors and they can't find a way to express humorous words, among the majority of writers.

In addition to the mood of a writer, writing humor needs a particular technique and experience. He not only should know people, their choice and sensitivity but also have written a lot of humor. Sometimes, an unwisely and awkwardly humor can be considered as an offensive and rudely expression. So, the comedy writer should be a knowledgeable person about every matter that he uses in his writing, in addition to the laughable expression.

However, although you are a capable writer in other themes, but if you want to write humor you should exercise a lot in this way.
 
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