Tickle Their Funny Bones

Let me jump right in to the blogging pool, feet first, and tell you how excited I am to finally be a bona-fide blogger. I can only imagine how proud my family must be, I say, sniffing and wiping a tiny tear. Okay, now that’s out of the way and you are comfortably parked in front of your computer, lets get started.

I write contemporary romantic comedies that tend to be a bit wordy. I like to play with words the way children like to finger paint—mixing and matching until it works on paper. I love the way words roll off my tongue and sound almost lyrical when I read my chapters to my critique partners. And if those two wonderful women fall off the couch laughing, all the better. Score one for this comedy writer’s warped soul.

To me, writing the funny stuff comes pretty natural. Not sure why, perhaps it’s the oddly optimistic way I see the world or that I’m able to draw inspiration from the crazy cast of characters in my life. In my opinion, there are three ways to incorporate humor into your manuscript. The first is a system of layering on the absurdities. Building the crescendo. The reader keeps turning pages, faster and faster because she knows the funny bone pay-off is coming. She not only expects to bust a gut laughing but she’s disappointed if it doesn’t happen.

The second way to incite a giggle is with word choice. Think punch line. Bu-dump bump at its best. This really funny sentence comes out of left field and knocks her socks off when she least expects it. As a writer, you get to experiment with words, pairing and rearranging until they pack the most punch.

The third kind of humor is derived from raw, human nature and stems from the best and worst times in our lives. Laughter after tears. Getting the giggles at the most inappropriate time. Or as I like to refer to it, there-isn’t-anything-I-can-do-about-it-so-I-may-as-well-laugh-as-to-cry. These are pent-up emotions begging for release and as a writer we have to ability to provide that for our characters and readers.

Two rules: Read your stuff out loud and see if garners a chuckle from someone other than your faithful, furry companion(man or beast). And the second most important thing is to never make fun of anyone with your comedy. It’s not cool to be mean.

Disclaimer: No actual critique partners were hurt by falling off the furniture.

So tell me, who do you read when you need a humor fix?


Reese Mobley


Jessica Mobley said...

Thank you, thank you. I AM pretty funny Mother Theresa. Glad I could be an inspriation. When you make it big though (and you will), the gravy train ends. I expect the big bux for these gems! ;-)

Joan Vincent said...

Thanks for the chuckles and the excellent information. As for your question about whom to read for humor I realized I couldn't dredge up any although I employ humor in my books and find it occassionally in the mysteries and historicals I usually read. Just last week however I read "Second Thyme Around" by Katie Fforde about a gardener and a chef. The title gives a hint of the humor in this book--witty dialogue and chuckle inducing incidents with room for a poignant message--much like your work I imagine. Who inspires your work?

Pat Davids said...

I knew you'd be a good blogger. Great post. When I want a good laugh I listen to your stuff. You never disappoint.
I also enjoy MaryJanice Davidson. I laughed all the way through Undead and Unwed.

Reese Mobley said...

Thanks Jessie for providing the inspiration. The nut does not fall far from the tree. grin

Reese Mobley said...

Joan and Pat, I like Janet Evanovich, Jennifer Crusie and Susan Elizabeth Phillips. But, as much as I love to read, I also love to go to the movies and watch a really good romantic comedy.

Jeannie said...

Good point about layering on absurdities to build to a crescendo. I'll never forget listening to Renee Roszel read the infamous "Wednesday's Panties" scene from her book PRINCE OF DELIGHTS at a WARA meeting. When she got to the end of it, the entire room exploded with laughter. I had tears in my eyes and was pounding on the table because I was laughing so hard.

Comedy takes a deft hand. It's not my forte, mostly because the characters I work with are so dark and desperate. My heroes tend to be sarcastic, and my heroines to be snippy, however.

Like you, if I want laugh out loud comedy reading, I pick up a Stephanie Plum book by Janet Evanovitch. My whole family, including Glenn and Andrew, read a Plum book and can't stop laughing.

Of course, I like funny songs, too. Some of my favorites off the recent pop charts are "1984" and "High School Never Ends" by Bowling For Soup, "One Week" by Bare Naked Ladies, "Sugar, We're Going Down" by Fallout Boy, "Story of My Life" by Smash Mouth, and, of course, "Rock Star" by Nicklback.

I like funny movies, too, but I suppose I go for some of the more off-the-wall humor there. Three of my perennial favorites have to be FRIED GREEN TOMATOES, TREMORS and FARGO.

Kathy Bates made TOMATOES more than memorable. I still tell my kids, "Sorry, I'm older and have better insurance."

For a horror movie, TREMORS had me rolling in the aisles. Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward are too droll as two unlucky cowboys facing a classic grade B 50s movie monster. But it was Michael Gross as survivalist Burt Gummer who stole the show there. Attitude and an arsenal. That was Burt.

FARGO shouldn't be funny since it's about kidnapping and murder, and is full of some fairly graphic violence, but the snowballing absurdity of it, the schtick with the Swedish accents, and Frances McDormand's perfomance as the eight months pregnant policewoman have you laughing. It's weird because you think, "This shouldn't be funny. People are getting murdered here." Then Frances waddles over to a snowbank at the edge of the first crime scene, throws up, and when her partner asks if she's all right, she says, "Yaah, suuurre. I yust had to barf." you crack up.

I always subscribe to what the Vulcan/Romulan Lt. Saavik said to Captain James T. Kirk in the STAR TREK movie THE WRATH OF KAHN. "Humor. A difficult concept."

Rox Delaney said...


Great stuff! I've never heard comedy explained so well.

Favorite funny authors? Susan Elizabeth Phillips is #1 in all areas. I've never forgotten the "cereal killer" comment that completely diffused an increasingly tense moment in Nobody's Baby But Mine. She writes angsty stories, but it's the humor and human touches that make her stories work for me.

My oldest reads Mary Janice Davidson's vampire books, along with Kerrelyn Sparks, who also has that touch of humor--and has vampires. Vickie Lewis Thompson always tickled my funny bone. My friends Kathie DeNosky and Kristi Gold both have a knack with words and use humor throughout their very emotional stories.

I've always loved the way your words roll off the tongue. Your voice is pure, beautifully hilarious and distinctly yours.

Reese Mobley said...

Jeannie, I agree you can't ever go wrong with Stephanie Plum. Now if they would just get that movie made we'd all be happy. I'm a Morelli fan btw.

Reese Mobley said...

SEP is one of my favorites. I love a book that makes me laugh and cry and she manages to do both with her books. Ahhhh, to be able to move people like that. I am in awe of her.

Dina Preuss said...

Hi Reese,

well I don’t write romance and read it very seldom, but as your long-time friend wanted to check out your blog and am now turned on to this concept of “layering on absurdities to build to the crescendo”.

I write Historical Thrillers (with a bit of humor and romance tied in) and lately have been turned on to Biblical Fiction. I enjoy good humor in any story and think I’ll study up a bit on the concept you’ve discussed here to learn how to apply it within my own stories. Thanks.

Since I’m not one of your critique partners, can’t wait to see your stuff and since I am your long time friend will obviously expect a beautifully thought out autograph~ chuckle.

Jess, I don’t think you’ll be able to pull that ‘gravy train stops here’ card once mom’s terrifically famous… I think there’s some unwritten rule somewhere in the Mom’s Manual that allows us to draw from the lives of our children as long as we so choose… sorry, but when Jackson gets older you’ll understand this rule much better; especially if you begin writing.

I have read, "Second Thyme Around" by Katie Fforde as well and absolutely loved it. I plan to check out some of the other authors your blogging guests have mentioned in an attempt to discover what’s working for these authors in applying humor.

Many of our lives are far too traumatic, or even bland and dull, so humor woven throughout is a welcome reprieve.

Thanks for the Blog Reese and thanks to your guests… I’ve learned a lot today. Can’t wait to see you again, face-to-face.

Dina Preuss

Reese Mobley said...

Dina, so glad to hear you're writing again!!!! Loved that you could join us. We have a talented group of women so be sure to check back soon.

Nina Sipes said...

I LOL at the Humor. A difficult concept.
I was studying advertising and marketing for our business and the statistics say don't use humor in your ads. Why? Because only 50% of the population has a sense of humor. Of that 50%, the different types that they understand and enjoy are very varied. The consensus was that only a fool would cut out at least 50% of their potential customers.

The concept of such a few people having a sense of humor was hard for me because humor is as common as dust around here. Or so I thought. Then I realized there are people who laugh when others do, but have no idea why. I actually met and talked to someone who has no sense of humor. She didn't understand any--from the Stooges to Sarcasm. By the way, Fargo is one of my favorites too. I love irony. I haven't a prayer of writing with humor or even a layer or two, but I'd like to see how people PLAN that kind of thing into their writing.

Penny Rader said...

I love stories that make me laugh out loud and I so get "if I don't laugh, I'll cry."

Whose books make me LOL?

Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books and Rebecca Paisley's historical romances. (If anyone knows if Rebecca is writing again, please let me know!)

JD Robb's "In Death" series also makes me laugh. I love Eve's gritty sense of humor.

Children are great sources of unexpected humor. I've been jotting down things my kids/nieces/nephews/grandkids say and do for quite some time. I started adding the age of the funny doer/sayer to my notes to help with putting those words into the mouths of characters.

Judy Darnell said...

I am finally reading your blob. I wish I had the talent to write. I definitely enjoy a book that will make we laugh. I have read some of Janet Evanovich books and they have made me laugh out loud. I look forward to reading your first pubished book.
Good Luck,
Judy Darnell