Writing Humor: Being Seriously Funny

The other day, someone questioned me about my blog. Their intention being crystal clear: if I create comic strips, write about photography, versify my thoughts, and discuss technical writing, what exactly is my blog about? Deep down, I feel that they may be right to an extent. I cannot pinpoint just one thing I like to write about; the blog is a contemplation of the endless thoughts that strike me. I cannot be more serious in making my point – yes, even when I am creating comic strips.

I am that one person who often wraps his deep thoughts in a jovial package. Humor (read Humour if you prefer the English English – pun intended) and wit, together, come naturally to not just me, but to most nonfiction writers. And, if you are someone who blows the wits out of a person, you will agree that that’s your home when it comes to writing.

Why this post, you may rightly ask. While I continue to scratch the surfaces of a lot of things, the central idea is still at the core of writing. This post aligns my intentions. Here are a few things I learned about writing humor, which you can use:

Humor is Disguised

Good humor comes disguised with the polarities of exaggerations and subtleties. Here is one piece that I once wrote:

It was a relatively brighter winter morning when Rashmi decidedly pulled herself out of her cozy bed to relish the morning with a hot cup of coffee and an equally hot edition of her favorite Men’s special magazine. As she approached the balcony, wrapping and cuddling herself in a shawl, Rakesh couldn’t stop looking at her.

Recently, he had begun calling her ‘scarecrow’. No, not because she worked in graveyard shift, but because she had developed dark circles, which were disproportionately large for her petite face and lean figure. Her English skin complexion under the gleaming Sun wasn’t much of a help either for it added to the contrasting dark circles.

Rakesh was the exact opposite of Rashmi. Her childhood friend, he was almost obese and ugly. If both were images and not people, Rashmi would appear stretched on the length and Rakesh, on the width. He looked at Rashmi and wondered if six months of graveyard shift could give her dark circles, would the same give him bright circles considering he had darker complexion!

The thought of a girl reading a Men’s special magazine says nothing explicitly yet leaves little to your imagination. The exaggeration of stretching either of them on the length or width is to give you an idea of how lean or fat their characters are. With no offense to anyone, you can never look at anyone named Rashmi and Rakesh neutrally again. Let me not describe it any further for I know what E.B. White once wrote on humor, “Humor can be dissected, as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process and the innards are discouraging to any but the pure scientific mind.

Humor is in Crisp Writing

Good humor is just some seriously crisp writing. The truth lies at its core. Help people see that truth in the new light of your chuckle-worthy wisdom. Writing is hard. Writing good humor is harder. That’s because truth lies at the core of humor. No, I am repeating myself; I am emphasizing the point. The moment of encountering truth must brighten and widen the eyes and minds of your readers. Such an ironic moment lies at the crossroads of realization and ecstasy, of hope and fate, and of fantasy and reality. Only that way will the readers appreciate and preserve the taste of both truth and humor. Here’s one example of crisp writing: Episode 7 of The Writer’s Chronicles. Promise, I won’t dissect the frog this time.

Your writing should resemble waves on a seashore. Thoughts should come through the ebb and flow of your words. And only occasionally should you use the humor element. Remember that humor generates from that one perspective readers mentally discard as but understood. That’s the surprise element. Most stand-up comedians these days adopt this approach. Create humor to put up a fight for a social cause. Make it a social activity by involving your readers. On an occasional wave of humor, let them surf through their everyday problems.

As I end this post, there remain a few things that I must let you know:

  • Humor has a short shelf life. A joke today becomes a routine tomorrow. Nevertheless, state it.
  • Humor is a way of opening the long-shut doors within the unapproachable corners of hearts. Ensure that you keep it simple.
  • What one may find as an outlandish attempt at generating humor the other may find as completely natural and effortless.

And, the last one is my favorite: learn by imitation. We all do that.

About Suyog Ketkar

He is a certified technical communicator. He believes that writing continues to be an easy-to-do-but-difficult-to-master job. In his work time, he proudly dawns the “enabler” cape. In his non-work time, he dons many hats including one of a super-busy father.
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11 Responses to Writing Humor: Being Seriously Funny

  1. Love this post! Thanks so much. Writing humour (I’m Canadian so… English English) is a fun and exciting challenge!

    Like

  2. Arun says:

    Good to know how you brew the comic series! Keep them coming.

    Like

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