Critique Group

Like, Haha Funny or Weird Funny?

In Genres, L.L. McKinney, Leatrice McKinney, Novel Clique on February 27, 2013 at 11:19 am

Comedy is one of the many things that help the world go round. Sometimes, you just need a good laugh to make it to the end of the day, and then there’s the saying “if I didn’t laugh about it, I’d cry”. And the sixth sense is really a sense of humor. The whole seeing dead people might be a side-effect.

In my experience, humor on the page often stems from the same source as humor off the page: life. Think about it, the best jokes are about real situations everyone can relate to. The funniest comedians are usually the ones that talk about their own lives or what they observe in dealing with the people around them. And what often splits my sides is someone retelling an event that happened to them or someone they know.

My writers group tells me I’m the funny one, haha funny thankfully. Whether we’re sitting around chatting or they’re critiquing a portion of my manuscript, I somehow manage to make them laugh. I don’t know any tricks or mantras or sayings or rules, I just pull from life. No matter what is going on in the story, from a fight scene with glowing swords and superpowers, to a peaceful ride in a made-up, Medieval kingdom, the core of it is people interacting, and those interactions tend to be the same, no matter the genre. Characters are hanging out, fighting, kissing, anything, real life can be applied to the situation.

For example, two characters could be crossing the spans of…Adasia, the middle kingdom of Trailon, on horseback (I don’t know, just humor me). Or they could be traversing the Tigrin nebula in the Mangoon quadrant of deep space. Either way, they’re on a road trip! Everyone has a funny road trip story, or someone told them one. Instead of a flat tire, one of the horses runs off, or an engine malfunctions. Whatever the problem, someone has to fix it, and screw up multiple times in the process. They’re complaining, frustrated, and somehow someone brings up a subject that was never to be spoken of: that time the other character ran off with a big-busted woman, leaving their companion to foot the bill at the bar, or face the wrath of a rough trick named Jim. (If you get that reference, I will love you forever). I know that situation itself may be a little overdone, but it’s just an example.

While the situation itself may be comical, you can push the funny just a little farther with the character’s reaction to said situation. It’s not hard to imagine the conversation that would follow speaking what was never to be spoken. Maybe Jim let them off easy. Maybe some embarrassing altercation arose. Either way, it gets the characters talking, or screaming, and it’s usually the dialogue that winds up the backbone of the humor. You tell jokes, after all.

Comedy is but one of the many tools writers have at their disposal to inject humanity into their stories. For me, haha funny takes the edge off of stressful situations, and if we’ve done our jobs as writers, our characters will be stressed. It eases the tension just enough to make these apparently false tales–it’s fiction, after all–that much more believable, and believability is key to a good story. But that’s a subject for another day. Hope I didn’t lose anyone in all that. Nearly lost myself a couple times…

What are you favorite funny scenes from favorite books/movies, or jokes from your favorite comedians? What real life situations lie at their core?


  1. […] be able to swing by and check out the post here around 10 am central […]

  2. My favorite “funny” book is Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (I think). The asinineness, if that’s a word, is freakin’ hilarious!

  3. Lucille Ball. Remember the classic chocolates scene? OMG! These days, I can bust a gut reading Harlan Coben’s Myron Bolitar series.

    • I think my favorite Lucy scene was where they were stomping on the grapes, and she got into it with that woman. Man, gotta love Nick at Night.

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