The May/June issue of Writer’s Digest has an interview with Dave Barry. I have been reading his columns and books for years because I enjoy his style of humor a lot. The article doesn’t say, but I would bet he was a corny kid, a class clown, and sweet, and annoying. Those are the kids who develop a whip-quick humor—the kind who get attention and detention in junior high—especially if the comments have a smarty-pants tone. If the kid is ever so lucky, his antics pay off and he gets to be like Dave Barry.
I have wanted to be funny ever since I can remember. Funniness is a friend magnet. Only a few very odd people don’t like to laugh. Even if a person is sad and doesn’t feel like laughing, said person’s spirits can be lifted out of the blues-gutter with an exhilarating, spontaneous guffaw. Why do you think Reader’s Digest has carried a humor column titled “Laughter is the Best Medicine” for decades? Because laughing cures what ails us, even if its effects are temporary. I have read how something happens to us physiologically when we laugh. I think it has to do with adrenaline and brain chemicals, blood flow to the brain and a lot of other stuff I don’t understand.
Even the descriptions of laughter (and laughing people) are amusing (if slightly gory). Picture bursting with it, cracking up, convulsing, sides splitting, and being in stitches. And are people dying of laughter? Well, no. People want to laugh. They want to be with someone who makes them laugh. In fact, in today’s world of seriousness and hardships, I think people crave laughter. Sort of like a drug. One can buy laughs at a comedy club or a book store or obtain it free from a funny friend.
I have a couple of clever, witty friends I can get my doses of laughter from for the price of a couple of beers. I can count on them to lift my spirits, lighten my day, force me to gasp for air, wreck my eye-makeup and even cause me to drool. (Drooling is a common body function during hysterical laughter).
So, can we learn to write funny? I think we can. I will never be another Erma Bombeck or possess the wit of Dave Barry, but there is help out there for those of us who lack that big fat funny gene. If we like to laugh, know what makes us laugh, then chances are we can learn to be laugh-makers ourselves.
Leigh Anne Jashaway has an informative article with Writer’s Digest, (www.writersdigest.com) and author Annie Binns covers some important rules at www.writetodone.com. One thing most humorists seem to agree on is that sarcastic humor doesn’t work well, especially when overdone (unless you are Don Rickles, and I don’t think you are). What do ya mean, who’s Don Rickles?
Are you funny? Can you put that in writing?