It doesn’t matter what you’re writing about, your readers will appreciate humour… so use it. The world is full of serious sources of information, and even they manage to work humour in. Why? Because being funny sells. Delivering even the most staid of messages can be improved with a sense of fun. Humour time!
Humour time in dialogue
There are situations where it will flow more naturally, just as there are those where a more delicate touch is required. You could craft the narrative such that a joke can be jammed straight in there. For example:
Andy and Jo are enjoying a breakfast cup of coffee. Andy is reading the paper and visibly despairing.
‘Just reading that crime in city multi-storey car parks is up again-’ Andy sighs, exasperatedly shaking his head.
“-It’s just wrong on so many levels”
Ha! With apology to Tim Vine – my delivery not being a patch on his. Performance is also an easy vehicle for comedy, with much of it naturally occurring in discussion:
In the following example, two male colleagues banter around their increasing weight:
M1: (Nodding toward the chest of M2) ‘Those things are coming along nicely mate, we’ll have to get you a bra soon!’
M2: (Looking down) ‘Thanks for noticing. And you can talk, pretty sure your trousers are being held up by gravity.’
M1: (Laughing) ‘Whatever. We’d better get food soon. I can see you eyeing me like a cartoon pork chop!’
And since this is pretty much how all men talk, the comedy has an authentic and organic feel, rather than being contrived like the first example. A sense of shock could be added to the above with expletives if you’re of such a mind. It wouldn’t be at all out of place in this context either.
Humour time in prose
Even sombre moments can be enhanced with levity, since again this is how we live our lives, and we want our characters to be real.
My Nan recently passed away, having reached a terrifically old age. We have found an enormous amount of fun in the places we’ve found her stashes of chocolate. Likewise the many things she felt needed to be kept safe, but the notion of safety in the often absent mind of a woman in her 90s may differ from yours or mine. I saw her a couple of days before she died. She offered me an orange as I was leaving, which I only took because she kept offering me things, and I wasn’t getting out of there empty handed. It turns out that orange was supposed to be my Uncle’s ‘Saturday Orange’. Which resulting in a trip to the supermarket for someone to get a replacement. And I don’t even like oranges.
Any time is humour time!
Any time is humour time. Use it as both a device and a challenge – weave humour into your work to improve it and engage the reader. Try working it into unlikely situations as a way of improving your style and capabilities as a writer. You will find the use of comedy reveals much about a character, making them more rounded. Let us know how you get on – leave us a comment or head for Facebook and Twitter if you prefer, as well as our other social media networks from the links in the menu above.