“We’re only young once, but with humor, we can be immature forever.” – Art Gliner
I made a return trip to my county library in search of more books to help me with my writing. I just went scanning the shelves for something of interest, and sure enough, I found Comedy Writing Secrets: How to Think Funny, Write Funny, Act Funny, And Get Paid For It by Melvin Helitzer. I checked this book out, hoping I could get some pointers on keeping my flow of comedy ideas flowing.
This book did not disappoint and gave me more to digest than I bargained for. It does an in-depth analysis of humor and offers some theories on why we laugh. Then it digs right in and offers many suggestions for material, from play on words to just making up words that sound funny. (Interestingly, the book suggests that any word with the letter “k” is funny, probably because of that sound bringing comfort and joy to us when we were babies.)
There are also pointers on writing comedy speeches, greeting cards, bumper stickers and T-shirts while scoring a profit along the way. Throughout the book are many jokes that serve as examples for the material presented, many of which gave me a good laugh, like this one:
A walking path bordered the golf course. One afternoon a tee shot nearly smashed into a little old lady. She screamed, “Why didn’t you yell fore?”
“I didn’t have time,” said the golfer.
“Oh, no?” said the woman, “Then how come you had time to yell ‘Oh, shit!'”
All in all, I found this book a fun read that gave me fresh insight on the art of writing comedy. The big takeaway I got was that humor itself isn’t fun but criticism cloaked as entertainment. There’s a nice quote from cartoonist Bill Mauldin that sums this up nicely: “Humor is really laughing off a hurt, grinning at misery.” That really changes the way I see humor and gives me new ideas on where to take it from here.