"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Friday, April 26, 2013

April is National Humor Month* Join me in Celebrating Here at Pen & Prosper...

Laughter. In a world sometimes filled with unspeakable pain and senseless tragedy, we sorely need it.
Laughter is like a healing balm that soothes the soul. The medical community has even embraced it as having therapeutic properties as well.
Which is why I'm glad to devote today's post to this worthy topic.

National Humor Month was actually established back in 1976, by humorist Larry Wilde.
Through an array of events and programs, it seeks to increase awareness of the many beneficial aspects of humor, through various applications.

I wanna' know...
What makes you laugh? Is it a child at play? The antics of your cat? Or your favorite comedian?
As a writer, how do you incorporate it in your creative pieces--whether in your approach, or style of expression?

Let's explore humor as a literary technique...

Why use humor? To enhance writing, silly. :-)
Humor is to writing what seasoning is to food. It adds flavor!
Humor evokes emotion.
Humor is smart. It shows creativity, reflection, and an understanding of the human condition and all its complexities.

On a personal note, one of the most memorable Blog compliments I’ve ever gotten, is when one reader chose my site as one of her "top 10 favorites" stating: “Pen and Prosper is where I go when I want to learn and laugh.”  How cool!

Here's the thing with humor, however...
Though effective, it can be tricky. Proceed with caution.

Consider the many stars, comedians, and politicians that have used it without good judgment and suffered dire consequences as a result.
Folks like Howard Stern, Michael Richards, and Don Imus, to name a few.

With this in mind, here’s how to make humor work for you, and serve the intended purpose.

1. Keep it tasteful.
"Did you hear the one about...?" Though humor is subjective, most would agree that poking fun at people's tragedies, physical challenges, or racial background, is not "p.c.", nor is it cool or kind. Be creative without being crass.

2. Keep it universal.
One of the reasons that comedian Chris Rock has been voted "Funniest man in America" is his universal appeal. I double-dog-dare anyone to watch his routines and not laugh out loud! Though some of it can be a bit raunchy, Chris is an extremely bright and introspective entertainer. Partly because he picks up on all the commonalities that unite us no matter what our race or region. Issues like family drama, money, marriage and kids. In your writing, seek to do the same.

3. Keep it relevant.
For example, a Blog devoted to writing might have quips and musings on computer glitches, rejections from editors, and existing on a Ramen Noodle diet in between publishers' pay.
I bet most of you can relate. :-)

4. Keep it in proper balance.
Too much can detract from your professionalism, while too little can cause your writing to come across as dull, lifeless and void of personality.

Keep these tips in mind, to make for Blog posts that add dimension and entertainment value to your readers!

What shows make you laugh these days? Do you use humor in your writing? Do tell.

Image: Stock Photo


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  2. I must admit that humor is an area I struggle with. In conversation I can occasionally come up with a witty response, but even then the moments are few and far between. I attribute this to the fact that I have a somewhat specific sense of humor. I am not a fan of dry humor, and I do not find jokes that degrade people for any reason funny. For this reason, I love that you included the advice to keep it tasteful.


  3. T.L.,

    Good feedback here. Humor is very subjective, and most of us have moments of it--whether deliberate or unintentional.

    And just like with beauty, it's sometimes "in the eyes of the beholder."

    For instance, I enjoy the Three Stooges. My mom is still "scratching her head" as to why. LOL

    Much appreciation for taking the time to start us off and share your thoughts. :-)

  4. I enjoyed this post, Jennifer. Regarding shows I find funny, BBC America runs "Keeping Up Appearances". I just can't get enough of this program about a woman named Hyacinth who thinks of herself as part of the aristocracy, and shuns her poor relations. If you ever get a chance to see it, I guarantee it will have you in stiches!

    1. Thanks, Yasmin. I've never heard of that show. It must be on cable? Great to get your input here.

  5. For Slogan Contests and with for example Greeting Card Writing/Designing I frequently use Humor.

    Currently on my Blog you can also actually find a post about - Opening Up Geeting Cards - in the Most Popular Posts List.

    Also during a Screenwriting Course years ago, I did some research concerning Sitcom writing.

    1. Good example, H.P., greeting cards typically require a good deal of humor. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience.

  6. I use a lot of self-deprecating humor in my writing. People are not offended when the joke is on me. And almost always, there are a few who nod and they've been in the same predicaments.

    1. Sioux,

      Sounds like a clever strategy. I appreciate the feedback here.

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