Humor 101

Guest Post by Karla Telega 

I’m preparing my notes in advance for when I become a rich and famous author and am asked to travel about giving lectures for big fat consulting fees. At the end of this blog you will be asked to complete a survey, ranking me on a scale of one to five. Please feel free to fill out twenty or so. You can get creative with the names you use, although I. M. Hurling has already been taken. 

For those of you who would prefer to take a nap during this blog, you can move to the back of the lecture hall now. We’ll wait. 

The ancient Greeks knew that drama is composed of comedy and tragedy. Humor can add spice to your writing, but it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Let’s break down some of the basics of adding humor to your writing: 

  1. We laugh at what surprises us. Lists are particularly good for this. I like to use “the rule of three.” You can do this by using two perfectly reasonable things to illustrate your point, then throw in something totally off the wall for the third.
    1. I think that all seniors with their original hips should take up ballroom dancing. You’ll learn the box-step, the dip, and the fastest route to the emergency room.
  2. Irony should be in every humor writer’s grab bag.
  3. Exaggeration and understatement are valuable tools.
    1. Dave Barry is a master of exaggeration. … “the taxi has some kind of problem with the steering, probably dead pedestrians lodged in the mechanism,” …
    2. Understatement: In Monty Python and the Holy Grail, there is an epic battle between King Arthur and the black knight. When Arthur cuts off both of the knight’s arms, he answers, “Tis but a scratch.”
  4. Developing a strong sense of humor starts with examining what is funny in yourself. Our flaws make us laughable.
    1. I find that it’s important to keep a positive outlook when I’m climbing behind the wheel of a couple tons of steel. In all my years of driving a motorhome, I’ve only ripped the tailpipe off once, and those traffic cones had it coming.
  5. Circle the wagons.
    1. One of my favorite techniques is to end a blog by sneaking in something from … Mr. Hurling, if you continue giving me the raspberry, I’ll have to ask you to leave!

 Survey:

  1. I vomited in my mouth a little.
  2. Good thing this lecture was free.
  3. Some useful information, other than points one through five.
  4. You look just like a character from a soap opera. No, not Susan Lucci, you’re just not that pretty.
  5. You kept me at the edge of my seat. I especially liked the helpful laundry tips. By the way, Susan Lucci has nothing on you.

Karla Telega is a middle-aged maven; winner of a Reader Views award for her humorous mystery, Box of Rocks; and a six-year survivor of Southern living (seriously, you should see the size of some of these spiders). You can share her off-the-wall insights on her blog, http://telegatales.com/wordpress.

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Posted on December 11, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Looks like my example for irony is the only one that got left out. Isn't that ironic? Perhaps the class can come up with a few good examples for irony.

  2. The Desert Rocks

    Great points Karla, and I saw Mr. Hurling at the Grand Canyon–from what I could tell you won't have to worry about him anymore. They found him at the bottom holding one of my stories in his fist. Weird, I thought Hurling gave me an A.

  3. Great post it was informational and funny at the same time. She demonstrated her points.

  4. Brevity in humor good too.

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