Posts Tagged With: humor

Advice for the Humorless

In Episode 15 of Newbie Writers Podcast we discussed humor.  Humor is hard.

You already know how fraught with danger the average joke is. The inability  to tell a joke is a cliché in of itself. Did you hear the one about? It brings to mind the stereotype sales person, over dressed, over excited, and filled with exclamation points, trying too hard.  Or worse, people like my lovely mother who cannot tell a joke without wandering off the subject in order to elaborate on unrelated points and descriptions only to return to the main story not only derailed but missing key points that would, in ordinary circumstances, help the punch line make sense.  Capadoccia

I was the first woman to burn my bra —  it took the fire department four days to put it out.

~ Dolly Parton 

One rule I’ve learned about humor is that the harder you try, the less funny you will be.  I tell my public speaking students that unless they are very, very funny, forget the joke. But  if they have a recent amusing antidote, tell that, it won’t be hilarious, but mildly entertaining can accomplish the same end as humor – to bring people together, to make them laugh.

Mark Twain wrote: “The humorous story is American, the comic story is English, the witty story is French. The humorous story is strictly a work of art — high and delicate art — and only an artist can tell it; but no art is necessary in telling the comic and the witty story; anybody can do it.”

Aside of American boosterism, Twain’s advice is sound, if we stick with what we are good at, and Americans are good at stories, we will succeed.

“Humor is just another defense against the universe.”  

~ Mel Brooks 

Light humor, like adding a funny icon to your PowerPoint presentation, is just fine. Or you can make a cute, off-hand remark to liven up a presentation.  Make an insider  comment that only your audience members will understand, it can be humorous as well as a bond between you and your audience.

A topical comment within a report or an email can be effective, if the report or posting is not meant to last. A topical reference in an annual report won’t work in your favor. It will age out and look not only silly but irreverent. You do not want to write papers or reports or articles that quickly become irrelevant — that would be a waste of time.

“Well I thought it was funny”  

~ Stephen Corbert 

The essential element of humor is to not work too hard at it.  If it is NOT your nature to write wittily or humorously, you may want to just pass on the whole humor thing in your correspondence. Be sincere, be clever, be yourself, but don’t work to be funny, the odds that the whole endeavor will backfire are very, very high.

Save yourself. If you really want to be funny,  just quote other people.

I am migrating this blog to be part of  Until we have complete lift off, both blogs will publish simultaneously.  Sorry Panda.

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Steaming Hot Chocolate Jokes

Humor:  Sometimes we regard humor with much the same eagle eyed analysis as we do porn.  We can’t define it, but we know it when we see it.

During the CES in Las Vegas my husband’s company scheudledd a client dinner  at Roy’s, a famous hawaiian fusion restaurant.  That day, over lunch, the one of the wives in our group waxed poetic over the excellent food at Roy’s and specifically over their  signature dessert,  Roy’s Melting Hot Chocolate  Souffle

Oh, I said, a volcano cake.

The beautiful and the butts

The beautiful and the butts

NO!   Rebecca insisted, it is not a volcano cake, it’s this special, never have been experienced, fablulous  dessert, that you will die for, just die for.  In fact, she continued her lecture,  if you fail to order the Melting Hot Chocolate Souffle toinght, you will regret it for the rest of your days.

The afternoon conversation continued along these lines until I promised, promised to order Roy’s Melting Hot Chocolate  Souffle   that night.

A dominat characteristic of American humor is exaggeration and hypberbole.  We take something small and escallate it far and above any hope of realisim or common sense. We exaggerate to justifiy bad decisions like during the gold rush men would write home claiming they could just pick up nuggets off the street, silver glittered on the ground, and it it possible to harpoon a whale the size of a small country.

In due time, we enjoyed dinner at Roys.  I dutifully ordered the souflee and since  No ONE should be left berfret of this amazing dessert experinece of a life time, I ordered three, so we all could share in this transformative experience.

The souflee arrives,  I dig in my spoon.

And it’s a very nice, chocolatly dessert.

But I was not changed.

Rebecca, on the other hand, was transformed, she loved the dessert, she reveled in the dessert, she made sure we all knew that this was an amazing experience, “The best dessert ever.”

As clever people, we just  agree with her –  this is really the most amazing dessert!  So chocolaty!  So marvelous!     I don’t know how they do it!

Often the American  joke is a towering build up of Jenga heights, and then suddenly,  the lowest block is deftly removed and the whole tower tumbles to the floor.

Rebecca’s husband sets down his spoon, pats his mouth with his napkin and says,

” I don’t know honey, couldn’t you just microwave a Ding Dong?”

Categories: Newbie Guide Notes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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