Writing the Funny


      Writer, humanist,
          dog-mom, horse servant and cat-slave,
       Lover of solitude
          and the company of good friends,
        New places, new ideas
           and old wisdom.

A friend of mine has a gift for writing humor. “But,” she says plaintively, “I want to write about deeper issues.”

Is it frivolous to write humor? 

Although I don’t often write humor per se, my characters often surprise me with something funny coming out of their mouths. Surprise is in integral part of humor and, for me, a significant part of the joy of writing.

Humor is a sense of perspective. I would have drowned in a sea of guilt without Erma.
Bombeck whose theory on housework was, “if the item doesn’t multiply, smell, catch on fire or block the refrigerator door, let it be. . . .”

Even the most serious subjects are subject (pun intended) to the human injection of humor.

Twain: “God created war so that Americans would learn geography.”

Humor is the gasp of wonder and delight we feel when a child makes an astute observation from his/her perspective, such as a two year old at being told maybe his ears are tired because he is not listening : “Umm no, they’re not tired. I think their batteries died.”

Or my little nephew, looking up into the night sky: “Mommy, the moon is broke. Can you fix it?”

“To laugh is to awaken.” –H.G. Wells

In our response to humor, we leave the universe we have created with it’s rules and definitions of reality and—just for one delirious moment—perceive a different reality. We are enlightened—understanding and accepting that reality is not the construct we have given it, but something so much more, so infinite, so marvelous, so indefinable! 

First on Ralph Waldo Emerson’s list of what constitutes success: “To laugh often and much. . . ” Laughter catches us up in a moment of pure being, a moment where we are alive and in the present. We just get a glimpse, but it is no wonder that the Dalia Lama laughs with such ease. Laughter is holy.

Many native traditions held clowns and tricksters as essential to any contact with the sacred. People could not pray until they had laughed, because laughter opens and frees from rigid preconception. Humans had to have tricksters within the most sacred ceremonies for fear that they forget the sacred comes through upset, reversal, surprise.*

Laughter Therapy: Several studies point to the healing power of laughter, even to it having an effect on serious conditions. Maybe, as Reader’s Digest told us for years, Laughing is the best medicine!

Laughing with others creates bonds. If you laugh at my humor, I love you.

Laughter helps keep us from taking ourselves and our world too seriously.

Humor is mankind’s greatest blessing.—Mark Twain

Bob Hope eased many hearts during hard times in our country. Could you watch Red Skelton or Carol Burnett and not feel better about whatever was wrong or hurtful in your life? Ok, I am really dating myself, but here’s the Coneheads from the planet Remulak on Saturday Night Live. I dare you not to laugh or at least smile!

Beldare Conehead: “May I have 55 words with you?”

Or Carroll O’Connor (Archie Bunker), Jeff Foxworthy, Lucille Ball, Robin Williams, Desiree Burch, Jon Stewart, and so many more all keep making us look with new eyes at our cultural values and assumptions (while we hold our sides laughing), and even when they die—as long as we have the written word, the video tapes/files, and the joke-tellers—their humor will live on.

How do you put a value on that?

My friend Becky and I, in a rare contemplation of the meaning of our lives, once had a discussion about what we should put on our gravestones. For hers, I suggested—“She loved to laugh.”

“What about yours?” she asked.

I thought a moment. “She loved to make Becky laugh.”

Now if you’re going to pun, that’s a different story and there’s a place in hell for you.

T.K. has written two award-winning
historical novels, NOAH’S WIFE and ANGELS AT THE GATE, filling in the untold
backstories of extraordinary unnamed women—the wives of Noah and Lot—in two of
the world’s most famous sagas. The New
York Post’s “
Books You Should Be Reading” list featured her first
non-fiction book, LAST CHANCE FOR JUSTICE, which details the investigators’
behind-the-scenes stories of the 1963 Birmingham church bombing case. Her next
project is HOUSE OF ROSE, the first of a trilogy in the paranormal-crime genre.
She loves traveling and speaking about her books and life lessons. T.K. writes
at her mountaintop home near Birmingham, Alabama, often with two dogs and a cat
vying for her lap. She blogs about “What Moves Me” on her website, TKThorne.com.  Join her private newsletter email list and
receive a two free short stories at “TK’s Korner.”