Monday, November 22, 2010

Laugh Now, Cry Later

I deduced that he is a detective from the shape of his eye.

Who doesn't like comedy?

A minuscule section of the population, like one ant in an ant farm.

How do I know this? Elementary my dear reader.

Laughing people are like germs. They're everywhere. They laugh from jokes and comedy. They laugh because they enjoy to. (Yes, there are those who laugh at pain and suffering. They are weird. I don't know them.)

Thus my logical Sherlock-Holmes-like-mind deduces that comedy is good.

Why some people don't know this baffles me.

(Yes. Such people exist. Trust me.)

Nice hotrod.
Doing the Best About the Worst

Recently, I worked on a group assignment for my writing class in University. The objective: write an engaging and thoughtful analysis on the most horrible movie ever created: "Don't Look Now." (I wish I had taken the titles advice and turned away.)

My group remembered the thoughtful. Forgot the engaging. Spawned an essay as boring as a snail race.

Guess what the problem was. (Hint: it lacked humor.) Guessed it yet? No...

It lacked humor. And as thought provoking as it was, it still reminded you of the worst movie ever envisioned. (Our cognitive thought process is truly a curse at times.) It was not worthy of a good grade.

And my group wanted more than a good grade. The professor said that she would publish the best written essay on the University website. We wanted the best written essay.

We needed a funny essay.

Pray for comedy.
Spiritual Enlightenment

Our first draft did not only bore people to lonely deaths. No. It was also redundant and convoluted in enough ways to confuse god--not good if you care about humanity. And we did.

So, we edited and edited. Finally, the essay had actual structure and lacked useless prepositions. But it still wasn't funny. It wasn't even witty. It was...blah.

No problem. One of the group members (Not me. I didn't get the chance.) volunteered to do another edit. To add a stylistic voice that didn't make people puke.

He did.

And I loved it. His version actually stimulated brain cells and eye sockets. Impressive. We were going to get published.

The rest of the group disagreed.

"We don't think the professor will like it," they said. "It doesn't seem like something she'd expect."

Our own creation will destroy us.
"Why?" I asked.

"Because it's too funny!"



"What?" I asked. "You think she won't like it because it's funny? You think she wants to read something expected and predictable?"

They did.

They made another edit. They cut out the humor and wit. They did this without telling the member who originally inserted it.

Their version sucked. (To be fair, it It sucked.) When the socially ostracized group member saw what had been done to his work, he cried. (Well, he almost cried.) He would not submit this new version.

I'm glad he took that stand. So did I.

It's not nice to point.
Comedy 101

Him and I argued with our group. It was kinda like arguing with children.

"Funny," we said, as we pointed at a picture of Eddie Murphy, "Good."

"Not funny," we pointed at a picture of Keanu Reeves (Neo), "Not good."

They didn't get it.

We used more experimental teaching techniques.

"Laughing smiley is good. Crying smiley is bad. After you read our essay, what smiley do you look like?"

They said they looked like that in-between smiley with a line instead of a mouth.


I couldn't take stupidity polluting my mind anymore.

"Honestly," I said. "Who have you ever met that doesn't like funny? Which of your teachers have ever taken marks off for funny?"

"None," they replied.

And then they reached enlightenment.

An x-ray image of my skull.
Scraping for Jokes

With one day left before the due date, the group assembled for one final edit.

We took funny with our bare hands and shoved it in between every line possible. We grabbed wit by the neck and threw it at our words.

We were done in time.

And the final draft shined like a diamond the size of your fist. Its words made you feel inadequate.

I almost cried.

We submitted the essay to our instuctor and got it back a week later.

We got 83%.

What! (That number is considered low in my brain.) After all that hard work. After all that writing and arguing. Only 83%. NOOO...

I wouldn't be sad if my face was pure gold.
The Trajedy

My group shivered and induced self pain.

But as we tore our faces off the instructor said, "Yours was the best in the class. I'm submitting it to the professor along with two other essays from other classes. If yours is better, it'll be published."


We stopped banging our heads against tables and celebrated with a happy dance.

A Universal Approach

Funny writing is good writing.

Now, I'm not suggesting that your writing should always be comical. Sometimes a serious voice is needed. Certain topics demand it.

But when you're writing about the worst film ever, comedy is appropriate. And its better to have it than not.

Figure out which of your works need to be serious, which don't. Then make those that don't as funny as possible.

And people will like them.

And they'll like you too.

Trust me.

I'm not joking.

The desired effect of your writing.


  1. I know how you feel. We are doing the comedy unit in drama right now, and some idiots (well, only one guy actually) actually want to take some stuff away because it's either too funny, or because we are "imposing" the humor. They don't understand that we literally get marks everytime the teacher laughs. Whichever way we do it. No. It doesn't matter if it's stupid. Or if it would never happen. Or even if it doesn't fit the story. And that's when my skull begins to look like yours :|

  2. So right Dmytry. I remember my first play review of a really bad play. I infused the thing with humor because the tearing apart of the play was sooo much funnier and wittier when it made people laugh. (A musical about surfing? Really? Such a thing just should not exist!)

    While there are times when humor is less appropriate, and it certainly needs to be used judiciously and with proper placement and strategy, humor is a powerful tool for attracting your reader to your words. People like to laugh. And they like people who make them laugh.

    Thanks for always making me laugh ;)

  3. You have an engaging cadence to your blog discussions. I like the way your sentence structure is gutsy, heartfelt. I have been told so many times, come to think of it by people who maybe take themselves too seriously, that funny writing is somehow less good. It has been my experience, however, that funny is, as you suggest, good because it makes people smile and laugh. Another wonderful aspect of funny, which you also cover, is that it can be a very effective way of expressing ideas. Nice post.

  4. I will never forget a fortune cookie I got at a dumpy little Chinese restaurant a long time ago: "Life is a comedy for those think, and a tragedy for those who feel."

    I'm not sure why, but I do not enjoy tragedy without comedy. Life is both, and therefore they should come hand in hand. I good piece of writing is one that can draw laughter as it can tears.

    Good post. :)