By Emily Alvarez
I love writing comedy. I love to laugh and I equally love making other people laugh. It’s so uplifting and can turn a horrible day into one that’s not so terrible. Whenever I’ve been home sick with something nasty for more than a few days, I start getting depressed so I turn to films and books that make me smile. I’ve been working on a book for a little over a year that contains comic relief so I thought it would be helpful to share some tips on how to deliver humor in a written format. Here are my tips:
I cannot even begin to tell you how many amazing lines I’ve heard from people that I know. Of course your readers weren’t there to get the full story behind the humor, but that is where your writing skills come in. Build the scene or one that is similar to the one you experienced before jumping to the kicker. Whenever you go and see comedians do stand up, most of their stories that make us fall over laughing are from personal experiences. Whether it’s down to the word on what happened or somewhat churched up, it’s hilarious. Building that scene and context up to the point of that great line is extremely important and if you don’t, you won’t get the reaction you want.
There are always going to be people who can’t take a joke and that’s fine. As a writer of comedy, your goal isn’t to offend people but instead point out the humor in everything. No one is perfect and sometimes we all just have to laugh at ourselves and our flaws and just keep going. The best type of humor is when a comedy writer points out the truth that no one wants to admit but knows is true. I think everyone has either watched a movie or read a book where they laughed out loud and said, “Oh my goodness, that’s so true!”. For example, in the film I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, there is a great scene where Adam Sandler and Kevin James are fighting like an actual married couple (if you haven’t seen the film, their characters are pretending to be a married) about certain things that only a married couple would fight about. Now of course there will be those people who will protest the context but the majority will enjoy the laughable truth.
If you’ve ever seen the movie Nine Months with Hugh Grant and Julianne Moore, you probably lost your voice laughing at the end of the movie. Hugh Grant is driving his wife Julianne Moore to the hospital as she goes into labor. On the way to the hospital, Hugh hits a cyclist and breaks his leg. He helps the man into the SUV and takes off at full speed down the road, almost hitting an old couple. Hugh skids to a stop and literally causes the old man to have a heart attack. Pushing the old couple into the SUV, he once again takes off at full speed to the hospital, arriving at the emergency room at a grinding hault. A nurse comes out and Hugh says, “Woman in labor! Broken Leg! Heart Attack!”. At this point you’re like, what else can possibly happen? I won’t give it away incase you haven’t seen it so I will get to the point!
Life is full of crazy situations so your readers can completely relate to the characters going through them. Even though you may be writing hilariously impossible scenes, people can still see it happening to them or someone they know, which makes it funny. Be original and be yourself because that is what success is made of. It can be a common situation (weddings, graduations, house parties,etc.) but it is your personal touches and original lines that can turn it into something completely new.
Emily Alvarez is an avid writer and reader of historical fiction and comedy. She loves witty, unforgettable characters that represent the true ups and downs of human life. Emily is a southern California native and received her Bachelors Degree in English from the University of California, Fullerton. She is currently working on several writing projects and is part of the River Ram Press editorial team.