Posts Tagged ‘Sitcoms’

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, if you know me in real life, or you read the things I post on my personal Facebook page, you know that I can be a funny guy. I love a good pun, a funny story, or a well-done prank. Or all three, if it can be done. And I try to insert humor into many facets of my life, much to the enjoyment of some and the exasperation of most others. Where do I get this reverence for humor? I’ll tell you: when a mommy and a daddy really like each other, they–

I’m sorry, but my lawyers tell me I’m not supposed to go into that. Let’s just say it might be a family trait, and leave it at that.

But guess what aspect of my life doesn’t see that many laughs? Surprisingly, not my writing. I actually don’t tell a lot of jokes in my stories. Yeah, imagine that! I don’t put jokes in my horror stories. In fact, my funniest story so far may be Video Rage: it’s got protagonist Zahara making a jab at male lead Rip’s manhood, and at a later point, main cast member Kevlar makes some bondage jokes when speaking to a Native American healer. That’s it.

Okay, now some of you non-horror fans may be reading this and be like, “Isn’t that par for the course? It’s horror.” But that’s the thing: just like how not all horror authors are dark, pessimistic creeps, neither are all horror stories devoid of humor. Stephen King, one of my biggest influences, often finds way to insert humor into his work. Ever read his novel Needful Things? That book is chock-full of comedy! There’s even a plot thread where two housewives buy objects from the antagonist that they believe are connected to Elvis Presley, and they start having hallucinations that the objects let them have a sexual/romantic relationship with Elvis! It’s freaking hilarious! And that’s just one example out of many.

But not just King: a lot of other horror stories make use of humor. One of my favorite Dean Koontz novels makes use of witty observations and funny turns of dialogue to great effect, adding a bit of levity to a very dark thriller. Buffy the Vampire Slayer often has tons of jokes and funny lines. Many slasher films from the 80’s and 90’s have funny moments (hell, Nightmare on Elm Street is often as funny as it is dark). And there are so many more examples of horror stories which sprinkle comedy in to alleviate tension and fear for a few seconds before starting it up again.

So why doesn’t my work have more laughs? Well, there may be a couple of reasons for that. One, in almost Freudian fashion, may stem from a childhood incident. And by childhood, I mean high school, but at this point in my life, the only difference to me is height and hormones. Back before Twilight poisoned the vampire genre, I tried my hands at several vampire stories. One of them was an epic, multidimensional vampire story, which for a while I was getting help with from an English grad at OSU my dad put me in contact with. During one email session, he noted that the story had a lot of humor in it. Every other line was a joke, and he said as a wishful horror writer, it should be more serious. I took that to mean no jokes, and cut the humor from that story in a snap. You may be thinking, “That doesn’t sound like that big a deal!” But to me, it may have been a huge deal. In fact, that memory is what I keep coming to when I think of where humor stopped showing up so much in my writing. You could say it forever scarred me (cue dramatic music!).

Another reason why I might not write that much humor into my stories is because of the type of humor I excel at. You see, my humor tends to be at its best when it’s situational. It’s like I’m living in a sitcom, and every word spoken has the opportunity for a funny line if I know where to look. That’s my mindset. My favorite jokes to pull on people usually reflect that. You’d be surprised how many times people have asked me how I’m doing, and I tell them, “I’m pregnant.” The reactions! They look something like this:

“YOU’RE PREGNANT?!!”

That being said, being a situational humor guy doesn’t always translate well to my fiction. I’m a plotter, which means I plan out the entire story from beginning to end. Keeping such dark stories in mind, from beginning to end, you don’t have much room to think of funny moments to add. You’re more likely thinking of the sad past of the protagonist and the arc they’re going through with this horrifying story.

Or it could just be the old adage, “Tragedy is easy, comedy is hard,” and all the stuff in the last couple paragraphs is a bunch of bullshit. That’s always possible.

Whatever the reason, it’s not that big a deal. Every author is comfortable with different amounts of humor in their work, and I’m comfortable with minimal amounts in mine (though if I ever write for Doctor Who, that might change). Besides, there’s a good chance if I tried to force more humor into my work, it would suck. In fact, I’m sure it would suck. Last night, I tried writing a horror-comedy short story about a tour of hell. The first paragraph was kind of funny, and then everything after that…not so much. Hence why I’m writing this post.

In any case, I think I’ll stick to what I’m good at. That’s what people like, and that’s what I like, so no problem. I’m sure I can fulfill all my writing dreams by not forcing jokes into my serial killer stories.

Or I could just stay at my job for the rest of my life and never make a thousand bucks off my work, but I don’t like to think like that.

If you write, how much humor do you put in your stories? What do you even think of humor in non-comedy fiction, anyway?

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I am Sheldon Cooper.

I’m great in my field, or perhaps I’m narcissistic enough to think that I’m great. I can talk on and on about writing and horror until I realize it’s too late, I’ve made the person or persons I’m talking to feel uncomfortable. Sometimes I don’t even realize it. But then I find myself talking about how much I hate the Friday the 13th remake and I forget I’m supposed to be having a conversation.

I have odd habits that make no sense to others. I laugh at jokes only I find funny. Sometimes they don’t even leave my head and I’m in hysterics. I talk to myself, I trace shapes in the air with my mind. I hold imaginary conversations with my characters and with other people’s characters. Whatever leads to an idea, right?

Social situations can confuse me. I’ll say something that seems totally innocent in my head, and not realize most people will find a second, possibly offensive or disgusting meaning to it. If I’m lucky, I’ll realize within the next couple of hours this faux pas and never repeat it. Occasionally I never notice though, and I worry about those times, because I’m not sure when or where or why they happened. I only know that they probably have.

If someone says I shouldn’t do or say something, I will ask why if the answer isn’t immediately obvious to me (which is usually sixty percent of the time). If you only say “Just because” or “It’s bad”, I won’t believe you or listen to you. If asked why, I will reply “Once some nasty peers of mine asked me if I was gay before I knew what that meant and they wouldn’t tell me. I said yes just to see what would happen and was the laughingstock for the rest of the day.” So you either tell me what’s so wrong and you walk me through it to make the point, or I’ll just assume that it’s not so big a deal because you don’t want to spell it out.*

Sometimes I’m resistant to changes or new things that seem great but I just don’t feel comfortable with yet. I was horribly opposed to social media like Facebook for years because I just didn’t want to have to try it, an to a certain extent it just wasn’t necessary. I’m only now considering a smartphone. A sudden change in schedule can also annoy me to no end every once in a while. And if I can’t watch my shows? Oh, it’s going to bug me. And don’t make me try that thing I have preconceived notions of. I’m sure I’m going to hate it until I try it and I form new opinions.

I like fun, but sometimes I’m happiest in front of the TV with a drink and a show, writing during the commercial breaks or slow parts of the show. If there’s a cat on my lap, even better. I don’t date much, if at all. I sometimes feel that the whole dating/mating/courting process is such a waste of energy and an unnecessary cause of stress. And why go out? The indoors of the world are so friendly, comfortable and familiar.

Oh, and I’m very pale. Can’t forget that.

But I do have my differences from Dr. Cooper. I write fiction and tell stories. I like touching and hugs and I like to be social, though sometimes I prefer it on my own terms. And my roommate and I don’t banter about in such a way that audiences would laugh if they heard us. Plus I definitely believe in God and ghosts, so that’s another important difference.

But yeah, very much like Sheldon Cooper. It’s not always a bad thing–some people say my eccentricities are part of my charm–but it does have its pitfalls. Still, I wouldn’t change me for the world**, because then I wouldn’t be able to do what I love and do the things I’m able to do. It just would be too different.

*I remember when I was eleven or twelve I learned from a camp friend there was an N-word. Being that age and in an environment where swearing was as plentiful as breathing, I wanted to know what it was, but no one would tell me and they wouldn’t tell me why they wouldn’t tell me, which upset me to no end. I didn’t find out until a year later and read Stephen King’s IT why that word was so bad. So way to go, camp kids, you let a horror writer explain to a kid why he shouldn’t use the N-word. And if that doesn’t take the cake, years later some of those same campers would use the N-word casually, calling each other that when we were the whitest Jewish kids you’d ever seen. By that time I was the one trying to keep them from saying it, but up until the end of summer they never stopped, even when a black man nearly heard them say it. I tell you, talk about ironic reversals!

**Unless of course it’s for the suave spy/bad boy personality that’s at ease in almost any situation and draws people together for a common cause, usually defeating some awful evil. I might go for that.