Wednesday, 23 January 2013

RTW: Good for a Laugh


Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a writing-or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic.


This week’s question:

Good for a laugh: Who is your favorite comedian or funny book and/or movie?

To answer this, I need to go waaaaaay back to the 1980s (an entire decade that was good for a laugh), when I first discovered Gordon Korman's books. I remember reading about Bruno and Boots’s shenanigans in This Can’t be Happening at MacDonald Hall: how I laughed myself silly, how amazed I was that Gordon was only twelve years old when he wrote it, and most of all, how much that book made me want to be an author too.

Then there was the afternoon I read I Want to Go Home. I laughed so hard over Rudy Miller’s attempts to escape Camp Algonkian Island, my sister and brother came running into my room demanding to know what on earth was funny enough to practically send me into convulsions. Bugs Potter Live at Nickaninny had a similar effect, both in reducing me to giggles and on my early attempts at writing.

Back then, I thought Gordon Korman was hysterical and brilliant, and I still do. All these years later, I get to read his books to my son, and they’re just as funny as they were then, only now I have the added joy of listening to my son’s laughter, which makes it even better.

These days, I don’t read or watch a lot of straight up comedy, but most of my favourite stories, whether on the page or the screen, contain an element of humour. I think humour is a vital ingredient in storytelling. It can help keep a story balanced.  It can diffuse tension when necessary, and serve as an important tool in building character. Perhaps most importantly, it says, “This story doesn’t take itself too seriously.” I can recall plenty of times when I was willing to forgive the flaws in a book or show simply because the humour reminded me to suspend my disbelief and have a good time with it. For these reasons, I always try to work at least a bit of humour into what I’m writing.

So what books or movies crack you up? Do you try to work humour into your writing?

14 comments:

  1. I loved Gordon Korman too! One of my elementary school teachers read some of his books aloud to us. I remember the whole class cracking up. But I had no idea he started writing as a kid! That's wild!

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    1. Isn't it crazy? He wrote This Can't be Happening at MacDonald Hall for a grade seven English project. He's been one of my writing idols forever just for that reason alone.

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  2. I almost put I Want to Go Home down as my funny book, because I remember thinking it was pretty hilarious when I read it as a kid. I ended up going with Into the Wild Nerd Yonder because there was a particular Krispy Kreme donut scene in it that made me laugh so hard I was choking. :P

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    1. That Krispy Kreme donut scene was pretty dang funny, not to mention disgusting. Good thing we don't have Krispy Kreme in Saskatchewan (that I know of) because I don't think I could ever eat one after that. Okay, I probably could, but not with a straight face.

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  3. I think it's funny we both chose the same blog title! :D I agree that humour is such an important element in storytelling. Even in books that aren't supposed to be comedic, humour can be used to bring a moment of relief in a dark tale, or to catch you off-guard before something scary or tragic happens (e.g., Fred's death in HP7).

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    1. Well, great minds think alike, you know! I kind of stole it from the YA Highway question. :)

      Good point about bringing a moment of relief. In that way humour could be a useful tool in the pacing of your story. One craft book I read talked about giving your audience a chance to breath instead of constantly bombarding them with fast-paced action. Adding in some humour could provide that chance for the audience to take a breather before gearing up for more action, suspense, or drama.

      Poor Fred. Still not over that. :(

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  4. I really like Gordon Korman too!
    I loved his book 'Schooled' when I read it when I was real little.
    Good answer! :)

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    1. Glad to hear you're a Korman fan too. I read Schooled a couple years ago and enjoyed it. He's got a huge list of great books to read!

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  5. Haven't read any Gordon Korman, but now I'm intrigued! I just finished Tina Fey's bio, BOSSYPANTS. Cracked up many, many times. Think that would be my pick.

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    1. In my mind, Gordon Korman is one of the best authors that middle grade literature has to offer. And the great thing is that he's still putting out good books. I haven't read Bossypants but it looks funny. But then, when isn't Tina Fey funny, right?

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  6. I don't read a lot of comedy! Gosh, I need to. I haven't heard of Gordon---but he seems classic!

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    1. I think these days he tends to write adventure books. Actually, he's one of the authors who writes the 39 Clues series, which I'm sure you're probably familiar with. His old stuff is great though and I really recommend it, especially as a parent. :)

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  7. Definitely agree that humour is a vital element, even if the whole piece isn't straight up comedy!

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    1. I think it makes a story feel more well-rounded. And the best stories make you want to both laugh and cry. :)

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