The first person I made laugh with my writing was a comp teacher my freshman year. After a semester of positive reinforcement, I continued injecting humor into my assignments all the way through grad school. Some professors liked it—others didn’t. I adjusted for their tastes, because a high GPA beat out my love for humor and sacrifices had to be made.
I’ve continually heard that humor is difficult to write effectively. Everyone might agree on what’s sad, but it’s more difficult to agree on is what’s funny. I mean, we would all concur that a boy stung to death by bees in “My Girl” is a tear-jerkers delight. But fewer people I know think that “Cannibal the Musical” is comic genius. When “The Three Amigos” first came out, a girlfriend of mine said it was stupid and not to don’t bother. I watched it anyway and laughed until I cried. I mean seriously—how are the singing bush and the invisible swordsman not funny?
Nonsense. “Cannibal” and “Amigos” are all about nonsense. That’s what I love.
Back to humor being difficult: the hardest part of writing humor for me is feeling “funny”. If I get out of bed with a migraine, the only way I can be funny is completely by accident. I have written term papers with migraines and still gotten A’s. I have taken many tests while on pain killers and done well. However, when it comes to being funny, if I force myself to sit down and write I produce garbage so rank that even I can smell it.
That is not to say I have to be in the middle of a giddy sugar-buzz to write humor, but I need to at least feel sharp and have access to parts of my brain that are dormant during a doped-up sick headache.
If I were all about production, I would write serious material because I can manage that even when I feel bad. Humor is just like you’ve heard—it’s tough to write and even tougher to do well. I write humor because laughing makes me feel good. Making other people laugh makes me feel even better. And most importantly, because after years of experimenting, humor is what I’m best at. I may not produce as much or as often as I like, but when I do, I’m having a grand ol’ time.
And on a good day, somebody might actually laugh.