I can make people laugh. I know this. I’ve seen evidence when my friends are all “Stop!” or “Have another beer!” because booze apparently makes me a downright fucking riot. I’ve seen it on my blog, on OFW, and in the feedback I get on my writing. I’m funny. But here’s the problem: I don’t know why.
Seriously, I don’t know what it is I’m doing that’s so damn funny, aside from being honest. I don’t try to be humorous, not consciously anyway, but somehow, people laugh at what I say and do. It’s a little unnerving to be honest. I’ve often been told I should write humor. Just humor. Nothing else. The advice is coming from a good place, and I’d like to introduce myself as a humorist or a comedian, but my gut says “Oh no, sweetheart. That’s a bad idea. You are not that funny.” And also, I like being serious from time to time, and I like books that have something to say. Funny doesn’t always do that.
And I am not so funny I could make a career out of it. Things come out of my mouth that, in my head sound very intelligent and not humorous, but once they’re out someone laughs and I nearly shit myself in shock. Sometimes, when I’m supposed to be sleeping, I’ll go over something I said and try to deconstruct it to find the funny. I never succeed in this endeavor and then I’m tired and cranky in the morning because I wasted valuable sleep time in my extremely self-absorbed ponderings.
If I don’t know why I’m funny, or what it is about my writing that’s making you all laugh, how can I sit down to make that a goal? Does any comedian know why they’re funny? Am I simply normal in that I’m shocked when people are like “God, you’re hilarious.” Should I be more like, “Of course I am you puny unfunny jackass.” What is the etiquette among comedians? Do you mention the funny or not? Do you act humble? I’m horrible at etiquette.
A friend said the other day that I write satire. I quickly Googled it. I have a grasp of what the word means, just not how it relates to writing, so shut it.
Satire, as a literary genre, takes depravities, idiocies, abuses, shortcomings, etc. and holds them up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, groups, or society itself, into improvement.
A common feature of satire is irony or sarcasm. (I am good at sarcasm, although its effectiveness is rather hit and miss.) Parody, imitation, exaggeration, comparison, analogy, and double entendre are also frequently used in satirical writing. With satire the writer strives to first make people laugh, and while they’re caught off guard, you then force them to think.
Hmm. Is that what I do? Yes. I want to make people think. I’ve learned that coming out with both barrels locked and loaded is not the way to do that. In life, I’ve often coated my opinions and whatnot in sarcasm and humor to make what I’m saying more palatable to the recipient. Unless of course they’re fucknuts, then I coat nothing. You’re an asshole. No joke. No sugar-coating. That’s how I roll.
But still, I don’t dare call myself funny or comedic. I think perhaps because comedy is an art that I’ve always enjoyed, respected and in some cases revered, I can’t put myself in that position and feel as though I belong. Comedians have a special skill. It’s damn hard to make people laugh. Sure, we can all make someone laugh, but thousands? Pfft. Good luck, Chuck. Not gonna happen. It’s a rare person who can tickle the world’s funny bone. I am not that person.
So how do I apply my small comedic tendencies to my writing? Should I start focusing consciously on writing satire? Should I try to make you all laugh? Do I go and research that which is funny and try to apply this knowledge when I write? (You know I’ve already done that, right?) Or do I just keep trucking the way I always do and label whatever results whichever way seems right?
I know, the question of whether or not I should write humor…or already do write humor, shouldn’t be so difficult to answer, but it is. If I were to write “Satire” in a query letter, would that get a snort and a delete? If I leave it out, am I being inaccurate and thus ruining my odds of getting a request for the manuscript. What if you people are the only people who think I’m funny? Not that I’m assuming every one of you thinks I’m funny. I mean, some of you probably think I’m annoying as shit, and the only reason you still follow this blog is because like me, you haven’t figured out Blogger’s magical formula for unfollowing a blog.
I. Don’t. Know.
So I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing, and we’ll see what happens I guess. What about you? Did you know the genre you should write in straight off? Or did it take some experimentation to figure it out? If so, were you surprised at the results?