Knock Knock: Who’s there? Humor within Writing

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Posted by Marissa Filipello, GD CNF Editor for 9.1

Humor employs word play designed to elicit a certain response. With humor, writers have the power to guide a reader’s emotion throughout their story. Effective humor will humanize the writer and form a bond between the writer and the readers. The incorporation of humor within a piece can transform mundane writing into a meticulous, and well thought out piece. The best part is, humor can be used in any style of writing: fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, even cookbooks!

Humor can be integrated into a piece using a plethora of formal writing techniques. For instance, metaphors, analogies, and even narrative can be comedic. When readers giggle at a metaphor or specific word play, it encourages them to pay attention and read on. When we think of comedy in terms of exaggeration, or in a satiric manner, humor can amplify a silly moment. On the other hand, humor can lighten the mood, especially when introduced directly after a traumatic incident. Here’s an article with more tips on how to include humor within your writing!

Self-deprecating humor can be used as a form of comedic relief. It reminds readers that even their most obscure habits and beliefs, can align with others. Don’t be afraid to mention that yes, you can finish an entire pizza on your own, or no, you have no idea how to change a flat tire. It’s been proven that humans tend to laugh at everyday life occurrences, rather than jokes. This is because people can easily relate to everyday occurrences. Consider including the time you witnessed parents putting children on a leash, or the awkwardness of losing your virginity. Daily life occurrences are sure to put a smile of recognition on a reader’s face, especially if they’ve experienced it before. 

Gallows humor, or ironic humor used in desperate situations, illuminates the unavoidable obstacles associated with human existence. Gallows humor goes hand and hand with dark comedy, and can be symbolized by a dramatic shift of tone within a story. Some experienced writers who incorporate gallows humor include, Lorrie Moore, Douglas Adams, and Denise Duhamel. Self-Help Stories by Lorrie Moore is a collection of parody self-help stories. Life experiences accompanied with humor reminds the reader to not take life too seriously. Read about Moore’s book here

 It’s important to remember that humor should be used sparingly. There’s nothing worse than forcing jokes upon your reader. Additionally, humor is subjective, and won’t always be understood by your readers. However, humor can easily set your writing piece apart from others.  Next time you find yourself writing, don’t hesitate to include a fart joke! (kidding!)

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