I think I posted on this a while ago, but a recent encounter brought the idea to mind once again, so….

I am not funny. I have always wanted to be. I’m not.

I love to laugh. I do a lot of it. I have, I’m told, the kind of laugh that people can use to locate me from across a room…or maybe a city. I have a pretty well-developed sense of humor. But writing funny? Not so much.

I would give a digit to be funny (a statement that, alone, gives an indication of how not-funny I am.) I know bloggers who are—my friend Liz for example (see link at left.) I lived with a guy who could have a room chortling in minutes, effortlessly. I do not belong to that tribe. It occurred to me how not-funny I am during lunch with a job-candidate at the ad agency for which I work. A truly funny guy. He was holding court, funny as all hell. Wonderfully so. I had asked him earlier about his favorite thing to write. Not surprisingly: funny stuff. I asked him about the essence of the skill which I am almost totally lacking. It was, he said, a willingness to fail.

I have that willingness. But the skill that fuels the front end of that requirement—no. The skill I so admire I do not possess. There are degrees and styles of funny, from mildly amusing to witty to ironic to satiric to hysterical. On the scale of One to Funny, I’m somewhere in the range of two.

Humor has its uses. In an otherwise serious book, a funny passage or incident or episode can break the rhythm of the reader’s expectations, and snap the attention back to attention in a way few other devices can do. Making humor fit, giving it balance within the framework of a non-humorous story…well, that’s another matter.

I’d tell you exactly how to achieve that. If I were funny.

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