Humor. Making people laugh. It can be hard, but I really admire those people who are capable of making me laugh. Not only is hard to make a person laugh, but it is even hard when using prose. When you tell a story or try stand-up or act in play or movie, you have tools at your disposal. Inflexion, facial expression, and slapstick all come into play when trying to make people laugh live. When a person is writing, that is it. It is totally in the hands of the people reading it to get the humor a person tries to infuse in words and rhythms. I have tried this. I have not always succeeded. With that said, I felt I would share some of the writers who have made laugh while reading. (This is somewhat awkward when in a public place, and I break a dead silence with a giggle. I feel the need to explain, but nobody actually cares.) So, here are some of my favorite humorous authors.
Mark Twain-Little Mark Nicholson was a shy, fat kid who suffered the indignity of being bullied like every other shy, fat kid the whole world over. As a result, he read and studied a lot. In the fourth grade, he discovered Mark Twain. Oh, what a discovery! The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was the greatest book ever. Mark Twain told the story of this decent, but not angelic little kid who has adventures and fun. He plays tricks that are actually funny to the point of out loud laughter. I still read Twainâ€™s work. He is no less brilliant at the age of thirty-three than he was when being explored by an impressionable fourth grader. Fiction or non-fiction, Twain is always telling an interesting story while infusing humor and jokes into every few pages to keep the reader engaged. No matter how hard I try, I will never reach the level of Mark Twain, but I when I try to be funny, it is the first influence.
Craig Johnson-This one has nothing to do with fat, little Mark Nicholson. This one is from more recent years. Johnson writes the Walt Longmire series. People may know the name from the A & E series that has recently made the move to Netflix, and this was how I got started with the series, but it got me to start reading the books. Johnson tells stories that are mysteries full of procedure, investigations, and statistics to tell a compelling story. Infused in the building narrative is the dry sense of humor of the main character, Sheriff Walt Longmire. He doesnâ€™t overtly tell jokes for the most part, but he has a lot of sarcastic thoughts and quips that keep him a fun character. It would be easy for Johnson to tell the stories as more serious crime stories where everyone treats things with an overly stern attitude, but Johnson keeps his characters a little light even in the midst of tragedy. I think it is brilliant and have tried a little dry humor in my writing. Iâ€™m not sure if I have succeeded with this one because Johnson appears to do it so seamlessly.
Jon Stewart-I think most people are vastly more familiar with him from The Daily Show, but his book, Naked Pictures of Famous People, is one of the smartest and funniest books written by a stand-up comedian I have read. Stand-ups canâ€™t always write, but Stewart proved he could. People would probably reference America and Earth when considering Stewartâ€™s pen. He did contribute to those, but they were collaborations. Naked Pictures of Famous People was clearly all him. It is a book I still reference when I think of how to write a funny story.
Nick Offerman-Paddle Your Own Canoe is great. I am actually receiving his second book in the mail today. I will let you know more later.
Lewis Grizzard and Dave Barry-Does anyone remember the newspaper humor columnist? It used to be a thing. They were observational and made fun of everyday life very well. These were the two I read. I also read my Aunt Frankie Lou. She wrote one every few weeks for a local paper, and it was usually funny. These are the ones who I took something from and try to infuse in the writings I do.
Okay, read quick, a few other authors who have made me laugh and I have taken something from include Gore Vidal, Larry McMurtry, Kinky Friedman, and Agatha Christie. All these people have included elements of humor in their writing, and I appreciate a good joke. Of course, I really like my peers too. Many of the people at ME have written things that have made me laugh and there is no better gift than a good laugh. Les, MovieFan12, T-Kun, SomeJerk, OtherDude, Kyle, Jim Bevan, James, and etc., etc. I canâ€™t name everyone who has made me laugh in an article, so I probably left your name out. Sorry, Iâ€™m a terrible person. The good news is, I donâ€™t have a soul patch.