Insta-Romance: What could be worse?

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More than a few authors feel highly pressured to lustify their books with a steamy, dreamy romance or two so as not to disappoint the readers who have come to expect them.

And why not? Books are a business, and if Romance is where the money is, that’s where the majority of writers will feel obliged to go.

However, mature readers struggle to suspend their disbelief if the romance does not feel real to them. When this happens, most experts agree that the least forgivable trick the writer can play on his struggling reader is to add an insta-romance to his or her book.

Yes, the insta-romance; the fast-burning, lackluster courtship that might’ve been most succinctly summed up by The Doors in singing, “Hello. I love you. Won’t you tell me your name?” back in 1968.

Not a bad pick-up line. Intolerable as a plot or subplot.

Okay. Unpopular opinion time, guys. Contrary to expert opinion, I believe in my heart and soul there are at least 3 recurring romantic tropes that should be hated and maligned to a degree that at least equals the dreaded insta-romance.

  1. Haters who become lovers.

I get it. Opposites attract. Light needs dark. Ying needs Yang, and all that jazz. But when was the last real life experience when you hated someone at first site, and your gut instincts were wrong?

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When this phenomenon overtakes me in meeting someone for the first time, my guts tense up and send the message, “Do not trust this person. It’ll end badly for you” to my unconscious mind. My stubborn faith in human nature prevails against this gut reaction and says, “You’re imagining things. Don’t be so negative. Everyone deserves a chance.” Then, between a month and ten years later, that person turns into the villain of my next book, and my gut goes, “Right the first time. Told you so, Stupid.”

The “I hate you on sight,” thing is what our civilized, latte-drinking, litter-recycling superego dismisses as “snap judgements” and tries to squash. Listening to your superego in this is a mistake. Gut instinct is a primitive-but-effective survival mechanism that dates back to a time in human history when trust in our fellow humans was even scarcer than it is, today. Cave men and women had to make snap judgements all the time about whether or not a stranger was good for the tribe or a nuisance, suitable for tiger bait and nothing else.

That said, love-hate relationships are nice and dysfunctional, which can give you lots of  terrific, natural antagonism for your book.

I guess it makes sense for your protagonist to fool around with that guy or gal for a few chapters or even off and on throughout the series, ’til the real romance gets started.

But if the part time hater ends up being the romantic lead for real? Nah, y’all. There’s no way for that to end any way but badly. I guess that’s why most romance stories stop when they do. Maybe Shakespeare was a crap romance writer (?) If he tried to publish Taming of the Shrew, today, I’ll betcha the first 20 publishers he approached would tell him, “The psychological abuse is great, Bill, but does it have to happen after Petruchio and Kate get married? Our readers are kind of used to a wedding scene as a cue that we’ve reached the happy ending.”

Anyway, back to the list.

2. The Lovable Liar.

Liars are lovable. I’ve loved some liars. I’ve also threatened some liars with broken bottles and the terror of self-reflection when their lies get to be too much.

In your story, you are free to put in as many lovable liars as you want. They can be heart breakers, bank robbers, under *e-hem* cover agents, princes in disguise and a myriad of handsome, exciting strangers.

But is it satisfying for your hero or heroine to marry that pretender in the end? Ever wonder why there’s no Jane Eyre II? What happens when Jane’s the one locked up because Mr. Rochester got bored with her and accused her of madness?

I might be super off-base, here, but as consumers, I feel like we excuse a lot of bad behavior when the person behaving badly is hot, rich or both. Heath Ledger and Matthew Mcconaughey got the girl in the end of A Knight’s Tale and How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days and the women decide they love the man behind the lies for little reason other than hotness / richness. Jennifer Aniston plays a [f, dash, dash, dash]-ing rapist in The Hangover series.  But guess what. Rape is wrong even when the rapist looks like Jennifer Aniston, and trusting a liar is futile, even if the liar looks like Heath Ledger or Matthew McConaughey.

Again, I’m not saying these liars don’t belong in our stories. Heroes and heroines getting taken in by con artists now and then makes them pretty damn relatable, and how other characters react to the liar makes for tremendous growth potential.

But maybe can we move past the idea that if you marry the liar, you can expect anything but a marriage of lies and misery?

Maybe?

3. Marry your best friend.

Sounds harmless, right? After all, romance as a genre takes us on our own, private flights of fancy with the writer as our tour guide, and at fantasy’s end, who wouldn’t want to marry his or her best friend?

Plus, it’s only fiction, anyway. The reader should smart enough to know fantasy from reality, right?

Here’s my personal problem with the “Marry your best friend” trope.

I’ve lost two best friends in my life, and it wasn’t because they died. I lost my first best friend because I wasn’t mature enough to be, “just friends.”I lost my second best friend because my friend wasn’t mature enough to be, “just friends.”

All three people involved in these 2 romantic disasters were intelligent, grounded people who were smart enough to know the difference between insta-romance and real life. Yet, two out of three of us fell for the “marry your best friend” concept because it’s a more plausible fabrication. That particular fantasy seems so attainable that it’s easy to hope that one comes true, and we hurt people, if we mistake it for the way the world works..

I’d like to let writers in on a secret in the knowledge that most of them are self-depreciating masochists who won’t go mad with power once they learn it:

Life reflects art as much as art reflects life.

Whether you meant for your book to be a frivolous pleasure read or an epiphany-inspiring life-changer, your book is going to have an effect on your readers.

Please, oh please, never assume that your words don’t matter and that you don’t have to choose them carefully. The best thing you can do is inspire your reader to do something,  to write something, or read another book. The worst thing you can do to your reader is…

I’m not sure. Waste their time, I guess.

But if in your life, the worst thing you’ve put your audience through is the dissatisfaction of an insta-romance, fret not. It could be so much worse.

Show vs. Tell: the trial, the execution, and the injustice of the verdict

Article 4.pngUnless this is the first article about writing ever you’ve read, I expect you’re keenly aware that there are a million – billion – trillion and five online writing experts who are clamoring to remind you of your need to, “show,” not “tell.”

At its most basic, the difference between the two is this:

Telling is information the reader perceives as though he is an outsider getting brought up to speed on someone else’s story:

“Jack’s mother was so angry and hurt by his naive actions that she sent him to bed without supper,” would be an example of telling.

Showing is information that helps the reader experience the story as though he were a character within its pages:

“Jack closed his eyes,  but he could not sleep. The hunger pangs were nothing new to him  since the coming of the famine, but this was the first time he’d made so costly an error as to cause his mother to cry silent tears into her apron on the other side of their one-room cottage,” would be an example of showing.

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“So congratulations!” says the internet. “You now know the difference between showing and telling. Now, get out there, and write that novel!”

Thanks, internet. That’s… so much easier said than done.

For the record, it is one-hundred percent possible to write stories worth reading while doing lots of “telling” and very little “showing (see Jane Austin’s Emma for one, Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn for another or absolutely anything by Hans Christian Andersen, for shorter examples).”

Don’t get me wrong. I understand “showing” is a valuable technique in lending credibility to one’s story.

I didn’t come out of a box knowing this, nor did I first learn the ins-and-outs of “Show vs. Tell” by taking a creative writing course.

More than a dozen years ago, I got a scholarship to nursing school.

So to nursing school, I went.

And I hated it.

But I learned survival among bipolar women in large groups, and in the years since, I’ve gotten pretty good what writer-ish types call “showing” through the tedium of legal documentation.

Legal documentation is a style of writing at its strongest when it is light on opinions and heavy on objective observations.

Let’s say I’m on the witness stand, and I say, “Mr. Smith had an asthma attack” as though it was a matter of fact.

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“Now wait a minute,” says any attorney worth his six figures a year, “How do you know Mr. Smith was having an asthma attack? Was a doctor present? Did Mr. Smith hold up a sign that said, ‘I’m having an asthma attack’?”

By “telling” something that seems like common knowledge to me, I don’t offer any evidence of what I observed as an eye-witness, and the whole jury has now reason to doubt my word.

On the other hand, suppose I was on the same witness stand, and I said something a little more like this:

“Mr. Smith’s breathing became rapid, and his lung sounds grew coarse. His words were barely audible over the television, but I saw his eyes dart between me and the inhaler that his daughter had placed inches from his reach during her lunch hour visit.”

While my detail-rich account may not be enough sway all twelve jury members in favor of my protagonist, it certainly builds a stronger case for my credibility as a witness.

The same skill that makes lawsuit-prone medical types keen observers of humans and their conditions is the same thing that can make you a better writer the more you can practice that skill.

But an entire book of showing sans telling is boring!

That’s why lawyers make six figures a year. Few book lovers who read for pleasure are likely to go around perusing legal documentation for fun.

As you may have guessed, I love telling. Love it! Love (practically) everything about it.

We are story tellers, damn it! We got into this racket because we like well-told stories.

And the same writer-ish types who cry, “Hey-ho, show, don’t tell,” are also some of the largest advocates for writers “finding their voice.”

Your voice lives in the balance between “show and tell,” and without it, readers can’t connect to you. They might as well be reading court depositions in Legalese Hell.

If you’re still learning what your style is and whether portions of your story are better told, not shown, take some time in the rough editing stage of your project, and try a paragraph you’re not crazy about both ways.  Maybe you’re better at telling stories because you’re a snarky, indoor kid whose sarcastic voice makes your prose more interesting the more your personality shows through. Or maybe you’re better at showing stories having been an undertaker in a past life, and your clinical approach to writing is just the thing to make you stand out among posers who think they can write accurate crime scene drama.

I guess at the bitter end of the day, those whose mantra is, “show, don’t tell,” are trying to simplify everyone’s life by making a science out of an art form. But there’s only one one, right way to write a the story, and that’s yours.

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For better credentialed, less rant-like thoughts on “show and tell,” as well as other, sexy writing this-and-that, find Shaelin Bishop here and here (I have yet to find any bogus, online thingies with that lady’s name on them).

 

Themes: Better Writing Through Strategic Repetition

This past week, I learned something wondrous about the writing of themes, with the help of Professor James Hynes (the novelist and writing instructor) and Stephen King (the author and demigod).

This thing might be common knowledge to the more experienced novelist, but it was nigh unto epiphany-worthy for me. I would therefore like to share a first person, nonfiction narrative of the events leading up to the epiphany in hopes that someone besides me might use the knowledge therein to write awesomer stuff.

Many years ago in a land called Illinois, I was pretty good at writing funny songs. Since I fancied myself a playwright as well as a lyricist, twenty-something-year-old me thought the thing to do was to write a musical.

Good job, twenty-something-year-old me. If you’d have told present-day me your plans over coffee, in a parallel universe somewhere, present-day me would have laughed in your face pretty good.

Anyway, in those days, I’d heard an underrated score writer named Kurt Heineke speak of how he did not write movie scores in order from beginning to end. Instead, he would write a theme for each character. Then, whenever the character appeared on screen a variation on that theme would play in the background: fast for drama, slow for sadness, drums for battle scenes, piano for melodrama… Different musical arrangements would be used to set the mood, but they all had the same melody at their core.

For evidence of other writers employing melodic themes effectively, look no further than John William’s legendary Star Wars score. The empire, the princess, and the triumphant hero all have their own themes. The visuals and the dialogue could be taken away completely, and you would know who should be on screen based on the soundtrack. Or themes can be used to foreshadow things we’re not seeing yet, like the subtle strains of the imperial march in Episode II as Anakin confides in Padme about his recent massacre of the sand people.

In the astonishingly different Ghostbusters score, we tend to remember the catchy, pop-style songs, but when Dana’s on screen, her theme takes the form of a sweet, little melody being played on a distant theremin.

Even far less epic television scores use the strategy of theme variation. Remember the happy-go-lucky Brady Bunch song? It was both an upbeat, musical bookend for starting / wrapping up each episode and a mournful trumpet solo when Marsha has a moral dilemma or Greg hurts Jan’s feelings or whatever.

Today, I’ve retired from play / score writing in favor of writing books (and the peasants rejoiced), but I’ve only been working in this medium for a half-dozen years. Like any new convert, I’ve been struggling to understand some basics, such as exposition, word count, and what makes crucial scene-setting different from boring, extraneous rubbish. As a playwright, I’d gotten used to the actors, costumers, and property masters setting the scenes and telling the actual stories. All I did was give them snappier dialogue and some stage directions with which to do it.

With a book, there are no accents, hairstyles, architecture, dance crazes, idiosyncrasies, or details unless I, the writer, put them there.

So I struggled. And I quagmired.

I’d been trying to perpetrate the literary equivalent of a comb-over, turning my forty word paragraphs into forty-five words in hopes of concealing my story’s bald spots, as I listened to a creative writing lecture by Professor James Hynes. He spoke of setting, time period, and characters as the tools a writer uses to reflect an overall theme. The peeling paint and leafless trees of a once vibrant, well-kept estate may evoke the physical or moral decay of the people who live there. A foolish decision the protagonist made when he was small might come up again and again in the form of a manipulative antagonist who’s great at finding weaknesses and exploiting them.

Once Professor Hynes alerted me to this phenomenon, it dawned on me that themes in a book and themes in a musical score are amazingly similar. They’re both strategic repetition used to build a better story around your protagonist and carry him to the next part of his journey.

The very next movie I saw was the late remake of Stephen King’s incredible classic, It. The theme of It, aside from eye-widening, teeth-gritting, ass-clenching terror, is “United, we stand.” A bunch of misfit kids are tormented by the entire town of Derry long before the apparition known as Pennywise appears, but “it,” like the predatory people of Derry, works most effectively when he can isolate his victims. The children help each other stay alive two (or more) times before coming together to fight Pennywise at the climax of the picture.

I guess the take-away is that not everything we were told in English class was wrong, but, “Quit repeating yourself,” might have been an over simplification. “Quit being redundant” is valid, but repeating yourself in interesting ways is good storytelling when it helps get specific a specific point across to your readers. Hell, some of the best loved literature in print is older than the exclamation point. In those days, repetition was the most effective tool they knew of to stress their points.

So take that, high school! You were wrong, and the dumb armatures with life experience and no tenure were right. Again.

Genre: the one word that sells millions

As writers, we like to believe that our stories are timeless treasures that defy all attempts to classify them. We think readers who despise fantasy, horror, or romance will love our version of fantasy, horror, or romance because our books are special, and things like genre biases are only to be taken seriously if one is a panderer and sellout.

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Then, reality bursts our rose-colored delusion bubbles with that one, long pinky nail she keeps sharpened for just such an occasion, and we accept, with heavy hearts, that we’re not the demigod-esque wordsmiths we thought we were.

The annoying truth is that no matter how painstakingly we assemble the 50,000 words  with which we aim to spellbind our readers, without that one word summing up the genre under which our books will be placed in the bookstore, the other 50,000 aren’t going to matter.

Right?

If you said, “Right!” or even, “Duh, Lady,” good for you. You were easier to convince than I was / sometimes am (I still get contrary about this, and have occasionally been known to bellow, “Okay, Omnipotent Book Biz Governors, if we’re not permitted to stray from genre norms, how are we going to get new ones?”).

The effect of genre bias isn’t one we always think about, especially when when we pick out books or movies at Barnes and Noble. We like to think we have sound, capable minds that judge for themselves what is / is not a well-told story based on the content therein.  But consider the following movie scenes in which what would have traumatized folks in a drama makes them giggle in a comedy:

In the Francis Ford Coppola classic, The Godfather, a man wakes to find a decapitated horse in bed with him, compliments of “The Mob.” Could that scene have gotten laughs with some subtle score changes and the audience who’d been told in advance they were watching a comedy? The Hangover III decapitates a giraffe in a traffic accident on the freeway, and the object of the scene is humor, not horror. Similarly, American History X and Eurotrip both contain scenes in which a young man gets raped. People laughed at the circumstances surrounding the young man’s rape in Eurotrip. In fact, some of them laughed – forgive the expression- hard.  Not so in American History X.

One of the most influential comedy writers of the 20th century is a short, Jewish man with voice like hail damage, known to his fans and critics as, “Mel Brooks.”

*for more information and a better-than-average article about Mel Brooks, click here

One of my go-to quotes from Mr. Brooks goes as follows:

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Like the graphic?

Well, it’s no Mona Lisa, but I think it’s pretty grate. Buddup-bup!

Anyway…

After giving the matter more thought than it may deserve, I came to the conclusion that Mr. Brooks was so right. Pain in the first person, “The cut on my finger,” is not funny. Pain in the third person, “His or her tragic ‘sewer-cide’, ” is terribly funny. Neither is funny if the genre label you’ve given his/her/my story is not “Comedy.”

Three years after Mel Brooks and company released the Alfred Hitchcock spoof High Anxiety, Brooks was the executive producer of a critically acclaimed film called The Elephant Man. It may or may not be common knowledge, now, but at the time, Brooks chose not to put his name on the film, lest his reputation for irreverent comedy undermine what could otherwise prove to be a powerful piece of cinematic history.

His instincts were absolutely right. Had Mr. Brooks not had understood his audience’s potential for genre bias, I believe generations of movie lovers would have grown up either never having heard of The Elephant Man or thinking it was merely one of Brooks’ weirder comedies:

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The moral of the story, if there is one, is that genre biases matter. And sometimes, they’re bogus as hell. But understanding that they exist can be a crucial step in getting your story in the hands of consumers who are bias in favor of your chosen genre.  Convince readers your book belongs in a category they care about, and they will be automatically inclined to give your book the attention and the open mind it deserves.

Know Your Audience: The Writer’s Golden Rule?

Well-known, more affluent writers than I am have their own ideas about what makes up “the golden rule(s)” of comedy, writing, and art at large.

*For the Internet’s best guesses at established “golden rules” on similar themes, see here  and here. Then, if you don’t totally agree with those folks, come back here, and get my take on things. It’s entertaining and at least as educational as any 10 things you’re likely to see on said Internet, today

I have my own hypothesis on what this “golden rule should be.” I, alone, shoulder the blame if said hypothesis is silliness. If you think it’s solid, share the snot out of it!

But in order to understand why I’m right and the others are wrong, it may be helpful to know some history about the actual golden rule and why it’s important:

Many years ago in a land called Israel…

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… there was a young rabbi with some street cred, who came to a bad end at the hands of some Romans…

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… but not before he said some quotable things, one of which became – you guessed it – “the golden rule.”

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What “the golden rule” is is not as important as what it does, because what it does is take the 613 laws and bylaws that orthodox Jews are supposed to follow and condenses them down to 1 rule.

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Well, 2, actually. But only 1 of those rules is known as “the golden rule.”

What does this have to do with writing? I’m glad you asked!

“Know your audience,” in my not-even-close-to humble opinion, is not the golden rule of writing, comedy, and all things artistic.

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It is the platinum rule of writing, comedy, and all things artistic…

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…because when you follow this one rule, all the other steps you take to please your audience should fall in line behind it.

Let me give you an example:

In my previous, non-writer-ish occupations, I encountered folks who were, shall we say, “not the wittiest joke in the book.” I actually had a job interview with one of these folks that went astonishingly like this:

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Based on the conversation thus far, I might guess that, at the very least, this fellow’s knowledge base differs from mine (if only in that that I’m pretty sure “punctuation” means something other than “being on time”).

Suppose I was nervous and wanted to endear myself to this man, my perspective employer, by breaking the ice with a joke. If I choose humor that takes a passing knowledge of Shakespeare, German, history, physics, or classic literature in order to understand it, whose fault is it, if he doesn’t get the joke?

It’s definitely my fault, and the awkwardness that ensues could have been avoided if I’d paid a little more attention to the social cues given me and used them to better know my audience.

Similarly, say you’re an author / illustrator who wants to entertain children. Even more than that, you want to give them a paper-and-ink work of art that is educationally significant. To do this, you’ve got your word count down / up to the mandatory amount, you’ve researched like crazy, you’ve hired the best editor in town, and you use the same distributor that every author of greatness since Hemingway has used… but, for inexplicable reasons, you think the guy whose story kids need to be reading is that of H. H. Holmes, Charles Manson, or the Marquis de Sade.

Agents and publishers might say they want something they’ve never seen before and think they mean it. And a little defiance of convention is sometimes just what the market needs. But especially as an debut author or a comic doing your time in Warm-up Act Hell, you’ll save yourself some pounding headaches and perhaps a few expensive errors if you yield to some long-standing traditions, not the least of which is… knowing your audience.

 

 

 

5 Rules of Comedy: (Some of) The Science Behind the Well-told Joke

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Funny doesn’t tend to happen by itself any more than muscles tend to tone themselves, guns tend to shoot themselves, or condoms tend to break themselves (although I’m told they all do from time to time).

The College of Comedy once defined laughter as an affirmative, involuntary reaction to something unexpected. Burgeoning comics may not be aware of it, but they are actually  amateur scientists performing reflex tests on their audience, learning through trial and error how to get this all-important, positive reaction of laughter every time they tell a joke.

And they usually suck at it for the first few years, especially if they’re dumb kids when they start, like I was.

That said, there are certain universal rules that are applicable to all writers everywhere, but especially comedy writers / performers, some of which are listed below:

  1. Don’t laugh at your own joke. Most strains of laughter aren’t that contagious. You don’t even have to wash your hands to keep from spreading them. Additionally, you look awful silly if, Gad forbid, you laugh your head off at a joke that falls flat. In doing so, you lead your audience to believe there’s pretty big payoff at the end, and if there isn’t you look like a jackass. The literary / multimedia equivalent of this is the writer who wants to funny up his scene. He writes what is supposed to be a snappy one-liner for Character A. It is not snappy. It is stupid. However, rather than erase his error and write a real joke for Character A, he makes Characters B – F laugh hysterically, smirk in attempt to control their laughter, giggle, chortle, and otherwise guffaw with Character A in hopes of convincing the audience that something funny was said (see fan fic, low quality fantasy, and absolutely any cartoon from the 1980s / 1990s). “Show, not tell, right?” thinks he, “I’m telling the reader it’s funny!” If you write dialogue in this manner, congratulations. You are a maniac holding helpless fictional characters hostage at pen point, forcing them to laugh at your unfunny jokes, less they be tortured and killed for the rest of your manuscript. I wasn’t smart enough to figure all of this out on my own. My dad clued me into it when I was something like eight years old and watching a red-headed force of nature named Eve Arden do her witty, incredible thing in a movie called Tea for Two. “Gee, Dad,” said eight-year-old me, “she’s saying funny things, but she’s not laughing. What gives?” Dad, of course knew just what Ms. Arden was up to. “Tell a joke with a straight face,” said he, “and let the audience decide for themselves if it’s funny.”
  2. If a joke falls flat, do not repeat it. In some lines of work, the customer is almost always wrong (I once had the curious honor of working in a jail, for example, where satisfying the customer is actively discouraged). Comedy is not one of those lines of work. If you have visions of entertainment as your living, your livelihood will exist for the pleasure of others. Should you repeat a punchline, should attempt to explain why the joke is funny, or should you do anything but move along quickly to the next joke / new random topic, you run the risk of insulting the person you are trying to entertain. Johnny Carson could’ve taught masters classes in how to recover after a joke bombs, and he rarely blamed the audience. He owned the joke, conceded it was rubbish, and moved on.
  3.  When possible, use brand names. Sound silly? I promise, it works. I don’t know why or what grant money-absorbing doctor will someday write his PHD thesis on the science of this phenomenon, but, “My old lady’s chili could strip the paint off a car,” is not as funny as, “My old lady’s chili could strip the paint off a Buick.” Best guess: “car” doesn’t conjure a specific enough image to resonate with the audience, whereas everyone’s had a grandma, uncle, or broke-ass friend in college with a Buick. By referencing a specific car, your audience can make a more complete picture in their minds of the scene you describe, and voila! You’ve given them a joke that is memorable enough to steal when they go back to work on Monday. Which brings us to…
  4. Don’t put your name on material that isn’t yours. I get it. Not everyone can write jokes, and it seems so easy to steal them, especially old ones, and pass them off as yours. But there are few things more humiliating than getting called out by your audience for stealing witticisms, childhood stories, or dating adventures from well-known sources. I’ve personally caught people stealing whole autobiographical  scenes from Jim Carey, Bill Cosby, Tim Allen, Dora the Explorer, and Mrs. Doubtfire. In fact, I’ve even had some Bozos quote me to, having forgotten from whom they stole their material. That’s always a little surreal. Anyway, if you’re not good at improvising your own stuff, either steal from sources that are twenty or more years old, or be able to site your sources. If you can do one or both of those two things, you’re not stealing any more. You’re “quoting,” and “quoting” helps us share the credit / blame, if the joke falls flat.
  5. Weakness is strength. If you are an artist of just about any medium, you will spend most of your career as a masochist playing to a crowd of sadists. They know other people’s pain is funny, and you know other people’s pain is funny, but no one in the audience wants the pain to which the comic points and laughs to be his own. To hurt the fewest people possible and still get laughs, one of the safest targets of your rancor, criticism, and loathing is… well, yourself. While mocking the audience is risky, and political, racial, or sexist humor will only keep people coming to your shows for so long, self-mockery makes you human and accessible both to the empathetic folks who laugh as if to say, “Ha! Been there kiddo. I totally get it,”  and to the bastardly folks who laugh as if to say, “Sucks to be you!”

So, that’s my list. I hope your reading about someone else’s missteps saves you some toild and trouble, and that the world is a funnier place henceforth.

Have the best day ever, or as near as you can come to it.

Thanks for visiting! My esteem for you, kind reader / writer (” ‘rithmatic-er?”) is so great that I have traveled as far north as New York, as far south as New Orleans, and as far out of my comfort zone as web design in hopes my words and you would find each other. I hope you like them.

“…if you do a good deed, your reward is to be sent to do another and harder and better one.” – C. S. Lewis