Writing Humor – Originalityon February 9, 2012 at 9:12 am
So I’ve posted 200 of these strips and written over 500. Not all of them are funny but the point is I’m constantly exercising that writing muscle. I find even writing terrible jokes helps me when I finally write a good one.
Writing humor is a funny thing, in more than just the actual being funny part. Everybody does it. Even people that seem to have no sense of humor still make a joke every now and then. There’s humor in everything, and in everyone. That’s one thing I love about us as a species.
That being said, It’s Incredibly hard to be original in humor. A lot of jokes have been made before and there’ll be a lot more jokes made tomorrow. 7 Billion people out there all making a crap ton of jokes in their lives. Being original is a hard thing to do. How many bad Blonde jokes has your father made? How many times have you made a joke about not being able to function without your coffee? How many arrows must a knee take?
It’s hard. Humor is hard.
I wanted take some time to go through what I was thinking when I wrote Thursday’s joke.
I go to the supermarket hundreds of times and when I get up to a cashier, I get asked the same questions hundreds of times. Over the course of your life when that event happens there’s always an opportunity to break up that monotony with a joke. It’s funny to travel the norm and then suddenly deviate. Catching a cashier off guard is a funny thing. I often sarcastically proclaim “Oh That’s far too much!” when a cashier gives me the total and then I pretend to leave a carousel full of groceries sitting there. I’m sure they probably get that joke all the time. I’m sorry for that. I’m a dick.
They probably get thursday’s joke a lot too…
Last week when I was getting groceries and checking out, when the girl asked me if I needed a bag I said “No, I’m going to juggle them all”. Although, with a smile and in a joking manner, not yelling at her like a dick, like I was doing in the second panel there. That moment was funny to me. Then I thought wouldn’t it be funny if I said that “I was going to juggle them all while I flew home” and then in the last panel actually juggled them and flew home. It’s taking you down one road, yanking you down another and then going down something completely different. That’s me. That’s how I think. If I can literally portray the ridiculous I will. If i can go a little further I will.
There are so many things that can change in that joke. The setting. It could be an auto parts store or a Sex shop or any number of places. The cashier could be a bag boy or a greeter at Walmart. Many things can be changed. But I intentionally picked the very basic setup of “Checking out at the Cashier of a Grocery store”, because it was broadly relatable and it juxtaposed really well with the ridiculousness of the last panel. Relation and Juxtaposition are key tools for the humorist.
Now, it’s been brought to my attention that Mitch Hedberg thought the events depicted in the first 2 panels were a great joke as well and put it in his act years ago. Mitch Hedberg was a terrific comedian and an expert on leading you one way and then yanking you another way. That made him funny. I have only ever listened to one of his specials and maybe something stuck with me or something. I can’t even tell you if that joke was in that special. It was years ago.
So I had unitentionally told the same joke.
Sure that third panel, that step further is mine. But there’s already a funny joke in those first two panels. It works. It can get a laugh and it did. From somebody else. It sucks when you’ve written and drawn a strip that’s made you laugh, posted it to the web in an effort to get a laugh from people and then find out the next morning that someone has essentially told that joke before.
Is it a great minds think alike moment? Something in my subconscious bringing up that joke that may or may not have been in the Special I listened to years ago? A natural place to arrive at for a joke given that situation? I don’t know.
This sort of thing is everywhere. Heck there’s a “Simpsons did it first” Retort for practically every joke out there which is funny because obviously a lot jokes existed before the Simpsons. Being original in humor is an uphill battle. I think that non sequitor humor will always be a great way to stay original. And I think that’s a trend humor is taking now with shows like Tim and Eric, Spongebob and Adventure time. It’s still not easy and a lot of the time your jokes can fall completely flat and sometimes divide your audience. I love Tim and Eric but I know funny people that can’t stand it. It’s a hard tight roper to walk.
Humor is Hard. Simply…
I want to be as original as I can with I am ARG. Posting 5 comics a week for almost a year now, I can’t be naive to think that at least one of these comics isn’t going to be similar to something somebody else has done. So all I can do is acknowledge when something is and move on and trust my readership to understand that it wasn’t intentional.
I’m still learning about all this making comics nonsense. I’m not even a year old yet. I’m still refining how I approach a comic or a joke or a panel. Every word and line and panel is a learning experience. I’m sure 10 years from now the way I construct a joke will change.
Thanks for understanding, Laughing and reading. I’ll strive for originality and openly admit when I discover that something I’ve created is similar to something already done. That’s my pledge to you, reader.
I welcome Comments and discussion on this. I’d love to hear anything you guys have to say.
Thanks for listening.