Five Ways to Create Humour – Tim Harris

Five Ways to Create Humour

Hi WestWorders,

Do you like to laugh? If you just nodded – and well done for nodding at a screen – you are not alone. Most people love to laugh! With this in mind, it’s no wonder that funny books (especially for kids!) are popular all over the world.

As a writer of funny books myself, it’s always rewarding when readers let me know they laughed at a joke, or enjoyed a particular scene or conversation or character. You see, writing funny books can be serious business. There is a lot of thought that goes into crafting stories and characters that bring a smile to a reader’s face.

I’d love to show you five ways to create humour. There are lots of other ways not included in this blog, but the five methods below are methods I tend to use most frequently.

 

  1. ‘Banter’ (humour in dialogue)

Having characters bounce off each other in conversation is a great way to create humour. By using this technique, the writer can carefully set up a punchline.

The following is a short excerpt from Toffle Towers: Order in the Court that demonstrates humour in dialogue. Notice how everything points towards the final sentence.

 

Unbeknownst to Chegwin, Savannah Hollis was having a mild panic attack at her desk. She hadn’t even considered the possibility that Chegwin might call on two of Brontessa’s employees. This left her client exposed, and she was unable to block the move as she was bound by the law. She would have to rely on the hulking butlers to not mess things up.

‘Fudge and Sludge,’ said Chegwin, as the butlers squeezed into the box, trying not to tread too heavily on each other’s toes, ‘how would you describe your employer, Brontessa Braxton?’

‘Er … she eats a lot,’ said Fudge.

‘She’s tall,’ said Sludge, who had about as much space between his ears as there is between Venus and Jupiter.

‘And she enjoys long walks on the beach,’ added Fudge.

‘You’ve just recited my online dating profile, you imbeciles,’ said Brontessa.

  1. Awkward situations

Placing our characters in amusing and awkward situations can make a reader squirm in fits of giggles. People take great joy in seeing the ‘discomfort’ of others, so being cruel to our characters can set up some laughs.

I always chuckle when I watch the episode of Mr Bean where he is trying to get dressed into his swimmers on a public beach. Because there is an onlooker, Mr Bean, who is clearly uncomfortable being watched, goes to great lengths to change into his bathers in a ‘modest’ way. What follows is a hilarious and memorable scene.

In Exploding Endings: Painted Dogs & Doom Cakes, I wrote a story about a dad who is hosting an important job interview in his house. Unfortunately, an out-of-control smartphone begins playing with his mind, making him act like a chicken in front of his prospective employers. It’s not a pretty sight.

Then there is Damon Dunst in Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables Go Wild, who, despite his best efforts, is unable to fall asleep at camp, resulting in a very awkward night.

  1. Surreal humour

Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton are the kinds of surreal humour. If you’ve ever read a book in the Treehouse series, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Surreal humour flips logic upside down. There is nonsense galore and absurdity rules. But despite the fact that things seem completely random, unpredictable and nonsensical, a lot of though goes into crafting the tomfoolery.

Surreal humour requires an element of impact. There needs to be a strong plot beneath the silliness, or the humour dies very quickly.

  1. Wordplay

Who doesn’t like a good pun?

Wordplay can be used in both subtle and over-the-top ways to make a reader laugh. There are several devices that can be used to toy with the English language.

  • Puns (especially double meaning words, similar sounding words)
  • Malapropisms (ridiculously misusing words)
  • Exaggerated alliteration (Pecky’s Peckishly Pecky Pizza)
  • Rhyme

  1. Toilet humour

This one goes without saying. Bums, farts and poos (not to mention vomits!) will forever play a role in hooking younger readers into humour – and reading!

Note: No specific examples are needed due to sanitary reasons

 

Do you have a favourite funny book? Let me know in the comments below.

Tim

 

21 Comments

  1. Angela Tao

    Hi Tim!

    My favourite funny book is ‘The World’s Children’ by David Walliams. I find this book filled with banter, extremely awkward situations, surreal humour, clever wordplay and (rather disgusting yet hillarious) toilet humour. This book is both creative and humorous!

    From Angela 🙂

    Reply
    • Tim Harris

      Sounds like a hilarious read!

      Reply
    • Yuma

      Hi Tim,
      I like the storey treehouse it always makes me laugh and think about how to write a narrative and same as your books help me to think and help me fir a plan of narrative writing.

      From,Yuma

      Reply
      • Yuma

        Hi Tim,

        PS : I have read your toffle towers and exploding.

        PSS: I love comedy and humour books

        PSSS: At Knox (my school) exploding endings is so popular that went I come in it is always empty of exploding endings books.

        From,Yuma

        Reply
        • Tim Harris

          Pleased to hear that you enjoy my books, Yuma. Thanks for letting me know!

          Reply
      • Tim Harris

        The Treehouse books are certainly very funny!

        Reply
  2. Zachary XU

    Hello Tim!

    Hope you enjoyed your holiday as much as I did!

    My favorite comedy-type book is “Bad Dad” by David Walliam The amount of misinterpretation, toilet humour, comedic repetition and not to say awkward situations is unreal! Here is one of my favorite quotes from this book!

    “No, he walks funny because he only has one leg.”
    “His leg fell off because he ate my fudge?!” Raj looked to the heavens again and put his hands together in prayer. “Lord, please have mercy on my soul! I am not a bad man. I just use best-before dates as a very rough guide, rounding them up to the nearest decade!”

    I absolutely adore the humour in this book!

    With Warm Regards

    Zachary Xu

    P.S Love your books “The remarkables” and “exploding endings”
    P.S.S Sorry haven’t read your “Toffle Towers”

    Reply
    • Tim Harris

      Hi Zach,
      Thanks for sharing such a thoughtful comment. It’s great that you can identify so many ways that humour shines in books. Keep it going!

      Reply
  3. Stephanie

    My favourite funny book is ‘The World’s Worst Children’ by David Walliams, it’s extremely funny when it tells us about the kids’ problem and the weird situations that happens and when something disgusting happens.

    Reply
    • Tim Harris

      Sounds like a beauty, Stephanie!

      Reply
  4. Evan Rusli

    My favorite funny books are the Big Nate series, which always crack me up when I’m reading them at home. It is about a grade 6 boy who goes through life, in the dumbest way.

    Reply
    • Tim Harris

      Thanks for sharing, Evan!

      Reply
  5. Angela

    My favourite funny books are probably by David Walliams because he makes up weird, funny and alliterated names and his character personalities are extremely funny. 😆

    Reply
    • Tim Harris

      Nice one, Angela. He certainly names characters well.

      Reply
  6. Angela

    I also realized there are are so many people who have books that are from David Walliams as their favourite funny books
    hehe 😉 😜

    Reply
  7. Sophia Chen

    Hi, My favourite funny books is also by David Walliams. There are hilarious situations in the book ‘the world worst children’ and ‘the world worst parents’.

    Reply
    • Tim Harris

      Lots of David Walliams fans! 🙂

      Reply
  8. Collin Hao

    My favourite book with humor is Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend. The banter and other humor is so enjoyable. It make it such a good book to read!

    Reply
    • Tim Harris

      A great book, Collin!

      Reply
  9. Veeva

    Hi Tim,
    My favourite funny book(s) are the Treehouse Series because even though the live in a treehouse, they are still able to create insanely big and ridiculous places like the ice cream store where there is even invisible ice cream!
    Veeva 🙂

    Reply
    • Tim Harris

      These books are filled with wonderfully zany ideas.

      Reply

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