Five Ways to Create Humour
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.
- ‘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.
- 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.
- 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.
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)
- 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.