Funny can be by accident or design

Funny things happen in real life and fiction should reflect that. Therefore, humour often works best when it seems natural.

The cover of The Key to a Murder. Was anything here funny by accident or design?

Was anything here funny by accident or design?

Most comic characters don’t know they are being funny and don’t intend to be. Think of the fool, the pompous authority figure, the officious official or the creep. Perhaps the lovable rogue is an exception, sometimes laughing when putting one over someone. I have discussed some of my favourite comic characters in a previous post.

Comedians intend to be funny!

Of course, there are professional comedians but authors rarely populate their works with them. On the other hand, we all know amateur comedians in real life. Some help brighten the day or help us cope with adversity. Others can be really tiresome, trying too hard and laughing at their own jokes.

Some jokes are not funny

Jokes don’t make you laugh when you’ve heard them before, yet some people keep using very tired material. Others can be offensive if the joke is ridiculing some individual or class. People often complain about racism and sexism in humour, but old people or those with disabilities or medical conditions might also be offended by some attempts at humour. I have written about the problem of woke humour before.

Good jokes don’t come easily

If you include a comedian, professional or amateur, among your characters, they need to be really funny. Perhaps you can think of a few good jokes and they might suffice if the jester appears only briefly in the story. However, most of us find it hard to maintain such a high level of humour if the character is appear throughout the book. If you can pull it off, I doff my hat to you.

Laugh at the joker not the joke?

One way around the problem is to  write a character who is an unfunny comedian and have the other characters express irritation or disapproval. Then the readers will be laughing at the joker not at the jokes. You still need to be careful to avoid even this clown saying things that are too offensive. See if you find any in my books, such as The Key to a Murder. I hope you find something funny in them anyway as well as a good read!