Funny vs. not funny

I wonder why it is that I can be funny on Twitter and in comments, but so much of my fiction is just not funny at all.

I'm certainly capable of writing funny stuff, and have done so often in the past. It's just that when I sit down to write #FridayFlash or other stories, they come out serious, somber, even bleak. I'm trying to think of the last funny story I wrote and I'm drawing a blank.

My poems are funny, but that's because I basically write only limericks, and they lend themselves to humor.

If you only know me from Twitter, I'm guessing you'd see me as a pretty upbeat, funny guy. If you only know me from my stories, you might think I'm a man on the jagged edge of despair. And if you only know me from my poems, you'd know me as a guy who should stop trying to write poetry.

Maybe it's because Twitter is spontaneous, while fiction is necessarily studied? Does the act of trying to be funny kill the funny? Surely not, or there would be no professional comedians.

What do you think? Is humor that difficult to conjure?

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.


  1. E.B. White said something along these lines: "Humor can be dissected as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process and the innards are discouraging to any but the pure scientific mind." This would support your idea that the more studied, the less funny something can be. Spontaneity certainly contributes, or else no one would ever recount a humorous anecdote and end it with "you had to be there."

    But comedy writing is also a skill like any other; you hone the ability to mimic that spontaneity, to reproduce the elements that make something funny in a way that makes the reader feel like he IS there. I think it's simply much easier to stab the frog.

  2. Comedy, like anything, can be studied, but I believe it comes best when it's naturally there. Certain types of humor lend themselves to this more easily than others.

    I'm a big fan of random humor and the surreal (e.g. monty python) where the humor is unexpected and because it comes out of nowhere and shatters what you assumed would happen, it's humorous.

    Everyone enjoys different types of humor as well. Some people hate slapstick. Others love puns! It's difficult to appeal to all of them at once.

    As an animator I've found you can structure a gag for maximum potential and string it along with others (comedians do this) but sometimes the moment of creation truly is the funniest part. It's sort of like how a joke works better in the sketchy storyboard than it does when it's actually animated fully.

    I believe if a joke makes only one person laugh and that person was yourself, it was worth making. :)

  3. Interesting, what you have going on here. I think your humour is just best reflected in different ways. How cool is it that you're funny on twitter and serious in your stories.
    People who know me say I'm funny (maybe they're full of crap), but my stories are invariably depressing.
    Maybe we all have multiple personalities, us writerly types.
    Maybe humour is like running - some of us are sprinters and some run marathons.

  4. These are good thoughts, guys, thanks. Saying that I have a tendency to overanalyze things is like saying ducks have a tendency to swim.

    The challenge for me is to capture the spirit and energy of my spontaneous humor, while providing some structure and form for it in my prose. But of course, that's the challenge for anyone who wants to be funny, isn't it?

  5. I have a similar issue with my writing. I'm very humor oriented in person but my attempts to write humor fall flat. I've always taken it that humor writing is a talent that I merely don't have. It can be practiced and trained but it takes work like anything else.
    on an untwisted note I think this has been my longest comment which is terrible since it was pecked out on my iPod touch,


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