Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Humor: A Nice Spice in Novels

Humor tends to play an important role in my life… in addition to the entertainment factor of good old “funny,” comic relief can be very relieving in daunting and stressful situations. To wit, I spice up my novels with humor; my reading fan tell me that they appreciate the humor in itself and also recognize that the placing of the humor releases some of the tension they are feeling for and with the characters at that respective moment. There are, moreover, different kinds of humor.

In Chapter 6 of My Sweetpea: Seven Years and Seven Days, for example, we can see what I call “funny yet sad” humor. Frank, the hero’s father – an alcoholic who treats his wife, Doris, in ways that would make Archie Bunker look like a saint – treats the hero and the heroin and her parents to dinner at a fancy restaurant. When everyone has finished eating and is readying to leave the restaurant, Frank asks everyone to go to the bar so he can treat to a round of drinks. Everyone politely says, “No thank you…” The scene ends, however, in a humorous yet sad way:

As the waitress returned to the table with a stack of Go-Boxes, she neatly set Henry and Susan’s two boxes in front of them. “Frank, thank you again so much for dinner. This was a wonderful opportunity for all of us to finally meet,” Henry cordially said to Frank.

“My pleasure I assure you. And you sure you don’t want to join us in the lounge for a nightcap? I don’t want to have to go into the lounge with Doris and be by myself.”

In Chapter 18 of Fear of Feeling Loved, we can see what I refer to as “funny wording” humor. Marcia, the heroin, and the hero’s (Jack’s) teenage daughter are at Jack’s house trying to be helpful by doing some house painting. While in the garage they accidently spill a can of green paint on Jack’s beautiful Harley Davidson Road King motorcycle. They decide to wait until he returns before trying to clean it up. The scene is described as follows, humorously describing Jack’s reaction:

Twenty minutes later, they heard Jack pull up to the garage. Then they heard the garage door open and the door to Jack’s SUV close. They also heard the faint sounds of the opening and the closing of the backdoor hatch as he got things out. Marcia and Christine looked into each other’s eyes, visualizing Jack entering the garage.

Then they heard it – the sound coming from the garage was somewhere between a coyote howling at the moon and an opera singer passing a stone.

And in Chapter 9 of If Ever Again… It’ll be for Love, we can see what I call “cute” humor. Diane, a divorced single mom, is on a five-day vacation at a resort in Jamaica. She meets the hero, Michael, and before leaving her room to meet Michael for dinner she is missing her little girl terribly, calls home and speaks to Carol (her friend who’s been watching her five-year old daughter, Rebecca) and then Rebecca:

Diane’s heart glowed when she heard Rebecca say, “Hi mommy!” A few minutes later, after hearing Rebecca tell her all about how Teddy was being good and taking care of her, Diane said, “Mommy has to get ready for dinner, so I have to go. I love you, honey. I’ll see you tomorrow night.”

“I know,” Rebecca replied excitedly.

“And what are you doing tonight, honey?” Diane nonetheless asked.

“We’re not making a chocolate cake for you.”

“Oh, okay.” Diane could hear Carol laughing.

In my latest pop-psych book, Living Life, Anyway, I have a chapter on “Living Life, Humorously.” Simply said, there are many speed bumps and pot holes in the road of life – the ability to appropriately laugh at them, and at times even at yourself, indeed can make ones life-journey more pleasant, happier and functional, as well as less stressful and more meaningful.

If you have a humorous experience that was simultaneously funny and helpful in some way, please share it.


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