Funny is important to me.
I like trying to be funny. I’m not sure if I always succeed, but hey, it’s good to have aspirations. My family and my workmates may have to regularly suffer some of my less memorable attempts, but isn’t that the price of success? In order to come up with a truly memorable zinger, you need to throw off numerous verbal mediocrities. And somebody has to be there to listen to them, don’t they?
My appreciation of funny doesn’t just involve my own attempts at humour. When it comes to most forms of entertainment, I veer towards the comedic. Whether it’s telly or the movies, if you give me a choice of a comedy or a drama, I’ll pick the comedy 9 out of 10 times. Not that I have a problem with drama. There’s always a time and a place for serious and gripping. It’s just that something about my personality always pushes me more towards the funny.
As a writer, my biggest heroes are people who, if not actually comedians, tend towards the funny. People like Douglas Adams or John Cleese or Jim Henson. I can only dream of having the kind of cultural impact these people had.
I feel pretty strongly about the value of the funny. I think laughter is powerful in so many ways. It reduces stress and bring people together, and it induces a state of mind that helps us see the world in many different ways. Numerous psychological studies have shown the benefits of humour as a coping mechanism in difficult times, and its role in developing resilience. To me, both laughing and making other people laugh are a community service.
You would think, given the preferences described above, that I’d also be into funny music. That I’d really enjoy artists such as Weird Al Yankovic who create songs designed to make people laugh. But in fact, this is the only exception to the rule. I don’t mind funny singers, but it’s not my preference.
Sure, I don’t love overdramatic or gloomy performers (as I made clear in a recent post). But I like my music to have a kind of heart or soul. There’s a style of music, which you could define as soulfully melancholic which I particularly enjoy – we’re talking artists like R.E.M. or Crowded House. Though the music may be deep or heartfelt there’s still an element of joy mixed in there.
And maybe that’s not so inconsistent with the stories I write. While my broad aim is to be funny and get a laugh, I’m usually looking for something in addition to that. A kind of joy or soul – dare I say an element of music to the writing.
It’s a tough goal. One that I always seem to approach without ever quite achieving. Still I’ll keep on seeking. And apologies in advance for all the failed attempts.
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