Funny How? How Am I Funny?

I decided it was about time to write about writing again. I’ve been staying away from posts about my writing because, for the most part, there’s not much to tell. It’s not that I haven’t been writing—on the contrary, I’ve been busier than a one-armed paper hanger the last couple months, it’s just that there’s not a lot to show for it right now. I’ve got about six or eight short stories submitted to various magazines and whatnot for publication hoping somebody bites soon, and I’m on the second draft of a novel while another sits, patiently waiting for me to start its second draft as well. So what did I do? Why, started another project altogether, of course.

I’m barely underway, just a few thousand words so far, but it feels good; I’m excited about it. There is, however, a catch: I want it to be funny. Not an out and out comedy, but with plenty of humor and funny elements. I won’t go into too much detail about it, but basically it’s a heist story with a band of incompetent criminals. What I’m aspiring to is something like if Pineapple Express had been crossed with Reservoir Dogs and written by Elmore Leonard. Violence, stupidity, double-crosses, and laughs. Piece of cake, right?

Here’s the thing: am I funny? How am I funny?


Can I write something that will make other people laugh?

Now, I’m a fairly modest guy, but I think I’m hilarious. Really, ask anyone. Well no, better yet, don’t. See, that’s the problem—I know my sense of humor veers toward the odd, the dry, the sarcastic. Things that are funny to me aren’t always funny to other people. When I make jokes at work, it’s really a crap shoot as to how the joke will go over. Sometimes I can get an entire room of people laughing, sometimes I get blank stares and awkward silence. That makes me nervous; if people don’t get your jokes, they don’t necessarily think you’re merely unfunny. They may think you’re just an idiot.

Mr. Leonard was one of the masters of blending humor with action and intensity, and, it appears, so is the author of the book I’m currently reading: Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig. Non-writers probably haven’t heard of him, but for the other aspiring authors on the internet, he’s like our Neo from The Matrix. He’s Harry Potter. He’s Yoda. He started out just like us and actually made it, publishing book after book and now living off his writing. His website is bookmarked by every writer, ever (*citation needed), and now that I’m finally reading one of his books I see what all the fuss is about.

Blackbirds is not exactly a comedy, but it’s funny as hell thanks to its clever wordplay, living, breathing characters, and original plot: Miriam Black has a gift (or a curse). With the mere touch of skin on skin, she can see when and how you’re going to die. It’s how she chooses to use that gift that’s so original and refreshing, and quite an appropriate book for me to be reading as I strive to inject humor into my work.

So, I’m curious—how often do you guys put humor into your writing? A lot of my stories tend to have a smartass remark here, a sarcastic comeback there, but this will be an attempt to go one step beyond. Have you tried to do anything like that? How’d it work out?

Published by Kenneth Jobe

Kenneth Jobe is a writer, photographer, musician, and Native Californian living in the Midwest with his wife and son. His fiction has been published in Jitter, The Rusty Nail, Ghostlight: The Magazine of Terror, and the horror anthology Robbed of Sleep, Volume 2.

7 thoughts on “Funny How? How Am I Funny?

  1. I am working on funny as well. I think I’m hilarious. When I tell a story about something that happened to me on my job hunt, there is always something stupid funny that happens. When I tell the story out loud and it’s a hit, I tend to write it down. If it’s not, I let it go and wait for the next little piece of funny to come to me. What I do: Just write it and write it how it’s funny to me, it stays (until I get a beta reader and they don’t laugh).
    ~Funny Writing, Michele

  2. Comedy, comedy, comedy…Love it. And from your blog I get the impression you might be pretty good at it. I’ve written lots of “serious” stuff for lack of a better word. But I’ve just finished a 2nd draft of a comedy horror novella. It was so liberating, so fun. I had never, ever written comedy before. It’s been a nice break. And you know what the funny thing is (no pun intended)? At first, my Beta readers thought it was kinda strange, but just the other day I got the 1st request from one of them to write MORE comedy. (Something where I’m the main character, but also have a secret life as a CIA agent). And, truthfully, I can’t wait to do more of it…As I write more and more I would like to stagger pieces, writing one drama piece, one comedy piece, one drama piece, etc. I think the comedy would just help air things out and keep me from getting morose. As for how it will work out, the comedy, that is, I don’t know. I hope to publish it later this year and we’ll see what happens. But enough about me…Jobe, I definitely would like to see what you do with a comedy heist piece. It could be epic. Good luck.


    1. I’m really curious to see what you’ve done with horror and comedy. And I think you’re right, it really breaks up the monotony of writing heavy, serious stuff all the time.

  3. Though I’ve never really tried writing a novel/novella, I think with humour (as with many things) it’s about spontaneity. You can’t try and squeeze something funny out of thin air, it has to just work. I’m sure you’ll do well with it, though!

    1. I figure if the comedy doesn’t come naturally as I write, it’ll just turn out to be a more serious piece rather than with jokes or attempts at comedy shoe-horned in. At least that’s what I’m hoping. Forcing comedy always smacks of desperation. Thanks, Greg!

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