The trouble with humour is it isn’t always funny. For instance, I’ve been at London’s, ‘Hammersmith Apollo’ when all around me are in stitches, whilst I am silent and wondering what they find amusing. Conversely, I’ve found fun in a comedian’s quips whilst some others remain silent. So, either I’m weird or, humour is very personal; I think I’ll go for personal.
On occasion, I do hear of a comedian, ‘tailoring’ their material to the audience they have before them. In doing so, they often play on class; the upper classes being picked upon for their reserve. ‘What do you call a public schoolboy who was buggered once during his schooling? Frigid’.
The working classes receive attention too. ‘If a miner and a veterinary assistant marry, what do you get? A dead miner, she won’t let the canary down the mine. ‘Was that sexist by the way? Did I just assume the man was the miner and the woman the veterinary assistant.
Then there’s personal satire. ‘After a few beers, a man admits to his drinking buddy that he likes period dramas. His mate laughs and asks him what his husband likes.’ Not to everyone’s taste and an alternative, and closer to the mark, punch line might be, ‘ Really? I normally arrange to be out that day.’
Humour is quite difficult in the cold light of day; nothing better breeds laughter, than laughter and one liners are great for drawing that. Tommy Cooper was the master of one liners and many try to emulate him. ‘ I’ve just sent my wife to the West Indies’.
‘No, she went of her own accord.’ Boom, boom! Actually, I think that was Groucho Marx, another brilliant early humorist who had some great throw away lines. And in case your wondering, I wrote this blog a week ago, before Brucie massacred that joke on Strictly (UK) last night (except that bit obviously, otherwise I’d have known the letters numbers too).
Situational awareness is also popular where a comedian makes fun of day to day life. For instance, Michael McIntre’s, ‘man drawer.’. Every man has a man drawer with many single and bunches of keys and he no longer knows what they’re for but won’t throw away; old foreigh coins, some from bygone currencies; batteries, some charged, some not and old woodscrews. After all, who knows when you might have a need for a half dead battery, a French franc and a rusty flathead screw?
Family humour is also popular. Making fun of wife, kids, brothers, sisters, mother in law, whatever. ‘I’ve just suggested my mother in law take up walking for exercise.’
‘Yes, five miles a day should do it, by the weekend she’ll be twenty five miles away.’ Classic.
In my writing I’ve tried to introduce humour, but I don’t find it easy. In real life, I believe I’m quite funny (well I think people are laughing with me, not at me) but in my writing I have to go back and act out the conversational pieces to think of the humour and then add it in. It’s a good way of editing though, makes it more interesting.