Tuesday, August 7, 2012

“Make ‘Em Laugh! Don’t You Know Everyone Wants to Laugh?”

By Diane Dooley

There is a scene in ‘Singing in the Rain,’ one of my all-time favorite movies, called ‘Make ‘Em Laugh.’ Do you remember it? It features the very talented Donald O’Connor doing a slapstick song and dance routine about the importance of making the audience laugh.  Although I can appreciate the charm and energy of O’Connor’s performance, the scene doesn’t, I’m afraid make me laugh. This, despite the fact that I know many others find it hilarious. So why don’t I find it funny?

Humor is so very subjective and, if you’re the kind of writer, as I am, who delights in making people laugh, you always have to take this into account and just accept that no matter how hard you try to make ‘em laugh, some people will just not be amused at all. I’ve learned this through experience. 

My first published piece was a rewriting of a popular fairytale that I imbued with lashings of violence and dark humor. For every person who found it amusing there would be another who found it too disturbing to be funny. The first novella I had published was intended to be an over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek homage to the old skool pulp novel. For every person who said they grinned like idiots, there were far more who didn’t find it the slightest bit funny.

“Make ‘em laugh,” says Donald O’Connor, but surely he knew how horrendously bloody difficult that can be! People have different kinds of funny bones and even one’s mood at any given time can change one’s perspective. My husband took me to see ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’ when it first came out. I had giggled throughout the reading of the book, so I thought it would be a sure thing that I’d find the movie equally enjoyable. Nope. I was pregnant with my first child and several days past my due date. Nothing, nothing, NOTHING could have raised a giggle during the last few weeks of that pregnancy. During the lengthy labor my husband put ‘Raising Arizona’ on for me to watch. This film is absolutely guaranteed to make me chortle, but....nope. Nary a smile was cracked.

Ah, humor, you most challenging, subjective and goshdarn difficult of genres. Will I ever master you? My most recent attempt at making ‘em laugh is Mako’s Bounty, a science fiction romance from Decadent Publishing’s extremely diverse 1Night Stand line. When I started to write I knew I wanted it to make more people laugh than not, so I had a good think about the things that makeme laugh that also made lots of other people laugh too. I was trying to broaden the humor and thus increase the appeal to more people. I thought of what particularly amused me in romantic fiction, film and TV. Loretta Chase’s sparkling historical romance, The Duke of Scoundrels, Star Wars’ Han and Leia’s snarky relationship, David and Maddie, from the old TV show, Moonlighting, and the sizzling chemistry underlying their working relationship; these all had one thing in common - wonderful dialogue. That then, was my goal. To portray a relationship between two people who are, in fact, enemies by showing, through humorous banter, how they, quite literally, charm the pants off each other and laugh their way into each others’ hearts.

Did I succeed? Well, you will have to be the judge of that. I’m giving away an e-copy of Mako’s Bounty  to a reader of this blog. To enter the giveaway just tell us about something that made you grin, giggle or guffaw. Can’t wait to hear about your funnies! And thanks for reading.

Diane Dooley writes science fiction, romance and horror - sometimes all in the same story. You can find her on TwitterFacebook and her blog: Writing, Stuff and Nonsense.


  1. Diane, you're a woman after my own heart. That's exactly the way I like to write too!! What makes me laugh? Mostly NOT comedians. I have no idea why. What does make me laugh is my husband - who has witty comments coming out of his - er - backside.He claims I feed him the best lines - accidentally - which is probably true.
    Latest from me - overheard by him
    That's so big, I'm never going to fit it in. Damn it. Get it there, you bastard.
    (Talking about putting a pizza in the freezer)
    He said - you had no problem last night.
    ha ha.

  2. I love to laugh, but I admit that I tend to have a bit of a twisted sense of humor sometimes. I love some good dark humor. Some of the funny pics and jokes on Facebook get me laughing out loud every day. One of the funniest things I've seen in a while was a couple of days ago when someone posted the clip of Will Ferrell on Conan in tears over the breakup of Kristen Stewart & Robert Pattinson. That was priceless! I watched it over & over and couldn't stop laughing. (Sorry K-Stew & R-Pass.)

    Michelle V
    romanceinreview at gmail dot com

  3. My husband and I were going to see Batman last weekend. We were running late. When we got to the window, we had 5 minutes to go. Now another showing was in 30 minutes, but me, Mrs. Impatient, didn't want to wait. I asked if there were still available seats and told yes. So off we ran. Now, my husband and I are total opposites. He's laid back and goes in slow motion. I was running and saying , "Come on. Come on!" We rounded the corner and saw a packed house, but I saw two seats close to the top and started up the stairs. I heard a loud thump and looked back, and yes, my husband was spread eagle on the floor, his face in popcorn that someone had dropped. The room was silent. Then someone said, "Hey, Buddy, you ok?" I sat down and thought , Oh shit( sorry ) I'm in big trouble. But my husband has a good sense of humor. When he sat down, we burst out laughing. We couldn't get over it. All through the movie, at random times, we would laugh. It made our date night something memorable. Thanks!

  4. I always sat I have a sick sence of humor. Well I'd have to say I come from a family of people of sick sences of humor. We find the worst thing funny. My father was a hunter so he always told us we were eatting the Easter Bunny for easter dinner. One year he went deer hunting and when they were dressing the deer he put a red ball on it's nose and took a picture. He showed it to us and told us he'd shot Rudolph. Very funny stuff, always makes me laugh to think about it.

  5. Hi! This sounds like a great book! I cant wait to read it! Thanks for the chance to win! I love to laugh. I like humorous books (with romance, of course!), funny movies, family stories, reading everyones stories on here, etc. I have a great dane, and he slobbers all over everything! Hes always shaking his head and everyones always ducking in case a glob goes flying. My dad has a very weak stomach, he gets grossed out and pukes at the drop of a hat. The other day, he was sitting on the couch, my great dane came up, shook his head and a huge glob of slime hit my dads cheek, right next to his mouth. He jumped up so fast, running to the bathroom. And yup, he did puke. And everyone here couldnt help but laugh. My dads face was priceless! lol

  6. My kids make me laugh when they don't try, and my husband, too. A couple years ago, when my daughter was having a bath, she laid back on the blow-up bath pillow we have, and said. "Ahh, this is just like a relaxing holiday, but at least I don't have to worry about traveler's diarrhea." Yes, she got that from a commercial. I still laugh to this day about it.

    I absolutely loved Mako's Bounty! All the best!

  7. You said it, sister. Writing humor is my bread and butter and you're just not going to make the mark every time. What makes me laugh definitely isn't what makes my husband smile so he's my marker: if I can make him crack a grin and I still think it's funny, it's going in the book. ;)

    What makes me laugh? Really bad jokes:

    "Did you hear about the man who fell into the wood chipper and lost his left side?

    Don't worry, he's all right now."

    PS- SitR is my favorite movie too!

  8. The funniest thing I've seen this week was on Facebook. You know how Michael Bay has been taking some innocent kids' cartoons and turning them into explosion-filled blockbuster movies? Well, Transformers isn't really so innocent when you think about it, but Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is his next project that has fans reeling. Well, there was a picture I saw on FB this week that had an adorable Asian girl no more than 4 years old dressed all bad@$$ with sunglasses, a gun, a no-nonsense look on her face, with explosions going off in the background. The caption read, "Dora The Explorer. Directed by Michael Bay." I died laughing!

    When something like that gets such a reaction from me, I read the comments to see what everyone else thought. One of the biggest peeves that fan people have about Michael Bay movies is how drastically he changes things that are staples to the genres he is recreating. A perfect example is not having Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as teenage mutants from the sewer, but as aliens coming to Earth. That's a big change, and not a popular one among TMNT fans.

    So, one of the comments said, "Dora's supposed to be Latin American...Damn you Michael Bay!" HAHAHAHAHAHA! I don't know if that was the intent of the person who took the photo with the Asian child, but it's a hilarious side-effect and even more hilarious that someone ran with it and blamed the change on Michael Bay. That comment made me guffaw.

    Anyway, I understand the difficulty writing humor. Dark humor seems to be more my forte too. I now have to admit that I don't have Mako's Bounty yet (shame on me), but I would love to see how you did with the humor.

  9. Oh, I love all these responses. I just got back from vacation and was feeling a little down, but now I'm giggling and all cheered up. Thanks so much!

    Winner of the giveaway is Shadow. A copy of Mako's Bounty will soon be winging its way to you.