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What's the Difference Between Comedy and Humour?

awnlee jawking

Does anyone have clear, distinct definitions for the two in the context of creative writing?

IMO, my WIP has humorous moments but no comedy, yet I'm struggling to explain why I think that.

AJ

Replies:   sunkuwan
sunkuwan

@awnlee jawking

Just quick and dirty:

http://www.almostanauthor.com/the-difference-between-comedy-humor/

humor is accidental,
comedy is setting up a scene to get the most out of it.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@sunkuwan

humor is accidental,
comedy is setting up a scene to get the most out of it.

There's also subtle humor, where it's set up, but it's not painfully obvious, genuine humor and then there's farce, which is funny precisely because it's so stupid and obviously set up and staged. Drawing clear distinctions between each of those would take a whole military unit full of lawyers, who aren't funny at all!

Replies:   StarFleet Carl
StarFleet Carl

@Crumbly Writer

There's also subtle humor, where it's set up, but it's not painfully obvious, genuine humor and then there's farce, which is funny precisely because it's so stupid and obviously set up and staged.


Subtle humor - guy passes gas silently in an elevator, no one can claim it

Genuine humor - guy makes a loud fart in the elevator, it's obvious he did it

Farce - guy craps his pants in the elevator

Sort of like the difference between kinky and perverted. Kinky is using a feather duster on your partner, perverted is using the whole chicken. And Pervect is a dimension in the Robert Asprin Myth Adventures series ... :)

JohnBobMead

@StarFleet Carl

And Pervect is a dimension in the Robert Asprin Myth Adventures series ... :)


No, Perv is the name of the dimension, whose inhabitants insist on being called Pervects, while everyone else calls them Perverts.

Just like the inhabitants of Deva are Deveels, and those from Klah are Klahds.

richardshagrin
Updated:

@JohnBobMead


Just like the inhabitants of Deva are Deveels, and those from Klah are Klahds.


Farce? (May the farce be with you.)

awnlee jawking

@StarFleet Carl

Genuine humor - guy makes a loud fart in the elevator, it's obvious he did it

Farce - guy craps his pants in the elevator


Does that mean you wouldn't class either as comedy?

AJ

Replies:   StarFleetCarl
StarFleet Carl

@JohnBobMead

Damn, you mean I'm not the only one who's read those books?

And that was my error - I meant to say Pervish means relating to a dimension in the Myth series. Mea culpa.

Replies:   Michael Loucks
StarFleetCarl

@awnlee jawking

Does that mean you wouldn't class either as comedy?


Humor, presuming you're not the one who did the deed.

And all bets are off if you're STUCK in the elevator - at some point, if you're in there long enough, one corner is going to become the 'public restroom'.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Michael Loucks

@StarFleet Carl

Damn, you mean I'm not the only one who's read those books?


Read 'em all! Along with the Xanth series by Piers Anthony. Many an hour was enjoyed with both series.

awnlee jawking

@StarFleetCarl

Humor, presuming you're not the one who did the deed.


What if you're an author, recounting the deed in a story?

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

What if you're an author, recounting the deed in a story?

There's a big difference between recounting a humorous incident in a story, or accidentally writing something that gets a laugh, and writing actual comedy (i.e. something designed to provoke a laugh).

As far as I know, no one teaches comedic timing in literary schools. They might show how it works, but few existing authors have the slightest clue how it actually works to capture it in a paper for students.

A lot has been written about Lenny Bruce over the years, yet it's never produced anyone as capable of humor (and scandal) and the original Lenny. You either understand humor, or you don't.

In my case, I don't shoot for humor, instead I aim for humorous irony (a few single dry chuckles) as a pacing element to lighten the mood during heavy scenes, so an offhand comment is often worth it's weight (of the air expelled in repeating it?) in gold.

P.S. Just as you have 'natural storytellers', who can write a great yarn, despite any formal training, while those trained in writing often can't write their way out of a paper bag, you have some people who have a natural inclination for humor. They're simply natural comedians, who simply know how to tell a decent joke. But those really aren't things that can be taught, otherwise ever college professor would write million selling novels and wouldn't need to waste their time teaching snot-nosed, hung-over college freshmen.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

but few existing authors have the slightest clue how it actually works to capture it in a paper for students.


The best jokes that have ended up in my stories are ones I never intentionally wrote as jokes. yes, i wrote the scenes as I wanted, but there was no comedy intent at the time, yet when read afterwards a joke can be seen there. Such as a scene where I wanted two people with names well known and connected with the US Southern States, so I used two i knew fit that, and later had a reader email me about the great joke of the Sheriff telling his two deputies to follow him - Deputy Jefferson and Deputy Davis. I never saw the joke until i was told about it.

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