By in Humor

Laughter Is the Best Medicine -- If They Get The Joke

Laughter, or at least a smile, is the best medicine for helping us forget our troubles for the moment. The ability to make people smile and laugh is a gift. The thing is, your audience of one or one hundred must understand the joke -- or even the fact that what you say is intended to be funny.

In writing, humor can be difficult to express. Unless your reader, your audience realizes that humor is intended, s/he may come away confused and unsure of the message.

In writing, there is no body language, no voice inflections -- none of the signals that a person associates with understanding that the message delivered is intended to be humor.

The Internet has developed all sorts of symbols for various things, but none for humor. If there were such a symbol, then the reader would be clued into the intention of humor.

More than once I've written a post or a comment intended to be wry or sly humor, only to have the message fall flat on its face. It's because as the writer, I haven't done a sufficient job of notifying the reader of my intentions.

Have you found this to be true for you? How do you handle humor in your writing?

This post was inspired by Dawnwriter 's A-W Category Challenge .

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Image Credit » beni195bb Public Domain CCO License via Pixabay

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TheTalker wrote on October 29, 2014, 12:13 PM

Some people just don't get it when the theme is humor. It seems to fall on deaf ears if they don't understand what is going on with the story.

Feisty56 wrote on October 29, 2014, 12:16 PM

I can't blame the reader, though. When you read a book, you have much more time to understand the humor, the premise of the plot, etc. When reading brief posts that could be about anything, there just aren't any real signals to tell the reader -- "Humor Ahead."

paigea wrote on October 29, 2014, 12:20 PM

Humour is hard to convery. I have to resort to adding lol or outright saying I'm joking.

tinamarie wrote on October 29, 2014, 3:01 PM

I love reading books that have a lot of humor in them. I especially like dry and witty, and I'll know soon enough on if I can write it or not when I hit the humor category! :)

Ellis wrote on October 29, 2014, 3:06 PM

As much as I loathe 'lol' it seems the only way to indicate that it was intended to be funny or humourous and not to be taken seriously...but I still manage to offend people...

maxeen wrote on October 29, 2014, 4:15 PM

I think that the ones who don't 'get it' probably wouldn't in really anyway..

Feisty56 wrote on October 29, 2014, 5:31 PM

I've sometimes thought a comment left by someone here and there was a bit snarky, but then I realize it was said tongue-in-cheek, especially if I am familiar with the person who left that comment.

Feisty56 wrote on October 29, 2014, 5:33 PM

I'm looking forward to it. Did you read any of Erma Bombeck's books? Now that woman had a knack for both seeing the funny in the mundane and getting that message across to her readers.

Feisty56 wrote on October 29, 2014, 5:35 PM

I feel the same way about 'lol,' but sometimes there seems to be no way around using it.

There are a few of you folks here that I wasn't sure how to take initially, but since I've become familiar with your styles I better understand the intent behind that which you write. Shoot, who knows? I may offend people with my diplomacy.

Feisty56 wrote on October 29, 2014, 5:36 PM

That may be true in some cases. I feel as the writer, though, if the intent of humor isn't evident in something I've written, it is a deficiency in the way I've presented the material.

LoudMan wrote on October 29, 2014, 5:39 PM

It's for this reason (development of skill) I try to never use emoticons in a humor post and never put any jokes under humor, any more.

LoudMan wrote on October 29, 2014, 5:41 PM

well, of course we're all offended by diplomacy. Who wants that? Aint nobody got time for that.

Feisty56 wrote on October 29, 2014, 6:03 PM

Oh you! You know what I mean, though, some people get offended by the smallest thing and often by self-imagined slights. None of us can please everybody.

Feisty56 wrote on October 29, 2014, 6:05 PM

I'm confused as to what you're saying. You don't use emoticons in a humor post because...? And you don't put jokes under humor why? Sorry, it is probably clear in your message, but I am dense at the moment.

tinamarie wrote on October 29, 2014, 7:52 PM

Years ago I read The Grass is Greener Over The Septic Tank.

Ellis wrote on October 29, 2014, 7:58 PM

Not necessarily the fault of the writer...leaving aside the temperament of the reader it has to be borne in mind that readers are from many countries where some humour does not translate very well or the original meaning is lost. One reason why I wish members would state where they are from as I would not expect a slang cockney pun to be understood by a reader in Kazakhstan...

SLGarcia wrote on October 29, 2014, 7:58 PM

I have had that problem. I have often found that people for whom English is not their first language do not always understand my written humor. I think we tend to understand best the humorous writings of people who have a similar sense of humor that we have.

bestwriter wrote on October 29, 2014, 8:44 PM

Adding 'rofl' might help as that emoticon will draw the attention of the reader and they will try to absorb the stuff.

BarbRad wrote on October 30, 2014, 12:35 AM

I don't do well writing humor at all. For some it just comes naturally and they seem to instinctively know how to make a story funny. I wish I had that talent.

Feisty56 wrote on October 30, 2014, 11:41 AM

Another valid point and something I had forgotten.

Feisty56 wrote on October 30, 2014, 11:43 AM

Yes, I had completely skipped over the differences in cultures and languages in my thinking here. Some humor is universal because the situations are common to all people, but other humor is much more colloquial.

Feisty56 wrote on October 30, 2014, 11:44 AM

Yes, that's one way of doing it. I think I just have to accept I am not that skilled at writing humor.

Feisty56 wrote on October 30, 2014, 11:47 AM

I do humor fairly well in person-to-person contact, but somehow lose that in putting the words on paper. It is a talent to be able to entertain people with the written word, but not one I possess. I'm with you -- I wish I did.

OldRoadsOnceTraveled wrote on October 30, 2014, 11:37 PM

When in doubt, I let Guiness the Cat handle it. He's better at that sort of thing than I am.

There are times, though, when people don't take him seriously. If he wasn't a tough-skinned kitty, he could get his feelings hurt when people think it's a joke that he has feline diabetes and takes insulin shots.

celticeagle wrote on November 10, 2014, 5:12 AM

I think it depends a lot on when and how you try to do humor. If I am relatively new to a site I usually don't try any humor for a while. And I am careful to spell it out too. I think as people get to know you they will learn to understand your humor. Mine is usually meant as silly and I hope it doesn't come off as crazed or worse. I love to laugh and sometimes communicating good humor by the written word can be really tough. You have to have a knack for it.

VinceSummers wrote on December 23, 2014, 10:46 AM

It is rarely true for me, because I anticipate what you are talking about -- that the post could be easily misinterpreted. Of course, you can still have the rare experience where someone is so unperceptive nothing can be done to fix it.