Saturday, July 12, 2014

What's so funny?

When we say that someone has a “good” sense of humor, we’re actually saying that person has a sense of humor similar to our own. Because we don’t all laugh at the same things. We don’t think the same things are funny.

We try to narrow down the different kinds of humor with descriptive words like witty, wry, zany, wacky, droll and many more. These words still have different connotations to different people though so I don’t know which ones to apply to the humor that I try to insert in my books. I decided that the best idea is to show some examples. And then I spent way too long trying to pick something. It was difficult to find a scene from Collecting Zebras that I thought was at least mildly amusing but didn’t risk any spoilers. I came up with two very brief conversations. I guess banter is my favorite.

“My name is Angel Melling,” I said.

The woman nodded and yelled to her husband, “Angel.”

“What’s that?” he asked.

“Her name is Angel.” When he continued the blank stare she said, “Like in the song.” She began to sing “Angels We Have Heard on High.” She had a lovely voice and got halfway through the chorus before he nodded.

I had no idea what he thought he understood.

The woman turned back to me. “I’m Carol and that’s Walt. We’ve been married fifty-three years.”

“Congratulations.” I didn’t know if that meant they were celebrating an anniversary or simply liked to brag.

“You moved from the city?” Carol asked.

“I did.”

“You like Hartford?”

“Yeah, so far.”

Walt said, “Ask her how she likes Hartford.”

Carol waved off the question. I nodded at Walt to answer him. Carol said, “Are you married?”


“Don’t you worry, sweetheart. Hartford has tons of eligible bachelors.”

“I think I only need one.”

She smiled at me. “That’s right. You just find the right one and settle down.”

“Gloria,” Walt said, “what grade do you teach down there at the school?”

“Um…” I glanced at Carol, who didn’t seem to notice that he thought my name was Gloria. “I’m a speech therapist.” I said it as loudly as I could without shouting.

“A gymnast? You mean like the gym teacher?”

“She said a speech therapist,” Carol said. She was shouting.

I’m Jill,” the woman said to me.


She tipped her head forward. “Nice to meet you, Angel. I noticed you sitting with Walt and Carol when I got here so when I realized you were still over there as I was leaving I thought one of us should do something.”

“By one of us,” Seth said, “she meant me.”

“What did you say to get her out of there?”

He shrugged. “I said you were having some sort of girl problem.”

“What sort of girl problem?” Jill looked at me for clarification.

I said, “That’s it. He came over there and said, ‘Jill is having some sort of girl problem.’”

“What does that mean?” She looked back at her brother.

He shrugged again. “They’re nice. I knew they’d let her leave if I used the word problem and it had to be something I couldn’t help with.”

Jill playfully punched Seth in the arm. “What if they ask me about this imaginary and incredibly vague problem next time I go over there?”

“They won’t. Are either of you up for ice cream?”

If you enjoy these excerpts, let me know. Not because I like praise (although, who doesn’t) but because I’m still passing out advance copies of the book and I know you’ll want to read the rest.