Tag: cartoons

What is Funny?

I went to a workshop on writing humor. The teacher advised us to write what makes us laugh, and then trust that there are people out there with a similar sense of humor.

In some ways, I think this is more difficult than it sounds. I find that a joke that makes me laugh one day isn’t as funny the next day. And after rereading the same joke a few more times, it is even less funny.

By the time I’m done with a cartoon or story, I’m usually pretty certain that none of it is funny. I imagine angry mobs with torches and pitchforks camping on my lawn demanding that I stop trying to be funny. Or something like that.

So, I’ll amend her advice. I do think you should write what you think is funny. Trying to write what you think is funny is hard enough. I can’t imagine how you’d write what someone else thinks is funny.

And then, find a friend who usually thinks what you write is funny. Share your newest work with them after you’re sick of it and you’re certain it’s terrible. “Is this funny?” you can ask.

Sometimes, they’ll say yes. Sometimes, they’ll say, “I don’t get it” or “not really.” And then you can send it out or rework it or give up on it or whatever.

It’s not a perfect system. There are things you find funny that they won’t, of course. And the opposite, too. But a second opinion is really helpful with humor. At least it is for me.

Perhaps it’s more like training wheels, and someday I won’t need any help. I don’t know. I’ve heard that some stand-up comedians practice new jokes on open mic nights to see how many people laugh. So, maybe it’s not just me. Maybe someday I’ll have more people to ask, and I’ll find a way to appeal to a larger group of people.

At the workshop, the teacher also said that we should try to figure out what kinds of things make us laugh. To do that, we need to do a lot of research by watching and reading funny things. I agree with that completely. In fact, I probably need to buy some more books. Nice.

What books and movies do you think are really funny? Do you have any suggestions for writing humor? Which of my stories or cartoons do you find especially funny?

Music is Great

As I type this, I’m listening to music. The three cockatiels who live in the cage behind me are chirping their approval. They chirp loudly whenever I sit at my computer to remind me to play some music for their entertainment.

I don’t always work to music. However, it’s nice to do sometimes. Music seems to make it easier to tap into that timeless, emotional, artistic part of my brain.

Sometimes I worry that adding a soundtrack makes me think my work is better than it is. I think that maybe I’ll use the music as a crutch, and neglect to add the emotional cues to my work, relying on the music, even though the reader won’t have that benefit. I always make sure to reread my work without listening to music, just in case.

There is no denying that music adds to my creativity. I do most of my brainstorming for my cartoons at my children’s orchestra and choir concerts. There is something about live music that just makes it more alive and electric somehow. Listening to recordings just isn’t the same.

Recordings are great too, though, when live music isn’t available. It’s nice to have music on demand. Often, I just want to hear a particular song or three, and it’s so nice to be able to listen to it right then. Technology can be awesome.

Music can be a comfort, a support, an encouragement. It reinforces memories and influences emotions. It’s pretty powerful. Of course, music is an art form itself, and musicians are artists. Speaking to emotions, the heart, the memory, is one of the things that art does best.

Since artists are people too, the art they experience affects their emotions and in turn affects their art. I believe that just as music can inspire me and others as we write, paint, and create, there are musicians who are influenced by writers and painters and other artists as they create their art. Seeing, hearing, experiencing the work of other artists is inspiring.

So, if you are seeking for a boost of creativity, listening to music is a great place to start. Which music? Well, whatever music you find inspiring. I assume that depends on what you need at the moment. I know I listen to a variety of different things at different times.

Do you listen to music as you work? Does it boost your creativity? What kinds of music do you like to listen to?

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