Tag Archives: humor writing

(6) Favorite Thing I Read Today””The Humor Code by Peter McGraw and Joel Warner

This just made me laugh.

In 2004, Willibald Ruch coined the term “gelotophobia” to refer to the fear of being laughed at. There’s no known cure for gelotophobes, but for a start, it’s best to keep them separated from gelotophiles (those who enjoy being laughed at) and katagelasticists (fans of laughing at others).

And here’s what they suggest, after their global research. I couldn’t agree more.

Surround yourself with the people and things that make you laugh. Seek out interesting places and interesting people. Focus on the friends who make you laugh, not the ones who bring you down. Choose as a partner someone with whom you share a sense of humor, someone who helps you see the lighter side of life…. And it may be cliched, but remind yourself that everything is going to be okay. That thing that seems so scary in the moment, so catastrophic and worrisome, is only scary because you’re paying so much attention to it. It’s okay to complain, but add a bit of wit to your grumbling. Figure out a way to make that violation benign.


And pick up this book. There’s a fascinating section about the Mohammad cartoonists. They were writing about the events from 2005-ish, but as the Paris bombings were fresh in my mind, it took on added significance.

(5) Favorite Thing I Read Today””The Humor Code by Peter McGraw and Joel Warner

The authors set about crafting the world’s funniest joke, using all the tools they’ve learned along the way.

Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn’t seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his phone and calls emergency services. He gasps, “My firend is dead! What can I do?” The operator says, “Calm down. I can help. First, let’s makes sure he’s dead.” There is silence, then a gunshot. Back on the phone, the guy says, “Okay, now what?”

Not very funny, eh?

In hindsight, the joke’s blandness makes sense. The world’s funniest-rated joke isn’t going to be the zinger that the most people find hilarious, it’s going to be the zinger that the least number of people find offensive…. “It’s the color beige in joke form.”

Ever Have ‘Hummina, Hummina, Hummina’ Moments?

I’ve been asked to join a blog tour. Normally the phrase “blog tour” makes me run screaming from the room, rending my garments and foaming at the mouth, but not this time.

Why, you ask? Two reasons. First, because I was invited by DeAnna Knippling over at Wonderland Press. She knows stuff and I’m a little bit scared of her. Her latest release is Alice’s Adventures in Underland: The Queen of Stilled Hearts, a serial set in a Victorian London in which the zombies have been civilized…mostly.  It’s a historical dark fantasy about a little girl trapped in her society, and the man who tried to give her the key for getting the better of it.


The second reason I joined the blog tour was because this one was so easy. Most of the time blog tours require months of preparation, scads of PR and abstaining from alcohol for the duration. Or so I’ve been told.

But here, all I have to do is answer four little questions. The kicker? People actually want to know the answers to these! I know this because they’ve, you know, asked me.

1. What am I working on now?

I am about halfway through the first draft of the next Dunne Diehl Mystery, picking up where BANANA BAMBOOZLE left off. I don’t want to give too much away, but MARSHMALLOW MAYHEM involves a dead body, a winter road trip in a recalcitrant RV, edible marijuana, and an adorable, absolutely silent dog, who might actually get a couple chapters of her own. I have fun writing it and I hope people will have fun reading it.

I’m also working on some short story background vignettes, for lack of a pithier name. My characters Dan and Cassidy have a long history together and have found themselves in many hilarious situations. But I can’t put them all in the books, so I’m writing separate short pieces for certain escapades. For instance, in BAMBOOZLE I referenced a trip to Las Vegas. So many readers asked me what happened there, that I feel compelled to overlook the rule that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. But you’ll only get these short adventures if you sign up for my mailing list.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Most cozy mysteries have an element of humor to them, but I’ve been told that BANANA BAMBOOZLE  had more than its share of laugh-out-loud moments. I hope that’s true, but I’ve lost all perspective about that. I always think I’m freakin’ hilarious.

BananaBamboozle front cover3. Why do I write what I write?

I tend to write what I like to read, and I love the cozy mystery genre. BAMBOOZLE  was my first foray into writing one, however. I was coming off a spate of writing books for kids and a bunch of low-calorie cookbooks so I was itching for a change of pace. I also love funny books, but writing humor is difficult. I wanted to see if I could sustain it through an entire novel, rather than just a blog post or Facebook status update.

4. How does my writing process work?

I am an outliner. It’s not your 5th grade teacher’s outline, though. Ted Hardwick, my fab and funny co-writer, and I have conversations (many of them) so we know the broad strokes of the plot. We hammer out a synopsis from this, which is really just 2 or 3 pages of telling the story, as if we were writing a letter to a friend about something that had happened to us. No specifics, unless it’s germane to the plot ”” clues, characters, locations, snippet of dialogue. Then it gets transformed into an “outline.” I use quotes because it’s really just what has to happen in each chapter or scene to move the story to the end. No Roman numerals or subheads involved.

I like having a plan when I write because I always know exactly what to do the minute I pull up the draft. I never have moments where I look at the screen and think “Hummina, hummina, hummina. Where do I start?”

When I wrote BAMBOOZLE I had a trick of stopping every day in the middle of a sentence so I only had to read a couple of sentences and then ”” boom  ”” I’m right back in it the next day. For MAYHEM, though, I’m trying something new. In my daily allotted writing time, I force myself to write an entire chapter. It’s a bit bare bones, but I want to get in the habit of writing faster so I can produce at least a book every year. Two would be even better. I love first drafts but hate ”” with the white-hot intensity of ten thousand suns ”” revisions. I’m better at adding purses and jewelry to the outfit of a story rather than pulling a thread and having the entire skirt unravel.

That’s a bit about my writing process. Share your process. I love hearing how other writers write and I hope you do too!


George Twitters

My kids are all home at the same time so I’m taking the opportunity to step out of BeckyLand for awhile and play with them. But while I’m staycationing, I thought I’d also take the opportunity to share another of my very funny writer friends with you.

I was going to introduce George, but he does it so much better than I could. I’m stepping away now, and closing the door ever-so-gently to give you some privacy.

Hi, I’m George Waters.


I’m what they call an “award winning” humor writer. I write a weekly humor column for newspapers, as well as funny freelance essays for other publications and Web sites. I live in Southern California in a flat, baking valley named for San Gabriel who, by all appearances at least, was a saint. I have a wife, a school-age daughter and son, and a rat terrier (rhymes with “rat Perrier”) named Skipper. He is not named Skipper due to any nautical expertise (although he knows his way around a jib), but rather because when he walks at high speed his hind legs actually skip like a happy, recently-promoted middle manager.

I invite you to visit my full-on column-oriented Web site. I built the whole site myself using my mad html skills, some Javascript and an adze. Even if for no other reason, you will want to visit the site because it has a page where you can give me back the hair I had in high school. Do it now, it’s not like you’re getting any work done anyway.

Famous Twitters Down Thru History by George Waters

Even if you do not own a computer, you have surely heard of “Twitter” by now, a program which allows you to type an instant, live message to people you used to just pick up the phone and talk to.

Twitter suggests that your messages, which are limited to 140 characters out of sadism, should answer the question, “What are you doing right now?” It is a shame that Twitter did not exist in centuries past. Come imagine with me the “tweets” which might have resulted:

Shakespeare: Anne, wilt be home near 7. I burneth my personal records and misspelleth my name on sonnets. This shall driveth historians nuts. lol, Will.

Copernicus: Sweetie, guess what? The earth is not the center of the universe. Press my sackcloth, will you? I’m going to take a beating on this one.

Einstein: Hans, I just nailed “D.” I solved “A,” “B” and “C” yesterday. If I can just figure out what “E” equals by Friday, Vegas here we come, baby.

Patrick Henry: Dearest Sarah, what do you think of this”””Give me liberty or else!” It does not quite have the ‘ring’ I was hoping for. Thoughts?

Pythagoras: O.K., O.K. No need to get your tweets all atwitter. It’s just a theorem.

George Washington: Am crossing the Delaware just to get this portrait painter off my case. Over and back, then he promises to leave. Save me a knish.

Paul Revere: Was it ‘One if by land and two if by sea’? Or ‘Two if by land and’…He held up two, right? It was two? Which one was two? Land? Arrgh!

John Hancock: Just signed the Declaration. Franklin goes “John, now your name will doubtless become synonymous with ‘signature.'” (I think he was drinking).

King Tut: Dude, guess where I’m standing. In my own tomb! Your design guys did an awesome job. But the baboon theme is SO 1400 B.C.””Rethink?

Chaucer: That of all the floures in the mede, Thanne love I most these floures white and rede, Suche as men callen daysyes in her toune. Twittre rooles!

: So I’m thinking “The Sun Also Rises.” But the more I stare at it, the less it makes sense. The Sun. Also. Rises. Am I just being weird?

Thomas Edison: Light bulb a success. Candlelight now obsolete. Sorry, honey. But I’ll be home early. Let’s run a bubble bath and make believe it’s yesterday.

Alexander Graham Bell: “Mr. Watson, come here. I need you.” They’re putting it in the history books! I should have said “Watson, where’d you hide the Schlitz?”

Charles Darwin: Just had great idea for raising expedition funds: A fish with legs. “Darwin” inside. We’ll sell a million to put on the backs of carriages!

Karl Marx: Vladmir, I need this speech ASAP. I am trying to read your handwriting”””Religion is the opposite of the masses?” I don’t get it. Call me.

Sigmund Freud: Martha, am at the office. Just discovered all behavior is based on repressed sexual urges. Um, call the agency and get me a new secretary.

Neil Armstrong: Woot! I just stuck the landing. There is a definite odor of green cheese, though. Buzz smells it too. Houston, I’m kind of freaked.

Confucius: Ming, I’m at the publisher. He turned down my book. Said I need to build a following first. Does your uncle still own that fortune cookie company?

Personally, I think if you need to know what I am doing right now, you probably have too much time on your hands, and besides, I would only be making up something more interesting for your benefit.

(O.K., if you do have too much time on your hands, you can follow my tweets, embellished as they are. But I will be really disappointed in you.)

Becky here … I saw this in the newspaper the other day. Seems you were on to something, George!

Pre-presidential tweets from the past
By The Associated Press
BOSTON ”” It seems John Quincy Adams was way ahead of his time. A high school student touring the sixth U.S. president’s archives recently noticed his bite-size diary entries looked a lot like tweets.

His updates are concise enough to put Twitter experts to shame: “Thick fog. Scanty Wind. On George’s Bank. Lat: 42-34. Read Massillon’s Careme Sermons 2 & 3. Ladies are Sick.” This one, from Aug. 6, 1809, comes in at 109 characters, well under Twitter’s 140-character limit.

The entries can be found at twitter.com/JQAdams_MHS.