Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Guest Blogger Tamara Morgan - Being Funny On Demand

Writing comedy is hard. Really hard.

Not just because everyone’s idea of comedy is different (even though it is), or because it can be hard to conjure up a humorous mood when you have a looming deadline and a sink full of dirty dishes (I dare you to try it). For me, the real challenge comes from the constant need to come up with fresh, entertaining, witty banter.

I think the hallmark of any good comedy—book, movie, or television—is the dialogue. Physical comedy can be hard to pull off without looking silly, and situational comedy is hard to make universal to your audience. But when the hero or heroine is funny? And can quip and come up with snappy comebacks just like that? I’m in and laughing within seconds—regardless of what’s going on around them.

Unfortunately, that kind of thing, while quick to read and enjoy, is agony to write. In real life, I’m the George Costanza of witty comebacks…you know that Seinfeld episode where he comes up with a good one-liner to say at work hours after the moment has passed? And then he tries to re-create the scenario so he can say it? Yeah. That’s me. I’m super hilarious only after 4 or 5 hours have passed, and I’m not averse to trying to find a way to slip my comment in after the fact.

I think that’s why I’ve always been really impressed with comedians who think on their feet. I’m not talking about the ones who have a carefully written and rehearsed script they repeat for different audiences—I’m talking about the ones who can improv, who put a heckler on the spot and reduce him to tears with just their wit. I’ve always maintained that these types of comedians have some of the highest IQs around.

The same thing is true on Twitter. Some of the funniest people I follow can come up with immediate responses that tie in pop culture references, self-deprecating humor, and personal smarts—and all in 140 characters or less.

Good thing I’m a writer and not a comedian. (That and I’d rather die than stand in front of a crowd telling jokes.) What takes the reader thirty seconds to enjoy usually takes me about two hours to write, not counting revisions and test audiences and edits and all that good stuff. And even then, the jokes don’t always hit the mark.

It’s a tough world out there for a comedy writer. And for anyone who personally identifies with George Costanza.

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Tamara Morgan is a romance writer and unabashed lover of historical reenactments—the more elaborate and geeky the costume requirements, the better. In her quest for modern-day history and intrigue, she has taken fencing classes, forced her child into Highland dancing, and, of course, journeyed annually to the local Renaissance Fair. These feats are matched by a universal love of men in tights, of both the superhero and codpiece variety.

You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

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About The World is a Stage

Danger comes packaged in bulging muscles...and a codpiece.

Highland Games athlete Michael O'Leary is famous for his ability to charm a woman right out of her pants. Maybe a little too famous. When he’s sidelined with a knee injury, his wingman pounces on the chance to take full advantage of Michael’s idle time.

Trying out for the local adult-themed Shakespearean production seems simple, but there’s a catch. Michael must woo the notoriously demanding lead actress, Rachel Hewitt, thereby freeing his friend to pursue a courtship of Rachel's sister.

Rachel hates the thought of handing over the lead role in her admittedly scandalous troupe to someone so wholly uneducated in the ways of the Great Bard. But she’s in a bind, and the only one who can step up is a man who looks way too good in a codpiece—and knows it.

To add insult to injury, he refuses to take the role until she agrees to take his place in some barbaric warrior race. She’ll do it, but not with a smile. Unfortunately, the hardest part isn’t antagonizing her Scottish foes. It’s resisting the one man who seems determined to line and cue her heart—forever.

Warning: This book’s half-naked Shakespearean actors are not approved or acknowledged by people with actual literary merit. Neither are the dirty limericks.


Kelly Jamieson said...

Welcome to the Naughty Nine, Tamara! Love your George Costanza analogy! I'm another George. I can come up with the witty response, but yup, hours later when it's too late.

PG Forte said...

A witty response you dream up on the spot is satisfying in the short run, but IMO it's far better to write the whole scene into a book and immortalize it. ;)

Meg Benjamin said...

Hi Tamara. Writing funny dialogue is one of my least favorite things. Reading it, on the other hand, is one of my most favorite.

Tamara Morgan said...

Thanks for letting me stop by today! I think we can all agree that being funny is much, much easier from a distance of several thousand words. :)

Anonymous said...

nice posting.. thanks for sharing.