Those of you who have had the misfortune to be in a bar with me (and really, who hasn't?) know that I laugh easily. I laugh because:
A. I'm usually drunk.
B. I'm deranged.
C. You are a funny person.
Often, it is all of the above.
But what makes a person funny? What is it that makes one person twist a thought just so, and say the line so right, that it surprises us and makes our diaphragm convulse. What is it about people who write funny, so that the alignment of words, the rhythm of the language, makes us laugh?
Dick Cavett has a column over at The Times that runs that question around. You might need a subscription to read it, and if so, I apologize. But here's part of it:
"It took Bob Hope’s longtime head writer, Mort Lachman, to put into words a thing I had only sensed. “Comedy writing can be a fairly easy life,” he said, “and you’ll make absurd amounts of money if you have two things: a sense of humor and the ability to turn on the comic you’re writing for in your head.”
The reason I bring this up is that so many of you are funny writers. You know who you are. You can compose a line or conjure up a word or scene that's absurdly right. You listen to that voice in your head and instead of finding medications that will make it stop, you encourage it. You give it to a character who speaks in a certain way and sees the world in a certain light.
I don't write funny. Not intentionally. It's just that the people in my head are funny people. They say funny things and I write them down. I'm often as surprised as you are.
I like that. It's one of the great things about this job. I only wish the comic inside my head made more money.
What about you? When you write a funny line, is it a struggle? Do you sweat over it? Or does it just pop out? And what about those writers who think they're funny, but sadly for us all, they're not? Can they learn funny or is it like music, you either have the ear or you don't?
And who are your favorite funny writers? Who do you go to when you need a good laugh?
Tell me something funny. Then go read Cavett's piece on comedy writing. I'll either be here when you get back...
...or I'll be at the bar. Look for me.