Bring on the funny in scenes and dialogue

Here’s a few ideas of what makes children laugh in no particular order:

  1. Food being thrown in a grown-ups face, especially if they are mid-sentence.
  2. Tripping up
  3. Standing on a plank so the other end hits the bad guy in the face.
  4. Children being really naughty, like spilling juice from a bottle onto someone’s head (what is it with me and heads)
  5. Consistency of a habit of a particular character – for example – I went to watch Cirque du Soleil last weekend and it was incredible. In between dramatic scenes, they had some clowns come on stage and do very simple yet funny tricks. Being knocked to the floor when you are bending over is a classic. They made very complicated moves look very easy. Each clown had a certain funny trait. Do each of your characters have individual funny traits? Do they roll their eyes, let rip, go red in the face, shake?
  6. Embarrassing situations are other ways to incorporate humour into a situation. Is there something that would embarrass your protagonist? Do you let them get embarrassed?

I should give you a scene from a book as an example, but forgive me for using a funny movie instead.

The kitchen scene where the baddies come in the house is hilarious! It is a classic adult fight with one difference that makes it okay for kids to watch and laugh at. Jackie Chan rather than doing classic martial arts moves (here I go again can I keep off the subject ;) ) uses things he finds in the kitchen to fight with. Well it has us all in stitches. Especially the two pans when he doesn’t just hit once he hits one side of the head then a leg then the other side it’s too funny and so original. Who would have thought these days that you could make such an original fight scene. My point is, take a classic event, like a fight scene and give it an unusual setting with unusual weapons. You can do this with any kind of scene if you think outside the box.

Let’s brainstorm:

Situation: Kid is playing in a park when bad guys turn up.

He could be:

  1. swinging on a swing and swing right over booting them in the head.
  2. coming down the slide and as bad guy tries to grab him boy ducks and slides between bad guy’s legs and runs off.
  3. on the roundabout and fling his legs out so he hits them all as he swings around.

I could go on but you get my point.

I never thought I’d ever say what I said on Sunday:

“Hannah stop throwing oranges!”

As soon as I said it I thought it was hilarious. Do you have any lines like that in your ms? You could alternatively say: ‘Put the oranges down” “That’s enough orange tossing”

Well I hope I’ve given you all some ideas of how to make scenes and dialogue funny. How do you bring on the funny?

12 thoughts on “Bring on the funny in scenes and dialogue

  1. Fruit can be lethal. Remember the Monty Python banana self defense skit? Kids should never be given fruit, or at the very least should be well supervised when handling such dangerous goods.

  2. I read lots of weblogs lately and your own is one of the most effective. I like reading by way of you that obvious also too crafted. Your internet page goes right to my personal bookmarks. I acquired a couple of nice inspirational thoughts reading this.

  3. My preschoolers love the David Shannon books. Every year they crack up at the picture of little David running down the street naked.

    If I knew how to draw/illustrate, my PB would be this joke our 4-year-olds are obsessed with right now: Abracadabra, you’re a (insert animal). Them make funny pictures of a child turned into a (cow, moose, etc.).

  4. Great post! Recently I worried my MS was boring. A friend told me to add a goofy/funny/light-hearted type side-kick character, like the MC’s best friend or the love interest’s friend or the neighbor who just pops over from time to time. I’m off to write right now and I’ll keep humor and embarrassing my character in mind. Thanks, Christy

  5. Thanks for the help, Catherine! I so love the funny stuff. My kids particularly love slapstick and funny phrases like “Put down the orange!” We had a giggle fit in the car the other day at Panda Express when my 2 yo said, “NO CHOW MEIN!” Now that saying is a staple in our house. Spoken randomly, it’s always met with belly laughs.

  6. I’m still at the dabbling stage in writing fiction, but I want to share something I started doing recently. I am active on Facebook and have several young moms for friends. Quite often they tell funny things they did and quote the things they say. I started a Word file in which I copy and paste these posts into along with the name of the mom who posted it. This lets me go directly to that point in time on Facebook to review it again later along with the comments their friends made. I should have lots of fodder for stories over time.

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