My Mentor: All the World’s Clowns


Jay Cole image

Humor is our most enjoyable form of truth.

Life is funny, but there are plenty of people who make it even funnier. They point out our foibles, our mistakes and our insanities in a way that tickles us.

Think for just a moment about any minor mistake that you may have made in the recent past. Were there some friends who ‘got on your case’? Arbitrarily, let’s say that you lost your dog. If a friend then berates and ridicules you:

“You are just irresponsible! You’re always losing your stuff.”

How do you feel? Angry? Frustrated? Insulted? Defensive? Hurt? Ready to tell the newspapers about your friend’s affair with a midget wrestler?

What if another friend points out the same ‘lost dog’ lesson with a bit of humor.

“Maybe he went to look for your car keys.”

Now, how do you feel? Better? Slightly amused? Yet, someone has still pointed out that you have a tendency to misplace your possessions.

We all know people who look at the world with a bit of wit and humor. They may be friends, relatives or coworkers. However, their proximity gives you an opportunity to learn valuable lessons. That is, if you pay attention.

I know, I’ve mentioned simple awareness of humor before, possibly because either:
A) I’m repeating myself because my meds just kicked in.
–OR-
B) It’s important!   <= Hint!

When you find yourself smiling or laughing at a humorous line dropped by someone you know, enjoy it certainly, but also take a moment to do just a bit of analysis.

  • How did they twist some bit of reality to find the humorous angle?
  • Was it intentional or accidental? Both have lessons.
  • Was it a play on words or an insight that everyone else overlooked?
  • Was it something that you could do?

The answer to the last question is, ‘yes’.

Next, consider the funny stories that people share. You’ve done it yourself, relating an amusing anecdote to someone strictly for the purpose of sharing a laugh.

“I bought my wife a new wardrobe, yesterday.”
“Wow! Did you get a fat raise?”
“No, I tried to do the laundry.”

Sharing a laugh is one of life’s joys, but it’s also an opportunity for us to learn. Think now as a writer: Is it really any more difficult to share the same story on paper?

Telling a humorous story verbally is considered easier because we have less context to convey. A good friend knows us, likely knows the other people involved in our story, and has both knowledge and a feel for our situation in life. However, normal prose requires you to provide such context for your characters no matter what genre you prefer. Is it really more difficult to provide an entirely similar context for a humorous story? No.

“There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity… It lies between the pit of man’s fears, and the summit of his knowledge… It is an area which we call… our parents’ house.”

We’re surrounded by humor daily, even in the Twilight Zone. Don’t think of humor as difficult, but as commonplace and a resource that you can study and master. That little extra bit of awareness helps!

We are also very fortunate that, in our wondrously modern world, we have access to more professional funny people than ever before in human history, broadcast daily and on-demand for anyone with Internet service.

If you want to learn from funny people, you certainly don’t have to go far.

Parting Funny: I wanna make a jigsaw puzzle that’s 40,000 pieces. And when you finish it, it says ‘go outside.’Demetri Martin

Next Up: Laugh Louder, Or Else

GRATUITOUS BLACKMAIL NOTE: LIKE this post below or I’ll sign your name to an
I Think You’re Cute card and send it to the midget wrestler.

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