Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Don't Make Me Laugh

It can hardly have escaped your notice that humanity should surely not take themselves too seriously. After all, how can they? Being basically all the same shape (roughly) although coming in a few variations and shades of colour, almost from day one they have squabbled over territory, race and religion, implying that whoever said “love thy neighbour,” clearly did not know what he (or she, I have to add nowadays) was talking about.

It does make for a pretty miserable scenario over all and, I suppose, accounts for the depressing tone of some of the manuscripts I see. Hardly a glimmer of fun in them and heaven forbid that they should bring a smile to your face.

Fortunately, most writers have appreciated that it is necessary to leaven the drama of reality with a touch of humour. Shakespeare, even in his most dramatic moments, always had a moment of comedy chucked in on the principal of “Measure for Measure” no doubt. And Dickens, whose stories have outlasted their creaky plots and dubious coincidences, provided comic characters to give the reader a break from unremitting misery.

The writing of pure comedy is now pretty much confined to script writing for television. Publishers are not usually prepared to risk the chance of finding another Jerome K. Jerome, P.G. Wodehouse or James Thurber on their hands, which is a great pity I think but one can see their point of view. One man’s belly laugh may not be another’s cup of tea, if you’ll excuse the mixed metaphors. And few writers have been able to sustain the fun for a whole volume.

It would be nice to find a little gentle humour in manuscripts, not the custard pie in the face variety, but perhaps a quietly ironic twist to a story that would introduce a human element – most people do have a sense of humour and laugh and joke in their everyday lives – but often this is an element that is missing from the dialogue.

However, I am a toiler over the keyboard for others and he who pays the piper calls the tune (very tritely metaphorical this morning, aren’t we?) so, if any of you budding Ibsens out there have a really miserable story to tell, well, I’m your man.

But excuse me if I go and have a quiet chuckle over it, will you?


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