Tuesday, February 21, 2012


In honor of my book, The P-town Queen, a romantic comedy coming out with Champagne Books in June, I thought I might write a post on writing funny.

I’ve spent the last few days trying to write this post. My efforts all look something like this: Writing funny is . I agonized over how to write funny. I tried a variety of approaches.

I made lists. Writing funny involves several key ingredients including the following: hyperbole, misdirection, banana peels.

I wrote recipes: Take two quirky characters. Add ridiculous situation. Cook until mixture begins to smoke. Call fire department.

I did a visualization: Imagine yourself surrounded by a flock of pigeons…

Then it hit me like a piano falling from a fifth story window; I have NO IDEA how to write funny. The truth is that in real life I am, at best, mildly amusing. And furthermore, analyzing funny is about as much fun as changing a truck tire while being bombarded by a flock of pigeons.

Here’s the best I could come up with on the subject of funny. It’s a glass-half-empty glass-half-full kind of thing. It’s all about how you see the world. Writers observe the world all the time. Some of them note beauty and grace, some note anguish, some note fright. I note red sneakers with racing stripes. It’s not that I can’t write about sunsets or a women with her face in her hands or dark alleys. It’s just when I write funny I have to see, hear and think funny.

There’s a lot of funny in the world. I collect funny the way some people collect salt and pepper shakers shaped like baby animals. So here’s how you write funny: observe the funny in the world, write it down, add a touch of hyperbole, a pinch of misdirection, and a banana peel.

P-town Queen is coming to Champagne Books in June!

Here’s an EXCERPT. I hope you find it mildly amusing funny.

I went through the door and there, in the corner of the room, was a metal desk and sitting on the desk was the redhead from the pier. I couldn’t have been more surprised if it had been Fat Phil sitting there. My stomach did a loop-di-loop, like I was in the sixth grade and just found out the popular girl had the locker next to mine. I told myself to quit being a dumb ass. I had exactly two cents rubbing together in the pocket of my only pair of pants.

She was talking to the guy from the pier. The younger one that looked like her. She caught me in her gorgeous brown eyes, blinked a few times, and asked if she could help me. “Yeah, yes,” I said. “I’m here about the research. The assistant. Job. Research assistant.”

“Find me an office and they will come,” the guy said.

To which the redhead gave him a look that might have killed him. “And how is it that job applicants magically appear?” she asked him.

“The flyer,” I said. “At Ella’s Place.”

“Flyer at Ella’s Place?” the redhead turned the killer stare at me.

“They weren’t. She didn’t. They were under the counter. I saw. I was. I really need the job.” I took a deep breath. “So if you tell Dr. Silva. I’m available. For an interview.” Jesus, Mary, and Joe, it was lucky that drool didn’t come running out of my mouth.

The guy put a hand on my shoulder and said, real quiet, “She is Dr. Silva,” which really made me feel a the friggin’ idiot.

“Nick Silva? She’s Nick Silva?”

“N-i-k, as in Nicola,” the guy said.

“It’s a mistake. My mistake. I’m mistaken. Sorry.”

“She makes people nervous. But she’s not so tough. I’m her brother, I ought to know. Billy.” He held out his hand.

“I do not make people nervous,” Nik Silva said.

“Ask her about Rusty’s boat.”

Nik sighed. “There is no job. Mr.…?”

And here’s where things got dicey. In giving myself a new identity I forgot to give me a new name. Any self-respecting witness protection program will give you a new name and I sure as hell didn’t want to use the old one. Nik Silva was kind of staring at me again and my pulse rate was up around two hundred, so I spit out the first thing came into my head.

“Parker. Parker Bench.” I wished, right after I said it, that I could have taken it back. I wished I’d have come up with something, anything, else: Jerry Lewis or Phillip Morris or Captain Crunch. Just about anything would have been better than Parker Bench.

Nik raised her eyebrows. “Parker Bench?”

“It’s a family name,” I said, having to come up with some reason, quick, why I had such a dumb moniker.

“Well, like I said, Mr. Bench--”

“Call me Parker,” I said, feeling I might as well get into it. And, to tell the truth, the new name did kind of calm me down a little.

“Like I was saying, Parker. There is no job.”

“Yes, there is,” Billy said.

“No, there isn’t. I don’t have enough money to pay me let alone a research

About me:

I have two romantic comedies coming out with Champagne Books; the P-town Queen in June of this year and Afterglow in January 2013.

When not writing, you can find me hiking, reading, and eating chocolate. I love good wine, good books, and good theater. Most of all, I love really good stories.
You can find me at my website: and on my blog: I’m on twitter @wildwords2.


  1. Okay, I love it! Great excerpt. I definitely sense the humor! Want to read more. And you're so right, trying to describe how to write funny totally takes all the humor out of it!

  2. Enjoyed the excerpt, Ute! I agree with Linda. Trying to explain how to write 'funny' is like explaining a joke - images of dead fish and water come to mind. Just keep writing it and don't stop to explain!

  3. Thanks Cat and Linda! It is hard to explain funny. It's like dissecting that dead fish. You can point out where the fins are, but you'll never make it swim. :)

  4. It has been said that all the TV commedians we grew up with were musicians: Phyllis Diller, Bob Hope, Jack Benny and many more. There is a rhythm/ a beat to the delivery. But the situation has to be as funny as the bounce. Looking forward to your book -- comic relief.