Sunday, September 30, 2018

Humor by Diane Burton

What is it about humor that appeals to so many yet eludes others? I was a serious child. Oldest of seven, the one left in charge, the responsible one. That carried over into my adult life. Until I met a certain guy with a wicked sense of humor. He could tease me out of my seriousness and helped me find my own sense of humor. I was smart enough to grab onto that guy, and we’ve been married for almost forty-six years. I’m still too serious at times in real life, but I can let go in my writing.

While I love science fiction movies, like Star Trek, Star Wars and Serenity (Firefly spinoff), romantic comedy is my favorite type of movie. Romancing the Stone, It’s Complicated, Something’s Gotta Give, Six Days, Seven Nights. Falling in love is serious business, but without that spark of humor it came be maudlin. 

Humor comes in many forms. Give me wicked banter any day over slapstick. I never understood the appeal of the Three Stooges. Maybe that’s a guy thing. I loved the Saturday morning cartoon Rocky & Bullwinkle because of the dialogue. Same with the Muppet Movie. When they were young, I took my children to see that movie at an afternoon matinee. The best part was the dad behind me who, along with the few other adults in the theater, couldn’t stop laughing at all the “good” parts—like “gone with the Schwin.” I love that the writers of children’s movies slip in the comedic touches for the adults.

I said I’m not fond of slapstick, so how do you explain my love of the Stephanie Plum series? The physical comedy is laugh out loud funny. Author Janet Evanovich knows how to take a situation, twist it, turn it on its ear and make it hilarious. I should never read those books in bed because the bed shakes from holding in my laughter—don’t want to wake the Hubs with laughing out loud.

Life is serious. The news every night keeps getting grimmer and more disturbing. Comedy is an antidote to life. The value of humor is vastly underrated. In fact, rarely has a comedy won an Oscar, with the exception of It Happened One Night (1934). In fact, it won 5 Oscars. Actors whose forte is their comedic timing rarely win Academy Awards. What do they receive awards for? Their dramatic work.

Medical studies tell us that laughter releases endorphins, nature’s natural pain killers. Laughter relaxes the skeletal system, reduces stress, lowers the blood pressure and regulates the heart rate. According to inspirational speaker Marilyn Meburg, your liver needs laughter because it gets no exercise. The liver is the organ in your body that gets rid of toxins. So, if you’re not laughing you’re neglecting your liver.

Give your liver and the rest of your body that antidote to “real life” and enjoy a good comedy.

When I wrote Switched, a science fiction romance, it was not a good time. My stories had been rejected time and again. Finally, I wrote for fun. I wasn't going to submit it because (back in 1999) no publishing house was buying sci-fi romance. Or so I thought. In 2000, a small niche publisher of paranormal, fantasy, and science fiction romance heard about my story. (A friend of a friend mentioned it to the owner.) I was encouraged to submit. And they bought it. Yay! The editor told me she laughed so hard, she fell out of bed reading my story. That made me feel so great.

Switched came out in 2001 and was available for two years before the rights reverted back to me. Many years later, a friend told me about self-publishing in e-book version. She said the book was just sitting there doing nothing, why not? So in 2011, I self-published Switched. People bought it. Wow. I was on a roll. Since then, I've self-published 11 books with one more on the way. I believe that humor sold Switched more than the science or the romance.


As if being kidnapped by aliens isn't bad enough, Jessie Wyndom discovers they grabbed her by mistake. She wise cracks past her fear especially when she learns she was part of an experiment separating Terran twins before birth. Her twin just took Jessie's place back in Ann Arbor, Michigan while she gets to twiddle her thumbs on an Alliance of Planets starship. The only good part is the hunky captain. Except. He's so unemotional he could be Mr. Spock's double.

Captain Marcus Viator's well-organized life is turned upside down by the free-spirited female from Earth. Problems with the starship prevent him from returning her to her home. Together, they discover treachery and true love.

Switched is available for 99₵ at Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ B&N ~ Kobo ~ iTunes ~ Smashwords

What are your favorite comedy books or movies?

Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction, and romance into writing romantic fiction. She blogs here on the 16th and 30th of each month. She shares snippets from her stories every weekend on her blog.  Her latest release is NUMBERS NEVER LIE, a romantic suspense, available at Amazon, free on Kindle Unlimited. 

This post first appeared on Christine Warner's blog on 9-26-2012. It has been tweaked and expanded for today.


Brenda Whiteside said...

I tend to be too serious too, Diane. Laughter always helps to fight the blues. In our current world, we really need it. I just bought Switched. Can't wait to read!

Alison Henderson said...

Diane, we must be twins separated at birth. lol. This could be my story, except I'm the oldest of four instead of seven. When I met OG, the first thing that attracted me was his sense of humor, and it's still going strong decades later. I love humor in books, and I'm a huge fan of Janet Evanovich. Her Stephanie Plum books were the inspiration for my female bodyguard series. My first two books were serious, but once I started adding humor, there was no going back.

Margo Hoornstra said...

I’ve said it before. Your writing does put me in mind of Evanovich. I’m like Brenda - way too serious. You’re so right, we do need humor in our lives. Especially now when there is so much drama in the world.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Diane, you reminded me that what we write can be different from who we are...yet your writing 'funny' makes sense...because you had to be serious all those years. I think we often write about what we wish we had..or had been. I love a good laugh! Recently a golf novel made me laugh out loud...several times...but maybe a non-golfer would not find it so funny. Here it is: Missing Links by Rick Reilly

Andrea Downing said...

I'm with you on disliking slapstick. I don't see what is so funny about someone slipping on a banana peel. The funniest home videos don't tickle my funnybone for the most part. But I do have a fairly wild sense of irony and love a good laugh. Your blurb got me. I'm hooked!

Jannine Gallant said...

My characters tend to think of that terrific comeback I always think of five minutes too late. At least I can make them funny in a timely manner. I'm fairly serious, focused, and organized. I think we have to be to get anything written. Oh, and for a comedy movie, how about When Harry Met Sally? An oldie but a goody!

Leah St. James said...

Another one here who isn't a fan of slapstick. (Maybe it is a guy thing. My guys howl laughing at them.) And I also love the Stephanie Plum stories, although part of that for me is the Jersey "girl" connection. :-) I admit to having a sometimes goofy sense of humor, and I also enjoy the "adult" humor in the kids' cartoons. (Bugs Bunny comes to mind.) Not much is better than a good laugh, especially with friends and loved ones.

Diane Burton said...

Brenda, I agree about needing to laugh at something these days. Thanks for buying my book. I hope you enjoy it.

Diane Burton said...

LOL Alison. You might be right. Like Jessie in Switched, we could be twins separated before birth. Hubs makes me lighten up. As an only child, he doesn't get the sibling rivalry thing. But he makes me laugh at myself.

Diane Burton said...

Janet Evanovich certainly influences my writing. I love laughing at Stephanie's antics. Thanks, Margo.

Diane Burton said...

Rolynn, the fun of writing in 1st person POV (like in my Alex O'Hara mysteries) is having the character act/talk the way I wish I could. Jessie was my 1st attempt at deliberately writing crazy-silly. It was so liberating.

Diane Burton said...

Thanks, Andrea. My fav is banter. I love some of the old movies that have such clever dialogue.

Diane Burton said...

Jannine, you focused and organized? LOL I'm like you in thinking of the perfect comeback/response 5 minutes too late. Yet it just rolls off my MC's tongue.

Diane Burton said...

Leah, I love laughing with friends & family. At gatherings, we'll reminisce about crazy things we did as kids and laugh. So freeing. I was addicted to Rocky & Bullwinkle because of the humor. Same with George of the Jungle--even though some of it is slapstick.