There’s a lot to be said for Martin’s model of the Four Types of Humor. Of his options, I find writing a humorous essay most challenging in the Self-Enhancing style. It’s not that I lack the skill. Rather, I think it requires a certain amount of self-esteem to target my positive attributes. Maybe it looks like I just contradicted myself. But it all depends on the topic of the essay, doesn’t it?
Just to review, Self-Enhancing humor is a joke that I make about myself, and it’s uplifting. It’s related to Self-Effacing humor, in which I would belittle myself in a joke.
Let’s see how this works:
Self-Enhancing Humor. I slipped on a banana peel and fell into our pool. Good thing! I love swimming.
Self-Deprecating Humor. I’m so clumsy, I slipped on a banana peel, and it fell too.
You might have to think about the difference. The first makes light of something bad that happened to me, giving it a positive outcome. The second makes my bad luck part of who I am … and it spreads to poor, helpless banana peels!
Even though it's a challenge, I love to learn new skills. Like some useful magic tricks for a novel. And I’m having fun diving into the funny pool these days. My romantic comedy, Where You Go, I Go, ended up even funnier than I’d planned. More than that, I especially like comedy that is grounded in the characters’ real-life challenges. This book is filled with characters who keep trying, no matter what.
So, when an aging magician with a heart condition has to outrun his son (or risk hearing about old folks’ homes), he uses a funny illusion to escape. Believe it or not, this escape was a trick I learned from Star Trek. Not the illusion, the USE of one.
As you probably know, Mr. Spock rarely had to fight anyone (or thing). He merely held a Vulcan neck pinch and his adversary dropped like a sack of tribbles. In an interview, Leonard Nimoy (who played the role) once admitted that he preferred to avoid the fight scenes performed by his more pugilistic costars. So, he asked the director if they could come up with something Sci-Fi style that would get him out of having to slug it out. “You know, like I pinch the guy’s neck or something.” That little moment enabled Nimoy to live long and prosper. And it taught me early that we don’t always have to follow the trope. A clever character can do most anything.
While Where You Go, I Go is not science fiction, my character was ever so grateful when I allowed him to stop running down that street. So grateful, in fact, that he kept the Self-Enhancing humor flowing for scene after scene.
And to a busy writer, that's no joke!