Thursday, October 29, 2009

Targeting the age of your audience for humor

One thing that needs to be remembered when trying to insert humor into your writing is that humor is based on the understanding of the nuances of language. The exception is slapstick humor, which is universally funny because it is understood without the need to comprehend a language.

Since different aged readers have different depths of language comprehension, it is wise to target the age of your reader when inserting humor into your manuscript. While teens understand irony, the youngest reader may not. The youngest ages always understand slapstick, although this can be overdone. Parents appreciate clever plays on words when they are reading aloud, and a book that can entertain the parent as well as the child will be read over and over again. To be successfully funny, your humor must be understood by the target audience, and be performed by an appropriate character or narrator, who is believable when delivering his lines or acting funny. In addition, it is more funny to the target audience if they have shared experiences in common with the humorist or character. For example, you wouldn't be joking about a boyfriend to a six-year-old audience.

To see first hand why an understanding of language nuance is essential in understanding humor go to the Reader's Digest Funniest Jokes around the World. They have posted the funniest jokes in all the different countries around the world. Even though all of these jokes were all voted the funniest jokes in their own country, you'll find that some of them just aren't funny to you. The reason is because you may not be familiar with the nuances of their language or culture. That is why it is crucial to target your humor to the right age and audience when you are adding it to your story.

Kersten Campbell
"Confessions of a Completely Insane Mother"


JoAnn Arnold said...

Well said and so true

Tamika: said...

Great point. Another reason for me to stay away from humor, besides the fact that I am not funny.

I fall perfectly into the corny arena though!

kersten campbell said...

Corny is good! Hey...if you can do corny...then you can do humor! If you'd like to try it...I'd suggest reading one of the many books on that teach how to write humor. It's a skill that can be learned!!