Hey, What’s So Funny? Or Not

I saw Thor Ragnarok, a movie directed by Taika Waititi (left photo), recently.


Loved it. Chris Hemsworth as Thor is always a-peel-ing.


Ya get it? A-peel-ing? Banana peel car? Wuh-wah. Ba dum bum.

After having seen Thor, I finally got around to watching some YouTube reviews of it. One reviewer said something that reminded me of feedback I received about one of my manuscripts: that some of the jokes didn’t land. Yet the director of Thor is laughing all the way to the bank these days, since the film is a huge hit.

Which got me to thinking about humor and how subjective it is. I felt bad at first when I was given the feedback about the humor (or lack thereof) in my story. But then I had to be honest. No one has ever said to me, “You should have a career as a stand-up comedian.” I wasn’t even voted Class Clown in elementary school! (Perhaps you already guessed that from the banana pun earlier in this post, especially if you didn’t know what that car was. Did you at least chuckle out of pity?) I’m too self-conscious to tell jokes well. Knowing that, when I write anything, I don’t usually have the mindset of “I must insert a joke here” (with the exception of the banana thing earlier; you see how that went). Though I love humor, I write what comes naturally to me, rather than “Let me see what jokes I can add.”

I look at comedians like David Sedaris, Wanda Sykes, and Tina Fey with awe, because they seem to naturally do something I can’t do. But that’s okay. Each of us has a gift we can rock. (I thought about making a pun here based on the photo of Tina Fey below, since it is a photo of her in 30 Rock. But instead, I think I’ll quit while I’m ahead.)


NBC Photo: Mary Ellen Mathews

Getting back to Thor, I laughed a lot while watching it. But it reminds me that I don’t have to try to be something that I’m not—a comedian.

In an interview with The Independent (which you can find here), Taika Waititi said something that relates to what I’ve learned:

The lesson to be learnt, Waititi explains, is . . . “I should just be real and present, and just be me.”

Truer words were never spoken.

Has anyone told you that you’re naturally funny? Know any good jokes? Feel free to share them in the comments below.

Taika Waititi from film-book.com. Thor Ragnarok image from apocaflixmovies.com. Chris Hemsworth as Thor from craveonline. Tina Fey from fanpop.com. David Sedaris from anglophilereads.blogspot.com. Wanda Sykes from imbd.com. Other photos by L. Marie.

30 thoughts on “Hey, What’s So Funny? Or Not

  1. I love to laugh so I’m always on the look-out for observations that tickle my funny bone chakra. Often I share my observations with others to amuse the funny bone chakras of those around me. Sometimes they laugh. Other times I’m the only one laughing.

    I’m OK with that because . . . “I should just be real and present, and just be me.” 😀

    • I think so too. Movies are judged as not funny enough. As compared to what? A Buster Keaton movie? I loved Thor Ragnarok. Did it have issues? Sure. But this is one of my favorite movies this year easily. I can’t wait to see it again.

      • I actually heard the opposite about Thor 3. That it was predominantly comedy and action scenes. It lost the seriousness and noble vibe of the first one. To be honest, this is why I’ve lost interest in most of the Marvel movies. Seems to be all about the laughs and fight scenes without the heart of the earlier ones.

      • It’s very different tonally from the first movie. I would liken it to the first Guardians of the Galaxy. Very light in tone despite the gravity of some of the situations. That was actually a slight criticism some critics (at least the ones I saw) had for the movie–that it lacked the gravitas needed to make the heavier moments more effective.

      • I’ve seen that gravitas thing a lot. Oddest thing is that you then have other franchises, which are considered dry and humorless. It’s always too much or too little or simply not funny.

      • Agreed. There seems to be a double standard. It’s hard to please people who seem to want to see a particular franchise fail. I’ll be interested to see what happens when Justice League debuts.

      • I’m already seeing people wanting it to fail. Really hoping to see it in theaters, but time and money are an issue here. Odd that JL is in November instead of the summer. Then again, they had Wonder Woman then.

      • I hope it does well. The box office estimates are high. I’ve loved the various Justice League animated series and subsequent animated movies, so I’m looking forward to seeing this film!

  2. I completely relate to this, L. I tend to make my friends laugh when we go out, but mostly it’s our own inside jokes about things we’ve experienced over the years. I’m not good at adding jokes into my writing. I even took an online class on it once, but it didn’t take into my psyche. When my beta readers read my novel, a couple of them said they’d like to see a little humor with the brothers teasing each other. It dawned on me that my husband is extremely witty and has brothers who tease each other. So, I read him certain scenes with the brothers and asked him to help me insert something humorous. It worked. LOL

    Thanks for reminding me it’s okay to write as it comes naturally.

    • Hi, Lori. My brothers and I have insider information, which makes us laugh at things others wouldn’t laugh at. 😄 😁
      Glad your husband is a good resource for adding humor. Humor is soooo subjective. If you don’t have it, people complain. When you do have it, people complain. 😑

  3. All my best jokes are stolen from others, so I’m reluctant to put them in a story because if I’ve heard them, so has everyone else. But I like to set up humorous situations, like kitchen disasters, of which I’m all too familiar.

  4. I like to incorporate humor into most things I do, but ask me to tell a joke, and I’ll fail miserably. It takes skill to tell a joke right, and it’s a skill I don’t have. But I very much enjoy listening to those who do!

  5. I’m utterly rubbish at telling jokes and if it cheers you up any, I’m not a big fan of jokes in books. I do like humour in them, but arising naturally out of the dialogue or the narrator’s observations rather than sounding like a joke, if that makes sense. I did get nominated for Funniest Blog a couple of years ago, which worried me a great deal, since I don’t think of myself as funny at all. I wondered if everyone was laughing at my book reviews… 😉

    • I think Funniest Blog is well deserved in your case, FF. Your observations are so witty. You often make me laugh out loud. But I don’t think anyone laughs at your reviews. They’re too well done. We laugh with you when you showcase the foibles of some of the books you’ve read.

  6. Some people just seem to think that way. My son-in-law, for example, isn’t what you would call funny, but he sees very clever puns a lot. Every time he does, I think: How in the world did he come up with that? I like jokes and comedy, but it’s not natural to me. I’m too serious, I guess.

  7. Humor expresses itself in different ways, I think. I enjoy a good comedy routine – but that’s a stylistic performance-art form.
    Insider humor as you mentioned is a constant in my life – as well as using puns (ya either love ’em or hate ’em) in conversations with close friends. Extended further, I tend to express my humor through ‘double meanings’ and/or dry wit that some get or don’t…Ma was the one who always kept that thread of humor going.
    Most others don’t ‘get it’ but I suspect it might resonate with fellow Mancs – HA!

    • Ha ha! Yes! I love anyone who has a dry wit. 😀 😃 😄

      I can’t think of a single person, other than maybe one or two people at school, whom I could say, “Wow, he/she is sooo hilarious!” in the stand-up comedy since. But sooo many people are witty.

  8. Pingback: Lessons from the Leaves and a few Friends – Lori's Lane

  9. It’s funny that I just read this blog post because earlier in the week, a friend sent me a link to an article that perplexed me. Because I know this friend in a specific context, I expected the article to be serious or deep. But it wasn’t. It was very silly. Reading your post reminded me that sometimes an issue with humor is expectations. When I see Tina Fey on the screen, I expect to laugh. I’m ready and willing to laugh. She’s not going to need to work all that hard to make me laugh. When I see show is directed by Ken Burns, I do not expect to laugh. I expect to learn something and possibly weep. Ken Burns would probably need to work pretty hard to get a laugh out of me. Not because he’s not a funny guy – I have no idea if he’s a funny guy – but because I’m not primed to laugh. Similarly, I think that in much of the fiction I’ve written, the reader doesn’t expect to laugh, so when I try to add humor, it falls flat. Despite that, I have been told that I’m funny in real life. (Though I’m not sure it’s always intentional…)

    • I know what you mean, Laura. You’re being yourself, and people laugh. 😊

      Expectation is an interesting notion (as I’m definitely finding in early reviews of Justice League). I expect to laugh when I read Terry Pratchett’s books. But some of them have made me cry also. I think that’s the hardest thing to do–to make someone genuinely laugh and cry with the same work.

  10. I am not a good teller of jokes, in part because I always get a major part of it wrong, wrong, wrong and am terrible at delivery. I am good, however, at an occasional, spontaneous, witty quip or when I poking fun at myself.

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