Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Gettin' Funny Part Two

My husband and I have just a few more weeks left in our Get Funny class, and let me tell you, this house is never short of laughs. We hardee-har-har all day long.
Okay, I'm exaggerating. Guess what? Exaggeration is actually a form of humor.
The humorous elements of exaggeration and understatement can help bring laughs (or smirks) to your story.
Both of these need a touch of reality to be effective.
Samples of exaggeration are the "She was so old that..." or "It was so hot..." comments.

My exaggeration example for my class assignment was this:
"The rock concert in Chicago was so loud that farmers in Wisconsin were holding up their lighters during the ballads."

The realistic observation would be "The rock concert was so loud that the people across town could hear it." I then exaggerated it so that it wasn't the next town that could hear it, but the next state. In an exaggeration, if it's big, you make it ginormous. If it's cold, you make it five gazillion degrees below zero.

In The Simpsons, Homer's traits (his lack of intelligence, his laziness, etc) are exaggerated to make his character funnier. You can pick a trait of a character and make it bigger than life to amuse the reader or to get your character into interesting situations.

The opposite of exaggeration is understatement. You use it in the same way as exaggeration, but you go the other way. Instead of making something bigger, you add something trivial.

My understatement example:
"Johnny got into a car accident today. The poor guy totaled his car, broke his wrist, suffered a concussion, and spilled his Diet Coke from McDonald's!"
The spilling the drink action would be the understatement.

Here's a writing example:
Kelly has many aspirations. She wants to snag an agent, get a publishing contract, and buy lots of Sharpies to sign books.

What have you exaggerated lately?


Kimberly Franklin said...

Taking a funny class sounds like so much fun. And I exaggerate all the time. Hehe. It's fun!!!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Great lessons! I love it that you are taking your funny class lessons and helping us apply them to writing. :-)

Bish Denham said...

LOL! My exaggeration would be I've written like 10,000 in the past two days...But that's not all! I finished revising my lastest novel and just sent it off to an agent.

Elana Johnson said...

How tired I am. Does that count? And it's only Tuesday!

I wish I could be a fly on the wall of your house. I like laughing.

beth said...

I recently exaggerated about how much I'm dreading Jury duty. Actually...I'm not, that much. It's boring, but it's also a much-needed break from the kids!

Suzanne Casamento said...

Love your exagerrations! I'm envisioning farmers in cowfields waving lighters to "Every Rose Has Its Thorn."

Solvang Sherrie said...

I exaggerate everything :)

Kelly H-Y said...

Love this post! Thanks for sharing a sneak-peek of your class, which sounds like a riot!!

Kelly said...

Kimberly - I tend to exaggerate as well!
Shannon - It's a lot more fun than chemistry!
Bish - Good luck in your agent search!
Elana - Yes, my children tell me I'm weird on a daily basis...
Beth - Ahhh, jury duty. I've been summoned once, but ended up never having to go!
Suzanne - Ha! Exactly!
Sherrie - :)
Kelly - We have been having a lot of fun with these lessons!

Tina Laurel Lee said...

Yay, just the post I have been waiting for!! But I will have to think up a exaggeration later because the sun is out and I think I have been under a rock since the dawn of man.

Thank you for sharing the wealth (lessons, that is).

Sharon Mayhew said...

Great post! It was very timely for me...I have several stories with a main character who needs to be more over the top--according to Kim Griswell at Highlights...Your post really helped me see how I can do this...THANKS!

Kim Kasch said...

Time - somehow I always understate it when it's things that need to get done - like I think I can paint that bedroom in 20 minutes - or I overstate it when it comes to my husband - like - it took you twenty minutes to answer the phone.

Somehow though, it's always 20 minutes. And, I'm not even trying to be funny

WordWrangler said...

ooooh - I like this.
I don't have any examples right now, but you've given me an idea for a picture book. Thank you so very much!!! *hugs!*


Laura Pauling said...

Exagerration and understatement are two of my favorite forms of humor when I read and when I write. In fact, I love a whole story that is exagerrated, but done believably, like in Science Fair.

Denise said...

My family exaggerates how much I cry in movies.

Heather Kelly said...

Kelly, what a lot of fun! Thanks for the humor lesson! I tend to exaggeration, myself.

MG Higgins said...

Very funny, Kelly. My favorite is the farmers with the lighters. :) Thanks for sharing. I just learned something from your post!

Kelly said...

Tina - You are welcome, and I hope you got some sunshine!!
Sharon - Good luck with your story!
Kim - 20 minutes! That's funny! I exaggerate a lot, like say million or gazillion when I mean 10 :).
Donna - Isn't it fun to get new ideas for books!!!
Laura - They are fun forms of humor. And I think they are easy to use, too!
Denise - Ha! And I thought I was the crybaby of the family!
Heather - Thank you!
MG- I'm so glad you could get something out of it!