Thinking of a topic to write about can be challenging at times. Some days it just comes naturally, and other days I sit at my desk and force myself to type. Today - with all of my homework and daily stress of college life - I am enduring the latter.
Tina Fey is a comedic actress, but I would say that she is first and foremost a writer.
She has written sketches, a wonderful book, and also co-wrote 30 Rock when it came into being. (PS, that is my favorite show). As far as her book goes, I have never laughed so hard at a book before in my life. I actually listened to it in the audiobook format while driving to and from class. But hey, I loved hearing Fey narrate every chapter, because it made you feel as if you were having a face-to-face conversation with the woman behind Liz Lemon in 30 Rock.
[I just imagined having a cup of coffee with Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Steve Carell. Oh, the absurdity of their jokes would be unreal. And just the best thing ever. That is all.]
The quote above from Fey can apply to both humor and writing; you can't overthink things. By doing so in the form of her quick wit, she is one of the most genius comedians of today. Through her book and how she portrays her character Liz Lemon, you can tell that she has a dry sense of humor, sort of like myself. *pat on the back* That is mostly why I listened to Fey's audiobook in the first place, honestly. Tina has a dry sense of humor, but that's the point: that's what she thinks is funny, and she goes with it. I just happen to be one of her many fans.
The main thing that I took away from her book is that comedic timing is everything. But if the timing isn't working out, learn to laugh at yourself.
I have also discovered this through my own failed attempts at trying to be humorous. When I tell jokes (most of which I make up on the spot because I love terrible puns), I have a habit of completely butchering the end; I either a) take an extensive amount of time in trying to tell the joke to the point that the audience doesn’t remember what the set-up of the joke was, or b) I completely forget the ending altogether. Both options cause awkwardness and/or embarrassment on my part. I am known among my friend group as the giver of awful jokes, which is a blessing and a curse. I manage to brighten their day by either making them genuinely laugh, or by turning the laughter around to me as the teller of the jokes.
Here is some evidence:
- Me: So, what did the Eagle Scout say to the new Boy Scout?
- Person: What?…
- Me: Can you knot?
*wait for laughter*
(Depending on how long I wait for a reaction, I explain the joke further until they say something like, "Ahh. I get it.") Although, that is not the most desired result.
At some point in your life, you will probably be able to look back at your failed attempts at trying to be funny, and realize that the effort that you put into it or the result that you didn't plan on was even more funny than the joke itself. You have to learn to laugh at yourself. For years I wasn't able to do this, and whenever I did something stupid (such as my voice cracking, me tripping, slipping, falling, or having minor wardrobe malfunctions) I would get extremely embarrassed to the point where I would either cry about it later, or just get angry at the person laughing at me. Thankfully, this only lasted until middle school or so. (Other than the time I slipped on ice and smacked my head on the hard ground. I obviously cried after I knew what hit me, but in this instance it was permissible.) The fact is, if you're too serious about things in life, you'll never fully enjoy it. Like Fey said: "You can't be the kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it." You need to live life and some days you'll be embarrassed about things, or people will laugh at you when you don't want them to. But that's life. And if you don't learn to laugh at yourself, then life won't be as enjoyable as it could be.
Everything is a learning experience as I like to say, even when it comes to telling jokes or writing a book. You need to know who your audience is, and what they actually want to hear. However, you can't please everyone. At some point you just need to write what you want or tell the jokes that you think are funny, and some people may like it while others may not. But if you think about it, it would be a pretty mundane world if everyone liked everyone's works. There would be no reason to write different genres of books or come up with different types of jokes, because everyone would have the same sense of humor. We would all just be people with no distinction from one another. If you think about it in this way, it makes you (or should make you) want to improve your writing and joke-telling skills. It also proves that everyone has different tastes.