Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I'm Not Laughing

On the news today: murder plot on FaceBook by 19 year old single mom, rapper murdered and body torched in New Jersey, Democrats and Republicans continue name calling, U.S. economy sinking further into debt... and that's just in America, out in the world it's even WORSE. This is a perfect time for a little humor to lighten our depressed moods, help us see that life can be good, and to re-energize us for the work to be done.

But too many people don't take humor seriously.

The world is obsessed with End of The World (dystopian)  and worst case "What If..." scenarios like massive hunger, plague, apocalypses, zombies. And then we (and I have my moments too) get caught up in books and movies about lost love, losing love, dying love, bad love, not enough love. It seems we are determined to wallow in despair.

What's wrong with a good laugh? I'll admit sales for our book Sirenz are a little slow and that's part of what prompted this post. Another nudge was a really vicious, uncalled for and way too personal review by someone who seems to have a vested interested in eviscerating us from afar and from behind. Whoa! I understand humor is subjective and not everyone's going to find Sirenz funny. Heck, I can sit through David Letterman, Conan, and a lot of other comedian routines and not even crack a smile. Don't remember if I ever thought the Three Stooges were funny. A lot of cartoons I shake my head at and wonder how my 11 year old can giggle but that may have to do with age more than anything (Drake & Josh and iCarly are funny so I can relate somewhat.). People who write, paint, sing, act or put creative works out there realize that we are going to have our critics (sniff!) but that's okay, we're playing to the audience who will love us.

If you look at humorous authors like Libba Bray, Meg Cabot, Allie Carter, Sarah Mlynowski, John Greene (Disclaimer: I haven't read all their works) reviewers say how funny and enjoyable the reads were (we got lots of 'I thought this was so funny!' reviews and Katelyn at [I think that's how to tag it] said she'd like to invite Nat and me to an 'Author Block Party' because we're goofballs)  but then they gush over the fearful, wrenching, scary, depressing books more. Even the American Library Association, which rates the top books for young adults (YA for those not in the pub business) doesn't have a separate category for humor. They have adventure, forbidden romance, geek and bullying but no humor? Geez, I'd think since the world is in such a freaking mess and not likely to get any better in the foreseeable future that they would have a comedic designation as a public mental health service.

Let me ask: when you get together with your friends and family, do you sit around and get depressed? (Well, maybe, but that's not the intent.) Don't you invite the neighbors over for a cold one and laugh over stupid stuff someone's doing? (If you have lousy neighbors I guess not, but you have friends, right?.) Do you meet up with Phi Mu sorority sisters to contemplate the downfall of society? (It'll happen eventually, history has proven this, stop thinking about it.) Would you go to a bar, restaurant, water park, or show looking to be reflective and moody? (If so, you may have deeper problems than you realize.) No-you go to have FUN.

Someone once said (okay, it was my aunt) that I should have been a stand up comedian. I can't imagine trying to be funny every night for years, it's hard enough doing it for 280 pages. And that's the point- comedy is hard work; can YOU be consistently funny? Nat and I try our schtick on each other (but really, she's a pushover) and then refine, rework, remove or rethink the humor of the Sirenz books. It would be way easier to wax morosely on a serious subject. So don't dismiss humor as 'fluff', not literary and worst of all, NOT WORTHY. (I mean seriously, a lot of the Nobel Prizes are soooo full of despair, angst, pain and suffering I don't know how the writers aren't on anti-depressants or maybe they are...).

Enjoy a fun read. Check out these authors. Give humor writers the love and attention you give other writers. If you help Nat and I become bestselling authors, I promise we will do three things for comedy writers: create an award of some type to bring needed attention to the genre, talk up debut authors struggling to make it, and keep writing our funny stuff. The fate of humor in America may just be sitting on your shoulders (not that I'm trying to pressure you or anything.)

And for goodness sake, lighten up!

1 comment:

  1. I can be accused of too much seriousness. I think a part of it, at least for me, is the drive -- the desire to achieve, to "make something out of myself." There isn't enough time for fun! I thank you guys for adding more fun to this world, however. Humor can be most illuminating and wise . . . just look at all the wisdom that is hiddne in Winnie The Pooh, as just one example! Hurray to Sirenz, you guys and funny books in general! We should have more of them, and please know you have my support on your quest to make the world a more lighthearted place. :) (Even if I personally don't always write funny. I wish I did!)