Monday, September 22, 2008

What's Your Brand of Humor?

Yesterday Joseph of For the Reels launched an interesting thread about humor on the Comic of the Month collective site, which sent me to Google, where I found this list of humor types.
I've been seeing a lot of fake humor in webcomics, and I think we ought to stretch out into different forms and challenge ourselves. I'm particularly tired of sarcasm, in which scorn is disguised as praise. I'm particularly hungry to see more wit.
Artistically, too many artists have been going overboard with caricature, turning routine reactions into hysteria.
Indeed, mixing it up a bit would benefit us all.
Sometimes people aren't in a humorous state of mind when they are reading, so you have to drop in some advance warning -- called foreshadowing. For the same reason that comedians use warm-ups to loosen up the crowd, storytellers who want to spring a hilarious occurrence have to flag that something is unraveling.
One of the strips I do is always three panels, and I am always happy if I can make a reader laugh during panel two, because I know it primes them for a more robust humor experience in panel three.
Not all the types of humor in this rather scholarly list are of much use to cartoonists, but they are interesting to examine. See how many you can work into a period of work, or even a single episode. Don't overdo it, or you'll get carpal funny bone, which causes you to slap the top of your head with your palms when you laugh. That's what happened to Nicholas Gurewitch. He's rotting in an institution, and we have no new Perry Bible Fellowship cartoons. Don't worry: we've got Eric Milliken on the case.