Thursday, April 17, 2014

Serious Look at Comedy, Part VIII

Journey to the Four Realms

How else can we make our stories humorous? How else can we create that 'atmosphere of funny' that we talked about in Part III? 

Character interactions. It's where our main point-of-view character is in opposition to the cast that surrounds them. Sometimes it's just two characters, like cop-buddy stories, but we don't have to limit ourselves to only two.

I break this into four categories. First off, we have the serious main character with a serious supporting cast. How boring. We'll save that category for those who want to win Oscars or other awards.

Next, we have the serious character with a comic supporting cast. When I was writing Dragon War Relic, someone in my writing group mentioned my 'Kermit the Frog' character. At first, I didn't know what he meant until I realized that Jared, my very serious, down-to-earth main character was surrounded by a wise-cracking teen, a vegetarian ogre, and three short elves who loved Star Trek and had Tolkien-elf envy. With the Muppets, Kermit is the one sane character surrounded by Fozzy Bear, Miss Piggy, and Gonzo the Great. Other examples: Space Jam (Michael Jordan versus all the Looney Toons) and Back to the Future (Marty McFly versus Doc Brown, Biff, and his teenage parents). Oh, and how can we forget good ol' Arthur Dent in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy?

Another category is the comic character with a serious cast. The main thing that carries this is the POV character's 'comic perspective' (which I'll try to expand upon in a later installment). Basically, the comic perspective is the way the character perceives and comments on their world. This is often what makes stand-up comics so hilarious. The first example that comes to mind for me is ABC's Castle series starring Nathan Fillion. You have your wise-cracking author (who we writers tend to idolize) surrounded by a bunch of serious NYPD detectives. From the literary world, we have the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, except we have a wise-cracking wizard in modern-day Chicago. Or Larry Correia's Monster Hunter series with Owen Pitt. I currently have a series on Big World Network called Delroy Versus the Pirates of Poughkeepsie which, obviously from the title, pits my clever scam artist (at least he'd like to think so) against a bunch of cut-tongue killers.

Lastly, we have the comic main character surrounded by yet even more goofballs. One famous example is the Disc World series by Terry Pratchett, where you have people like the criminal Moist Von Lipwig (funny-sounding name, too) surrounded by an entire city of hilarious characters. My Big World Network serious Tales of Myrick the (Not So) Magnificent also is set in this kind of world, with my wizard-wannabe Myrick traveling with the ever-fearful Nut-boy, the thought-challenged Nonac the Barbarian, and a surfer dude from San Diego who possess a sword that sucks all happiness out of its victims.

So, hopefully that gives you some food for thought as you are creating your worlds and characters. Good luck.

No comments: