Humor, a spoon-full of sugar to help the drama go down!

Humor is often an underappreciate element in entertainment. Whether it be movies, television, or books, all entertainment that’s labeled as humor is taken less seriously.

In Fantasy, the focus is on creating deep worlds filled with curses and creatures facing the ultimate doom. It’s all about the drama, and cheapening it with slapstick makes your story little more than fluff.

In Sci-Fi, you’re expected to nail the technology, get that part right or it isn’t worth reading.

And yet huge fandoms have developed around those very genres where humor has been employed with panache. Diskworld, Princess Bride, Harry Potter, The Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Doctor Who, just to name a few.

Humor in its own genre is used to induce the most laughs possible at any expense. And it can feel cheap and lacking of substance when done to excess. But even then, we all have our guilty pleasures; entertainment we turn to when we need that laugh.

The ability to induce laughter is a tool like any other in our arsenal. Too much horror, drama, or sappy love, etc…can sink a story as quickly as humor. An author’s goal is to entertain. To do so means striking a delicate balance between the ranges of emotions you want readers to feel. Humor, employed purposefully can create elegant emotional beats. It’s all about the timing.

Look at Guardians of the Galaxy. James Gunn employed seemingly cheap laughs with precision to break up the tension. This created emotional pauses that allowed the audience a breath of fresh air, before the next wave of mounting tension. We can’t all have a dance-off to save the universe, and as absurd as it sounds, you have to admit that level of well-timed humor punctuated the scene perfectly. Following that palate cleansing chuckle, you were emotionally ready for what came next.

Firefly, a Space Opera series – that deserved more time than it got – captured viewers with its perfect blend of science, fantasy, and absurdity. That series’ fandom grew rapidly and – despite not being on the air for more than a decade – still dream of a reboot. Joss Whedon’s mastery of sarcasm and wit made the characters feel real. Natural speech is filled with multiple levels of humor. Sarcasm, dry wit, ironic one-liners, snarky comebacks. All those punctuating points are essential to capture. People connected with those characters and overlooked any technological discrepancies. A huge feat in the Sci-Fi world. When those characters were faced with impossible odds, and had do whatever it takes to stay alive, they did, but not without all that delicious snarky commentary that had viewers laughing along with the characters. How many of you out there know the words to the Hero of Canton? The man they call Jayne!

There are so many instances of humor adding just the right flair, but let’s not overlook stories that sit heavily inside the genre of humor. Princess Bride is my absolute favorite. It had everything you could want combining elements of comedy, adventure, fantasy, romance, and fairy tale. This laugh-a-minute tale delivered everything with such precisions that despite its age, it remains a beloved classic. To devalue its entertainment value because of is comical base is simply Inconceivable! It has stood the test of time, because the humor was weaved tightly into the plot.

As powerful as it is, humor must be handled with care. It can easily become cheap and slap sticky. That’s when humor loses its appeal. However, if done right, I believe it amplifies the entertainment value of any story.
 
In the case of my Agents of A.S.S.E.T. series, humor is the tool I employ to soften the blows as Sage (the main character) is thrown to the wolves in the new magical world she finds herself in. It’s terrifying and deadly; all the while being utterly fascinating. There are many emotions to work through as the plot becomes darker. But, as I’ve said above, a well-timed dose of humor, if you’ll indulge me, can be the spoon-full of sugar to help the drama go down. In the hopes of capturing just that, during Sage’s journey, I called upon the lessons I’ve learned from the greats:

“Never ignore coincidence. Unless, of course, you’re busy. In which case, always ignore coincidence.” ~ The Doctor (Doctor Who)

“The name is the important thing for inspiring the necessary fear. You see, no one would surrender to the Dread Pirate Westley.” ~ Westley (Princess Bride)

“Have fun stormin' da castle.” ~ Miracle Max (Princess Bride)

“I just want you to feel you’re doing well. I hate for people to die embarrassed.” ~ Fezzik (Princess Bride)

“Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!” ~ Wash (Firefly)

“You want weapons? We're in a library. Books are the best weapon in the world. This room's the greatest arsenal we could have. Arm yourself!” ~ The Doctor (Doctor Who)

“Aim to misbehave.” ~ Captain Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly)

“There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes.” ~ The Doctor (Doctor Who)

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