There are countless ways for a writer to educate themselves about their craft. Books, seminars, online classes, college classes, adult-education classes, are only a few of the ways a writer can fine-tune their skills. But, not so for humor writers, or humorist as I call them.
Yes, there are scores of books on Amazon that focus on humor writing, yet many of these seem to slant towards the author’s particular kind of humor. There are books about stand-up comedy, humor writing for television, and using humor in speech writing. These can be helpful if your interests are aligned with the focus of the book. Otherwise, books on general humor theory take some digging to uncover.
There are a few books that I own and highly recommend to anyone interested in humor writing techniques. The first is a book entitled “The Deer On A Bicycle” by Patrick McManus. McManus is one of the best outdoorsman humor writers there is in America. In my humble opinion. His stories appeared in Field & Stream magazine for many years. Although I believe he has recently retired, his twelve or so books are still popular today. This particular book examines some of his better-known stories and gives the reader some insight into the technique he uses when crafting a humorous story. It is entertaining and educational. You can’t beat that.
Another of my favorite books is called; “Brain Like Twain,” and it examines some of the techniques used by America’s best-known masters of humor writing, Mark Twain. Oh, how I wish that I could sit around a campfire and swap tall tales with Mr. Twain. Mabey it’s more than cosmic coincidence that my home town’s name is, Twain Harte, California.
The one common denominator for the scarceness of general humor techniques is the very subjective nature of humor. What is funny to one person may be offensive to someone else. Personally, I find it troubling that the verbal critics should have their say only because they have the highest volume.
Another source of humor training is online classes. It has been my experience that finding a quality online humor class is a challenge. In one of the on-line humor classes, I paid for the instructor was about as close to being a keyboard mute as one can get. Hoping for more than a sentence or two of guidance from her was like hoping for rain in Death Valley in summer. Then, my hopes for constructive criticism from fellow students was shattered when the only interaction I could get was one lady who wrote, “Thanks for sharing.” Seriously? That was it. Needless the value I received from this course fell far short of the value of the money I paid for it.
In all fairness, I have to say that I did have one excellent experience with on-line humor classes. On a rather obscure site with an equally obscure name, Udemy, I found a humor writing class taught by Dave Fox. Dave is an accomplished humor/travel writer whose website, Globejotting.com is a must visit for anyone who loves to travel and write about it and anyone who enjoys humorous stories.
Dave’s class is well organized and thorough, with plenty of instructor/student interaction. By the way, I am praising Dave because I truly appreciate what he does and how he has helped me. I do not get any kick-backs for my praise.
In summary, I wish I could share with you more sources of quality humor writing education. I can only suggest that you research any book or class that you are considering to find out what others have said about it.
In the end, your humor writing training will be your personal journey on the road to acquiring skill in your craft. Remember that nothing is of zero value when it comes to education since education cannot be taken away from you. Education is, after all, what you make out of it and how the experience makes you feel about yourself.