As usual, there were many wonderful lectures and workshops during the January residency of the Hamline MFAC program. I’ve especially been mulling over Emily Jenkins’ lecture “How to be Funny.”
While I will concede that my books have humorous elements, they are not funny books. I can make people laugh, but I doubt if I’d ever be considered a comedian. I long to write funny books; therefore, I took careful notes during Emily’s lecture, as did everyone attending (an image that is pretty darn funny, if you like irony).
Emily structured her lecture using a list of things to do in order to write funny. The list belongs to her so I won’t give it here, but I will share the one point that I’ve been thinking about the most: “Use jolly words.”
My writing vocabulary doesn’t lean toward the jolly, and so I decided to use a jolly-colored marker and make a list of jolly words and put the list on the wall by my writing sofa.
And right away I hit the brakes because I had to stop and think, What’s a jolly word? I swear to heaven the first word that came to mind was pleather. (Mind you, this was during NY fashion week.) Not good enough, I knew right away. What word would make a kid laugh, I wondered. I swear to heaven the next word that came to mind was jugs. And naturally then I thought of pleather jugs, a term that could be funny, but only if you were writing about, oh, breast implants.
So, enough. It’s time turn to friends and ask for help. What words do you find jolly?
verisimilitude, mishmash, and kerplunk
Of course, when I tried to post my earlier comment, Blogger came back and said "prove you're not a robot." Now, I think that's hilarious.
"Verisimilitude" I think I would not put on the list because I cannot type it or spell it on the first pass. But "prove you're not a robot" is very funny. And I think "robot" might be a jolly word.
My problem with jolly is that I grew up reading Enid Blyton (and find the new editions where half of the words have been changed to be politically correct means all the "funny" has been taken out of them!). I have to say I like my New Zealand words – what, for example, do you think a chilly bin is?
Chilly bin? For some reason I suspect it's got nothing to do with cold storage for vegetables.
Oh, geez, okay… Wanker comes to mind. Titter, too (god, Freud would have a field day). Oh, and pleather jugs? Totally in this season. Along with hair crimping (I'm serious. Thx, NY Fashion Week). So difficult to conjure "jolly" words without the luxury of context, timing, etc.
"Chilly bin," Sherryl? Yeah, I agree with MQ; forget the vegetables. I picture a Stepford wife with a chastity belt bolted on…
Bet E.J.'s lecture rocked.
p.s. "Wanker" as in egotistical not as in its other denotation… Oh and schnitzel. Such a jolly word. 🙂
"Tawdry" always makes me titter–especially when uttered with haughty condemnation.
Making my list. Thanks, all.
I certainly laughed. And I've always found the word "mucus" to be a little funny. Or slimy.
I am working today and polled the nurses and docs in the ER and all day long people have been shouting out random words. I think short 'i' words tend to be jolly, as in pickle, slinky, squid, giggle, wingnut. Also, words with a 'k' such as wanker(mentioned by Mel above), tallywacker, fartlek, and kumquat. Words with alliteration of sound: bumble, poop, ta-tas.
Shelly, I love the idea of the ER staff shouting out funny words. And I think you've found some good patterns. Thanks.
One of my coworkers at a previous job couldn't stand the word "moist." So, of course, the rest of us would use it repeatedly. We had many opportunities since we worked outside. "The soil is moist." "Eww, I cut a worm in half with my trowel. Its guts are so moist." "The artifact bag has MOISTure in it." "Moist" isn't a "jolly" word, but it certainly made the rest of us feel jolly.
A chilly bin is what I think you would call a cooler. Made of polystyrene or heavy plastic, with a handle, for taking on picnics or to the beach with all your food (and ice bricks) in it. And beer, of course!