Including A Comedic Element by Karen Vaughan

Did ya hear the one about the comics who got slaughtered? Turns out the villain would kill for a joke.

I write mysteries but I always include a comedic element in my stories. I guess you could call me a class clown in the world of writing.  I don’t think I could write a totally serious piece.

In mysteries there usually is some element to ease the tension in the plot. The darker the suspense; the darker the comedy; some might even call it gallows humor.

My main characters in DEAD COMIC STANDING are all stand-up comedians.  There is a killer on the lose who doesn’t see the humor in the routines.

I was inspired to write this novel after having the chance to perform in a comedy showcase and immediately thought what if…

Comedy can be portrayed in the story in different ways.

  • The writer can show it in relationships between the main characters. Swapping insults or good natured bantering is common.  The main characters in my series start of bantering over the dead body in DEAD ON ARRIVAL.

I might add that it is the middle of May and we are in the midst of a heat wave.  Everything smelled a bit riper than it would normally would.

“What in hell’s name is that horrible stench?”  Gerry stopped short, quickly noticing the dead dude on the carpet.  He quickly held the edge of his work shirt over his mouth and nose.  I was sorely tempted to gag again. The stoicism I exhibited was slowly dissipating and being replaced by panic.  What if the killer came back, and decided to finish me off?

“Okay Gerry,” I said, “cut the crap!  How did you get Velcro’s’ body in here?”

“What do ya mean how? You mean you think I did this, thanks a lot!” he said, somewhat pissed.

“This wasn’t your handy-work?”

“No! Why would you think I would do such a horrid thing?”

“Not sure really; maybe because you and Ray have the only keys besides me, and you love practical jokes.”

“Yeah, I do, but nothing this heinous! My practical jokes are more of an April fool’s kind of gag.  Besides I don’t even know him.”

“Okay. I’m sorry I’m just trying to figure out how and why he got here. Furthermore he is wrecking my rug! “I know it’s odd to worry about a frigging rug right now but this is how I deal with stressful situations. I ignore the obvious problem, and settle for something mundane and harmless to worry about.  Okay so enough about the damned rug.  I focused on the corpse once again.

 

As I don’t do ‘cool nonchalance’well, I retorted, “Gee good point I practically fell over him on my way out of the bedroom.”

“Didn’t it occur to you at some point during the night, that there was a rotting corpse in the middle of your living room?” Gerry asked.

“For one thing, I sleep with my bedroom door closed and my air conditioning on; and second, I was so tired after this weekend; I just came in and flopped. I didn’t even realize I had a guest, dead or alive.”

“Well regardless of all that, we have to call this in.” Gerry got out his mobile and dialled 911.  It was definitely classed as an emergency.

 

  • In police interrogations authors like to play good cop/bad cop  with the police and a suspect.  This eases the tension somewhat and can be hilarious if well played. From DEAD COMIC STANDING.

Myra folded her arms and glared.  “Okay Gord, time to start singing.”

Gord was sat in a chair chained to the table so he wouldn’t go nuts on them.  “What about?” He asked.  He really was as dumb as he looked.

Myra was already impatient with him. “Come on, you moron! We have you for the attack outside Comic F/X last night.”

“Oh that,” said Gord dismissively.   “The mouthy bitch deserved it. Her and her male bashing routine; I wanted to show her that kind of stuff is not right. Kinda damages guys self esteem.”

“Ooh big words for such a piss ant,” Myra sneered.

“See even you’re doing it. Are all you bitches alike?”

“Watch the potty mouth mister!”

“Ha, you’re callin’ me names, so it’s only fair.”

“Okay I’ll play nice in the sandbox if you will.” Myra was willing to back off a little and then go for the kill. Vince had taught her well. “So Gord, tell me, why last night? Why did you wait ‘til last night to teach her a lesson as you say?  Why didn’t you whack her the first night when you heckled her?  From what I heard, Miss Morgan gave back as good as she got. Made ya look like the pathetic little….creature that you are.” Myra wanted to use the term worm but thought better of it for now.

“The comedian is not supposed to heckle back;” said Gord obstinately, “it infringes on my rights to free speech.”

“Since when is heckling free speech?” asked a skeptical Myra.

“It’s not heckling; it’s instantaneous feedback to a crappy act.”

“Sure if that’s what you call it.”  Myra thought this was turning in to a pissing contest and was ready to put it to an end.

Gord continued to argue. “It’s my right as a consumer to comment on a service provided if I don’t like it.”

Myra banged her fist on the table as the captain walked in. Capt O’Malley just sat and watched Myra have her fun with the perp.

“Enough you worm – playing nice isn’t getting us anywhere here.  Is it just Miss Morgan’s comedy that brings out your inner critic or do you expand your talents to other comedians?”

“No,” said Gord stubbornly, “Shelley’s the only one who really pisses me off.”

“Come on, get real Gord! I don’t believe for a minute that a guy with so much venom would reserve it to a few words—why not say slash someone’s act for good if you don’t like it.”

Gord sat up straight in his chair. “What are you talking about? I wasn’t going to kill Miss Morgan! I just wanted to teach her a lesson about male bashing that’s all!  I don’t know anything about killing comics!”

“That’s B.S. and we both know it.” Myra was in full bad cop mode now and was going for his throat figuratively speaking, when the captain told her to go for coffee.

“But Sir I was just getting to the point!”  Myra was incredulous. (All part of the routine)

“Yes, I saw the claws come out detective, now go!”

Myra was uttering an expletive as she opened the door.

Gord started to giggle.

“What’s your problem?”

“Your boss just heckled you!”

Myra looked daggers at him and slammed the door after her.

Those are just two ways of using comedy.  I would however, like to caution the writer against using puns or the over use of clichés these two forms of comedy can get really old very quickly.  If you want to try a pun or two fun but make it quick and don’t belabor the point.

I hope this has been helpful.

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