The art of comedy writing by Karen Vaughan

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The art of comedy writing.

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Years ago I had the pleasure and the privilege to perform stand up comedy. I used the odd state of my mental health as the basis of my routine.

It was a fun thing to write. The best comedy out there is self-depracating humor. You are taking your flaws and going to town on yourself.

Here’s an example. I tried to laugh my ass off. It’s like a bloody boomarang it just keeps coming back.

I also picked on my former spouse–he’s a big boy he can take the abuse especially after what he put me through. He readily admitted being a contributing factor of my various neuroses.

I knew at one point our marriage was a runaway train heading south.The straw that broke the camels back occured when the mister looked at me and told me I was dysfunctional.  I was shocked! I had no clue he knew words THAT BIG!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Writing comedy is a therapeutic exercise. I have to thank my friend David Granirer for mentoring me in this way.  I was able to translate the stand up stuff into my novel writing.  In fact I had the fun of writing routines into DEAD COMIC STANDING.

Hey great to be here. My name is Shelley.  A little bit about me. I am the youngest and only girl in my family.  My four brothers have a lot in common; they share one brain between them….. Actually only three of them are idiots. Dumb, Dumber, and Dumber still.  The fourth was born with a penis and a brain. Naturally my mother was shocked.

 Many people call me a butch. At first I thought it was because they meant to say bitch but just couldn’t spell.  Then I realized they were calling me a Lesbo.

I love animals; I guess I would have to being raised with the four primates.  Dinner in our house resembled feeding time at the monkey house.  I know I know…it’s not nice to compare the boys to a bunch of chimps.  The chimps have a bigger shot at getting a college degree than these animals. The older three attend clown school and are starting at The Shrine circus when they graduate. The one with the penis and the brain has a masters in Psychology.  Staying true to his ape heritage, he throws a lot of shit around.

I have never been married but I lived with a guy for 6 months. The only reason that the individual in question is still alive is credited to the fact that I look horrible in orange and I didn’t want to be the prison bitch of some chick named Hildegard. Honestly the names some people give their kids, they’re just asking for trouble.  Imagine burdening your offspring with the name of Hildegard, she’s bound to either sing Wagner while holding a spear or commit crimes—“Come to mommy Hildegard —sure she ambles straight into your arms and thwack—you never saw it coming.  Just think of her plea of guilty based on getting a shitty moniker at birth.

Norbert is another name that should be avoided at all costs. You’re going to have a child with a shit load of psychiatric issues based on childhood bullying.  So right after my mom read a book about what your kids’ names mean, she stopped calling Bobby, Bonzo.

Well it’s been great. I’ll be here until Sunday or whenever Jeff hands me a pink slip which ever comes first.

 

In my series my heroine Laura is often trading quips with the nemesis of the day.

example: The Kangaroo court scene from OVER HER DEAD BODY:

These proceedings as they were, reminded me of my years at Camp Minnee Haw-Haw where we would hold a Kangaroo court and charge each other with silly crimes like hogging the shower too long, or some other stupid irritating habit. If found guilty, the defendant had to do another’s chores the next day, or stick our hands in what the judge referred to as ‘guck’ which turned out to be a raunchy mixture of scrapings from that nights dinner.  I highly doubted that I would get off that easy this evening, nor would Jackie.

Judge Julie droned on about how things would go, ending in my ultimate demise. The patrons were as assigned jury duty. This was a moot point as her highness had last say and Junior had an itchy trigger finger.

With this in mind, I was going to have a little fun with the judge. I whispered to Jackie, “Trust me I will handle this,”

Jackie nodded. “Why not, my dear sister, the judge, says we’re going to croak anyway.”

“If I may address the court, your Honor;  My co defendant and I choose to plead not guilty. However, as we know you to be my co defendant’s sister we request that you excuse yourself from the trial.

“And why would that be?”  Julie was looking every bit the diva in her designer duds and four inch heels.

“Fair trial in front of a jury of our peers, but what we are lacking is an unbiased judge; not exactly what you would call an even playing field is it?”

“I never said it was going to be fair. You’re guilty of sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong. Your co defendant is charged with being a traitor, turning against her own sister and daddy like that, all out of jealousy of course.  Delroy found out the hard way that you don’t mess with family like that. Jackie is taking a lot longer to get the point. She will, as will you and dear Sandy.”

“Yes dear Sandy,” I interrupted. “His only crime was falling for someone of his own age group.  You’re just pissed that you’re out of the loop.”

“His crime is alienation of affection and adultery.  He was schlepping the old bag while married to me!”

“You had an open marriage! He gave you money to spend as you please, free reign to do whatever and whomever you pleased, which in the real world gave him free reign to follow his own interests. If he happened to find a kindred spirit as he put it, it’s not your place to say who he spent time with. That old bag as you so ineloquently put it was a sweet eighty four year old who loved the shopping channel, playing canasta and lawn bowling. She cross-stitched samplers for her friends.  She and Sandy were involved with several philanthropic projects to help the poor and infirm in the city.  They didn’t have the time to fool around as you so gracelessly implied.  You wouldn’t know this because you were too busy spending your husband’s money on expensive bling, when there are so many people in Toronto don’t have food on the table or a roof over their heads.  What you did was totally reprehensible!”

Judge Julie laughed at me here. “Since when is shopping a crime?”

“No, not shopping per se; your crime was hiring a man to do the job for you. You didn’t have the proverbial stones to kill Mrs. Peterson, woman to woman. No, you got a man to go beat a defenseless woman while she ate her cereal.  Yes, members of the jury, the deceased was found face down in a bowl of wheat squares!” A collective gasp was uttered from the gallery.  I had the jury eating out of my hands.

“Someone want to bring the court back to order and kindly shut the defendant up?”

Jackie was right beside me. “You go girl.”

My abductor stood up, ready to put me in my place. I turned on him. “Want another can of whoop ass friend?” I raised my knee to show him I was ready for round two. He backed off somewhat quickly.

Julie was banging her gavel on the table trying to restore order.  “Junior, start shooting jurors. It’s apparent that we no longer have their cooperation.  Junior lifted his gun and aimed it straight at Karen.

Since the whole idea of writing comedy into a story is to entertain the reader or at least to provide comic relief in a tense situation. I love this aspect of it.

In as much as I enjoy using it in my books, I really love the quick laughs I get in my status updates on facebook.  Social media has become my comedy club of choice. I can’t afford YUK YUKS.

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2 thoughts on “The art of comedy writing by Karen Vaughan

  1. I, too, sometimes incorporate humor to break the tension in a situation or just because it’s fun to do. Like you, Karen, I just get these little thoughts as I am writing, and I go back later and think, “That was funny!” I never know if what I write that I think is funny comes across that way to the readers, but at least I am not staring them in the face when they DON’T laugh, which is what I’d be doing if I were a Standup Comedian!

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