Poetic Humor

One significant feature of poetry (and prose) readings that I’ve noticed is that readers can often get the audience to laugh. This is achieved by the use of subtle irony, by a cleverly placed joke, or by railing on an uncomfortable experience to which others may relate. This always astonishes me. Sometimes it takes me a few seconds longer to get the humor than it takes everyone else, and sometimes I don’t understand it at all. The few times I do understand right away, and laugh along with other listeners, I don’t quite know how the writer gets there. Any time I try to incorporate humor into my work (or life really) it’s met with awkward silences and titters. But very occasionally, when my manner is unaffected and I’m just being myself, people will laugh. What gives?

Instead, I mostly find myself writing in emotionally-driven ways about things that are difficult for me. Or, alternatively, I am stuck feeling apathetic or emotionless and try to stick to concrete images, which always end up falling flat because they feel abstract and meaningless. Humor seems like an art form, a type of nuance, that’s foreign to me.

I want to feel amused, to make others feel amused, to bring joy to people’s faces rather than sorrow or discomfort. Unfortunately, I’m not a naturally funny person, and I have to work at being light and laughable about things. At the same time, I don’t want to come off as trying too hard with my humor. I want to be me, and let my humor come out of the overflow of who I am.

Do you guys enjoy experiencing or writing humor in poetry? Do you ever have a hard time bringing humor into your writing?

One Reply to “Poetic Humor”

  1. This is so interesting. As is the overall idea of humor… isn’t it weird to write a joke, or to write to make someone laugh? How do people do it? I actually did laugh at this post, specifically where you said “(or life really)”– that was comical, and made me smile. I have tried to be ‘funny’ in poetry, but yes it certainly is difficult. Especially when I mostly find myself writing about darker and more emotionally driven things, similar to you. In person, my sense of humor usually comes from inappropriate, immature, or witty comments. But how can I convey that in my writing? Perhaps we should look at Shakespeare–or even Oscar Wilde. Both of which use puns and awkward situations to show a comedy. I suppose we know our next challenge… good luck.

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