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I was fortunate to meet today’s guest blogger last summer at the LA SCBWI Conference! Do you see why I attend conferences? How many of our bloggers did I meet at that event? Lots and lots!! Samantha is just as much fun in person as she appears on her social media! Full of energy, loves her job and life itself! That comes through in all her wonderful books!! I can’t imagine anyone better to blog about humor.
I am pleased
Author Samantha Berger
Author Samantha Berger
Photo credit by Leo Moreton
PUTTING THE HA! IN YOUR RHYPIBOMO!
(Because there weren’t nearly enough letters in that acronym already)
by Samantha Berger
So, if you’re like me, the moment someone asks you how to be funny, your pendulum swings the opposite way, into NOT FUNNY AT ALL LAND.
You get serious.
You clam up.
You’re suddenly certain that you’ve never been funny a moment in your life.
But just at that moment, you fart, and it sounds like there’s a question mark on the end, and you laugh so hard, you forget all about the original question of how to be funny.
Because you just slayed yourself.
When it comes to humor (in rhyme, in life, in the bathroom), we all have the only thing we ever have—our own voice.
Yours will be different from mine, different from Jon Scieszka’s, different from Katie Beaton’s, different from Louis CK’s, Amy Schumer’s, and Fozzy Bear’s.
Yours will be different from everyone else on the planet.
And that’s good!
That’s what makes you YOU, your humor, YOUR humor, and your writing, YOUR writing.
But there are some universal things that do help with the funny factor.
And I wanna focus on three biggies here:
THE UNEXPECTED. THE TIMING. And the SPECIFIC.
What was funny about that fart?
It caught me off guard. (it was unexpected).
I was thinking about not being funny (the timing).
There was a question mark on the end <frrrt?> (the specific).
Put those three together, and you just might have a nugget of comedy gold.
And there are some incredible rhyming picture books that do it so well.
One of the best books to use that winning combo is Guess Again by Mac Barnett and Adam Rex.
He steals carrots from the neighbor’s yard.
His hair is soft, his teeth are hard.
His floppy ears are long and funny.
Can you guess who? That’s right! My—-
[turn the page:]
What this book does so brilliantly is rely on the reader’s knowledge and expectation of rhyming books. Then misleads us, surprises and delights us.
The reveal is the unexpected.
The page turn is the timing.
The who it actually is, is very specific.
It’s not just Grandpa. It’s Grandpa Ned.
I can’t stress enough what a hilarious and genius book this is.
These guys got the unexpected, the comic timing, and the specifics just right.
When I went through my collection of favorite rhyming picture books, I found these three elements of comedy exist almost unanimously.
The Nutshell Library by Maurice Sendak, poems from Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein, various Dr. Seuss books.
Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood, Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast by Josh Funk, Mrs. Biddlebox by Linda Smith, they all know how to take it to unexpected places, use the timing, and include a very specific “zoombroom” when necessary.
Even though they’re now second nature, I do try to keep these things in mind when I am writing.
In Snoozefest, a sloth going to a concert for the world’s greatest sleepers felt unexpected to me. And kinda funny.
In Junior Goes to School, spinning the wheel to see what absurd thing a pig would worry about, felt like good timing, And kinda funny.
In Boo-La-La Witch Spa, a witch getting a serpent spit spritzer at a spa felt very specific. And kinda funny.
So put them together and get some HA! into your RHYPIBOMO.
*And remember even a fart can inform your art.
Samantha Berger writes and writes and writes
She’s written picture books like CRANKENSTEIN! A CRANKENSTEIN VALENTINE, BOO-LA-LA WITCH SPA, SNOOZEFEST, MARTHA DOESN’T SHARE, and MARTHA DOESN’T SAY SORRY.
She’s written cartoons for television. She’s written comic books and commercials.
She’s written movie trailers, theme songs, licensed-books, slogans, promos, articles, poems, and PSAs.
You name it, Sam’s written it.
And when she ISN’T writing, she’s doing voice-overs, traveling the world, and helping rescue dogs.
THEN, she writes about that, too!
Samantha splits her time between New York City and sunny California.
Twitter – @BergerBooks
Instagram – SamanthaBerger321
Facebook – Fans of Samantha Berger
Crankenstein Book Trailer I made:
Snoozefest Book Trailer I made
Thank You Samantha!
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The drawings will be done daily and announced next week.