Writer’s Craft Q & A

Q: Can a Memoir be funny?

A: Hell yes! A good place to start is to make a distinction between Comedy and Humor. Comedy and Comedic Writing refers to text that are intentionally shaped with the goal of making the reader laugh. The writing is crafted towards this end, whether the text is a stand-up comedy joke, a SNL skit or a funny movie script. Comedy is very difficult to write well and even more difficult to perform well, it takes bravery, instinct, skill and timing. As John Ford so famously said “Dying is easy, comedy is hard.” Humor is different. Writing humor is a much more subtle and complex thing. In humor writing you write skillfully about something that made YOU laugh and the reader is allowed to laugh with (or at) you.

Truly funny memoirs are a great joy to read. Two of the best ones I know are Susan Jane Gilman’s “Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress” and blogger Jenny Lawson’s “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened”. Other funny creative non-fiction memoirists and essayists include David Sedaris, Anne Lamott, Jeanne Darst, Carrie Fisher and Tina Fey.