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Thread: Comedy is no laughing matter! Help required for fellow author


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jamesfc

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Registered: 08/14/11
Comedy is no laughing matter! Help required for fellow author
Posted: Jun 17, 2016 4:10 PM
 
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Hi fellow authors. For some years now I’ve been helping authors on this forum with general advice and half-price editing and it has come to the stage where I need a bit of help myself.
A couple of years ago I wrote two books called “The Aliens Guide to Planet Earth” volumes 1 and 2. I initially sold them only on the Aussie and NZ markets and they went extremely well. The level of comedy suited the locals. I then Kindled them on to Amazon but they are not selling at all well. I figure this is mainly because the American and Australian sense of humor is considerably different. So I’ve included a passage below extracted from the first of these books and would seriously like comments on how I can vary the humor to suit the US market.

The book is about an alien tourist called Bakir who got stranded on Earth 2000 years ago due to a space-pilots union strike. The matter is not yet resolved. So Bakir is forced to enjoy his life on Earth and has been married 78 times. He figures he has women nearly figured out! On his home planet he has the shape of a large wobbly purple tube but was converted to look like an earthling in the transformer room of the spacecraft.
He has just been married again and has rented a nice apartment in Australia.
Here is the brief story so far:........

................................................................................................................

……..So they started their new life in a very nice environment with a lot of privacy and freedom.
The apartment they were renting had a fairly active social scene and with 130 units in the complex they were never lonely. Every Friday night the community had a barbecue in a covered area by the heated pool and this was very popular among the residents. Of course there was the odd busybody who tried to pump Bakir for background information but he insisted that he came from a planet beyond the Milky Way where it was considered totally impolite to pry into another’s business. His wife Aoatea always thought his responses were hilarious and usually burst out laughing which tended to discourage the busybody as earthlings don’t really liked to be laughed at.

One of the conversations went like this:

(Busybody) ….. “Where did you originate from?”
A planet on the edge of the Milky Way called Mammary.
(Busybody) ….. “No, no. Where did you really come from?”
I just told you. Are your nostrils both deaf?
(Busybody) …… “What’s the Milky Way?”
It’s a group of galaxies so far away that you wouldn’t be able to see them even if you bothered to clean your glasses.
(Busybody)….. “What are you talking about? My glasses are clean”
No they’re not. A couple of large kamikaze mosquitoes dive bombed them. One hit the top of your glasses and the other flew into your mouth while it was open.
(Busybody) ….. “I didn’t notice anything enter my mouth!”
Try chewing and see if you get a crunchy feeling.
(Busybody)….. “I think you’re being ridiculous”
Yes, it’s one of my more endearing traits.
(Busybody)….. “Is your wife an alien too?”
No. She is a very ordinary boring earthling just like you.
(Busybody)….. Do you always talk such nonsense?”
No. Only when I meet up with ridiculous earthlings.
(Busybody)….. This is a very exclusive apartment complex. I can’t understand why they let someone like you rent here.”
Probably because I don’t wear dirty glasses.
(Busybody)….. “Ooooh, I’ve never been so insulted.”
That’s your own fault. You should get out among the public more.
(Busybody)….. “I consider you to be totally offensive.”
Really? You should see me in my natural purple state!”
(Busybody)….. “What do you mean, purple state?”
Shall I get undressed and show you?
(Busybody)….. “You are so disgusting I can’t believe it.”
Excuse me, but there is something offensive dangling from your left nostril. Would you like to wipe it off?”

At which point the busybody looked totally confused and moved away no doubt to pester someone else. Aoatea of course was doubling up with suppressed laughter as were a few of the tenants standing nearby.
Apart from this individual they found the other tenants to be generally nice friendly people and they enjoyed staying there.
.............................................................................................................

Many thanks for reading this….. comments will be welcome.

James
“Treat others as you want to be treated yourself”

Ned Kelly

Posts: 1,176
Registered: 09/05/15
Re: Comedy is no laughing matter! Help required for fellow author
Posted: Jun 17, 2016 4:37 PM   in response to: jamesfc in response to: jamesfc
 
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Sounds like a typical conversation in our complex...

Cheers
Elodie

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Registered: 03/23/14
Re: Comedy is no laughing matter! Help required for fellow author
Posted: Jun 17, 2016 4:39 PM   in response to: jamesfc in response to: jamesfc
 
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Hi James,

I cannot comment for the US market (I'm from the UK), but I can tell you that UK humour is completely different.
I don't particularly agree with UK humour, it's not my style, I much prefer US comedy over UK... but still, I didn't really get your story... ?
It might be me, I don't know, but I just didn't get it.
jamesfc

Posts: 2,562
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Re: Comedy is no laughing matter! Help required for fellow author
Posted: Jun 17, 2016 4:41 PM   in response to: Ned Kelly in response to: Ned Kelly
 
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Actually Ned it did happen in your complex. Don't you remember? Then again we were all hitting the beer pretty hard!
James
Ned Kelly

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Re: Comedy is no laughing matter! Help required for fellow author
Posted: Jun 17, 2016 4:49 PM   in response to: jamesfc in response to: jamesfc
 
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jamesfc wrote:
Actually Ned it did happen in your complex. Don't you remember? Then again we were all hitting the beer pretty hard!
James

Right. Was that the day we hatched the plot to murder the committee chairman or the day we figured how to embezzle the body corporate funds?

They still haven't found the chairman's body BTW, so I think it's safe for you to come back from Vanuatu now.

D

jamesfc

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Re: Comedy is no laughing matter! Help required for fellow author
Posted: Jun 17, 2016 4:53 PM   in response to: Ned Kelly in response to: Ned Kelly
 
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Ned, seem to recall you chainsawed the body into bits and spread the parts around the neighbourhood rubbish bins. I remember a couple of large dogs tipping a bin over and fighting over the contents.
James
Dee Tezelli

Posts: 458
Registered: 10/29/13
Re: Comedy is no laughing matter! Help required for fellow author
Posted: Jun 17, 2016 5:07 PM   in response to: jamesfc in response to: jamesfc
 
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Hey James...............This ought to be pitched to Mel Brooks, cuz watching it would be utterly hilarious. On a side note, with all the Brits I rub elbows with, I do not
really recall any one of them having a real loud belly laugh. I do like your humour, though. Dee Tezelli, Seattle
Ned Kelly

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Re: Comedy is no laughing matter! Help required for fellow author
Posted: Jun 17, 2016 5:12 PM   in response to: jamesfc in response to: jamesfc
 
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Ah...right. Now I remember. Alzheimer's is a bitch - or a blessing depending on who's interrogating you.

Cheers
jamesfc

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Registered: 08/14/11
Re: Comedy is no laughing matter! Help required for fellow author
Posted: Jun 17, 2016 6:33 PM   in response to: Dee Tezelli in response to: Dee Tezelli
 
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Yo Dee, several people have commented that it could be another "The Gods Must Be Crazy" type cult movie. Haven't really thought about it. Probably could be made dead funny if an American producer worked it. At least the story would be original. Probably a George Cloony type offbeat movie. Who knows......
There is a fairly lengthy promo for this book..... https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0084V0T12 - Gives further examples of the humour.

James
jamesfc

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Re: Comedy is no laughing matter! Help required for fellow author
Posted: Jun 17, 2016 6:34 PM   in response to: Ned Kelly in response to: Ned Kelly
 
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I haven't got Alzheimer's. Did somebody mention it?

James (I think??)
joe castagno

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Registered: 04/19/16
Re: Comedy is no laughing matter! Help required for fellow author
Posted: Jun 17, 2016 7:22 PM   in response to: jamesfc in response to: jamesfc
 
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James I probably need to re-read this a few times, but here is my initial unfiltered "gut" reaction as a 50+ US citizen...

This is achingly familiar... and by that I mean it seems very similar to "Mork & Mindy" which aired in the US from 1978 - 1982... YOUTUBE some of these episodes to see what I mean... so from that perspective it fits and it works...

However, today's TV audience at least in the US is in someways much more sophisticated in their viewing... think high end production value, cutting edge visuals and effects, from a comedy perspective its visual humor and modern setting not so much witty dialogue think Kevin Hart and Will Ferrel as two of the US current top comedy acts.

On the flip side I think today's US audience doesn't "get" comedic dialogue and has an impaired sense of imagination... which of course is necessary to enjoy written humor... unfortunately we have become a society that prefers to be force fed a multimedia digital experience we can immediately provide social media commentary on... a sad state of affairs if you think about... hell we hardly ever even read a book anymore, well a real book that is... its pushed out to us on a screen for easier absorption...

Anyway, I think what you are facing is a generational gap and your story / dialogue will appeal to a limited audience in a nostalgic way but the broader audience that has forgotten or maybe was never taught how to "think" just won't get it.

Joe
jamesfc

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Registered: 08/14/11
Re: Comedy is no laughing matter! Help required for fellow author
Posted: Jun 17, 2016 7:41 PM   in response to: joe castagno in response to: joe castagno
 
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Joe, I think you've hit the nail on the head. People don't want to "read" comedy.... they want to see it acted out. Probably would do Ok as a movie or TV series. Unfortunately this is out of my field....... wouldn't know where to start.
Thanks for your enlightening comments.
James
onairvet

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Registered: 03/12/11
Re: Comedy is no laughing matter! Help required for fellow author
Posted: Jun 17, 2016 8:09 PM   in response to: joe castagno in response to: joe castagno
 
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I think today's US audience doesn't "get" comedic dialogue and has an impaired sense of imagination.

It just may be because much of the so-called comedy these days just ain't funny. But, boy,oh,boy the overworked laugh tracks are designed to make you think it's funny whether it is or not. It doesn't do a darned bit of good to aid the "imagination" you mention. Many of the Old Time Radio shows of yesteryear make them pale by comparison.

J.R.

Nowadays, even a lot of the so-called comedies seem to be impelled to include sexual scenes. As I've said before, I always thought sex was a participating sport, not spectator. ;-)
Ned Kelly

Posts: 1,176
Registered: 09/05/15
Re: Comedy is no laughing matter! Help required for fellow author
Posted: Jun 17, 2016 9:35 PM   in response to: onairvet in response to: onairvet
 
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onairvet wrote:
I think today's US audience doesn't "get" comedic dialogue and has an impaired sense of imagination.

It just may be because much of the so-called comedy these days just ain't funny. But, boy,oh,boy the overworked laugh tracks are designed to make you think it's funny whether it is or not. It doesn't do a darned bit of good to aid the "imagination" you mention. Many of the Old Time Radio shows of yesteryear make them pale by comparison.

J.R.

Nowadays, even a lot of the so-called comedies seem to be impelled to include sexual scenes. As I've said before, I always thought sex was a participating sport, not spectator. ;-)

I agree with that. There is some very clever comedy around on TV and Movies, however it's hard to beat those old comedies where one used their imagination to fill in the spaces. I recall one radio program where someone trained a spider to kill. (Don't laugh we have spiders here that can be ridden in the Melbourne Cup and also can be hired to assassinate your favorite enemy...) For moths later I slept with the blankets over my head well tucked in to keep the spiders out.

That's how effective radio was then.

And I was only nineteen...

mhender668

Posts: 346
Registered: 02/28/11
Re: Comedy is no laughing matter! Help required for fellow author
Posted: Jun 17, 2016 11:27 PM   in response to: jamesfc in response to: jamesfc
 
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I'm an American. Sorry to say, it's not funny. One reason is that you're trying too hard. Also, they're talking heads. There are no expressions or gestures, which makes it much less interesting than it could have been.
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