Humor and Laughter, Not

I write suspense/thriller stories. While there is humor interjected in some scenes it’s not like anyone is going to pull one of my books off the shelf looking for a good laugh. Ain’t happenin’.

Quirky shows, smart writers of smarter dialogue, natural comedians—all of these I enjoy. But these things are being covered well by my fellow Mysteristas this month.

So I decided to put on my Thriller Writer hat and dig a little.

What’s not to like about humor and laughter?

Turns out, there are a few things:

  • What about the bully in school? The target of derision is laughed at because everyone else wants to ‘fit in’ and the bully is laying down exactly what those rules are;
  • I go back and forth with Don Rickles and other comedians like him. While we can see flashes of huge, raw and tender compassion (and hear about it being part of his personal life), he was known professionally for mean comments that tore people down by splitting open their failings and splaying the wounds. Would he have been successful today? I sincerely doubt it;
  • Mental health issues abound in our society (don’t get me started on why I believe they’ve grown to such remarkable levels), but there are adults who find suffering human beings funny. There are adults who are still the kids in the background when the bully in grade school makes fun of the different kid;
  • How about when humor becomes a part of how to handle the job? Law enforcement officers who deal with deeply bad ‘products’ of our society on a daily basis, first responders who see the horror of a tragic event, ER staff who’ve come to the point that “treat ’em and street ’em” is about all they can emotionally handle? Does that make disrespecting another human being okay?

We’re living in a time and place that feels tenuous. Our daily news is filled with bad things we do to one another locally, and fear of what might happen next globally. So finding something that’s light and fluffy and silly can be a survival mechanism.

There’s nothing wrong with that.

But when you’re ready, when you’re feeling stronger, push out just a bit. Replace the fear you feel with love. Tear a piece of the bad thing away, stare it down, and laugh in its face because you’re better than whatever it represents. You know what’s right, you’re good, and you’re gonna win in the end.

It’s all better with friends.








Author: Peg Brantley

With the intent to lend her stories credibility, Peg is a graduate of the Aurora Citizens’ Police Academy, attended the Writers’ Police Academy conference, has interviewed crime scene investigators, FBI agents, human trafficking experts, obtained her Concealed Carry Permit, studied diverse topics from arson dogs to Santeria, and hunted down real life locations that show up in her stories.

11 thoughts on “Humor and Laughter, Not”

  1. Peg, you and I are definitely on the same page. I never understood the humor of the hurtful comedian. I know there is another name, it escapes me. I can no more imagine a Rickles making it today than I can a Jackie Gleason, “To the moon, Alice.” Really? “To the clink, Ralph.”

    Just as comedy and drama are different sides of the same mask, so to humor and pain are different sides of the same emotion. Good post, Peg.


  2. Good post. I was that “different” kid. So was my girl. Yeah, not funny.

    I do understand first responders – and I sympathize. As a cop friend of mine said, “No one calls the police when things are going well.” I think many of them do care and it’s what keeps them going. I see a lot of pictures from the Pittsburgh police from community activities that shows that.

    Don Rickles…ah. My dad was actually a target of his once. In the 70s he found it hilarious. And Don was on the Jimmy Kimmel show eight times and seemed to get a lot of laughs judging by the clips. At the same time, I friend of mine worked NBC(?) and got to send a call from the Asian American Anti-Defamation League to the network president after Rickles appeared one night. So yeah – I wonder how his show would have had to be different today.

    And another one? “All in the Family.” I can’t see ANY of that playing well today.


  3. Absolutely agree about the Don Rickles thing. Never got the humor there. Same with Joan Rivers. “But it’s just a joke!” has caused me to block more than one seriously flawed human (and some real-life acquaintences) from my Facebook. When someone thinks mean is funny there is something wrong. And don’t get me started on pranks!


  4. I agree with Kait and Peg, comedy humor/pain are different sides of the same emotion. I have several family members who are first responders, and they all on occasion express “non-standard” views of catastrophic events. Of course when they are called, almost every event is catastrophic, some more than others. They absolutely have to have a non-standard humorous outlook in order to maintain some sort of sanity.

    We all know that crime, murder, and catastrophe are not funny, but I do believe that life is. Humor plays a large or small part in the “mystery” books that I read, even though I have to really look hard for it in some books. I always “pace” my reading based on content. After I have read a nail-biting, stress-inducing thriller (for example “Dead Man Switch” by Matthew Quirk or “Say Nothing” by Brad Parks, and I did find some tiny humor in even those ) I treat myself and my brain by reading a mystery that highlights the lighter (??) side of life (“The Decorator Who Knew Too Much” by Diane Vallere or “Digging Up the Dead” by Jill Amadio) and laugh on almost every page.

    Most of my reading falls somewhere in between these two extremes as does my real life, actually. I think that people, all people, everywhere should have more humor and enjoyment in their lives.

    If we all looked for more humor and fun in our lives – even just one tiny little laugh or smile more than we found yesterday, we would really, truly live happily ever after – just like the stories.


  5. Kait, Jackie Gleason! OMG. I’d forgotten about him. Another comedian I never liked.

    Liz, All in the Family! No network would air it today. Not even… well, not even.

    Becky, yeah! Joan Rivers. Is the craziness in the world making our humor more sane? Hmmm…

    3 no 7, there’s a speaker I love who says she works to find humor every day in everyday situations. Her name is Jeanne Robertson and you can find a lot of her stuff on YouTube. She’s hilarious!


  6. Yeah, there is mean humor. I think it all depends on the tone and POV of the person telling the jokes. Like Ellen–she’s always very self-deprecating and positive. Humor can bring people together, but you have to do it right.


  7. I think the author Nelson DeMille has a perfect balance between thriller and humor. Doesn’t matter the novel, he can make me laugh out loud at times.


  8. Thanks, Pam.
    “We’re all pilgrims on the same journey – but some pilgrims have better road maps.” Nelson DeMille Ted, you’re right, and there’s an innate sense of timing in addition to the balance.


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