Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Strange Bedfellows - Gregory Hall - Biggest 'Ah-Ha!' Moments in Writing

            Mixing genres is often difficult but the one I hear at the top of almost everyone’s list is throwing comedy into your horror. As someone who was a professional comic for over 25 years and still runs in those circles, I can testify that comedy and horror are damn near twins. When done correctly, both catch the reader off-guard and force an involuntary reaction, whether it’s laughing or screaming.

            The key to writing comedy is to not force a joke. You wedge it into the wrong voice or situation and it’ll stand out like a hard-on in church. Comedy is easiest when it comes through your characters, in their dialogue or reactions. But all of it has to be natural. And that means it has to come from you, the writer. You have to be inside the head of your character, catch them IN the moment and just let the funny come out. A dark figure jumps out. Does your guy run like a ninny-man? Piss his pants? Yell ‘Fuckbubbles!’ and accidently punch his grandma? If it makes you chuckle after you write it, you probably hit on something funny.

            But what if you aren’t a funny person? I once coached a very talented actor who couldn’t hit a joke to save a puppy on fire. He couldn’t even identify the humor in the script. I tried everything then I finally asked him ‘When you get into your character, do you give him a sense of humor?’ It was that easy. He let his character speak and react ‘naturally’ in a comedic manner and he nailed it. You can do the same exact thing. Is your character a smart ass? A dumb ass? We all know someone who fits those molds. Use them. Then shove a chainsaw up their ass. And that, my friends, is how you mix comedy and horror.

Gregory L Hall has a long history in comedy, improv and theatre. He’s a national Telly Award winner and produced the annual Baltimore Comedy Fest to support autism awareness. His dark fiction can be found in oodles of publications as well as his novel At the End of Church Street and short story collection Werepig Fever. Nowadays Gregory is perhaps best known as the host of the popular internet radio show The Funky Werepig. However, he prefers to brag about the time he was hugged by Pat Morita (Mr. Miyagi from the Karate Kid) because wouldn’t you?

 You can find out more about Gregory here and here.

1 comment:

Drew Grimm Van Ess said...

I couldn't agree with you more! When done right, horror and comedy go over better than action in sci-fi!

Awesome blog here, man. I like what you have to say. I just followed you.

If you wanna chat horror sometime, come swing by my page.