You may recognize the comedian in the video, especially since he’s introduced by name and all. He gives a Master Class in Comedy. I’ve studied comedy before, but my earlier study only covered the basic mechanics of a joke, how to handle a heckler, stuff like that. Steve Martin’s class includes advice on what goes into the soul of comedy, the heart, if you will. I’m going to summarize what he says down into one sentence, and make that sentence be the entire next paragraph. You ready?
Always be yourself, your culture, your sense of humor, your age, your everything.
Okay, this blog is not about Comedy per se, although you can find stuff that was supposed to be funny when I wrote it, and some of it actually is, if you search this blog for Comedy, either as a category or as a tag. But, no, this post is not about Comedy, even though there’s a funny bit in that video for you to watch. You’re welcome.
A mistake I read some writers make is that they try hard to make a particular point. It doesn’t matter what the point is, either. It can be something which I wholeheartedly endorse, or something I truly dislike, it makes no difference. By trying to make a point, you become what is known in the business as “on the nose.” That is, you are telling us, not showing us. That said, many great writers make excellent points all of the time. Wha? Howzzat? Well, they don’t try to make a point, they just put their authentic selves into their stories. When they do that, whatever they might believe in shines through the narrative like the spotlight on a police helicopter at two in the morning. It’s obvious, I mean. And the greats don’t try, they just do. (Yoda approved sentence there.)
In terms of my comedy, Steve Martin’s class has provided a bit of an epiphany. Then, I realized, it was reinforcing what I’ve advocated for years in my writing. And, it can be applied to what books you should write. If you remain true to yourself, don’t prejudge what might or might not sell, don’t try to write what you think someone will want to read, then the odds are good that you will, if you persist, find your audience. I’m not saying it will be quick and easy, but it will happen. So, go for it, dammit!
On February 15th, 2018, Mercedes M Yardley will be speaking to the Las Vegas Writers’ Group about “Writing and Marketing for Your Personal Niche.” Click the link to learn more.