Hey Nerd Legion!
Excited to announce that my album dropped yesterday AND I was interviewed about it and comedy by Guyspeed! Jackie Mancini wrote a fantastic article about me. You can follow her on twitter – @jackiemancini
Here is a link to the article! http://guyspeed.com/erikka-innes-smells-like-teen-spirit/
Check it out if you get a chance.
Here’s a piece I’ve posted about before called “Shivers at Midnight.” It’s about a pathetic guy who wants to be a werewolf so he can kill his terrible girlfriend. It was first published in the Antipodean SF. They usually only take Australian writers, but were kind enough to include me as well!
It’s archived here: SHIVERS AT MIDNIGHT
And I’m just going to post the story here as well:
“Wait,” the shackled werewolf whimpered. “You don’t understand. It’s not like what you think. It’s a terrible curse! I — “.
Samuel cut his pleading short by punching a needle into his neck. The werewolf screamed.
“Now, your fiendish powers will be mine!” Samuel cackled as he drained a blood sample, removed the needle, and plunged it into his own arm. “I can feel the power coursing through my veins already!” Laughing wildly, Samuel tore from the apartment, everything forgotten now except his newfound joy at becoming a werewolf.
The little man chained to the wall sighed. Awkwardly, he transformed, slipping his shackles. He padded out through the open door of his apartment into the moonlight to retrieve the evening news.
In his car, Samuel sped along a dark, wooded road. He was almost at the trailhead where his girlfriend was supposed to meet him.
Samuel’s phone rang.
“Where are you?” Samantha screeched.
“Nearly there, dear, for 11:45 as planned.”
“Oh. Alright. I thought you were going to be late again.”
“Wouldn’t miss tonight for the world,” Samuel said.
Samuel disconnected the call and grinned. Yes. Tonight, he would deal with Samantha. He’d broken up with her at least seventeen times, but she always came back — like a stubborn wart. But not tonight. Because tonight, Samuel would transform into a werewolf, tear Samantha to shreds, and eat her.
“Let’s see her come back from that,” Samuel giggled. He wondered if girlfriend tasted anything like steak. He licked his lips in anticipation and almost missed the turn for the trailhead. Damn. It wouldn’t do to be late. He’d read about werewolves. His first transformation was involuntary, and would happen around midnight.
Samuel brought his car to a screeching stop at the trailhead at 11:46.
Samantha tapped her watch as Samuel approached. “Just as I thought,” she said, “late.”
Samuel ground his teeth. “But not too late to show you a wonderful surprise!”
Samantha’s face softened. “I think I know what it is.”
He winced. The idiotic woman thought he was going to propose. Samuel made an attempt to give her an adoring look. Just a few more minutes now. “Let’s hurry,” he said.
“Samuel! My shoes!” her voice was shrill.
Samuel took a moment to examine Samantha’s outfit. She’d picked heels and a miniskirt for a walk in the woods. He grinned. A silver lining. She wouldn’t be outrunning him in those.
“No trouble,” Samuel said and hoisted her off the ground.
Samantha squirmed in his arms and whined, “I hope we’re not going far. How far in do we need to go to be romantic anyway?”
A strange hush fell over the woods.
Samuel yelped. He dropped Samantha and fell to the ground, writhing, his lips skinned back into a fierce snarl. Within seconds Samuel morphed into a chihuahua with glowing red eyes.
“What —,” said Samantha with a wide-eyed grin, “Samuel! You knew I didn’t approve of you becoming a werewolf and you’ve found a lovely compromise! You’re just adorable.”
Samantha scooped him into her purse. “You’re the perfect size for a supernatural being.”
Samuel snuffled and growled. He licked Samantha’s hand and howled — forever doomed to transform into a Werehuahua on the night of a full moon.
I’ve heard people say you can’t learn how to be funny. I don’t actually agree with this. You can learn to be funny, but if you aren’t naturally funny, it will be a lot harder. Mostly that’s because someone who naturally likes making their friends laugh just has more practice than someone who’s never tried it. Also, as with any art form, some people are better at it than others.
Beyond that, jokes have a mechanical component that can be taught. Very generally, a joke has two parts to it, the set up and the punchline. The set up leads the listener to make an assumption about the outcome. The punchline shatters the listener’s assumption and replaces it with another equally applicable idea that matches with the set up.
I’ll use a joke I wrote as an example:
“Dating is difficult for me because I would really like to be a virgin when I settle down. That’s why I’m saving my butt for marriage.”
The set up of the joke is “Dating is difficult for me because I would really like to be a virgin when I settle down.” This statement leads listeners to believe that my goal is to live a very chaste life until I am married. The punchline, “That’s why I’m saving my butt for marriage,” shatters this assumption because it suggests I’m not very chaste at all.
In general, the bigger the surprise on the punchline, the better. The rule of thumb is the punchline should still be something the audience can believe or substitute for their initial assumptions.
If you are new to comedy and want to work on writing, creating one liners that use this formula is a good way to start. Over time, the formula becomes less obvious, but is often still in play. Sometimes, you don’t need to include a misdirect in a joke, you can rely on common knowledge. Using another joke I wrote as an example:
“Hey feminists, 70% of a penny for your thoughts?”
This joke relies on a couple of things. First, this joke assumes the audience knows that the stereotype for feminists is that they can be uptight about being teased. You would assume you would tread lightly around people who represent this stereotype, and instead I’ve done the opposite by saying something rude. The second shattering of assumptions here is by changing an old saying “A penny for your thoughts.” People expect to hear that, and instead hear “70% of a penny for your thoughts.” The comment is also a commentary on how women are paid less than men, so at the end, it’s ironic rather than actually insulting to feminists. However, I don’t have to explain feminists or the saying “a penny for your thoughts” because the crowd is already familiar with these things, so the set up is very short… in this example it’s “Hey feminists.”
The more jokes you write and perform, the less the basic joke structure will show over time. It will become more ingrained, and with some people it disappears completely, and it seems like they are just having a funny conversation with you.
If you do use one liners in an act and tend to be more structure oriented about what you do, minimum you want 4 laughs per minute, with 5 being ideal, and anything more than that being AWESOME.
It is also important to note that this is not the only formula for telling jokes. Some things are funny because someone has good timing, or because they are familiar. Also, while most comedians strive to come up with punchlines that an audience doesn’t see coming, sometimes jokes where you can see what’s coming are funny just because of the anticipation.