Show me the funny!

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jdroth
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Show me the funny!

Postby jdroth » Mon Jul 09, 2007 1:04 pm

Okay, I have a question, dear readers:

A couple times now I've tried to post what <i>I</i> considered to be funny stories, only to have the readers tell me they don't like them. For example, today's <a href="http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2007/07/09/how-to-save-a-dollar/">How to Save a Dollar</a> story has, quite strongly, the worst ratings of any post I've ever shared. Why is this?

Is it because it's too much like a personal blog entry? Is it because it's poorly written? Is it becuase there's not point to draw for the reader's own life? Or is it simply that the story isn't funny without proper context?

Usually I'm able to judge how readers will respond to a post. I've thought of removing the star-ratings, in fact, because 90% of the time they don't give me any information I don't already know. (They do tell me that readers like posts even if there are no comments, though, which is handy.) But sometimes -- like today -- I am completely wrong. I thought this was a funny story that people would like, but I missed that mark by a l-o-n-g way. :(

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Postby plonkee » Tue Jul 10, 2007 1:26 am

It wasn't that funny. Or usually when you write funny things on GRS they have big "I am supposed to be funny" clues all over them - and it wasn't clear whether this was supposed to be funny or real.

I think that its hard to get humour across without visual / verbal clues and when you don't normally write funny stories, people might not realise its supposed to be funny (because they aren't expecting it, not because its not humourous) and then its just becomes rubbish.

It wasn't badly written, but the style was very different (and very American somehow). Maybe that put some people off (not the American-ness but the different-ness).
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jdroth
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Postby jdroth » Tue Jul 10, 2007 7:01 am

Actually, since I posted this I've had e-mail conversations with two readers and a real-life conversation with my wife. They all said the same thing: It wasn't that funny. And there were no clues that it was supposed to be funny. And, most of all, there was no lesson to be learned. One reader told me, "It's like you let a televangelist loose in a Buddhist temple." I thought that was a particularly keen metaphor.

I'll try not to do this again in the future!

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Postby pf101 » Tue Jul 10, 2007 8:36 am

jdroth wrote:I'll try not to do this again in the future!


Damn skippy you won't! How DARE you make a mistake! Ugh! You, you...HUMAN! :evil: :wink: :wink: :D

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jdroth
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Postby jdroth » Tue Jul 10, 2007 9:28 am

You, you...HUMAN!


:lol:

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Postby pf101 » Tue Jul 10, 2007 9:53 am

jdroth wrote:
You, you...HUMAN!


:lol:


;-)

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Postby morydd » Tue Jul 10, 2007 11:24 am

I didn't actually read the article until after you posted the remarks on the forum. That said, I think I see what you tried to do, and why it didn't work. I think you were going for a level of sarcasm on par with Ben Stein's "How not to..."

I think where you went wrong was you didn't take the joke far enough. It's sort of like Family Guy, they take a joke that's really not that funny and then push it to the point where you have to laugh because they went so far with it. A bit more exaggeration may have helped.
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Postby consultantjournal » Tue Jul 10, 2007 2:28 pm

>For example, today's How to Save a Dollar story has, quite strongly, the worst ratings of any post I've ever shared. Why is this?

Well, perhaps I'm wrong, but I assumed it was a tongue in cheek post. I think others took it seriously.
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Postby sdkramer » Wed Jul 11, 2007 8:26 am

Humor is, of course, by it's nature very subjective. I've gotten several positive reviews of contributions I've provided to a group political humor blog, and while similar laugh-lines on my own blog have resulted in blank stares, and comments that seemed to take me far too seriously, and in some cases serious blogs that have been questioned as being a joke. I've chalked it up to the fact that my blog is read by a group of people with disparate opinions and beliefs, whereas the political blog tends to have a certain ideological continuity.

Either way I'm reminded of advice I was given as a musical theater performer: the more detached your audience is from the performance, the more you have to exaggerate your mannerisms, speech, and diction. You probably do need to let them know that what's coming is intended to be funny, not necessarily in so many words, but couch the writing in a little obvious sarcasm, a picture with an amusing caption, etc.

As for that specific post, I thought it was cute. My only thought is that it was long. A lot of times I will scan a long post trying to gauge whether it's worth the investment of time to read. But I wouldn't rate a post I hadn't read, so I can't explain their evaluation.

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Postby 144mph » Thu Jul 12, 2007 4:18 am

JD, I read that post when you first made it and I thought it was humorous. Sure, it wasn't laugh out loud funny and the humor I saw was more of the sadistic 'ha, look at what stupid married people do with their time' but at least it was derived from the intentional narrative humor imparted to the story. I'm one of those meanspirited types that likes to imagine a whole family stuffed in some uncomfortable commuter car with screaming kids, a pencil pushing, slide ruler type father, and a nagging wife who really doesn't understand that it's her irrationality that is making her husband even more obsessed with the details and fanatical attention to price and value. I'm sick, I know.

For those who rated the story poorly, perhaps it was because they found that the story too closely resembled their own lives, and that just makes the tale that much more enjoyable for me. haha, suckers.

As far as constructive criticism goes, can I suggest that you make a point with a post that long? I mean it was essentially a story that ended up going nowhere. Sure, one might extract some useful tidbit like, 'you don't have to actually buy something everywhere you go' which is a pretty important lesson for some people. But for the most part, I got to the end of the story and I felt it was a waste of time becuase the humor wasn't nearly enough to warrant the time spent reading it.

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Postby jdroth » Thu Jul 12, 2007 7:09 am

As far as constructive criticism goes, can I suggest that you make a point with a post that long? ... I got to the end of the story and I felt it was a waste of time becuase the humor wasn't nearly enough to warrant the time spent reading it.


This is an excellent point. I've been worried about how long my posts have become, and how long guest posts like this one are. To ask my readers to sit through these when they don't have any obvious applicability to their lives isn't right. Thanks for pointing this out.

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Postby bwian » Thu Jul 12, 2007 12:54 pm

I have to agree with 144mph. To me, the story was enjoyable, but long, and I just wanted to know how someone felt at the end of it all. Some sort of resolution or zen wisdom. :)


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