June 20, 2018, 10:10:51 AM

Author Topic: Humour in mainstream fantasy, Does it work for you?  (Read 442 times)

Offline Eclipse

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Humour in mainstream fantasy, Does it work for you?
« on: May 25, 2018, 06:12:57 PM »
I don't mean the Terry Pratchett type books but more the Joe Abercrombie type fantasy books.

The majority of fantasy books which do humour come across as juvenile and I can't take the work seriously especially in grimdark type novels there just come across as cartoony to me.

In the latest novel I'm reading, a child is sacrificed so the druid can read the future by studying his entrails. The child didn't cry out so the main character said "he had a lot of guts" which didn't work for me.

Yet I do like Steven Erikson humour in  Malazan  involving Kellanved and Dancer, which can be dark humour too and the humour  does work for me here.

I just think I'm fussy with humour and if the humour doesen't work for the reader then you've probably lost that reader.





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Offline The Gem Cutter

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Re: Humour in mainstream fantasy, Does it work for you?
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2018, 06:16:55 PM »
Funny you mention Abercrombie, as I laughed the hardest of any fantasy novel in his books.
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Offline Eclipse

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Re: Humour in mainstream fantasy, Does it work for you?
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2018, 06:45:04 PM »
Abercrombie I do find him  funny  :) I think he is one of the few exception in the grimdark genre.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2018, 06:55:30 PM by Eclipse »
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Offline Ryan Mueller

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Re: Humour in mainstream fantasy, Does it work for you?
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2018, 07:49:11 PM »
Sometimes it works for me. Sometimes it doesn't.

One particular type of humor that irks me is when the author uses an English play on words. It pulls me out of the story because the characters are in a fantasy world. They are not speaking English.

Offline Skip

Re: Humour in mainstream fantasy, Does it work for you?
« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2018, 12:59:03 AM »
It works for me, but only if it's funny. I'm really rather strict about that.

I'm not a fan of Abercrombie, so that lets me out there. I do like the humor in Tolkien. It is gentle and apropos. Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser were pretty consistently fun.

The humor should pull its weight in terms of the overall story. For example, there are humorous moments in Peter Beagle's The Last Unicorn, but it's there for a reason. It not only engages us with a character, it sets up the more sombre moments to come.

Offline Neveesandeh

Re: Humour in mainstream fantasy, Does it work for you?
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2018, 01:09:00 AM »
Sometimes it works for me. Sometimes it doesn't.

One particular type of humor that irks me is when the author uses an English play on words. It pulls me out of the story because the characters are in a fantasy world. They are not speaking English.

I second this one.

I personally love a bit of humour, and I think it's often needed to lighten an otherwise unrelentingly grim story. I have a great fondness for snarky remarks.
I don't mean the Terry Pratchett type books but more the Joe Abercrombie type fantasy books.

The majority of fantasy books which do humour come across as juvenile and I can't take the work seriously especially in grimdark type novels there just come across as cartoony to me.

In the latest novel I'm reading, a child is sacrificed so the druid can read the future by studying his entrails. The child didn't cry out so the main character said "he had a lot of guts" which didn't work for me.

Yet I do like Steven Erikson humour in  Malazan  involving Kellanved and Dancer, which can be dark humour too and the humour  does work for me here.

I just think I'm fussy with humour and if the humour doesen't work for the reader then you've probably lost that reader.







I feel a bit disturbed by this, but when I read that guts joke I laughed out loud. I think that says all that needs to be said about my sense of humour.

Offline S. K. Inkslinger

Re: Humour in mainstream fantasy, Does it work for you?
« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2018, 03:44:04 AM »
I was about to disagree, but then I read that guts joke and it was really terrible. Now that's the type of humour I'd steered clear from. I do love most of the jokes in Mark Lawrence's works, both the Thorns and Red Queen's War trilogy.

Offline Eclipse

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Re: Humour in mainstream fantasy, Does it work for you?
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2018, 06:27:33 AM »
Humour is in the eye of the beholder.
According to some,* heroic deaths are admirable things

* Generally those who don't have to do it.Politicians and writers spring to mind

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Offline Neveesandeh

Re: Humour in mainstream fantasy, Does it work for you?
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2018, 07:28:48 AM »
Yeah, I think humour is very subjective.

I don't have a problem with dark humour mostly, but I cannot stand toilet humour. Thankfully, it seems to be in pretty short supply in fantasy. I fact, it seems to be in short supply outside of most media except terrible children's films, so I'm mostly fine.

Probably should mention that the guts joke sounds like it's really jarring and out of place in the context of the story. It sounds like the kind of thing you'd find in a grimdark parody.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2018, 07:35:46 AM by Neveesandeh »

Online Bradley Darewood

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Re: Humour in mainstream fantasy, Does it work for you?
« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2018, 08:20:55 AM »
In the latest novel I'm reading, a child is sacrificed so the druid can read the future by studying his entrails. The child didn't cry out so the main character said "he had a lot of guts" which didn't work for me.

Oh my god that sounds awful.

I don't have a problem with dark humour mostly, but I cannot stand toilet humour. Thankfully, it seems to be in pretty short supply in fantasy. I fact, it seems to be in short supply outside of most media except terrible children's films, so I'm mostly fine.

Shit. Don't read anything I've written!  I almost always write about toilets, and I usually have plenty of dark humor in my writing.

I love humor to break tension--makes me laugh twice as hard.  I also love writing humor, but apparently it doesn't always land. Watching this thread with interest as I'm thinking about revisions to m novel.

The majority of fantasy books which do humour come across as juvenile and I can't take the work seriously especially in grimdark type novels there just come across as cartoony to me.

You're probably on to something here... how to make your grimdark humor non-cartoony might be a good start...
« Last Edit: May 26, 2018, 08:25:02 AM by Bradley Darewood »

Offline tebakutis

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Re: Humour in mainstream fantasy, Does it work for you?
« Reply #10 on: May 26, 2018, 06:54:11 PM »
Humour is in the eye of the beholder.

That's true of humor as well.

Offline Peat

Re: Humour in mainstream fantasy, Does it work for you?
« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2018, 10:35:43 AM »
I regard Grimdark as inherently cartoony, so that humour works for me. I've had more difficulty with grimdark books that were too po-faced and lacking attempts at humour than with books that tried joking and missed my tastes.

I'd agree that few things kill a book quicker than jokes that aren't funny though. It's one of the reasons I really struggle to read Brandon Sanderson.
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Offline NedMarcus

Re: Humour in mainstream fantasy, Does it work for you?
« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2018, 01:03:00 PM »
Funny you mention Abercrombie, as I laughed the hardest of any fantasy novel in his books.

I've only read 'The Blade Itself' but I never even imagined anyone would find his books funny  ???

Online Alex Hormann

Re: Humour in mainstream fantasy, Does it work for you?
« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2018, 05:35:21 PM »
I regard Grimdark as inherently cartoony, so that humour works for me. I've had more difficulty with grimdark books that were too po-faced and lacking attempts at humour than with books that tried joking and missed my tastes.

I'd agree that few things kill a book quicker than jokes that aren't funny though. It's one of the reasons I really struggle to read Brandon Sanderson.

Sanderson matches my sense of humour almost exactly, but I have also disliked books because of the author's humour. Andrew Bannister is one author who springs to mind, even though his books are otherwise enjoyable.

One thing I don't like is Comedic Fantasy as a genre. I enjoy humour, but I don't want it at the forefront. It's the reason I've never enjoyed a Terry Pratchett book. Though having said that, Kings of the Wyld was easily my favourite book of last year, and it's pretty much a laugh a minute. So  . . . Yeah, I've got nothing.  :P

Offline Yora

Re: Humour in mainstream fantasy, Does it work for you?
« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2018, 05:56:59 PM »
I don't like jokes in fiction. Humorous circumstances can be fine, but when you can tell that something being said or happening is a joke, it never works for me.
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