One of my grandma’s favorite sayings when an imminent disaster on our Indiana farm turned into a hilarious moment was, “Well, I just found a Shetland pony in that pile of poop.” Everyone would laugh. I didn’t, because I was too busy looking for the pony! It wasn’t until much later in life that I understood her metaphors, and eventually, how they would help me in my writing.
Let’s face it, we all poop. (If you don’t, please seek medical attention immediately!) When I’m contemplating a humorous scene, poop is a metaphor for anything problematic or “not usually funny.” For instance, a funeral, a physical or mental condition, bad grades, getting grounded, bullies, and a million other issues can all be poop. The idea of ‘finding the Shetland pony’ takes us to the hilarious result – something that happened through the unexpected, through a person, place or thing that is not usually funny.
The poop and pony lesson here is that the potential for humor is in everything. It doesn’t have to start out as funny. Actually, a very funny situation can begin as something not funny at all.
For an example, come with me into my first book, How Lamar’s Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy. In this story, Lamar likes a girl named Makeda. When he goes to her house to visit, Makeda’s grandma is always on the porch. Makeda has warned Lamar that her grandma is senile.
Senility is not funny. Lamar visits Makeda again, and Grandma has a bowl of peanuts in her lap. She offers some to Lamar, and he eats them — a lot of them — totally forgetting, or ignoring what Makeda had told him about Grandma’s senility. Here’s the ensuing conversation between Makeda and Lamar.
“Are you eating peanuts from Grandma’s bowl?”
I nod because I’ve got a mouth full of them.
“Didn’t I tell you she was senile?”
I nod again.
“Those peanuts used to be chocolate covered. Grandma sucks the chocolate off, then spits the nuts back in the bowl. We try to stop her, but she keeps doing it. How many have you eaten?”
Hello, Shetland pony!
The idea is to create a well-developed storyline out of a poopy situation. And then, add a humorous punch at the end. Your question may be, “Where can I find these opportunities for humor?”
- 1. An incident from your childhood, or someone else’s; (Don’t mention real names, or you’ll become poop to them!)
- 2. Joke or riddle books;
- 3. “What if” ideas
Yep, it’s that easy! So, try taking my grandma’s famous farm advice, and remember – “Where there’s poop, there’s ponies!”
Crystal Allen is the author of How Lamar’s Bad Prank Won A Bubba-Sized Trophy, The Laura Line, and The Magnificent Mya Tibbs – Spirit Week Showdown, all published by Balzer and Bray. Her next book, The Magnificent Mya Tibbs – The Wall of Fame Game, will launch on January 30, 2017. Crystal lives in Sugar Land, Texas with her husband, Reggie, two sons, Phillip and Joshua, and very loveable dog, Angel. You can follow Crystal at https://twitter.com/rcpjallen and visit her website http://crystalallenbooks.com/
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