CHENNAI: How would you imagine authors of the comic genre to be? Crack jokes in the middle of a conversation, laugh a lot or maybe cook up puns every now and then? Wrong. City Express met P G Bhaskar at the launch of his book The
Silliest Autobiography in The World, published by Harper Collins at Costa Coffee recently. After talking to him, we put him in the ‘serious and wise’ category, assuming he wouldn’t have a clue about writing funny.
“Yes, I definitely don’t have a ‘funny personality’. I do, however, tend to see the funny side of most situations. Perhaps more so than most adults,” he says. Well, that’s another way of putting it!
Another author was Judy Balan with her newly released book Tweenache in the time of Hashtags. “I think I’m mostly funny in retrospect, not in the moment. So I tend to think of myself as a bit of a grump who writes funny. But my friends disagree,” she chuckles.
When did they realise that they could write humour? While boring office mails triggered Bhaskar’s senses, circumstances in Judy’s personal life played a major role. “After a depressing phase, I had no choice but to see the humour in the situation. So, if you are aspiring to become one, make a ton of terrible life decisions and try to live with the consequences. If you haven’t developed a sense of humour by then, that’s your cue to give up and jump off a bridge.” Awkward pause? Hey, it’s a bitter truth.
Sometimes, it may sound like the writer is trying too hard to be funny and it is important to keep this in check. “Well, I am my worst critic…until the editor steps in, of course. Editors, as everyone knows, are actually angels, who, when they edit, shed their wings and grow horns. So these are two powerful checks to make sure the humour works.”
But do you read it aloud to check for yourself? “I have a couple of people whose feedback I seriously consider. But no, I don’t read anything I write out loud. That’s why I hate book readings. I always get someone else to do the reading,” adds Judy.
Talking about their inspirations, we asked Judy about how much was drawn from her own teenage life and her daughter’s. She said, “When it comes to over-thinking, my daughter and I are a lot alike. Also, sitcoms have played a major role. I grew up on American television – starting with Full House when I was about 10. In terms of the kind of writing I hope to produce someday, The Office (US version) is right on top of my list,” she smiles.
In the end, we asked them for a suggestion they would give aspiring ‘funny’ writers. Bhaskar said, “I think it’s fair to assume that some people find it easier to write humour than others. So if it comes naturally, let it flow. Else, there are plenty of other genres to choose from. Writing humour is an underrated skill and can be thankless.”
Bhaskar started writing weekend columns for a newspaper in 2003. Five years later, he wrote his first novel ‘Jack Patel’s Dubai Dreams’ a light-hearted glimpse at the lives of a team of young private bankers and their clients (in the wake of the global financial crisis).
Judy has been writing since the age of five. Watching her mother write long letters using fancy words that she never understood was when she decided that words were awesome and wanted in! She is popular for her Nina the Philosopher series.
P G Wodehouse
Elements of the Funny Genre
Bhaskar Apart from the basic ones such as language, dialogue and timing, the plot itself can be a key factor
Judy: Helen Fielding, Marian Keyes, Ariel Leve
Bad Habit of a Writer
Judy: Talking about writing when you should actually be writing